One of the reasons I developed the Rule of 168 Hours™ is that during the many years I have been coaching, clients have needed an answer to what stands between survival and success. For the most part it has been our lack of understanding of time and how to use it. Many of us move through our day not even aware of time. We’re unable to keep in touch with the time we are present in, with the exception of lunchtime, break time or quitting time. The rest of our lives are spent just moving from one thing to another along a large list of To Do’s that need to be accomplished, without any understanding of how time can serve us in all aspects of our lives.
I have spoken in many of my articles and in my book, Time Isn’t The Problem, about how to start using a calendar properly as well as the 168 Hour Rule and why it’s important. I want to address how to use the time you slot on your calendar wisely and with intention. When you keep your commitments to others, they respect you more, right? Well, I am inviting you to have the same level of respect for yourself.
1. Do you book time to check messages and emails?
If anyone ever sends me a text or an email, they should know that I’m famous for not responding for typically two to three days. That’s intentional. That’s what I book in my calendar. If you send me a text, I may go all day before I get to it because right now, I’m focused on something or someone. It would be unacceptable for me to be sidetracked. I actually schedule time to check text messages. I do not have alerts on my desk, on my computer, on my tablet, or on my phone that can interrupt to tell me when a message arrives. My technology is set on night mode, so nothing can pop up on a screen if I am working on something else. When I am done with what is already scheduled on my day, I may check emails, but mostly I stick to my Rule of 168 Hours™ and it gets checked when scheduled.
2. Do you schedule time to rest or take a mental break?
I schedule time on my calendar using wonderful language for things like: “Take a relaxing walk with my dog in the park. Go to pray with my amazing family on Sunday. Go to the gym for a “Building my body to lead by example, enjoy a guy’s weekend fishing with my friends. Have a quite romantic dinner with the love of my life.”
When you schedule time for you to enjoy something different, away from work and other constant responsibilities, it will make you a happier person. In fact, I schedule it FIRST and work fits in between, which will also make you more productive in other areas of your life.
3. Do you schedule time for introspection of your life?
There was an interesting exercise that Keith Cunningham does every week for 45 minutes. He shuts everything down, closes his door, he gets a pad of paper out and asked himself a simple question, “What is it that I don’t know?” He thinks about life and just sits there.
We can do the same kind of thing on our calendars by simply marking off 30 minutes a week to just sit with anything that you think may be blocking you. You might be contemplating a situation that you don’t know the answer to or thinking about another way to understand a problem your facing. Maybe it’s just using that time to make a wish list for vacations you want to experience, or learning a new word from the dictionary. What is something you don’t know?
4. Staying on top of common commitments.
Do you schedule well in advance on your calendar when you need to have an annual physical, visit to the dentist for a cleaning, get the oil changed in your car? Or are you one of those millions of people who don’t schedule it and suddenly there is a problem which will actually cost you more time and money. Simply having it in your schedule to handle as a preventive measure may save you money, time, and anxiety?
For many of you who own cars, you may not even be aware what the little lights mean that can pop up on your dash. You don’t want to wait until the check engine light starts flashing while you’re on a freeway in the middle of rush hour traffic, do you? It’s so much simpler to schedule the maintenance required for the future on the same day when you get the oil changed, or your tires rotated. The simple “change oil light” invented by Honda has extended cars from 100,000 miles to well over 300,000! Scheduling these kinds of common commitments will save you so much and are so simple to pop into your calendar. Going to the doctor for annual visits can protect your health from dangers that can stop everything in your life. And not getting to the dentist can result in expensive procedures that could have been prevented.
5. Know how much time you have is all there is. Don’t squeeze things in. Plan!
There is this called future time slack. It’s the belief that we’ll have more time in the future than we do in the present, so we decide to make some sacrifices now with the promise of enjoying time later. Of course, when the future comes, we don’t have more time and we just repeat the same mistake over and over. I teach to always schedule your leisure time on your calendar first. I block out my personal life and my downtime or pit stops. Then I put in my productive work commitments. In this way I feel energized and so much more fulfilled. When I have had a crazy busy week and I’m tired, instead of trying to fit in a break, it is already scheduled and nothing else suffers. And I have something to look forward to; a goal of leisure time. What’s even better is that people who schedule this way have shown they are 4x more productive than the average person!
6. Do you schedule time to give back?
Volunteering should be part of your schedule. Whether you schedule 15 minutes a month to sit down and write checks to your favorite charity or an hour a week to go build houses with a local group, or maybe mentor someone, giving back is important! Anything that feeds your soul is feeding the stability of your foundation for success. Many people say they don’t have time to volunteer and that’s just not true. Accessing your sense of purpose for the good of others builds you up. Like I said it does not have to amount to a great deal of time, but it does need to be on your schedule to be effective to yourself and to the others who will benefit from your time. Statistics show that when you contribute beyond yourself, you actually make more income, and tend to be happier.
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Chad E Cooper