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Scheduling “Accomplishing Great Things” Time

“A busy calendar and a busy mind will destroy your ability to do great things in this world.” — Naval Ravikant

The week after New Year’s Eve is when everything hits the fan. People are back from vacations, tasks that were deferred come due, new initiatives kick in, and most people want to start the year off on the right foot with a high level of activity. You want to push hard on the flywheel to regain any momentum you lost over the holidays, and to have a running start for the year ahead. This buzz of activity inevitably translates into a very full calendar.

You want to get things done, so you say yes to meetings and projects that you believe will carry you to your goals. In the meantime everyone else’s hopes and dreams need to be met with some of your attention as well–maybe a 30 or 60 minute block of time next Tuesday? And this is where those lofty resolutions begin to hit resistance.

This is the whirlwind that Chris McChesney speaks of in The 4 Disciplines of Execution. The more you can stay out of the whirlwind, the more you can focus on your real priorities. And the more you can do great things in this world. Don’t we want to do a few great things in our time here in this world?

It feels like the most important thing to do is to simplify. But that’s a convenient buzzword to throw around. It’s easy to say it, but much harder to do in the crush of daily life. The answer, I think, is to book big chunks of time for thinking and working on your top priorities. To jealously guard the edges of your day when you can do the most. I’d rather get up two hours early and write than sleep in. I’d rather spend two hours reading at the end of my work day than turn on the television. Those four hours don’t make it on to my calendar, but they’re often the most productive time in my day.

If I were to add one thing to Naval’s quote, it would be this: “A busy calendar, an unfit body and a busy mind will destroy your ability to do great things in this world.” For I believe we forget sometimes (I do anyway) that a fit body and a productive mind are related. If we aren’t eating well, drinking in moderation, sleeping well and exercising regularly our minds pay for it. Blocking off time for exercise is as essential to accomplishing great things as giving yourself space to think.

With that in mind, I’m beginning to use my calendar differently than I used to. I schedule more “accomplishing great things” time. I’m keeping myself accountable by listing and checking off the key priorities in my bullet journal. And I celebrate when I draw a box around my top goals of fitness, nutrition, writing, reading and my top work priority when I can check all of them in a day. My goal is to string together a full week of closing the boxes. This turns busy into productive in a visible way. When I do, I know that I’m on the path to greater things.

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