Cutting Your Schedule
It's said that the worst boss that you'll ever work for is yourself. At one time or another, you may take on a side job in addition to the work at your main employer. When you take on additional work, there's little opportunity for you to take on additional hours in the day. Instead, hours have to be reallocated from activities such as watching TV, surfing the Internet, or sleep. At the same time, a fast paced life is kind of fun. The American Dream compels us to get out of bed at 5am and stay up late into the night toiling so that we can have it all.
We all wish we could spend hours every day with our family. In fact, family time is perhaps the single highest priority that we have in our daily schedules. No matter how hard we have to work or how long our to-do list is, we yearn to have downtime to play in the yard with our kids or at the very least to share a meal together. There's no doubt that our schedules are pushed to the limit in an attempt to wring out every last moment of productivity. When you do find yourself in a place where you need more time during the day, cut television and internet first, then choose wisely.
Full schedules demand precise scheduling and sincere sacrifice. Sleep can only be trimmed so far before it starts working against you, but when your schedule demands more time, you can be certain that your days of sleeping in are over. That's why it's so important for us to be time management surgeons. We need to cut the right things, we need to trim other things back, and we need to act with deadly precision. There are some activities that can be cut out entirely, but there are others that will need to be aggressively curtailed. Take, for example, the time you spend reading daily. Reading is a very good thing and it helps you grow as a person. While reading the right books may be wildly stimulating, if you need more time, you might have to place limits on your reading, perhaps cutting back to 30 minutes a day. An hour or two a day of reading might get you further, faster, but when your schedule is tight, those extra minutes are a luxury that can be traded in for the sake of family time.
When it comes to cutting critical activities, it can be helpful to create a prioritized list. Prayer, work, play, and relaxation are all a part of a healthy lifestyle, but when cuts have to be made, everything is on the table. By prioritizing the importance of each activity in your daily life, you can save the most important while sacrificing the least important. In this way, you maintain the integrity of those things that are most essential to your routine. As always, when trying new systems and time management ideas, it's best to experiment for a few days and see how things work out. You can always add things back in or make further cuts based on your experience.
Now, let's briefly put these ideas into action. My web design business has really been taking off and I've needed to find more time during the day to work so that I can take on more clients and grow my business. I've determined that my maximum number of work hours during the day is around 7 hours. That gives me time in the evening to spend with Alison, time during the day to care for Benedict, and time in the morning for prayer, reading, and exercise. From my leisure time, I've had to cut reading the newspaper as it took almost two hours a day for me to get through it. I could have simply pushed newspaper reading into the evening, but that would take away from time with Alison, so the cut had to be made. With those 7 hours for work, I've allocated five hours to client web design work and two hours to Catholic Husband and other activities. Of those two hours, one is dedicated to the blog, so that leaves me with 60 short minutes a day to work on other projects, like books and iOS app development.
Would I like to read the newspaper daily? Absolutely. Would I prefer to release new products throughout the year? Definitely. Yet, I've come to the conclusion that there simply isn't enough time. So, I focus on the activities that will generate the most revenue for the business and income for my family. At the same time, I made cuts in order to preserve my family time, and I've maintained focus on a project that I really love, the blog.
Time management is truly a skill that we must learn and master, and it demands that we make difficult cuts. Yet, to save the things that we love, we must sacrifice. I encourage you to go through a similar process and ensure that you're doing the things that you want and cutting what needs to be cut.