An Example of Productivity

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My calendar from last week

At the beginning of each week, I try and set my calendar as much as I can for the entire upcoming week leaving quite a bit of room for flexibility and unforeseen events that pop up.

Much of my calendar is easy to put together, as a lot of my day to day activities are non-negotiable.

Non-negotiable Activities

Upon waking up without an alarm somewhere in the vicinity of 6 AM, I sit on a chair close to my bed and go through a morning wake-up routine.  First, I write the following affirmation down three times in a small notebook.

 I will become fluent in Norwegian, German, and Spanish, be able to play the guitar really well, and obtain a black belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu as well as ASA and ACAS certifications.

Some of these goals are extremely lofty, and if met, will take 12-20 years.  Others, like the ASA (Associate of the Society of Actuaries) and ACAS (Associate of the Casualty Actuary Society), I may be able to accomplish within the next 3-5 years.

I began writing this affirmation down each morning a few weeks before I even had a guitar in my possession.  Writing it down each morning, however, finally gave me the inspiration to start whatever process would eventually lead to making this affirmation true. I finally asked to borrow a friend’s guitar for a while.

After writing this affirmation, I then read a small section out of a book that has small tidbits of wisdom. Currently, I read an individual mentor’s contribution to Tim Ferriss’s book, Tribe of Mentors, followed by a verse or two out of Tao Te Ching by Lao Tsu.

Now that you’ve read my affirmation, my non-negotiable activities are easy to identify. I schedule many hours a week studying for the IFM exam, which I am scheduled to take in November and will help me get one step closer to both ASA and ACAS certifications. I attend Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ) class 2-3 times a week usually. Last week it was scheduled only once because of a bum shoulder. You’ll also notice guitar practice and language learning scheduled every evening.  As Duolingo will constantly remind you now, language is best learned right before bed.

Writing this blog has become important to me, as I love writing and want to continuously improve.  Recently, I purchased a book on writing (Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, by Anne Lamott) that I’m looking forward to reading and applying.

Obviously, all of my job related activities (class, office hours, meetings) are also non-negotiable, along with eating a breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Negotiable Activities

If I get two classes of BJJ in during the week, that is sufficient exercise if I cannot get anything else in. However, it is ideal that I fit in 1-2 hours on each of another 3 days during the week with some type of workout. That might be weight training, biking, or running.

I love reading, so I try to schedule some leisure time in for reading each night.  Since I also “read” audio books, I get a little reading in each day simply by walking to and from work.  So, the leisure reading can definitely get rescheduled if needed.

When you look at my calendar after all these activities are accounted for, there is little room for watching TV, a movie, or playing video games.  These are all things that I have gradually, over a long period of time, weened off my schedule.

To make time to watch Solo: A Star Wars Story this week, I decided to rent it through Amazon Prime, download it on my phone, and watch it while Erin drove to Kirksville this weekend for our FLATS Trail Half Marathon.  Since she always drives, she had no complaints about this.

Keeping a calendar has really helped me reach new levels of productivity.  Even if you are not ready to give up watching TV, begin scheduling it. If you forget to schedule it, retroactively fill in your past calendar with how you spent that time. Once the week is through, have a look at how you spent your time and gauge how that makes you feel.

If you don’t feel like a rock star, than ask yourself what changes you can make so that you do.