This post is a continuation of part 1. If you haven’t read it yet, you should. The final post in this series plays off of the concepts in both posts.
We have established how to manage your time with a top-down view. The top-down method of time management works great for big picture types. The more traditional methods of scheduling work great for detail oriented types.
The next concept (the focus of this post) works equally well with either system. Whether you start detailing individual hours on individual days, or you start with your total weekly hours and work your way down to priority of the day’s activities, this concept is the next level.
The 1% Rule
I call this concept the 1% Rule because the seed of the concept is this:
14 Minutes and 24 Seconds is 1% of your day.
24 hours per day = 1440 Minutes = 100 periods of 14.4 Minutes per Day. 24 Seconds is as close to 40% of 1 Minute as you need to get. Don’t obsess over the math of it, because there is absolutely no need to.
Now, you may be saying, “You don’t actually get to use 100% of your day. You have to sleep sometime.” You’re right. Keeping that in mind, we return to what I said about sleep in the first post.
“You’re going to spend a chunk of that sleeping. Let’s assume you follow conventional advice and shoot for 8 hours of sleep. You’re not sleeping that entire 8 hours, but you’re dedicating that amount of time to it.”
If you shoot for 8 hours, you’re going to get an actual 7 hours plus change. You lose some time starting to go to sleep, and you lose some time getting woke up. You’re awake for that time, though, so I’m going with 7 hours. 7 hours breaks down into roughly 29 brackets of 14.4 minutes, so I’m calling it 29% of your day.
So if you have an internal battery, when it gets down to 29%, you start recharging your battery by sleeping. You have a functional battery life of 71%, or 1022.4 minutes, or 17.04 hours. The math works out.
So what does all of this tell us?
Your day contains 71 brackets of time, each 14 minutes and 24 seconds long. How you make use of this depends on whether you’re Mr. Strategist Detail Man or Mr. Top-Down Big Picture Man. From there, you determine how to “make time” for something in your supposedly “busy” day.
Let’s take a look, for example’s sake, at fitting daily physical activity into a busy schedule. Typically, you can get a 1% workout anywhere. Just about anyone can fit 14.4 minutes of body weight exercise or a 14.4 minute walk. Going to the gym takes at least 5%, because you’re going to spend at least 3% training and 2% on travel time.
How you go about doing this depends on which method you use to schedule. Are you a detail type or a top-down type?
The Detail Strategist
If you’re a Detail Man with a structured schedule for the day you’d like to have, it boils down to basic math. You’ll look at your schedule and convert it into percentages of time. For this hypothetical, let’s say you’re like most people. You have an office job, a commute, and you’re trying to find the time to get in a workout.
8 hours of work? That’s 33% of your day there. And you drive an hour to work and an hour back? That’s another 8%. Adding that 41% to the 29% you spent sleeping, you’ve got 30% of your time remaining. Let’s say you spent another 2% in the time it took to get in and out of your workplace, and another 1% getting ready in the morning.
It’s early afternoon, you just got home from your work day, and you’ve “only” got 27% of your day left. Gee, funny how the numbers work out. You still have more than a quarter of your “busy” day left.
“But I didn’t write my meals into my schedule, Lloyd!”
Okay, so deduct another 2% to 4% per meal. If you eat 3 meals a day like most folks, that’s between 6% and 12% gone. You still have 15% of your day, which is more than enough to go to the gym. If you wasted time earlier in the day, say spending 30 minutes on social media, that’s left you 12%. Still enough to go to the gym or get in some push ups and squats.
Even if you decide to spend a full 10% of your day with your loved ones, whether that’s your kids, spouse, girlfriend, parents, friends, or your dear old granny, you can still fit in a 14.4 minute walk. And you’ll still have another 14.4 minutes for whatever brainless entertainment you prefer.
If you can’t seem to find a hole in your schedule that a visit to the gym would fit into, you are deceiving yourself. Either that or you are wasting time somewhere else. Becoming more efficient will take care of this problem, as the numbers are there. You have the time.
The Top-Down Prioritizer
You take a different approach than The Strategist above. You start with your 168 hours in your week, your weekly tasks, and then distribute them through your week. Building a rolling To-Do List with activities ranked by priority, which is fluid and can change at any moment, you go through your week.
