Oct. 21, 2010
Total Distance for today: 0 (in Baltimore, arranging opportunities ahead)
Total Distance for Trip: approx. 233 miles
Current Location: Baltimore, MD
Here for a While
I’ve basically expected that this skate across the country is going to involve a lot of stopping and going. Due to the nature of the tour, it makes the most sense to skate like a madman between big cities and then stop to schedule ahead for the next big city. I think a lot of that will change as we begin to build some more traction and more people know about the tour. That’s where you come in – keeping spreading the word! Thursday was actually an important day, because I had some time to create something of an adaptable schedule, which I plan to follow for a while. I’m finding that I’m going so many directions that it’s easy to feel like I skated and worked all day but never actually achieve anything.
Sometimes, we think that refusing to follow any form of schedule is the best way to stay focused on the most important opportunities and tasks as they arrive. There’s some truth to that, especially for entrepreneurs. Opportunities don’t always fit into our perfectly defined little schedules, but I think a lot of us take that mindset too far.
One of the reasons for developing some form of flexible schedule for yourself is actually to ensure that you stay focused on the most important tasks and don’t get constantly side-tracked by things that don’t deserve so much attention. Looking back on the support-building phase of this tour (did it ever stop?), I realize now that the “random” opportunities typically came as a result of my consistent hard work day to day. Had I been a little more regimented, I think I would have actually stressed a lot less and focused more on the things I actually needed to do to build support. Often, we find that the most important tasks of the day don’t take that much time or work, but they take boldness. Making contact with Dan from APV involved very little work, but it was the most important connection I made leading up to this skate.
So, it seems that what we need is to organize our time in such a way as to maximize the high-impact activity and minimize the dribble that leads to nothing. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to tell the difference between the two. Here is my suggestion as to how to manage your days:
Freedom Skater’s Prescription for a Flexible Life Regimen
1. Identify your main broad 90 day objectives (2-5 objectives, both personal and professional).
2. Name specific high-impact daily or weekly activities that will help you reach those objectives.
3. Create a week schedule in Excel (or whatever you like) that allows you to see your whole week in one screen.
4. Divide up your days into blocks which will be assigned to the tasks that will make your goals into realities.
5. Focus on high-impact tasks and make sure to include a short period of time for planning each day. This is when you will decide what deserves your attention in regard to your main goals.
6. Stick to the schedule, but be willing to roll with it. The schedule was designed to serve you – not the other way around! You should adapt as needed everyday. The schedule simply provides a framework that will help you to stay focused on what you claim to want to achieve.
Objections to Scheduling
1. I don’t want to be a robot!
Surprising Truth: If you don’t plan your life, someone else will.
When you refuse to plan out your days and the direction you’re moving (your goals), you allow random day-to-day events to alter the direction you move in and weaken your overall force. Without a schedule or plan, you are completely at the mercy of random events and the plans that others make. If you don’t plan for you, someone else will! How is that not being a robot?
2. I don’t want to be a workaholic!
Surprising Truth: A schedule should restrain work to the hours you choose. Leaving your whole day unplanned ensures that at every moment, you will feel as though you should probably be working. If you actually have the discipline to develop and follow a workable schedule, you can take back control of your life. If you plan to go horseback riding for two hours every Wednesday at 3 PM, you should be just as serious about that as you are about work-tasks. Life is too short to only take work seriously!
3. It’s too much work!
Surprising Truth: It’s more work not too.
I think it’s a given that refusing to plan will cause you to miss opportunities, because without a plan, you don’t have anything to consistently pull you back to the tasks you have identified as high-impact. More importantly, if you have no plan, every task will seem like it is important and urgent. Your life will be consumed by an unrestrained flow pf often menial tasks. You’ll work more and achieve less.
You can see the current daily schedule for my time in Baltimore and DC here. It should serve as a good example. You’ll note that I’m finally getting back to doing something with my passion for foreign language. That’s a perfect example of how planning can free you up to do something you actually wanted to do in the first place.