If you are anything like me, then you probably have big goals that you want to achieve and if you want to be able to achieve those goals, proper time management is key. I know this because I went from a broke and hopeless 20-something year old who had a gaming addiction and nearly dropped out of the university to a successful entrepreneur.
Through a lot of work and trial and error, I was able to grow multiple businesses to over $100,000 per month in profit.
I know what it’s like to be on both sides of this divide and I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to time management.
This is the reason why I want to run you through how I am managing my time on a daily basis and a weekly basis. I would like to give you something that you can look at and copy. I am also going to show you the principles that I developed for myself so that you can go and build your own system that will work best for you.
Note: You can't just copy my calendar directly, you need to develop something that is going to work for yourself so the rules and principles that I am going to share are actually more important than my actual calendar. The type of work that you're doing will dictate how your calendar should look like.
Some key things that you might notice in my calendar:
- I’ve got everything planned out.
- I have a wake-up routine. This is before the actual work starts.
- There are time slots that are fixed and regular. They don’t change and they repeat every week.
- Pre-start. A segue into work.
- I have an end of day routine.
- Different types of work.
You will start the week with Deep Work and then you’ll go through the middle of the week with Errands day then you will be easing into the weekends with some Deep Learning.
Rules and Principles:
1. Schedule in Advance. “Proper Planning and Preparation prevents Poor Piss Performance.”
Like I showed you, it’s done in advance and it doesn’t change so that each week you already know what you’re doing on a given day. Life interferes sometimes but the further ahead that you have that knowledge in mind, the more that you will actually be able to achieve the things that you set out to do.
Plan. Do not leave things to chance. For example, you should already know what you’re having for breakfast today. Ideally, if you’re trying to achieve goals and your goal is not eating food then your breakfast should be as simple as possible and should not take up any thought in a day.
Plan as much as possible, as far in advance as possible and then your performance will increase.
2. Batch and Prioritize.
- Deep Work / focus COMES FIRST and in large batches.
Deep Work is a book by Cal Newport and it refers to the concept of intense focus and concentration uninterrupted for extended periods of time. Deep Work needs to come first and you need to have sufficient time blocked for it. This is going to be the thing where you get the most leverage of your time so this should be the work that matters most to you.
It should be the first thing that you plan and the first thing you do when you are at peak mental performance. Focus and flow takes a lot of time to get into so you need to allow long uninterrupted blocks of time for Deep Work.
- Healthy habits bookend the end and start of the day.
I don’t just wake up and jump straight to work. I have specifically planned an hour for myself before I start work. First thing is I wake, energize, and meditate. However, I change this routine every now and then and it doesn’t really matter what I’m doing during this time. What matters is that I have something that allows me to start the day in a good way.
I fell into the habit where I just wake up and then jump straight to my computer and it’s the worst thing to do. Block out an hour, it doesn’t matter whether you spend the time to go work out, meditate, stretch, or do yoga; what matters is that you aren't just diving straight to work and you have this way of going from sleep phase then easing into the day while energizing yourself.
I actually have a pre-start ritual. To start this ritual, I always play a song from my playlist which is called Work by Rihanna and I turn it on every single day. It’s the exact same song almost every day and when I hear it, I know that it’s time to work. It gets me going and it gets me into the zone because I’ve listened to it every single day. By ritualizing it, it pulls me from my sleep to my morning routine then eventually pulls me to work. It is a really good mental flow.
At the end of the day, we also have a wind down. It could either be journaling, tidying up your notes, or whatever it is that will separate you from the work days that may have caused you a lot of stress.
Personally, I am a highly anxious person which I think means that I have high levels of cortisol. I would normally still be thinking about work when I should be sleeping or relaxing and I will not be able to get the rest that I need to get.
For me, there needs to be some sort of a nice ritual or a cool down period. My cool down period is when I tidy away my notes. By doing this, I know that everything is in order for my next work period. In the wind down period, you can do anything that is a subconscious trigger for the end of the work day and sends your mind signals to relax.
- Shallow work and errands on same days to minimize the burden on other days
The errands and shallow work are the stuff that is not really important but takes up a lot of your focus and attention. If you start thinking about your errands in the middle of your Deep Work, you are not going to be in Deep Work and you will not be able to get the important things done.
As much as possible, have Deep Work and errands on separate days.
3. Design the environment
I personally believe that for Deep Work, it needs to be in a closed environment. For my meditation, I need to have something where I can go and meditate; I will not do anything else in that room because that is my meditation spot.
The whole idea here is that everything just flows and feels as natural as possible. It’s almost like your environment and your routine is pulling you along. You’re not trying to force the routine, your environment is pulling you into it.
I think most people have a problem where they have distractions in their environment; people can come and talk to them which will eventually get them out of Deep Work.
Have a morning ritual that will help ease you comfortably into the deep work and have a ritual at the end of the day that will actually close off the day for you and will eventually ease you into getting plenty of rest.
5. Schedule R&R. What isn’t planned won’t happen (weekends and trips away).
For me personally, if it isn’t planned, it doesn’t happen. This applies for long term travels or simple weekend getaways. Just get stuff done, it could either be booking flights or planning your weekend trip, just book it and worry about the other stuff later.
R&R is arguably just as important as your work. For you to be able to work effectively, particularly knowing that Deep Work is the highest leverage time that you have, you need to be in a good state of focus or you need to be physically able to be in that state of focus. If you haven’t rested, if you haven’t slept well, and you haven’t had your R&Rs, you are not going to be able to effectively use that Deep Work time.
Because I’ve completely controlled my days, below is what I would be doing now:
- 2x Deep work. At the start of the week, this is the most important stuff so it goes first.
- 2x Errands day. Miscellaneous stuff that I need to get done.
- 1x Deep learning. I haven’t seen anyone really focus on this. This is just anything that is not specifically work but is enjoyable to me. This is currently an experiment and I am not doing it yet but I want to have a day blocked out to just learn; and I will pick what I want to learn in advance.
- 2x Leisure/planned trips.
This is my newly designed setup and it is optimized for where I am right now.
To see the previous setup that has previously worked for me(when I still had a business), please make sure to watch the video I published related to this blog post in my Youtube channel. I am in a different situation and have different needs last year so my routines last year are somehow different from my routines now.
The key thing here is everything should be accounted for. Whatever it is that you are doing should be in your calendar. If you leave things out, you’re defeating the purpose of doing it. Put everything in the calendar so that you can see it and you know what you should be doing on what time of each day.
Anyway, here are some keyboard shortcuts that makes Google Calendar a little bit more fun and seamless to use:
- T - jump to today
- N/P - jump to the next/previous date
- / - search
- d,w,m,x - change views to day, week, month, or year
- c - new event
- backspace/del - delete event
- z - undo
- g - go o date
- ? - show all shortcuts