If there is one question I get asked more than any other, it’s “how do you find time to do it all?” And while I don’t have the perfect routine, I’m proud of what I’ve created through working hard on my time management over the last 10 years.
I’ve come a long way, and I think I can give a little insight into how to fit everything into your day, without exploding from stress.
Now for some background, if you don’t know me. I’m active duty military, stationed at one of the busiest fighter bases in the world, so to say I work a full-time job is an understatement. I also run two active blogs as a side business. I’m a full-time student working on my BS in Finance.
I also find the time to read, exercise, and spend many hours traveling Europe with my wife and five kids. Of course, there are times when I’m away for work (deployments, training, etc.), but when I’m home, I’m fully home, and when I’m at work, I’m fully at work.
So how do I fit all of this without going mad? One word: schedule. That’s it. The end. Thanks for reading!
Ok, fine, I’ll explain. Here it goes…
Calendar Vs. To-Do-List
“Don’t be fooled by the calendar. There are only as many days in the year as you make use of. One man gets only a week’s value out of a year while another man gets a full year’s value out of a week.”
– Charles Richards
I’m going to start with this, because it’s the most important thing. It’s the one thing, above all other things, that allows me to fit everything in. I have a to-do list (I use Habitica), but that’s not where the magic happens.
The magic happens on my calendar.
I know everything that needs to get done because of my to-do list, but most people stop there. Your to-do list must transfer to a schedule or you’re never going to get it all done. You need to know exactly when you’re going to do everything you’re going to do.
As for my daily rituals, such as my morning routine, I plan it out to the minute. I think it’s fun. If you’re not a nerd, you probably won’t think it’s fun. This is all about intentional time management. Of course, we can’t manage time itself, we can only manage how we use the time.
Before I explain my mornings, we need to talk about this by-the-minute scheduling thing.
Scheduling Every Minute
I schedule every minute of my day. You’ll see what that looks like in a moment when we talk about my mornings, but I need to make something exceedingly clear here…
Scheduling every minute shouldn’t be stressful. You shouldn’t get anxious when something takes longer than planned. It’s not a hard schedule. It’s a fluid schedule. If something goes over the allotted time, change the rest of the schedule. It’s meant to be a guide, not a law.
Scheduling every minute makes you intentional about what you spend your time on, and for the first few months, it really opens your eyes to how much time you spend on things. You never plan to spend an hour on Snapchat or Facebook, but it happens.
It shouldn’t happen if you schedule your time. Now I’ll show you some specifics…
My Morning Ritual
I am productive, even with a busy job and a family of seven, because I use my mornings wisely. Mornings may or may not be the best time for you. I prefer mornings because I’m more creative in the mornings, and it’s the only time when my house is completely still and silent.
If evenings meet those standards for you, use your evenings. Again, this is just what I do. I hope it helps you create your own ritual. Moreover, I use the term “ritual,” not to be weird and spiritual-sounding, but because “routine” is a boring word, and I don’t want a boring routine. I want an intentional ritual.
I always plan my mornings the night before. I’ve heard that most people’s brains are more creative in the morning, and more reasonable and analytical at night. Considering how much controversy there is over studies about mornings, evenings, and creativity, I’m not going to say that this is science, but it seems to be true for me.
Here’s my standard morning (yours will vary):
- 0300 Wake up, make coffee (Croatian or Turkish)
- 0315 Bible study and prayer
- 0345 Journal (I keep a private online journal)
- 0400 Write for Freedom Sprout
- 0500 Write for my other blog
- 0600 Check email (first time of the day – I only check it twice, at most)
- 0630 Get kids up and we have our morning ritual
- 0700 Walk kids to bus stop
- 0710 Get ready for the gym
- 0730 Drive to the gym (listen to a book on the way)
- 0800 Work out (lifting, cardio, or both, depending the day)
- 0830 Shower, get ready for work
- 0900 Work
I get more done before 8:00am than I used to do in a week. I typically get off around 5:00pm when nothing crazy is going on at work. I listen to a book on the way home (30 minute drive each way), and then eat dinner with my family and spend the evening together.
Intentional Time Management
I don’t get on the computer after work. That’s family time. We only turn on the TV if we’re having a family movie night, but we prefer a family game night.
Occasionally, my morning ritual fluctuates. I replace writing with homework, but I usually try to do my homework on my lunch break. I don’t stress to fit everything in, but if it works out for me to do something productive on my lunch break, I use it wisely.
We spend the weekends together, often traveling Europe, especially on long weekends. We’ve downsized so much that we don’t spend near as much time in the garage going through things we should’ve never bought in the first place.
I do have to give a shoutout to minimalism here. I know everyone hates faddish terms like that, but getting rid of so many unimportant things has really allowed us to spend more time together as a family. Our minimalism journey has been life changing.
If you rid your life of all the unimportant things that steal your time, and plan your days in advance, you can do the things you didn’t think you had time for. It requires effort to start planning this way, but aren’t you trying to make the most out of this life?
Further Book Reading
- The Minimalist Home by Joshua Becker
- Intentional Living by John Maxwell
- A Simplified Life by Emily Ley
Over to You!
- Do you feel like you’re productive each day?
- Do you have secrets that help you and your family to be productive?