What?! Surely after all the tomes on personal development and success, how can success, including time freedom, be boiled down to just two things, sound sleep and selective scheduling?
Although the need for sleep is obvious, relatively few people really appreciate the body’s need for quality sleep to support wellbeing. Research suggests that the majority of people of working age need an average of about 7.5 hours per night. If you want to get the scoop on the importance of sleep and its benefits, look no further than to Arianne Huffington, who has written and spoken extensively on the subject.
See, for example, this Tedx talk by Arianne.
When I say selective scheduling, the word ‘selective’ can cover many important aspects. Just to name a few categories or so that might be important to you at present:
1. Sleep, diet, sex, exercise
2. Study – reading, courses, etc.
3. Goal setting and planning
4. Leisure – travel, entertainment, reading, massage, etc.
5. Meditation/ mindfulness, gratitude journaling
Years ago Darren Hardy, (associated with Success Magazine), authored a bestselling book called The Compound Effect, where he demonstrated the huge impact of slow, steady, compound improvement. More recently, Stephen Duneier gave a Tedx talk on “How to Achieve Your Most Ambitious Goals.” Here even more emphasis was given to compound improvement by doing disarmingly small chunks or tasks for as little as 5 minutes a day.
This is something I had stumbled on too, when looking into effective morning routines that can really help to set the tone for the whole day. In my piecemeal research, I saw morning rituals being advocated that were far from simple. Here, briefly is my current morning ritual:
After waking, do some breathwork and relaxation in bed. Arise and turn on my three song play list – do a few minutes exercise: running on the spot and squats to the first song I’m Alive (Hollies). Shower whilst listening to the second song Glad All Over (Dave Clark 5). Get dressed while listening to the last song: Feel this moment (Pitbull/ Christina Aguilera). Yes, I know, a couple of oldies there.
Then typically, I will listen to a 5 to 10-minute video clip of Eckhart Tolle, or Mooji, or a personal development guru; and write a small gratitude list as I gaze across the sea from my balcony, taking in the shoreline, the boats and their wake.
With respect to selective scheduling, what I found in my own life, very simply was this: I could free up enormous amounts of time by scheduling just a few priority or top tasks a day, each task with a time slot – then tot up the total time to see how much of that precious free time I got to have each day for doing whatever I pleased. For example, my daily list might look something like:
1. Write book text – 45 mins – in a nice cafe
2. Check e-mail – 5 mins
3. Send a couple of graphics off to the Graphic Designer – 20 minutes
4. Read an inspiring book – 50 mins
Total time: 2 hours – an easy day once I get the writing complete, (not that writing is necessarily tedious, it can be very enjoyable at times). This leaves about 14 hours of free time, after allowing 8 hours for sleep! And, Item 4 could be regarded as a leisure activity in some cases. Yes, you may have more challenging things to do but you get the idea. It works.
Now, care is needed to ensure that your free time doesn’t deteriorate into distraction. Developing sound habits such as mindfulness and gratitude can help you to maintain focus and wellbeing. And, these can be scheduled in until habitual.
The strength of this incredibly simple yet highly effective system lies in (a) your commitment to those helpful tasks that will move you forward, (b) that limited time slot per task – minimum 3 minutes to maximum 50 minutes; and (c) no more than 5 tasks per day – ideally 3.
Alan Sullivan is the author of Peak Performance!! Merging Spirituality and Success Principles a top ranked and top rated peak performance book on Amazon kindle. He is an ex-civil engineer and consultant specializing in management. He is currently writing a second book entitled Peak Performance!! Awaken and Achieve. Twitter: https://twitter.com/_alansullivan