(last edited on April 29, 2014 at 1:24 am)
Over the past several weeks, I’ve experienced the extremes of an early morning routine followed by a relapse into night-owl random sleeping. This week, I’m sort of in-between: waking up moderately early at the same time, followed by a trip (or not) to Starbucks where I can spend the first chunk of my day focused on something important. After that, it’s kind of up to what meetings I have, and what additional work I can do based on whatever energies I have left-over. You could call this a half-structured routine:
1. The Structured Morning
- A fixed but not super-early wakeup time (thanks to CricketB for the suggestion)
- Getting out of the house as soon as possible, without looking at email or social media
- Dedicating 2-4 hours of hard productive work that is TBD on a daily basis.
2. The Unstructured Afternoon
- Regular client check-in meetings
- Errands, chores
- Tasks that don’t require focused solo thinking.
3. Managing Meetings
- Meetings of any kind exact a huge amount of energy from me, from anticipation to followup.
- Because meetings often have to be in the morning, that disrupts the day. I am now severely limiting morning meetings.
- I don’t plan on STARTING anything serious done on a meeting day. I treat the entire day as an “unstructured afternoon”.
- I limit the number of days with meetings as much as possible.
Overall this seems to be serving me well, but there’s room for improvement.
Room to Think about the Future
So it seems that I have, for now at least, settled upon a routine that is working for me. Hallelujah! An interesting side-effect of this is that I’m starting to think more about the future because the present seems to be doing ok in most respects. There are, however, a few non-ideal aspects of my present routine:
- I’ve stopped going to the gym
- I’ve stopped writing as much as I would like to because…
- I haven’t been spending as much time exploring or indulging my side interests
As I realized a few weeks ago, I now see the blog not as a means to drum-up business, but as the means to have conversations that make life interesting. If I’m not interacting with people here, then I’m not moving toward the future I desire. Perhaps I should package future goals into a desirable bundle; I’m just at the beginning, I should remember, of a life journey.
Here are my NOW GOALS, designed to give me a monetary source for the future:
- productivity tool business -> create sustainable recurring revenue
- balancing client work with productivity tool business
- maintaining a productivity-enhancing feeling of well-being
- document everything on the website
My FUTURE GOALS are contingent on having forged the productivity tool business into my main revenue source, largely self-managing:
- transition completely to productivity tool business, a self-running machine that produces regular income
- take on more personal client projects, highly one-on-one
- explore new projects that have high thresholds to entry
- document everything on the website
In the future, I’d like to be able to spend time learning how to make physical things, maybe learn Chinese finally, and be able to fund interesting projects with other people like me. I’d like to buy some cool tools and embark on exploratory projects. Right now I can’t afford it, and I’m starting to realize that I’m the kind of person who has a million interests, but doesn’t like having more than 2 tasks to do at a time. To have a lot of interests and not enjoy multitasking is an interesting conundrum; I suspect this is a very common pattern.
Glad to see the regular wake time is helping. It’s a tough habit to hold on to, but worth it.
Yep, more interests than time sounds very familiar. Too familiar.
I finally put the brakes on several projects, and grouped the rest by “role in the big picture” and energy-type. All those subjects I was studying at the same time (so I thought — my diary shows otherwise) just for fun to keep my brain flexible are now a chain. Finish one, then I get to start another. I’m actually making progress on that one!
It’s a work in progress. Sometimes I realize a project filled a role I hadn’t expected. The treadmill fills the role of aerobics better than a morning walk, but the morning walk is also sociable and has sunlight. Only have time for one, so most days it’s the walk. Can even squeeze a few errands in sometimes.
I also found setting milestones at various time frames is helping me meet my long-term goals. I set goals for 2020, then broke each one down to milestones for each year, then (just for this year) each month, then (just for this season) each week. Added a column for holidays. Looked at the result. Shifted things so I didn’t have three major milestones the week of Thanksgiving. Same for December. Now, every week I look at those weekly milestones and know that I’m making progress on each thing. If something slips, I see it in relation to the big picture. Seeing my long-term goals slip week after week is very different from thinking I really should work on them some time.
It’s all in a chart, described here: http://cricketb.wordpress.com/2013/09/06/new-time-management-tool-milestone-chart-with-long-term-planning/
I’ve heard about a todo organizing scheme from some book which title eludes me, to counter this.
It went like this: you declare all interests as such and maintain a list of currently “official” interests. You can have as much interests as you want.
Each week you pick from that list a fixed number of interests (I think it was 5) and do something on them. Caveat, you are only allowed to work on those for the week. Next week you can choose a new set.
Christopher: I was about on MetaFilter and came across these book suggestions – “Refuse to Choose” and “The Renaissance Soul”. Either sound familiar? The former seems to be more well-known, but I’ve not read either.
Dave: I have found that I love mornings so much that they simply don’t last long enough! I want the hours of 6am to 8am to last about 6 hours longer.
Yes, “The Renaissance Soul” is what is was about I think.