As we continue this week’s journey to put the systems in place that naturally lead to success, we need to face a hard truth: you can’t actually do it all. Everyone has the same number of hours in a week, 168. Every minute that you spend doing something is a minute you aren’t spending on everything else. Today’s tasks focus on helping you make these trade offs on purpose.
This week I’ll be posting daily todo items for you to set up the systems that will cause you to WIN in 2018.
I’ll be doing them too! You can follow me on this journey on Twitter and Instagram, @TheTonyFerrar, and join the conversation using #IntentionalPrep. Share your experience, ask me questions, and leave a comment!
The Hardest Word to Say
“No.” This word is uncomfortable. The silence that follows it seems to last an eternity. “Will this person understand?” “Is there a way to change my mind to avoid dissappointing them?” “Maybe I can squeeze it in.”
Worse than saying “no” to someone asking us for something is saying “no” to a good opportunity. I work on a college campus, a place where a person can’t walk 10 feet without a new opportunity presenting itself: join this club, work on this project, do undergrad research, get paid to be a TA, meet your friends for lunch, join a study group in the library. How can we pass any of this up!?
The answer is to remember that moment from last year when you first consciously looked forward to break.
Odds are, it was the first time you realized that you were overloaded, overcommitted, and stuck. All you could do at that point was put your head down and grind it out, looking forward to the rest you’d get when break arrived.
This year, let’s try a new strategy: become conscious of the trade off, say “no” to good opportunities so that you can say “yes” to the great ones! This is the secret to a balanced life.
- List your commitments from last year. How much time did you spend on them each week? Take some time to reflect on this. Are you pleased with the result? Did you end up where you wanted to?
- List your commitments for the upcoming year. What have you already agreed to? How much time do you need to do each of these?
- Budget your time. Write “168” at the top of a piece of paper. List your commitments and the time you will give them each week. Subtract from the total remaining hours as you go. Here are a few hints: 7 hours of sleep leads to 49 hours per week. You should spend 3 hours per credit studying outside of class. If you’re taking 15 credits, that’s 45 hours of study. Don’t forget to include time for eating, exercise, commute… and leisure! You’ll likely discover that you need to make some hard decisions here. Take the time today to make these decisions and commit. When you’re done, you should have zero hours left.
- Plan an Ideal Week. The best way to protect your time is to schedule meetings with yourself. Open your favorite calendar or spreadsheet app and start making appointments. First, add the fixed items such as classes or regular meetings. Next, schedule blocks of time for the other hours in your budget. Don’t stop until you’ve scheduled everything from your budget. Don’t like what you see? Go back to task 3 and iterate.
Don’t mistake me: you don’t need to live your life quite this rigidly.
But you do need to get in the habit of deciding how much time you’ll give something, and STOPPING when you run out. If you give an assignment 3 hours but spend 4 on it, you need to see that you’re taking an hour from somewhere else.
I actually make a new budget and Ideal Week every Monday morning. I update it a dozen times each week, and I constantly try to find ways of saying “no” to buy me more whitespace (room for spontaneity).
2018 is going to be incredible! Need help? Leave a comment or join the conversation on Twitter/Instagram #IntentionalPrep. Send me a DM and I’d love to talk with you one-on-one to help you get started!