In an earlier post this week, I talked about why I still block my days even though I’m stuck at home and can’t anywhere. After posting it to Facebook, I got a question about how I do it. It isn’t as intimidating or as complicated as it seems. All we need are a paper calendar, some highlighters, and a pen. Here’s my process.
Determine Your Colors
With a five-color pack of highlighters, we have all we need to cover the bases of our lives. I use all five colors and every color has a meaning.
Green – Money Time. Important meetings that generate revenue Or Activities essential to making money.
Blue – Learning Time. Time spent reading, researching, or training.
Orange – Content Creation Time. This is the time I set aside to write and create.
Yellow – Prep Time. Time spent getting ready for key meetings or planning.
Pink- Personal Time. Time spent with family, working out, or relaxing.
These are the areas that make up my life and every area has a color.
Big Rocks First
Now that I have my colors, I spend my Friday afternoons blocking out the most important events for the following week. During normal times these include when I will be seeing clients and key meetings I will be taking. Now, it is more about when I will be reading and creating, but following Stephen Covey’s First Things First philosophy, I plan those events first so that the smaller things fit around them. I block out a week in advance how I want to spend my time rather than waiting for the day to tell me how I’m going to spend my time.
Plan Weekly / Adjust Daily
Once I have my big rocks in place, every morning I spend the first 15 minutes of every day examining what needs to be done and what time I have available to do it. It’s during this time that the rest of my day will get blocked out based upon that day’s priorities, but my big rocks stay protected – they don’t move. An example of this is my workout. I know a lot of people who have to work out first thing in the morning or it doesn’t happen. I’m not one of those people. My mornings consist of barn work and, during normal times, getting my kids off to school. Now I’m more of a professor but my mornings are still full. How do I still manage to get my workout in? I schedule it a week in advance and I protect that block as if it’s as important as any other commitment I make. Everything else fits in around it. I plan weekly and adjust daily.
Freedom In The Discipline
Jocko Willink has the great quote that “Discipline equals freedom.” That’s why I love my schedule. Because I don’t have to think about what I’m going to do or when I’m going to do it, I have the freedom to flow through my day. I just move from one block to the next. I run my day rather than having my day run me. Whenever I work with a burned-out executive, one of the first things we always start with is a blocked schedule and I’m yet to have one tell me they want to go back after trying it. It’s a powerful tool and not nearly as difficult or complex as it seems. If you’re feeling burned out and stressed, take control and block your schedule. You can thank me later.