You rank your priorities in terms of Urgency and Importance. Urgent AND Important things get done first. Urgent but Unimportant things get done after all Urgent and Important things you needed done are done. Important, but not Urgent activities get done dead last, and may roll over to the next day if you run out of time.
This type of Top-Down Time Management admittedly works better for people who are self employed than people who have a “day job”. Most folks simply do not have the freedom to complete their activities in any order they choose. If you do, though, then you have additional uses for the 1% Rule that don’t apply to the other guy.
First of all, you can use the 1% rule to approximate your time allocation. You don’t truly know how long you’ll spend on your Urgent and Important activities, but unless you’re doing something you’ve never done before you should have a general idea.
This further reduces any stresses you might have during your day making you happier overall. You are always doing the most productive thing you could be doing. You also know (roughly) when you’ll hit the 71% of your day mark and whether or not you’ll have time to work out that day without “making time”.
Ranking the Priority of Exercise
For most humans, the activity of exercising is Important but not Urgent. This isn’t always the case, because if your training regimen is a BIG part of your business it would be Urgent AND Important that you are physically active daily.
Now the standard rules apply. If your gym time is Urgent AND Important, then the most logical thing to do is to go to the gym right after you wake up. If you have something more Urgent AND Important to do, then do that first and then go to the gym. It couldn’t be simpler.
If your gym time is Important but not Urgent, then the numbers come into play. Using the 1% rule, determine out the percentage of your day your more Urgent activities will consume. More likely than not, it will be a smaller percentage than your Strategist friend unless you have the same kind of “day job”.
For sake of discussion, let’s say that your Urgent AND Important activities take up 20% of your day. You likely don’t have a commute but do have transportation time, so we allot 2% for all Urgent AND Important activities total. Urgent but Unimportant activities typically don’t take as long, and we’ll call it 7% of your day and 1% for travel time.
Combining these numbers, and pairing it with your sleep, you’re at 59% of your day spent. You have 41% of your day, or 590.4 minutes or 9.84 hours remaining. That’s an incredible jump from the 27% from the first example. It’s also a pretty compelling argument for self employment.
You still have not completed any of your Important but not Urgent activities. To get everything done you need to get done in your 168 hour week, you have to get at least 1/7th of them done every day. Physical activity is one of these things, but it likely isn’t the only thing.
Other Important but Not Urgent activities include eating (the 6% to 12% we allotted in the first example), spending time with loved ones (10% is not unreasonable), and any number of things specific to your individual situation. You will have to get creative in how, and in what order, you accomplish them.
My methods for my situation:
My preference is to spend no more than 2% of my day to both cook and eat my food. I will only eat twice per day. This limits my time loss eating to 4% of my day. I will then have spent 63% and have 37% remaining.
I refuse to spend less than 10% of my day with my wife and children. They are only young once, and the same applies to both myself and my spouse. I’ll spend at least another 2% with her after the kiddos go to bed. That brings me to 25% of my day remaining.
Basic math tells me I can now allow myself 5% of my day spent on 5 different Important but Not Urgent activities. Maybe I’ll go to the gym. Maybe I’ll manage my various social media accounts. I could record a video, make an important phone call, write a post like this one, or go read a book.
The more of my 4 Requirements the activity fulfills, the likelier it is going to be one of those 5 activities. In case you’ve forgotten, these requirements are:
Make Me Money
Spend Time with Loved Ones
Extend My Lifespan
Enrich My Legacy
The example activity we are trying to “make time” for is going to the gym. The way I figure it, gym time accomplishes one and contributes to the other three. Extending lifespan is obvious, but how do I rationalize the rest?
Being healthy increases your ability to handle stress, thereby increasing your capacity to make money. The quantity of time spent with loved ones isn’t increased, but the quality definitely is better if I am in better health. Finally, no one with a soft body ever left much of a legacy.
Regardless of whether you’re self employed or you have a day job, whether you view your time in a detailed schedule or a top-down method, the 1% Rule will allow you to find the time (not “make” time) for activities.
To reiterate the point made in the first post of this series, whenever someone says they don’t have time for something, they are really saying they don’t consider it a priority. If you decide to make something a priority, using the 1% Rule in conjunction with your time management system will allow you to find the time for it.
Now that we have established a working system, then refined it to allow for easy addition or removal of time consuming activities, all that is left to do is to optimize the refined system. That will be the focus of Part 3. Until then…