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I Calendar Block Nearly Every Minute of My Day…and I Meet My Targets

A Sunday Hyper-Calendar Example

Why I Started Hyper-Calendaring

The most precious individual resources we have are time and health.  While much of health is genetic and/or hereditary as well as environmental, the rest of it is entirely dependent upon what we do with our time.  I was hit upside the head with this when I had my health challenges last year.  The only actionable thing I could do per my doctors was to exercise a lot using a wide variety of exercise types.  So, it ends up being that time, and time alone, is the most precious resource.

Allocating my time with this new time-intensive priority caught me a bit like a deer in headlights at first.  Managing multiple buckets of priorities and tasks was not new to me.  Since I was a small child, I’ve created frameworks for list management, for reassessment of the quality of that management, reassessing the efficacy of those processes and tools consistently.  (Remember, I love to organize and that is why lenders love to work with me.)  And I love to optimize.  To me, nothing is ever done or reached its peak.

Scheduling Provided Data on Time Spent vs. Desired Goals

After my mom died suddenly a few years ago, my desire to ensure how I spend my time matches my priorities went into overdrive.  I started blocking off my time in more granular ways.  It ended up working more like a time tracker than a time planner.  The good thing though – I was able to do an analysis and see whether the relative distribution aligned with my stated values and goals (it didn’t).

Using that data, I began to block off my calendar more proactively.  Beyond things like drop-offs and pick-ups, which are utilitarian for sure, but aren’t going to move the needle much on allocating time where you would *like* to.   Unless your goal is to be more participatory in those things!   In this phase, I calendared bedtime duty, which I was not so good at making sure I was fully present for.  I blocked off cooking time.  I also created 2 daily blocks:  Do Tomorrow’s Schedule (15 mins), and  Computer Wind Down (30 mins).

Side story here – at some point, Kid #1 saw that I had Computer Wind Down on my calendar every day and asked what it was.  A few months later, she told me how she relaxes her mind at night is to essentially think of all of her thoughts as browser tabs that need to be “wound down”.  I love how she leveraged the same underlying principle – shutting shit down so you can rest and be prepared for the next day.

Enforcing Boundaries and Getting Rid of the Guilt and Fear

Then I built up the muscles to hold the line on those blocks at work.  Ask from my leadership chain?  I will flex to incorporate.  Ask from a peer or someone on my team?  Possibly not.  And, perhaps most importantly, I refused to use Slack – no bigger time suck than that.  Email and text are just fine, thank you.  For goodness sake, I have a work phone!

I even held the line with my children.  Their bedtimes were sacred to me, and so was my Focus Time.  I found that the more I got in the habit of saying “No, I’m choosing to focus on X” or even more simply “No”, the easier it because to do so without guilt, fear, anxiety, etc.  Logically, there are 24 hours in a day – a hell of a lot of stuff needs to be told No or pushed aside.

But Was I Really Accomplishing My Goals?

This worked pretty well for about 3 years…in one sense.  I did get a lot done.  I did manage my life sanely.  We as a family weathered COVID and in-home schooling well and became much closer.  I accomplished quite a bit with my work.

However, last year when I was hit in the gut with my health status, I said the hard truth to myself: while I was accomplishing tasks and some goals, the really important stuff to me – the stuff that would mean I was living my best life – was not happening, or happening so slowly it might as well as be at a standstill.  Don’t get me wrong, I was putting in time every day – but it wasn’t amounting to much.  Similar to going to the gym regularly and putting in such low intensity or lack of strategic focus on the workout plan that you might as well not go.

50% at best on each goal.  Jack of many improvements, master of none.  Frustration and weariness in abundance.

Then Came Hyper-Calendaring

I returned to do what I do best: I optimize.  Deciding to try focusing on ONE goal, I identified the activities required to accomplish that goal.  I increased the granularity of my calendaring to ensure those activities happened, and that important non-negotiable activities (e.g. sleep, dinner w/ family which we do together every day, shower) did not get lost in the process.

Hyper-calendaring was critical to ensuring activities that tend to creep up and take away some of those 1440 minutes per day didn’t do so without my having planned to do so – e.g. prepping the weekly metrics report, reviewing the team meeting deck, prepping for 1:1s, etc.  I could also then make choices about those activities – maybe this week I won’t choose to have any 1:1 topics on my end, or maybe I won’t present at our team meeting, etc.

As I’ve already written, that ONE goal was a success.  And I absolutely could not have done it without calendaring all of my time.  There is just too much in my life that can make a mockery of my desires and plans without it, sacrificing happiness and health along with the chaos.

Scaling the Practice to More Goals and Priorities

I’m now using this practice and mindset to accomplish my next 3 goals:

  1. Publish 18 articles in 10 weeks (I didn’t say they had to be “good” or “successful”!)
  2. Spend X times of a minimum of Y minutes near my husband in 10 weeks
  3. Another weight goal in 10 weeks

It’s the middle of Week 5.  Weeks 1 – 4 went well, weathering the potential disruption of 3 weeks of vacation well.  Week 5 is meh.  Maybe it’s returning from vacation.  Maybe my expectations are too high.  Maybe it’s the Heat Index being above 100 every day.  Maybe it’s that this week has way too many external activities that require a lot of driving to and fro.  More realistic and more granular hyper-calendaring is what I did last night, and how I know I’m going to fix the trajectory.  Today is going pretty well so far!

Sample Calendar Blocks

Here’s a sampling of items on my non-work calendar recently.  Hope this is helpful for you!

  • Dog – this one is about the dog getting his business done
  • Dog + Long Walk – this one is about the dog getting his business done AND my getting in a long walk
  • Laundry – Sort and start
  • Laundry folding
  • Watch YouTube business video #1
  • Research and Process YouTube business video #1 (prepping for Friday meeting)
  • Daily Budget updates
  • Each and every exercise item – whether it be walking, jumping rope, yoga, hip conditioning / therapy exercises, arm conditioning / therapy exercises
  • Prep Kitchen + Coffee
  • Today’s Things: Calls
  • Today’s Things: Move Around – Inside
  • Today’s Things: Move Around – Outside
  • Return Library Books
  • I also put into my calendar my kids’ Practice Skills time (as they may need my support during that time)
  • I also put into my calendar the times my husband and/or kids have activities as I know I need to work my allocations in concert with those
  • Nap for 2 hours
  • Calendar time – a weekly activity where I sort out the upcoming Saturday – Friday week
  • Bedtimes – Anita (when I’m on duty)
  • Cook
  • Cook prep


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