7 Years Without a Schedule

What is getting in the way of you reaching your goals? For me, it’s likely all of these things: alcohol, a schedule, social media, clutter, debt, sleep, exercise, too many projects, perfection, and probably a few more.

I’d bet we have at least one of these things in common. Most of them can be solved by creating better habits, but that’s easier said than done. After looking through that list, it became overwhelming, but I knew I needed to make some changes.

It’s been almost seven years since I’ve had a “real job.” Back then, I had someone telling me what to do on a daily basis. As soon as that ended, I’ve experienced an insane amount of freedom. Waking up without an alarm, doing zero work on some days, traveling whenever I wanted, going out on a Tuesday night if I felt like it. Basically the kid in a candy store mentality.

After awhile, I realized that I’m very inconsistent with my work. Some days it’s 22 hours of work. Some days it’s 5 minutes of work. While the latter seems fun, it has bothered me a lot. And it’s no way to run a business.

I recently watched a video where an entrepreneur I follow (Sam Ovens) is explaining why a schedule is crucial to anyone that wants real success. A strict schedule. And why most of the things you do are a waste of time and just minor distractions that add up. At first I was like, nope, I’m not going back to that shit, it would feel like I was back in a cubicle where someone is watching over me and forcing me to do things. Nope!

But the more I listened, I became more open to the opportunity. I also started to think, ok, I’m not where I want to be, and I’ve tried a lot of things, why not really listen to these people that I admire, and do whatever they say, even if it sounds stupid or ridiculous or difficult?

In his video, he stressed the fact that you need a hardcore schedule and that you need to keep it sacred. No excuses. You setup your daily schedule and you stick with it, every single day. Consistency is key. I really liked the point about keeping it sacred, and I remember writing it down in my notes to remind myself.

I’m not a religious person, but I thought: this could be my religion. Some people go to church every Sunday, at the same place, at the same time. Maybe I could create my own schedule for the type of life I want, and be religious about it on a daily basis (not just Sunday).

A few months went by, and I never did anything about it. But, I did start building new habits for some of the other things in my list of distractions.

  • I’m on day 46 of no alcohol.
  • I signed up for a new gym membership, and after writing some of this post today, I will head straight to the gym, which will be my 9th day in a row.
  • I haven’t posted on my personal Instagram or Facebook in almost 3 months (and I’ve drastically reduced the amount of posts on my business accounts), I removed the Twitter, Snapchat, & Pinterest apps from my phone, and I deleted my LinkedIn account.
  • I’ve been selling a lot of my old junk to remove clutter from my life.
  • I’ve been more focused on paying off the rest of my debt.

Clearly you can see moderation doesn’t work well for me. I have to go all in when I want to do something. All of the things at once.

And just a few days ago, I finally downloaded the Google Calendar app (ok, like the 13th time). But this time I forced myself to setup a daily calendar for myself. Before this, I was always turned off by schedules and I dismissed any advice from anyone trying to tell me to make one. When people brought it up, I just rolled my eyes. I said it wasn’t for me, and I used that statement as some sort of ego or pride thing. Like look at me and how cool I am because I get shit done without needing a prisoner’s schedule blah blah blah.

Obviously that’s a terrible way to think. So this time around, I said, ok, what would a fun life look like for me? Don’t worry about what other people think, don’t worry about what you did in the past. What would make me excited to wake up in the morning tomorrow and get to work? By allowing myself to create my dream life, it turned this painful chore into a fun experiment.

One thing I’ve learned is that successful people plan their way to success. And a lot of them block their time out in chunks. Outside of work, they also keep exercise, sleep, nutrition, and rest as top priorities. And they don’t need to spend 24 hours each day working, they understand that most of those hours would be wasted because they weren’t thinking clearly, or recovering with sleep/rest, or eating right.

