The 168 Hour Work Day
July 30, 2021
How often do we hear it said, “I wish I had more hours in my day?”
Recently a client remarked that I came across as calm, poised, and self-controlled. Before another word came to his lips, my immediate thought was how I had successfully fooled him, but that’s for another day.
Seriously, his next comment came in the form of a question and took me somewhat aback: “how do you plan out your schedule?” Rhetorically, I asked the same question of him in order to put his query into context. Our tools were eerily similar: paper daily planners with appointment times for each day, space to note assignments, and a prioritization level for each of those projects.
As I explained my system, I was suddenly surprised by the differentiation. It was not apparent on paper, but rather was predicated more by philosophy and actually perspective. Instead of considering my calendar a “daily” plan, I viewed it more from a “weekly” standpoint. As a result, rather than approaching time as a “24-7” I was addressing it as “168-1.”
Granted, there are necessary givens. Rest, for one, is needed daily and that tends to occupy about 30% of the week. There are also going to be times when rest does not come easily. Fortunately, there’s not anxiety about lack of sleep: there will be another chance to try again in less than 24 hours.
The need for nutrition and sustenance also factors into our time. A fairly liberal allowance will take up another 10% of the week in food prep and consumption. Personal hygiene and exercise can comprise 10% more of our syllabus. Add to that tending to our spiritual life, relationships, and friends and we’re probably now obligated to some 100 hours in a week. True, that’s a lot of time, but that still presents 68 more hours, or roughly the remaining 40% of our week.
First of all, I need to mention that self-employment is a great advantage providing scheduling flexibility. Still, the caveats of trying to deliver a high level of customer service still apply requiring copious self-discipline. My employer is the customer and the goal is to exceed their expectation in order to enjoy the privilege of retaining employment. Further I would add these ingredients:
1. A workweek for me typically begins late Sunday afternoon, and involves planning for the week ahead. An added benefit is that jump starts the week and alleviates some of the “Monday morning dread,” although I’m fortunate to love what I do.
2. A daily component is marketing and prospecting. Communications and correspondence is chiefly limited to the five “working” days of the week, in deference to potential customers and not engaging them on their weekends.
3. Appointments are scheduled at anytime as early as 7 am or as late as 8 pm, given that clients are scattered throughout each of the North American time zones. That does not connote a 13 hour day, however. Rather, times are spaced to allow opportunity for administrative work or personal activities during the course of a day. In addition, with two sources of secondary employment I am also factoring other work commitments into my schedule. During times of air travel, work can always be done on the plane.
4. Flexibility of scheduling also takes into consideration unanticipated interruptions. A plan cannot be so rigid that changing priorities are not adjustable. An unexpected encounter may well be a sacred intersection presenting itself, leading to a surprising and beneficial outcome.
5. I give exercise a high priority. Fortunately that also allows time for deep thought processing about potential ground to cover with a client, presentations to be prepared, or writing, such as this blog. I generally blog about every three to four weeks and usually break it up into several sessions of outlining, organizing, writing, polishing, and reviewing again before there is a finished product. Ideally I’ll do a blog in about an hour, although sometimes it may take as little as 45 minutes and another time two and a half hours.
6. I find the early parts of my weeks are generally heavily front-loaded so that by Thursday afternoon or Friday morning I am beginning to ease into the weekend.
7. Throughout the course of my week, I’ll continually examine the business. Aside from a scheduled appointment, what client merits contact? How am I measuring up to the mission of my business and the values I want to espouse? What administrative tasks are in the future that I am thinking about right now, that I might proceed with attending to now? What adjustments should be considered in order to remain not only focused, but fresh as well? What new lesson learned can be applied?
As is the case with each of us there are hills and valleys. That goes with anything that we cherish and enjoy. The greatest reward for me far outweighs those valleys, however, positively delighted when a client makes a discovery or comes to a resolution. Not far behind that is the honor that comes when someone seeks advice as did this recent client, his return gift being the impetus for this story.
The Seed Sower