In the first part of this series, I talked about how to increase your productivity. The minute we start thinking about how to increase productivity, we go straight to our tasks and to-do’s, and how to get things done faster and more efficiently. There’s a problem with this. We’ve skipped right past the foundation of everything, and right into the one least important part of our lives – money. There are five other, more important areas of our lives, and I’ve learned that when we take care of these other important areas, the sixth part (money) has a way of taking care of itself. Here are the six areas of your life that need to be managed and balanced.
When I studied the book, “The One Minute Millionaire,” I had set out to learn how millionaires think, one minute at a time. It turns out they are as much structured in how they manage their time as they are with how they manage their money. They break down the way that they spend their time based on six major areas of our lives:
Notice what’s last? That’s because it’s the least important.
Once I figured out how to apply this in my life, I wanted to document my journey. My 97 & Up Program was born, and now I am mentoring individuals who are learning from me, as I embark on the journey to making $1 million per year.
When I saw the break down above, it made sense to me. I need to take care of my physical health, first and foremost, and my mental health (how I feed my brain) second. The spiritual part may present some challenges for some. If you are religiously inclined, great. If not, that’s ok. When I get into a routine of meditating at least once per day, I find that this is exactly what I need, and I notice an almost immediate difference in my reactions to things. That’s all you need, and yes, there’s an app for that. I use Calm.com on my mobile device. Any time during the day, I can plug in my headset, find a comfortable position, and meditate. Even if it’s only for 10 minutes, it’s something.
When I first learned about these six areas, I stopped studying the book. Before I moved on, I wanted to make sure I could actually implement this in my life. All too often, we read a book and think about what great information it has, but never stop to incorporate what we learned into our lives. This was when I stopped reading books and started studying them.
The only way I was going to make this work was by outlining when I was going to work on each area. So, I did what I do best – I created a spreadsheet. I listed each area, and then how many hours in a day I’d like to spend in each. An hour per day at the gym works. Two hours of reading for the mind each day. I went on and added up the hours and quickly found that there was no way this was not going to work.
That template is offered to subscribers. You can create your own version of it. The next step is what is really most important.
Once I had an idea of how I wanted to spend my time across the six areas of my life, a question immediately popped into my head. This looked like an awesome plan, but how was I going to execute it?
Where do you document how you’re spending, and more importantly, how you’re GOING to spend your time? It’s not your project management and workflow apps. It isn’t your task and to-do list app. It’s something much simpler than that … your calendar!
If I want to get something done, this is where it needs to be. I use Google Calendar, but whatever calendar you use, it probably has the same basic features. When I got to this point, I went out into the future, as far as I needed to, so that I could restructure my calendar without upsetting anything already scheduled. This eliminated the objection of, "Well I can’t just go rearranging my whole schedule when I’ve made commitments to people and those commitments are reflected on my calendar!" In fact, this is exactly the point.
My calendar is a reflection of the commitments I’ve made, and now it’s time to make some new commitments to myself: to take care of my physical and mental health, and then my spiritual health, and then time, people and money.
I set up my appointments. If I was going to make it to the gym three times per week, there needed to be three recurring appointments on my calendar. The reason I do three separate recurring appointments on specific days, instead of one (this can be done with Google Calendar), is that it makes it easier to rearrange my schedule if/when I need to. The point here is not to be inflexible; the point is to have a plan, and flexibility should be part of that plan, because often times, things don’t go according to plan, and agility is how you handle this without judging yourself harshly.
Next, I put "Reading Time" appointments on my calendar. In my case, that’s a two-hour block of time from 4-6 p.m. on weekdays. Then, at 6 p.m., I am done, and there is actually an appointment on my calendar that says as much. This is my reminder that it’s time to unwind and relax, so that I don’t get burnt out. That may be "people time," or it may be time I spend binge watching Marco Polo on Netflix. Binge watching can be my spiritual time. We can meditate to clear our minds, and we can also spend time in some kind of "escapist" entertainment. Like just about everything else in life, this is good in moderation.
The time in between (e.g. 9 a.m.-4 p.m.) is when my calendar is open to take appointments. That’s my "money" time. The goal is to spend 40 hours per week. As an entrepreneur, this seems insane. The "gurus" say you have to hustle to succeed, and I say that the most important part of your hustle is based on the ability to balance properly.
When I am in a regiment of keeping to this kind of well-balanced schedule, it’s a lot like when I eat a well balanced diet – I feel better, and I am much more effective. I would argue that I accomplish twice as much in the 40 or so hours that I’m working than I do when I am putting in 80 hours and getting burnt out.
Don’t take my word for it. Try it for yourself and see how it goes. My guess is that you’ll work fewer hours, and find that in the hours that you do work, you’ll agree that you are MUCH more effective in everything that you do. It will take a bit of a leap of faith at first because we’re so "trained" that in order to succeed, we need to work all of these hours. Most people think I never sleep. I do. The above is my secret. I don’t work nearly as much as people think.
The final and most important outcome of this is that you will find you enjoy life much better. The reason is simple: if you follow the above, you will have a design for living that works because it’s one in which you are in control. You decide what you will do and when. If a client needs something, you schedule your next available time to work on it. What you don’t do is compromise these "other" appointments. They are non-negotiable because YOU are your most important client to take care of.
If you don’t take proper care of yourself, you won’t be worth a damn to your clients, anyway!