As a strong believer in personal development, I realize that I will never be perfect. Despite this, a big part of the fun in life is working towards making yourself a better person. If you don’t do that, what else is there?
In order to make yourself a better person, knowing which traits you’d like to eventually have is essential. Maybe you’re a smoker, but you’d like to eventually quit. Maybe you’re skinny, and want to add 10lbs of muscle to your frame. Regardless of your personal development strategy, knowing what to work towards is mandatory.
Over the past year, I’ve come to realize the importance of having positive habits, and how building a series of habits into your daily schedule is one of the best ways to make long term, sustainable change.
As my life goals are still undefined, my current focus is on building a repertoire of habits and skills so that over time, I’ll gradually become the person I’d like to be, with as little friction as possible.
For the past few days I’ve been trying to enumerate the skills I want to have, and the life I want to live. After a lot of thought and personal debate, I’ve narrowed my ideal life down to the following 24 hour snapshot. My thought is that if I’m able to spend each day doing the things below, I’ll be both happy and wildly productive throughout my life.
ALSO: I’m absolutely positive that I’m going to continuously change my mind about this over time. The points below represent my thinking at this current moment only. Future self, if you’re reading this: what are you up to? Have your goals changed? Your ideal life?
In a given 24 hour day, I’d like to spend:
- 10 hours sleeping. This includes buffer time, stuff like brushing teeth and sliding into bed. This way, I’ll get a minimum of 8 hours of sleep (with 2 hours of buffer in there, just incase).
- 1 hour writing. Writing is a tool I’m quickly becoming more and more fond of. Writing has helped me learn things in much greater depth, as well as improve my communication skills. I highly value communication skills, so this is high on my list of importance.
- 1 hour reading. I do a lot of reading, and I plan to continue this. Reading books, in particular, has taught me innumerable lessons, and the value I receive for my time investment is overwhelming.
- 1 hour exercising. Having a strong body is important–not only for longevity, but for mental health and mood. Hitting the gym everyday and lifting weights would be a great way to stay in top condition year round.
- 3 hours eating. This means uninterrupted meal and relaxation time either by myself, or with my family and friends. Rushing through meals is unsatisfying, and eating slow seems like a healthy, relaxing routine.
- 1 hour hacking on an open source project. This means writing code that goes straight back to the community. Not only do open source projects build programming skill, but they’re extremely fun, and provide a great way to meet other smart, talented people.
- 2 hours working. This would ideally be hacking on my own company in some form: giving direction, writing code, whatever. Just working on a meaningful project that provides real value in the world, and enough money so that I don’t have to worry about it.
- 5 hours doing anything else. This includes watching TV, hanging out with my wife, attending events, showering, volunteering, whatever.
Why so little work? Well, it’s my thought that by improving myself in all areas (including things that aren’t quantifiable–like focus, willpower, etc.), I’ll be able to accomplish a lot more by working both smarter, and with more focus.
Working smarter means only doing things that absolutely require my personal attention. By putting myself in a position where I can outsource all but the most essential functions to others, I’ll be able to drastically cut down my daily TODO list, leaving me with much less (but more important) work to be done.
By working with more focus, I mean that over time, I’d like to build up my focus to a point where I’m able to completely immerse myself in a task for hours on end, without breaking concentration. Having that sort of intense focusing power would allow me to accomplish a great amount of work in a very small amount of time.
I believe that if I’m eventually able to work both smarter and with more focus, than 2 hours should be more than enough time to make a difference at work.
For the extra 5 hours of random time each day, I’d like to use that to do meaningful things. Maybe work on other projects, volunteer my time for a worthy cause, etc. It would also be nice to have free time so that, even on bad days, I can just lay down for a large chunk of the day and not feel guilty. After all, this is supposed to be a sustainable schedule–something that I can live with over a long period of time, not just a short term thing. This could also be a great way to throw myself at whatever I’m feeling most passionate about that particular day. This would free me up to spend an extra few hours working if I’m really in the mood, or maybe an extra couple hours reading–who knows.