When it comes to living the life we want to live, there are good days and there are bad days. We have all bad days. And sometimes we can’t change these days. But there are many days—like when life zips by in a series of flashes and suddenly you’re on the way to pick up that child from practice and your to-do list didn’t get any shorter—that we can do something about. And learning to change these days is one of the most important lessons we will ever learn.
Reduce the Time You Spend on Your Work
The biggest misconception people have about working less is that you’ll get less done. In reality, if you made yourself work twenty hours this week instead of forty, you would likely adjust quickly to identifying what is important, and to only doing those things. This is the premise behind the concept of editing down the time you spend at work.
Once you’ve tracked your time for a few weeks and know where you are spending your time, you are ready to tackle the task of editing down the time you’re spending on your work
Develop a Morning Routine
Getting up earlier isn’t all you need to set yourself up to win. After all, it matters immensely what you do in that morning time. This is a simple routine built around the acronym P.R.E.S.E.N.T., which helps me remember to implement the seven most important things I need to do each and every day to keep me present in my life—and to do those things in the mornings.
In brief, the letters stand for:
Pray (for guidance, direction)
Read (usually something scriptural or devotional)
Express (put your thoughts on paper)
Schedule (sketch out an overview of the day)
Exercise (you’ll feel better when you move daily!)
Nourish (do something for yourself)
Track (at the end of the day, track your progress in how much of your routine you were able to accomplish)
Order Your Day to Win
In order to work well, you need to know when you are most effective and utilize those times to do your work. We all have times of the day and days of the week that work best for particular tasks, and it is essential to figure out what those times are, and to make sure that we respect them to their holiest extent.
When is the Right Time of Day to Work?
If you want to work toward having more productive days, it is essential to figure out the best times of days to do the activities that either make up your Best 20%, or are otherwise required for you and your family to live a great life, and then to build a loose schedule around it. You won’t be able to choose things perfectly, but trying to create your schedule around your best times—and knowing why something isn’t working well if it’s out of order— is just as essential.
Set Your Break Boundaries and Stick to Them
Boundaries are always tough, and your break boundaries are just as challenging. Even on a social media break, say, you might wake up one morning with an insatiable itch to scroll through Facebook for the teams of babies born in your network overnight. Don’t do it. A break is a break, and if you’ve decided to take one, uphold your boundaries.
Depending on the level of intensity of your digital detox, you’ve got to plan. Write blog posts, schedule social media updates, and set auto-responders on your email addresses alerting folks. Especially if you are going offline for more than few days, making sure that you’ve got a good auto-response is key. Importantly, you’ve got to do it right in order to encourage folks to not expect a response, and not try to contact you through other means.
Make It Public
Another benefit to telling your friends and family what you’re doing: it will encourage them to keep you on track. Tell them to slap your wrist, or guide you gently toward the ink and quill for your communication needs.
Have a Backup Plan
There is always the chance that someone really needs to get in touch, and so it’s a good idea to have a backup plan. Whether that means hiring someone to help out (or tasking a current hire with the job), or checking texts on occasion for urgent messages, think of the way that you’ll feel both digitally disconnected and responsible at the same time.
We’ve explored what it means to live in a world where there are too many things on our plate. This is our reality, and it’s not going away. That said, none of this living is worth it if you don’t have a clear idea of what you’re living for. Each of us has an inner compass telling us why we’re here and what we want out of this time on earth—to pursue the calling of our life, to raise our family well, to be a leader in our faith or community, to serve as a source of motivation for the world.
This article is adapted from Design Your Day: Be More Productive, Set Better Goals, and Live Life on Purpose by Claire Díaz-Ortiz. ©2016 by Claire Díaz-Ortiz and Moody Publishers. Used with permission.
Claire Díaz-Ortiz is an author, speaker, and technology innovator who has been named one of the 100 Most Creative People in Business by Fast Company. Claire was an early employee at Twitter, Inc., where she spent five and a half years leading social innovation. Claire is the author of several books, including her new book, Design Your Day: Be More Productive, Set Better Goals, and Live Life on Purposefrom Moody Publishers. Her popular business blog at www.ClaireDiazOrtiz.com boasts more than 100,000 monthly readers.
Claire holds an MBA from Oxford University and has a BA and an MA in anthropology from Stanford University. She has appeared widely in major television and print news sources such as CNN, BBC, Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, “Good Morning America,” “The Today Show,” The Washington Post, Fortune, Forbes, Wired, Fast Company, and many others. Read more about Claire at www.ClaireDiazOrtiz.com or on Twitter @Claire.
Publication date: July 19, 2016