Say I had your permission to follow you around for a week. Awake hours only. At work, at home, at the gym. We would never talk, and I’d take plenty of notes. The end of the week comes, and I give you a piece of paper. It says here are your priorities. What would yours say?
Now someone, let’s call her Izzy, comes to talk to you a week before me. She asked you to write down your priorities. Family, Work, and health; you write. You’re told to be more specific. For example: spend an hour of quality time with your wife daily, focus on your new project, exercise for 15 minutes a day. Those are better.
Izzy and I compare notes. What do we see? Do you spend time where you say your priorities are? I know I don’t. I try. It’s hard to live up to your ideals. But ever since I did this exercise, I’ve been able to get closer. Closer to spending time with what I say is important.
If you’re like me, you’re working throughout the day. Notes, side hustles, administration. Work is being done through all waking hours. But there’s more to life than work. I know. I’ve even written it down as a priority. But how much time do I dedicate to my non-work priorities? 10% of my day? 20%?
Some weeks: it’s 90% work and 10% family. Other weeks 80% work, 10% family, But life is passing me by. Work will always be there. There will always be more. More projects to pick up. More money on the table.
With this goal in mind, I’ve been better. I have some tricks though. I realized those three priorities don’t have to be done individually. My wife and I exercise together. Quality family time and health are taken care of together. We changed our diet. We eat healthy. Again quality time and health.
Instead of working in the office, we work together. She may be studying or shopping. Usually the latter, and I’ll be typing away. Or on a phone call. It’s not a replacement for quality time, but we fit in quality time when we can. We try to do the weekly date night. It usually occurs every two weeks. But we try.
I could get some more done. Pick up another project or side hustle. But that’s okay. They will always be there. This time with my family and my good health is priceless.
What does a typical day look like for you? You wake up, then coffee. More than likely you grab your phone, respond to some texts or emails. Go to work. Come home, some family time. Dinner, TV, and then sleep.
If you’re like me, then between all those times you try to fit in as much as you can. Read articles or blog posts. Listen to podcasts. Try to get a workout in if there’s time. You squeeze out every minute of free time. out. All in the name of productivity.
There’s not a bit of free time. Free time. Do we even need it?
Well, think back. When was the last time you had an epiphany? What were you doing? All a sudden an answer comes to you despite not thinking about the problem at all. Your mind was idle for a bit so it had the brainpower to work on your problems in the background.
Or it was something you told yourself you have to remember, but somehow you forgot. Just letting your mind sit idle for a bit was able to bring it back.
We often run our brain at top speed and wonder why we still feel tired after a good night’s sleep. Our brain is mentally exhausted because it’s been working non-stop. It would be like going to the gym for 8-12 hours a day and expecting not to be sore the next day. Then beat myself up when I can’t come up with any creative solutions for my big problems.
To combat this, I try to insert a bit of free time throughout the day. So that my brain can run free. It can relax if it wants, or go and attack whatever it wants in the background.
Small stuff here and there. I stopped taking out my phone as soon as I got in the elevator. I sit there and stare at the door. A few seconds of blissful free time. I’ll listen to music or even commute in a silent car. Instead of turning on a podcast as soon as I step in the car. I’ll wash the dishes and resist the need to play a video or podcast.
Try to think of where you can insert a little free time into your life. Your brain will surprise you with how much more productive it can be with a little rest and free time.