So I set off on this journey to create my perfect day, and then just planned to repeat it on a daily basis. This is what I have setup now (and it might change slightly as I figure out what works for me):

  • 6:30am – Wake up, drink water, make my bed, do some pushups
  • 7:00am – Write for an hour
  • 8:30am – Go to the gym or some form of exercise for an hour or so (lift weights, run, bike, basketball, hike)
  • 10:00am – Extremely focused work for four hours
  • 2:00pm – Lunch
  • 3:00pm – Nap
  • 4:00pm – Another focused work session, this time two hours
  • 6:00pm – Go for a walk
  • 7:00pm – Dinner and free time
  • 9:30pm – Read, journal, do some pushups
  • 10:30pm – Go to bed, get 8 hours of high-quality sleep

I’m not sure how you will interpret this schedule. Some people might say it’s insane. Others might say it’s pretty relaxed and that I could work harder. Some might say, “Wow, must be nice!” The whole idea was to turn a boring schedule into an exciting daily habit that works for me. I want to do this Monday-Friday, most of it on Saturdays, and part of it on Sundays. I will try to keep the weekends a little more chill, but I want to write and read and exercise and sleep every day.

When I say work, it could be a lot of different things. Most of it will be personal projects but there will also be some client work in there too. Work could be: web design, podcasting, more writing, marketing, working on my merch business, photography, working on my online courses, editing photos/videos, etc.

And as simple as this might look, for my brain it’s not easy at all. Some days I want to work from the moment I wake up until I pass out at my desk 32 hours later. Other days I’m lazy and can’t seem to get anything done, meanwhile all sorts of things come up that distract me even more than I already am.

Of course you might have a different day than me. I work for myself, so I can set my time each day for whatever I want. This isn’t me bragging, I’m well aware most people have jobs working for someone else, and families, and all sorts of other responsibilities. If you don’t feel in control of your time, I hope one day you can get it back, and I hope that’s a goal you have. I’ve been lucky to have a lot of freedom, and I want it for everyone else. But my abundance of freedom has kept me from reaching my own goals.

For the past 7 years, my life has been extremely inconsistent. And I used to love that. I thrived on the randomness, and it was funny telling other people how I worked and watching them shake their heads at how ridiculous I was. But I realized this was contributing to my procrastination (along with my desire for perfection) and I lacked self-discipline in several areas of my life. So it was time for a change.

I want to force myself to stick with this routine and build these habits. No matter what I do, some people will agree with me, and some people will be shocked. Each of these groups are at the extremes, while most people will be in the middle, or indifferent. These indifferent people don’t care what you’re doing, and they likely aren’t even paying attention. Which means, you should experiment and figure out what works for you, your unique life, and your goals. And not worry about what others are saying or doing (or not doing). If you want something extraordinary, you can’t follow the ordinary path.

In future posts, I will talk about all of the topics that I mentioned at the beginning of this post. But I wanted to talk about the importance of a consistent schedule first, and I’m sure my future self will thank me by starting this sooner rather than later.

Even within the first week of casually adjusting to a scheduled life, I’ve already noticed an increase in productivity, and I feel slightly happier, along with a bit more energy. It’s weird what accomplishing tasks and crossing off things on your to-do list can do for you. But just like going to the gym, you can’t go only once and expect a six pack, you also can’t adopt a new schedule and expect your entire life to change overnight. This is all a long game. You have to stick with it on a daily basis.

Put in the work behind the scenes, then look in the mirror every month or two, not every hour. If you are looking in the mirror every day, you won’t see the minor changes, and you’ll get down on yourself, and you’ll give up. It’s like when you don’t see a friend for months or years, and they say wow you look great! If you saw this friend every day, they wouldn’t notice your changes either. Your progress is so small and incremental that you could only see the results by watching a time-lapse of yourself.

Moral of the story: create you perfect day, prioritize self-care, do the work, block out distractions, and keep all of this consistent & sacred. Life will always happen, things come up, but the majority of the time, you should be able to decide how you spend your time. It’s time to regain control and live a life with more freedom!

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