“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” – Stephen Covey
“The trick is really to get clarity on, ‘What are those things that actually matter?’ and then ask, ‘How are they fitting into my life on a consistent basis?'” – MB from Dynamic Dylan’s Podcast Pilot
What’s most important to you? Take a few seconds to think of (or write) the top things that come to mind. Maybe it’s your health. Maybe it’s your family or relationships, or wealth, artistic creation, serving others, continuously growing, being happy, or leaving a legacy. There’s no need to get it perfect – whatever came up is great.
Second question: how much time have you spent on those things lately? Think on the past few days, or weeks. Consult your calendar if you keep one up to date. How well does your schedule line up with what you say is important to you? If someone else were to look at your calendar, how would they describe your priorities?
How we spend our days, matters. Days become weeks, weeks become months, months become years, and years become lives. What we do today determines where we’ll end up one, five, or ten years from now, so it’s important to dedicate at least some amount of time to our biggest priorities. Otherwise, like the Philosophy Professor’s jar of rocks, pebbles, and sand – we’ll have no room left for what’s most important.
Treat Your Time As Sacred (Because It Is!)
Look ahead to the rest of this week, and the next. Which of the events currently on your calendar don’t need to be there? Saying no can be difficult, but it’s necessary. If you’re feeling aggressive, and/or in the position to do so, wipe the slate completely clean and start from scratch.
Next, schedule in the things that are important – starting with your top priorities. If you’ve gotten clarity on your values, let that lead you.
Once you put something on the calendar, treat that event as you would a meeting with your idol. If you aren’t willing to commit to it, don’t schedule it. As Jim Kouzes and Jim Posner urge us in The Leadership Challenge, “DWYSYWD: Do what you say you will do.” When you do what you say you will do, you become trustworthy and reliable – the number one trait looked for in a leader. Regardless of whether or not you’re in a position of leadership for others, become a self-leader and develop trust and reliability in yourself.
For me, the number one commitment that gets “scheduled” is my daily morning movement + meditation practice, followed by workouts for the week, and date nights. Being, love, health, and Kristen are my highest priorities, so I’m committed to dedicating time to them. Plus, I know those things create a foundation that allows me to creatively produce and provide astonishing service for my clients. After that, it’s deep work, deep love, meetings, education, personal growth, and recovery time. I’m committed to becoming more like my highest self, so I’m willing to prioritize my growth and learning how to live.
What habits, people, or activities have you been “meaning to get to,” but haven’t dedicated time towards yet? Can you do that now? Even if it’s just a mini-habit of one or two minutes a day: make the time for it. “Every part of my business should have its allotted time,” wrote Ben Franklin. “One page in my little book contained the following scheme of employment for the twenty-four hours of a natural day.”
Perhaps even more importantly, don’t waste time ruminating over things you can’t control. Every moment is sacred. Don’t allow inconsequentials or trivialities to hijack your awareness.
Iterate: Use Your Data Wisely
Set aside time to review the calendar, plan, strategize, and stage your days. “My father used to tell me that for every minute spent planning, twelve minutes is saved on average,” writes Matthew Kelly, author, speaker, and movement leader.1 “That would mean that my thirty minutes on a Sunday afternoon spent planning, strategizing, and staging my week saves me six hours every week. I think my father is wrong. If I had to guess, I suspect that thirty minutes saves me ten to fifteen hours each week by helping me avoid wasting time and increasing my efficiency.”
This isn’t a one-time process. We want to maintain a growth mindset, and use each day as data. Personally, I take a few minutes every evening to write down the events of the day, noting anything that took more than 15 minutes, as well as any important events or experiences. At the end of the week, I look back to celebrate, learn, and improve for the future.
If a day (or week) doesn’t go as planned, practice forgiveness, make a change, and then look forward to the next. Continue to iterate and evolve moving forward. As Kelly shares:
“Experiment with it. Explore the best way to start your day. Try several ways and note how you feel as your day begins and ends, your energy level rises and falls, your focus and efficiency wax and wane. Once you have discovered the best way to start your day, experiment with the best way to end your day. Having answered this question, you can move on to the best way to live a weekend. How is the best way to live? […] The question needs to be approached rigorously and strategically.”
Treat every day as an experiment, knowing that, in the words of Steve Chandler, “Experiments never fail.”
- http://dynamiccatholic.com/mission/ [↩]