How to make the time

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I hope you've had a nice week this week. Each day passes so quickly — I can't believe it's Tuesday already!

I'm travelling interstate this week (and next week) missing my kids, getting stuff done and trying to keep healthy and fit in between. Granted I’m only away one night but my three children at bedtime is the best part of my week/month/year. There is a reason I tell you this.

I'm often asked by many readers of this journal how I manage everything I do.

  • I am a father of three children.

  • I’m someone’s husband too.

  • I write a weekly blog article for you.

  • I run a strategic design consultancy in Melbourne with anywhere between 7 - 15 people at any given time.

  • I write a fortnightly newsletter for my business. With such a small team, I do the work for clients as well as find the work to work on.

  • I start most of my mornings at 5am at my local Crossfit gym.

  • I fly interstate to work with clients twice a month.

  • I’ve written, designed and built an online course that teaches creatives about strategy.

  • I like reading long, dense, epic books.

  • I draw. Sometimes.

  • I’ve written a eBook on Mentorship and,

  • I’m writing a book which has recently stalled but hey ... I’m OK with that.

The list goes on.

For those of you who know me, or have been reading these articles for a few years now — know that I’m not sitting here show-bagging how much I accomplish in order to make you feel inferior or incapable.

Far from it.

My life is messy, noisy, disjointed and cluttered just like yours. Complicated and complex. I change nappies as often as I do presentations to a board of directors. I go to bed mentally drained and exhausted some nights, just like you.

I often throw my hands in the air in a fit of “give me a fucking break already!”

My life is normal.

I’m grateful to have some of the hundreds of people who read this weekly journal of mine, reach out week-to-week and offer me questions, insights, criticism and debate — and sometimes praise.

A question I often receive is “where do you find the time to do all that you do?”

And, as I sit here, on a plane flying to Canberra, at 7:40am on a Tuesday morning without an article queued this week — I write the answer to this question for you.

Short and sweet.

1. Priorities in order and first principles

I have my priorities fixed and sorted. Everything I do —everything I do — is for my children first and foremost. Every choice I make is for their benefit.

I’ve shaped my business hours around this (see below) and I’ve also made massive changes to my business to better serve my life with my children.

This is my first principle — it all boils down to this for me.

See the article “I’m an asshole and it’s OK” in the subscriber’s archive.

2. Health

I put my health before pretty much everything else. If I’m going to be around to fight the zombies from my front door to protect my children, I need to be fit, strong and healthy to do so. I’m not a complete psycho about this — but I do aim to eat clean and have some very diverse and difficult fitness training through my week.

Putting my health first means that I need to contextualise work within my life. “Work” is something I can control. It’s a choice I have.

I can choose to work somewhere as an employee or I can choose to work for myself. I can choose to use my skills to create products and services for myself or my clients. It’s all a choice in my mind and I exercise this choice every day.

My business hours are shorter than most to allow myself and my team a calm, non-stressful working environment where they feel free to come to work in their gym gear and spend the afternoon going out for a run to the beach and back. An environment where I, and they, feel empowered to do our best work, but also to have a healthy balance of work and life outside of it.

We have weekly rhythms that keep us calm, we have key principles that shape the way we engage our clients to ensure an equal power dynamic. It’s all about our health, both physical and mental.

3. Principles and values

I have some very clear principles around time. Time is precious and it’s one of the most significant things you can steal from someone, and gift to someone.

Everyone’s time should be respected — as well as my own.

With clients I set this expectation at the beginning of our engagements. If they want to work with us, we mobilise within 10 business days. Anything sooner, and they pay more.

With meetings, I arrive well before the start time and with workshops, I often wrap them up 15 minutes before the time I said it would finish to give everyone the gift of time.

I time-block my week and move those time blocks around as needed — my calendar is booked 3 - 5 weeks in advance and it’s flexible. Everyone in my team has access to it and they are free to book into it as they like.

4. Good energy

I’m not a fan of bad energy and negativity. Yes I have shit days and if you ask my wife, I can complain with the best of them. But I do my hardest to remove negativity from my life to allow good things and good people to enter it. To allow myself to better learn positivity and to continually move forward, learning and evolving.

Shedding my skin and growing.

These things are critical for me — if I can attribute my ability to be prolific in my writing, making and creating; it would be because of these simple things I write to you in this email.

They allow me the following:

  • Clarity of thought

  • Clear and unwavering principles

  • Simplicity in systems

  • Habits and rhythms

  • Making good choices

Where I spend my time, when I have a meeting, with whom I spend my time is all a choice I make because of all of the above.

There is no app, no secret sauce. There is no mix of equipment or magical formula to being able to make time to focus on the things that are important to you.

It’s a choice.