This post is the second in a two part series. Read the first part if you have not done so already.
So now on to the process.
I carry a Bullet Journal and I tried to use it as intended, but I’m just too digital to fit into an analog system. If you hand me a hard copy, I’m sure to lose it before it reaches its intended audience! The primary motivator for my digital world, however, is immediate access. I may or may not have my journal on me. I may or may not have my computer close by. I will, however, almost always, have my phone within reach. Therefore, I want everything to be accessible on my phone…every document, note, appointment, contact, receipt, and anything else I could possibly need, without delay.
The process of creating an ideal week begins in my journal. The key is that every single second of every single day is claimed. I draw a one week calendar and allow space for 30 minute intervals within each 24 hour day. Then, I start with the highest priority items. For me, those items are my wife, my children, sleep, working out, prayer, Bible study, leadership development, future planning, and message prep. Here’s the thing…almost no one is not going to approach me about making sure that I am spending adequate time on each of these priorities. I know that I am at my best and healthiest when I make them priority over the ways that others would prefer I use my time. Ultimately, it’s up to me to make sure my priorities are prioritized on my calendar!
Once my ideal week is on paper; which changes with different seasons of life, I then enter each block of time as an appointment into an online calendar named “Ideal.” I use multiple Google calendars that my wife, Emily, and I keep synced to all of our devices. My phone, or other device, notifies me when it is time to move on to the next “appointment.”
Now comes the hard part.
The most difficult part of this whole process is staying on schedule! This means that I have to say no (or at least not now) a lot; which is super tough for us pastors and other people pleasers. It also means that I have to be disciplined to turn off Netflix and close Instagram when my phone tells me that it’s time to go to sleep.
Another piece of this process is an (almost) nightly personal planning meeting. I spend five minutes looking over the ideal schedule for the next day, inserting meetings and individual tasks into the various categories that have been scheduled, and also checking with Emily to make sure I’m not missing anything as far as her schedule or the family is concerned. This way, I have a full plan for how to accomplish what I hope to get done.
This process of stewarding my time has been an evolution. The next step, into which I have yet to venture, is to track my energy. Tracking my energy requires having a measurement system through which I record and document the times during the day I am at my most productive and when my energy is at its highest along with the times when I am at my lowest energy level. Then I would calendar my priorities in correlation to my energy level throughout the day.
Lastly, I’ll say that there is a reason this is called the “ideal” week, rather than the “inflexible-carved-in-stone-won’t-budge-for-nothing-or-noone” week. The key is being flexible when there is a true need, but also staying disciplined and on schedule when there is not. I celebrate the days that I stick to the schedule and I don’t beat myself (or anyone else) up on those nights where my day wasn’t able to go exactly as I had planned. The world, afterall, does not revolve entirely around me.
I would love to hear how you try to best steward your time. Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below!