Stephen Covey once said, “Wars are won in the general’s tent.” In other words, preplanning, deciding on priorities, and committing to action is the difference between random success and consistent success when it comes to your most important goals.
If you’re like me, you do battle every day (all day!) with the “tyranny of the urgent” as emails, texts, messages, traffic/travel, social media, and good old-fashioned phone calls sweep in, determined to derail even the best-laid plans for a highly-productive day. Granted, I have a lot of things that matter to me: my physical and emotional health, my close relationships, my business, my clients, my home, my pets, and my spiritual practice. And on top of all that, there are some new business initiatives I’m very excited about developing—the new book I’m writing, locating our forever home, and finishing whatever book that my book club has chosen for that month, just to name a few. Managing it all well can be daunting, to say the least.
My biggest frustration is finding myself pushing out the things that really matter to me to make room for all the daily tasks that are nagging me in the background and vying for my attention. I want to spend time with my father, my grown boys, our grandchildren, and my friends… not to mention, my darling husband. I want to stay current on business trends and world events. I want to check off some travel items and experiences off my life’s to-do list. And every now and then, I just simply want to do nothing. But, I was definitely dropping some important balls in this big juggling act called life.
So, I went looking for an answer—a system that might help me navigate these busy but important waters of productivity and my life’s priorities just a little bit better. One of the simplest systems I found was The Calendar Club at Build Your Life Resume. In it, Jesse Itzler, teaches how to manage your calendar so that you focus on your priorities and stop letting the months and years tick by without realizing the life you wanted.
I’ve implemented just a few of his suggestions and its already making a huge difference for me. Here’s what I did:
- MISOGI – I selected one annual “defining event” that was so big that it will positively impact the 365 days around it. My 2022 MISOGI is to finish my book. I’ve blocked out unmovable time commitments to get it done. I’ll select a new one every year. Jesse suggests it doesn’t always have to be a professional event; it can also be a personal one, but just make it a defining one!
- Kevin’s Rule – Scheduled one “mini adventure” every 8 weeks over a weekend that holds the space for some fun, growth, and time with friends and family. Ours are now blocked on the calendar.
- Quarterly growth – Select one new habit per quarter to focus on. It’s only 4 per year, but three months is just long enough to engrain the new habit. Four new positive habits each year creates amazing momentum. My new habit this quarter is to drink the right amount of water my body needs every day.
- Working hours – As a solo entrepreneur, I can start or stop work any time I want, but committing to a start and stop time each day is helping me to not only maintain balance but also to make more effective decisions throughout the day.
- Sunday night review – evaluating the coming week and recommitting to my priorities every Sunday evening after dinner. I put myself on the calendar first so that my walks and workouts are secured every day as well as date nights with my hubby, my monthly book club meeting with my girlfriends, a weekly call with my sons, and a monthly dinner with my dad. With travel demands, each week looks a little different for me, but if I commit to a pre-week review, I can move these things around so they don’t drop off completely and become a casualty to everything else.
- Morning routine and nightly review – I’ve developed a short 15-minute morning routine of meditation and stretching. Then, in the evening, Tom and I celebrate the day over dinner and look ahead to the next day to shore up commitments for tomorrow.
I do believe in the value of spontaneity and vow not to lose my ability to flex with any routine, calendar, or schedule I put into practice. But I also know if I want to accomplish some pretty ambitious goals and live a life of my own design, filled with all the people, experiences, love and laughter that I want, then I have to be the undeniable commander of my calendar. I have to win this war in the General’s tent by preplanning, putting myself and my priorities on the calendar first, and committing to the actions that will keep me firmly on my course to victory.
“The only thing that endures over time is the Law of the Farm. You must prepare the ground, plant the seed, cultivate the soil, and water it if you expect to reap the harvest.”
~ Stephen Covey