Category Archives: Time

Time’s math

imageIt’s absolutely unavoidable to rest if you want to work.

Ok, I officially admit, that I’m not a hipster. I’m absolutely mainstream. They’ve been talking for years around me about how one should treat themselves better and give them more space and sleep well… Ok, here I am, after many books on anti-procrastination, getting things done, making yourself productive, you name it.

As a result, I understood some things, among them a very stupid one: you don’t have 24 hours a day. No, not even on Friday. And, no, you don’t have another 48 hours at weekends. And the more you act like you don’t know that stupid thing, the less good it does to you. Ok, say, you’re one of those mindless zombies, who sleeps 4-5 hours a day (you sleep less than that? WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU!?). Like I was just several years ago. You still have 19 to 20 hours a day, do you? Of course you do! That’s the math, it cannot lie. Unless… Unless you’re eating, telecommuting, going to bathroom, drinking, just stalking around because you don’t have the slightest idea what you were doing right now (4 hours a day sleep makes wonders) and all other stuff. And you definitely don’t do fun. Just not to be forgotten: meetings. I know, they also are your job, but usually you have some work other than meetings, and when you say “job” you don’t imagine some meeting. Usually it is getting ready for the meeting, or writing a report, or investigating something. So, actually, you don’t have 24, 19 or even 12 hours a day for your job.

I understood that, when I tried to map my own day on work (and, mind you, I worked more than 10 hours a day at the time). Actually, I was trying to find out, how much continuous time I do have throughout a work week. I started with jotting out my lunches. Then I took some time every day for doing my emails (quite a chunk of time, I dare say). And a bit more for the weekly reviews of my productivity system. And for my weekly report. After that I put into the schedule (and removed out of my life!) some regular meetings: with my direct reports and my boss, change advisory boards, and Change Management Post Implementation Reviews. And some more things. And it looks like from 40 hours a week only 19 are available for anything what haven’t been planned yet. Wow.

Now I’m taking my calendar and peek into it looking for non-regular meetings, which arise ad hoc, or are necessary to move some tasks forward. I’m counting how much of them do I have on average week and I remove them from my budget too. What I’m left with is mind-boggling 8 hours a week. Yep. 8 hours.

What should any sensible guy do after such a discovery? Of course work MORE. That solves the problem, doesn’t it? Work more – do more. It’s actually, self-explanatory and self-evident. Well, I don’t know. There are times, when one should work 20 hours a day. I’m a lucky man, last time I did it for some time was last year. I even found out, that during such times you need to take proper care of your body and your mind and thus it wasn’t worthless. So, it is a solution, sometimes. But what if we don’t take it to the extreme, if we just add a couple of hours to our work schedule. It’s just 10, not 20. Like, “I’m not ruining anything everything, I’m just working a bit more”. But then, stop and think about it again:

·         You work 10 hours

·         You sleep 8 hours (lucky us)

·         You commute 2 hours a day (in my city it’s counted as good time)

·         You eat, say, an hour (three meals a day, one at your office’s canteen with a reasonable line)

·         You have to spare at least an hour to your hygiene

·         And after all that you scarcely have ego left to miss your chance to “just look” at your social network. For two hours if you were counting with me. And, even more, if you decide, that this particular “tomorrow” will be ok with just 6 hours of sleep.

How’s that for “I need to fix this plumbing” or “I’d like to draw at least an hour a day”?

As far as I understand from my own experience, some forums and books, it is a common problem: people just don’t leave themselves time to live. My own problem was greatly diminished by what I pictured in the previous lines. I haven’t resolved it completely, but I sleep 7 to 9 hours a day, I do sports 3 to 6 hours a week, I write my blogs more or less regularly, I read (and not only in a bus), I play games, I doodle, I bake sometimes and even do my home chores. I’m not yet into something dramatic, as you see, but it is much more than what I had just a couple years ago. So, it worked for me and why don’t you try it if it is a problem for you too?

If you want to make even more impact on yourself, you may follow Neil Fiore’s approach (he calls ithappy-o-meter счастьемер Unschedule) from the book I read just recently. He says that putting all your day-to-day activities into your schedule is not enough. On contraire: you should start from putting there all you want to get from your life and what’s absolutely necessary to have one (no, it is not you weekly report): sleep, sport, fun, games, meditation, food, leisure and everything else. And only after that start with all your job activities. That’s almost my idea, I explained earlier, but in its ultimate form. Start with that if my idea doesn’t work for you. Live for several weeks with such unscheduled. And then just look back and compare your emotions, your physical state and your level of happiness to the previous levels (it may be necessary to keep a diary for some people to make real comparison). I hope, you’ll like new you better 😉