Making Small Changes that will Bring Big Results (Eventually)

Waves crashing against rocks and the shore

An Update on Schedules and Time Management

A week or so ago we discussed sleep and how annoyingly important it is. In that post I shared this thought with you:

…I am inclined to take another look at my schedule. Move things around (again) and figure out how I can still do what I need to do, but finish the day at 10. Realistically I should finish the day at 9:30 so I can be asleep by 10. Just thinking out loud here.

Sleeping for Efficiency – Aaron Aiken

I have readjusted my schedule and gave it a test run last week, successfully for the most-part. Here’s what I did and then I’ll explain a little more of the thought process.

My typical weekly calendar showing 11:30pm as "bed time"
My typical weekly calendar showing 11:30pm as “bed time”

My previous schedule had me working on my now part-time business from approximately 8pm-10pm, writing here from 10pm-11pm, and reading from 11pm-11:30pm. What would inevitably happen is I’d work on work from 8pm-1am. This happened due to a mix of terrible task management, mismanagement of expectations, and working at the wrong end of the day.

In addition to the terrible working hours, this schedule had me getting, on average, 6 hours of sleep each night. Do that for too many weeks without a break and your body will begin to fight you. Like it or not, you are human, and your body is a sophisticated “machine” that requires a certain amount of rest in order to function in the manner it was created to function (at maximum efficiency). Not allowing my body to get what it needed for rest was something I had to be honest about and meet head on.

So I changed my schedule this past week. Now, instead of working from 8pm-10pm, I work from 6am-8am. In bed by 8:30 without any screens on (thanks to reader Kyle Quinlan for mentioning this idea in the comments of Sleeping for Efficiency) and hopefully reading a book until 9pm, at which point I turn all of the lights off and set out to sleep. Alarm goes off at 5am and guess what? I scored 8 hours of sleep, and beginning at 6am will have two hours set aside to work on work.

My new schedule - Working on Work before Work in the Morning
The red blocks is the work that used to be accomplished in the evenings.

The great thing about moving this scheduled work to the morning is that I cannot work over that time by much without altering the entire day, and possibly week. 15 minutes at the most, that’s how much extra I can safely work. Working in the evening allowed me to say to myself, “I can stay up another hour and still get 6 hours of sleep.” I can’t do that on the new schedule. If I work an hour longer at home it means I have to work an hour longer at the office, which means I’ll get home an hour later, and the domino effect of this one decision carries on and on and on.

I Learned a Few Things About Myself

Mornings

First, when I’m home for the day in the evening I need to be finished working. Evening time is family time, relax time, rejuvenate time. I thought I was a night owl, and a morning person, but now I’m more inclined to say that I’m just a morning person (if I get 8 hours of sleep 😉 ).

Quality of Life

Second, even with this adjusted schedule working an extra 8-10 hours on work Monday through Friday is not something I want to do longterm. I need to continue doing it now to follow through on promises I made last Fall, but once those obligations have been met I plan to reevaluate quality of life compared to the money I’m being paid. Just being honest here.

Ideally I’d like to cut out custom website work entirely and focus solely on maintenance contracts. If I do this I can feasibly work an extra 4-6 hours Monday through Friday and not feel stressed or burdened by the extra work.

Just Be Honest

Finally, I learned that we are all different and need to be honest with ourselves about that. I need 8 hours of sleep. I wish I didn’t, but I do and will not sacrifice that time. Sleep sets the course for my day. I work better in the morning and not during the evening.

I am tired of constantly having to work work work. I’ve been doing this for far too long and the reward has not been great enough to continue. Due to this, I’ve learned that any other ventures I pursue outside of my full-time work need to require little to zero input from me on a day to day basis in order to operate and generate income. I’m not sure what that is exactly, but I am at least armed with the knowledge which will help me make informed and better decisions in the future.

I’ll close this by saying this is just the beginning of a new chapter for me. I have plenty more to share regarding this topic and will do so later. For now, I encourage you to take an honest look at your day to day schedule. Examine your quality of life. Are you happy with your schedule? Is your quality of life such that you are content? Answer those honestly and make small changes. Don’t change careers or quit your job. Work within your existing life and make the small changes that will help make larger improvements now and in the future.

Author: Aaron

Husband, father, and business owner. Constantly learning, adapting, changing, and thinking. Prefers to do the previous sentence with a cigar in hand.

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