Hello. My name is Tom, and I have a problem.
My problem is that I want to do it all. It's not because I'm a workaholic, and it's not because I like doing everything. It's because I am in this weird transitional spot in my career.
With the exception of a one-year stint working full-time in a customer service role, I've been writing marketing copy for clients since the spring of 2008. That's been my bread-and-butter. To this day, I still am writing copy for clients.
I'm also trying to ramp up my publishing career, pushing to release new books, manage ads for those books, and building a relationship with my growing audience.
And... I'm also trying to run and market a woodworking shop on the side. I love to build furniture and storage for people, and in the last couple years, I've learned that there is a massive need for quality wood pieces at an affordable price.
Oh, and I'm also a husband and a father to two kids. And I'm involved with a few things in my church. And we do a lot of work on the townhouse that we rent. And I like to cook meals for my family.
Like I said: I have a problem.
How do I know what to do next?
I've tried pretty much every app and technique out there for managing your time. The one I always come back to? A calendar.
I prefer to use Google Calendar, but any calendar would do, of course. I block out every minute of my day on this calendar from 5am onward.
If there is something that needs to be done, it goes on the calendar and blocked out accordingly, including things like:
- Breakfast with my family
- Managing my email
- Any phone calls I need to make
- Any reviews I need to do
- ...and so much more
And if there's a one-off thing that I need to remember, I set a reminder for myself (in gray). As you can see, on my lunch break today I need to remember to check on what we're having for dinner so that I can start it at the right time, and I have to fill my cat's automatic feeder.
I don't leave anything to chance.
The last thing I want to do is forget something important, or run out of time when there's more to do. That's why I am always careful to block out enough time and always-always-always make a note of something that I need to remember.
Thanks to Google Assistant, I can very quickly say "OK Google, remind me to look at dinner at noon today" and have that reminder set for me quickly.
The biggest reason why I do all of this is because I don't want my brain constantly preoccupied with what I have to do next. I want to do the best writing I can. I want to focus on keeping my day as stress-free as possible. If I'm too focused on remembering everything, something is going to slip by.
There's also built-in accountability.
Here's another great reason I use Google Calendar: shared calendars with my wife. Anything you see on that calendar in blue is on my personal calendar. That's shared with my wife. If I put a ✔️ by it, that means I finished it. If I change the color to red, that means I didn't do it.
I work alone. I have zero accountability in my day-to-day life. With this system, my wife can take a glance at my day and say, "Oh, hey, you didn't get that Hardwick chapter done today?" It at least gives me a little bit of a push.
So that's it! I block out my day on my calendar to maximize every last bit of time I have from 5am to about 5pm. Then I can be free to relax the rest of the night - or you know, work on home stuff at night.
What do you use to track your day? How do you plan what you're going to accomplish?