Where do you find the time?
Can I ask you a question? Do you ever get the feeling that there are just not enough hours in a day? How many of us single dads come home from a long day only to cook, clean up, check homework, preen yourself, prep for tomorrow and get enough sleep? I know I have a hard time keeping it all together and it is an area that I am constantly trying to improve on. So I wanted to share my top 2 tools in an effort to help others with their time management.
I plan my week using a digital calendar and an old school Moleskin agenda.
It’s that simple. No special apps or gimmicks. Just my computer, a pen, a notepad, and some concentration.
How I started planning.
As a disclaimer, it took me roughly 6 years of wanting to get into the habit of weekly planning before I actually did it. I spent a long time trying to figure out the reason I wasn’t getting everything done. It was all due to a lack of proper scheduling. A high school friend was always telling me about self help programs and Tony Robbins. He also put me on to his daily “Hour of Power”. I was intrigued and wanted to do it but I was still plagued by bad habits. One of those habits was not sticking to a game plan, and I was constantly forgetting about my new daily ritual, sometimes for months at a time.
It was around 2010 that my girlfriend bought me my first Moleskin. As I look back at 6 years of notes and scheduling I can see how I would remember my routine for a few days here and a week there. Reviewing this history I can also appreciate how long it took me to finally break my bad habit and get into the routine of daily and weekly planning. And even after all these years of trying harder and harder to refine and customize my routine I am still better at planning than following through. I can tell you I am getting the hang of it though because this blog post was planned on Sunday and it’s happening right now. 🙂
Update: *written in June 2016, edited and posted in September :P*
Finally I googled “Tony Robbins Hour of Power” and clicked on a link that led me to Scott Dinsmore’s “Live your Legend” site. The site offered a free weekly planning toolkit that I downloaded and began to use immediately. Again, it took a while to get into the steady routine of spending some time focusing once a week to ensure my week ahead was planned and organized in a way that I would feel successful at the end of it.
I commit to an hour and a half of planning on Sunday night. Every Sunday night without fail. I have been using Scott Dinsmore’s Weekly planning routine since about August of 2015. You can find it here or sign up for his newsletter and weekly planning kit here. I know it’ should be called the 80 minutes of power or something but it just doesn’t have the same ring to it……
I prepare for my hour of power by brewing some decaf, finding a relaxing playlist on google play (but i still miss songza.com) and put on a video of a tropical beach. Earlier this year, I modified it to fit my own needs a little better and also recorded an 80 minute audio version that leads me through the steps and keeps time for me. The extra 20 minutes is a cardio workout that I added to help get me in shape.
During the 80 minute routine session I take roughly 15 minutes to write down my priority to-do’s and schedule them. That’s it. 15 minutes to schedule my whole week. Sure there are 65 other minutes to my planning session but they are used for other exercises. I will talk about my whole process in another post so for now, let’s just focus on the scheduling and time management.
Preplanning (Pen and Pad)
I start out old school analogue, grab my life pen (I will tell you that story later) and pad and write down the all the important activities I need to get done for the week. These activities include writing blog posts, shopping, my son’s cadet functions, studying, etc. Once I have the big activities written down, I break them down into smaller items like what to eat for dinner or chapter of my flying I am going to study.
Actual Planning (Digital)
After writing all the important activities down I begin to schedule them in blocks using google Calendar. Seeing the blocks of time has helped me visually comprehend my schedule and better understand what I can and can’t do in a day. If I have more than 3 or 4 blocks scheduled, I know it will be a busy day and I will need to focus and concentrate on the tasks I am attending to. Here’s what my weekly calendar looks like:
Most of the events in my calendar are repeating events. This saves a lot of time by having the basic tasks and events already scheduled. Once the event is entered into the calendar I can also edit each event to add details without changing the events after it. This is particularly helpful for events like dinner. You will eat dinner every night , but what you eat for dinner changes.
Google Calendar also allows me to set alarms for each task. No matter what I am doing I am always by my phone so I get alerted to the upcoming event or task. This way I don’t get sidelined or distracted by another task and forget what I am doing.
When Monday begins – I can lean back on autopilot and not have to worry about the rest of my day or week because I know that I have taken care of the details. When I get home from work an alarm will tell me if it is a study day or gym day in case I get off track.
Postplanning / Reflection
When I get home from work I open my agenda (MOLESKIN) and write down the time I finished work. I can’t even count the number of times I have been shorted hours on a pay check so I had to learn this lesson the hard way. I like to plan the future using black ink and record the past in red ink. My work log hours all look like this –
Since my agenda is open and I am looking at the week’s plans I have a quick glance at the next couple of day’s activities and to-dos for a reminder and then I wind down from work for a bit. Even if I pass out and have a nap an event alarm (set in google calendar)will go off and alert me to get back on schedule. I have started planning my dinners in my moleskin rather than my google calendar as well to help with grocery shopping.
That’s how I try to stay focused every week. It’s always a work in progress, I still stumble for a week or two at a time. Lately, my printer has been down so I have not been printing my regular weekly worksheets and in turn have not been keeping up with the regular routine. This week I am able to get back on track and focus. And I will try again to be consistent with my planning in order to better myself, be a good role model for my son and contribute to the overall success of my household. Thanks for reading and please leave comments, questions or concerns in the comments section!
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