Lately I've been learning a lot about my personal capacity, or lack thereof, in my daily life. My life is busy. I have a family. I work as a photographer to help with the bills. I work as a web developer to help with more bills (I do live in San Francisco after all). I am building a new organization/community called ASH that invites companies and individuals to come together around shared stories and experiences. I have personal creative projects I am working on. I regularly meet with and mentor artists around the Bay Area. I have a lot on my plate.
I don't say that to complain. I love what I'm doing and am extremely blessed to have the family, profession, and life that I have. Not only that, but I'm not the only one who is busy and who struggles with limited capacity. So far be it from me to complain or make excuses.
No, I say that to admit that in the midst of my busy life and limited capacity, I have much to learn about how to order my life, schedule my days, maintain proper priorities and values, and simply to live well. I suspect I’m not alone in this.
One way I have been learning to increase my capacity is through rethinking how I approach my daily schedule. My tendency is to value freedom and flexibility of schedule, keeping everything open so I can make adjustments as things come up. However, I've found that when I approach my schedule in this way, I spend ridiculous amounts of time just debating in my mind what I should do next. And instead of making a decision, I stall by checking my Twitter and Instagram feed. Then I open my email to see if I have any new messages, as if I would have gotten something important since I checked ten minutes ago. Then I stall further, even while I try to convince myself that I’m not, by doing a few mindless tasks that, while may be important, shouldn't be anywhere near the top of my list of priorities. And just like that, I've wasted a bunch of my day before I even start something that actually needs to be done. It’s often left me frustrated and overwhelmed.
No more! In an effort to take control of my daily schedule, I’ve been making a few changes to how I approach my day. I'll summarize them below, and expand on them in upcoming blog posts.
- I have created a list of high level priorities and values, adjusted every Sunday, that guide the creation of my weekly schedule.
- Every Sunday I survey my upcoming week and create a daily schedule broken out into blocks of time.
- I am experimenting with organizing my day around the idea of Strategic Renewal, based on this NY Times article and this Chase Jarvis blog post.
- Rather than setting lofty 1-month, 6-month, or even 1 year goals, I am approaching my schedule, priorities, and goals one week at a time.
In addition to making the changes listed above, I recently read an article by James Clear, called The Difference Between Professionals and Amateurs, which has been a needed kick in the ass to stop waiting for inspiration, the perfect idea, or the ideal scenario before I do my high priority work, in my case photography/film, writing, and exercising. His main point is the real professionals just show every day and get to work. His point, which I needed to be reminded of, has made a significant impact on how I approach my daily schedule…I’ll write more about that soon, but I would encourage you to go give it a read.
On a side note, as a part of my weekly schedule and with writing as one of my high priorities, I am carving out an hour every morning to write, with the commitment to publish a written blog post every Tuesday (no matter how good or bad the post might be) and a photography/video-related blog post every Thursday. More to come on Thursday…