I know what you want in one word…
The flexibility to work your own hours, be your own boss and have complete control over your future.
That sounds pretty awesome, right?
But let’s be a little more specific...by freedom, what you really desire is:
The best situation is when you can find an activity that combines all the above.
Unfortunately, however, few of us serendipitously land on the lofty pinnacle of that triad on our first try.
For the rest of us…
...we need to accept the fact that it’s going to take some grit in order to get what we want.
But, instead of taking the long, drawn out and undisciplined approach to gaining the skills you need (like most people unfortunately do), you can shorten the time it takes to achieve the skill sets you need by structuring your focus and budgeting your time cleverly.
Developing a structured routine was one of the best ways for me to both accept the daily skill building grind while also making the challenging learning process pleasurable!
Look, you only have 24 hours available to you each day so you must learn how to budget it effectively. This will help you gain the personal skills that will make the rest of your life awesome as well as the career skills that will grow your value in multiple markets over time.
One FREE and incredibly useful tool I’ve used to budget my time effectively is Google Calendar.
Popular personal finance budgeting applications like You Need A Budget (YNAB) are built on the principle that every dollar in your bank account needs a job to do (from building your rainy day fund to buying your monthly stash of toilet paper).
Why should your approach to scheduling be any different?
When you’re cultivating productivity, crafting and committing to a structured schedule can be one of the most important investments to help you progress (on a daily basis) toward your long term goals.
First, think about what general categories your goals fall into and define each one.
Second, break each goal down into shorter term benchmarks followed by actionable, daily units that you can assign across your weekly schedule. This way, you can document and measure your progress with each one to see if you’re driving towards your benchmarks.
Let me show you what I mean:
Then set weekly and daily achievables for each goal category to help determine how much time to spend on them throughout the week.
You'll get a surprising gut-check when you start attempting to budget your tasks...you'll see just how limited your time really is if you have several big areas of your life you want to improve!
Finally, break your goals into actionable daily tasks that you can budget into a weekly Google Calendar template (see my feature image above for an example calendar reference). My break down is as follows:
Another great feature of Google Calendar is that you can set notification alarms with each event that you schedule to maintain event-by-event accountability for the tasks you commit yourself to.
I commonly set notifications to go off exactly at the scheduled times for planned activities (a pop-up window appears that brings me back to my Google Calendar screen) so that I can maintain focus by reviewing the next task I need to complete.
Also, since you're using the calendar to document your tasks as you do them, it’s easy to go back and measure how long it took yourself to complete certain activities. This allows you to evaluate what was accomplished each week to easily make course corrections where needed when planning the following week’s activities.
Another helpful strategy is scheduling your daily tasks in accordance with the Tomato Timer Technique. You can read about the Tomato Timer System in one of my previous productivity posts here.
Did I mention that you can share your Google Calendar with friends, family or colleagues? That helps keep people from scheduling things with you while you've got other productivity focused tasks planned...
Thanks to Google Calendar, you already have a powerful and (best of all) FREE tool to budget your time resources with!
Like I said before, if you want to cultivate productivity, make sure to give EVERY MINUTE A JOB TO DO!
P.S. If this Google Calendar time-budgeting strategy was helpful to you, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. If you’ve had success with other time-budgeting toolkits, please feel free to share your experiences with those as well!
Matt's a geologist turned online marketer and digital minimalist. He's a Modern Manimal on a mission to cultivate a high-tech, hunter-gatherer lifestyle within our exceedingly domesticated world. When away from his tech, you can find him studying complex human movement through random play or practices like Aikido, AcroYoga and Barefoot Running.
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