Don't find time for your priorities. Make Time.
Sunday Night/Monday morning. You mentally think through all the tasks that you need to complete in the week ahead. It's going to be one hard slog, a super-busy week. Sounds familiar? Surely you won't have the time for anything else.
But if something unexpected were to happen, even during this busy week? Say:
- A pipe broke and part of your house was flooded? Would you be able to fin the time to oversee the repairs and clean up the house?
- What if your spouse or family member had an emergency, and despite being so busy, you had to cover certain duties?
- What if your laptop was to crash before your work was fully saved, and you had to re-do an important piece of work?
- Ok or something a little more exciting: there is a new episode of our favourite series or something interesting surfaced on social media or there is a spontaneous dinner planned by your friends?
We've all had such weeks before. If you are reading this, you have found a way to make it though. And even you might have realised that some items that you had on your to-do list didn't turn out to be that important after all - nothing significantly negative happened to you because you didn't compete them.
These examples show that even when we thought we didn't have time, we found a way to make time as long as we saw something to be a priority. Note the language - "MAKE" time. Trying to "find" time is a losing strategy - if something is important to you, prioritise and make time for it.
"If we focus on what matters, we can build the lives we want, in the time we got."
Laura Van Der Kam
Is there something you can do first, which will reduce or remove what you have to do later?
Newt Gingrich's metaphor of the chipmunks and the antelopes provide another insight into time management. Hunting antelopes and mice both take considerable effort, but one provides you with sufficient returns to carry on, while another leaves you with a negative ROI.
As you prioritise what you have to do, ask yourself also:
- Is there something I can do (an antelope) which will make other things easier or redundant? For example, do I really just need to speak to one person instead of having to go through 4 or 5 people?
- Is there something I can automate or delegate?
- Am I spending too much time hunting mice/chipmunks?
Develop a morning routine that helps you
So morning routines are all the rage at the moment. Every one, their pet dog, and their favourite pillow has a morning routine. Are they really that useful? Or just another fad that everyone is following?
I do see some value in a waking up routine. It helps reduce decision fatigue and makes the start of each day more productive by introducing order and habit. It ensures that each day, no matter how bad it might seem, feels the same as the good ones (we learnt that your state affects your cognition). And as humans, we function better with momentum, momentum we get as we feel like we've completed the tasks we set out to do.
One question though is what exactly goes into the waking routine. In the video above, Jim Kwik shares more about what his does when he wakes up.
There are many examples of waking routines, but I've chosen Jim's, because he had shown an uncanny ability and tremendous resolve to find what works in life. As a young child, Jim suffered a major fall and damaged his brain. He couldn't learn properly, and couldn't read even at age 5. School made me more conscious of his flaws, and made him withdrawn and less confident. He also suffers from major sleep apnea, something I also face in life. The result of this is constant sleep disruption - you struggle to get into deep sleep; your brain cannot shut down properly because it is constantly worried you might suffocate in your sleep.
Despite these challenges, in a remarkable twist of irony, the boy who couldn't read and learn is now a learning coach for the biggest companies in the world. Whether it was reading comics to learn how to read, or trialing unorthodox medicinal techniques to sleep better, Jim has always tried to find practical ways to improve his life. He did not copy his waking up routine from others, but developed one suited to himself, each step with a clearly thought-through reason.
So if you decide to adopt a waking-up routine, pick something with reasons that suit you, rather than copying what others are doing.