If something is important, then it needs to get done, right? Yet, how often do you find that seemingly important priorities almost always seem to fall through the cracks? Even if you are able to squeeze in a few tasks here and there, how often are you able to get them done with quality time and focus?
A lot of motivational speakers and life coaches, including me, talk about developing an outrageous vision – all of the things we want to experience, achieve and accomplish, and how we want to have lived our life. As humans, we crave growth and action, even if we convince ourselves that we are clueless and fearful. Having a compelling vision for our future keeps us moving forward. As Harvard professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter said, “A vision isn’t just a picture of what could be; it’s an appeal to our better selves, a call to become something more.”
Visioning, if done right, you can create the life of your dreams. Visioning, if done right, you can create that abundant and fulfilling life. Visioning, if done right, you can design that right balance between your work life and personal life. But, nothing works until you do. The missing link of visioning that most of us aren’t willing to commit to is scheduling in these priorities and intermediate targets that will move us closer to our vision.
Have you heard of the term, ‘Student’s Syndrome’? It’s a term used to highlight the ever-increasing practice of leaving out the school assignments until the last moment and putting oneself through undue stress and pressure. This syndrome applies to all of us, even today, even if we are no longer high school students. When it comes to our work assignments, we still tend to fully apply ourselves to the task just at the last possible moment before it’s due.
Do you find yourself often ending up with little or no time? That’s because, during the course of the day and week, we often end up trading one distraction for another completely oblivious to the fact that we eventually just drifting along. Without a schedule, everything seems urgent and important – even procrastination! The first step to using your time better is knowing how you’re spending it now. Do a time audit for a week, where you track (or roughly track as often as you remember) what you are doing the entire day. Track as much (or as little) of how you spend your time across different departments – work, sleep, errands, family, TV, etc… Remember, there is no wrong way to do this! Do what works for you. Weekends could look different from weekdays – track them too! At the end of the entire week (7 days), look at your time logs and you can see where your hours go. Do you feel disappointed and exhausted? Do you feel you have no control over your days and weeks? Do you feel being tossed around like a ping-pong ball?
If It’s Important, Schedule It
If you don’t build your dream someone will hire you to help build theirs. Scheduling in your dreams and vision has to take priority in your life over all other things. It doesn’t have to be something herculean and disruptive. It has to be consistent, disciplined, and tiny. Robin Sharma says, “Small daily, seemingly insignificant actions, when done consistently over time, lead to stunning results.”
Schedule your priorities first. Look at your vision and the different areas of your life, and decide how much time you want to spend on each domain of your life. Extend your vision onto your calendar. Start small, even if it means starting with one afternoon per week. See how it works out. Then slowly build to more days per week. Scheduling is all about reflecting and refining. It is not a done and dusted process. Nir Eyal, the author of Indistractable, talks about setting an implementation intention and timeboxing as an effective system for scheduling. In his book, he talks about asking yourself two questions on a regular basis:
- When in my schedule did I do what I said I would do and when did I get distracted?
- Are there changes I can make to my calendar that will give me the time I need to better live out my vision?
By scheduling, you ensure that you are the one prioritizing your life. Stop reacting to situations. It’s time to take matters into your own hands!
This article has been adapted from my book, The Winning You: Master Your Focus And Avoid Distractions.