I talked yesterday about the importance of breaking off chunks of Projects into Tasks, and scheduling them along with all the other “urgent” but unimportant” Tasks in your life. I also talked about scheduling Fun, right along with everything else.
Why is Fun important? Because it’s your reward for doing your Tasks for the day. Lately, I’ve been scheduling fewer Tasks for myself–usually just 3 or 4, and limiting the time scheduled for them to 1 or 2 hours apiece. If I get “most” of those Tasks done in a day (say 3 out of 4), then the Fun is my reward.
You may be saying, “Whoa, Randy, are you only working 4 or 5 hours a day? How could you possibly get anything done?”
The answer is that I’m SCHEDULING about 6 hours per day. That doesn’t necessarily mean that I only WORK that much. (Oh how I wish!) The fact is that crap happens. Oops, spelling error there. I meant “crises happen.”
There was a crisis Monday and I had an extra task thrown on me that burned a couple of extra hours. I had to push aside one Task to the next day. In fact, the crisis persisted on through Tuesday, and I had to again reschedule a Task from yesterday to today because more time got siphoned away on something unexpected. And of course there were several other “small” interruptions — not crises, just little things — that burned up more hours.
If you think about it, that happens to you all the time too. I know it does to me. Crises happen often. Little things pop up all the time. When you’ve got 12 hours of work scheduled for the day, a 2-hour crisis plus 4 hours of interruptions are going to send you right over the top. But if you’ve got only 6 hours scheduled, then there’s room for the little interruptions and a normal, garden-variety crisis. And you still have time for a little Fun. (Despite the crisis on Monday, I still took 2 hours to watch a movie — TWISTER — which was Fun for me.)
All of this brings me to what I call “the 80% solution.” I used to do a lot of long-distance running when I was younger and fitter. And I learned that if you run all-out, you can maintain that pace for only about 100 yards — 10 to 15 seconds. After that, your capacity for anaerobic exercise is drained and you have to stop. However, if you slow down just a bit so that you’re exercising aerobically, you can run a lot longer. If you run at 90% of your top speed, you can last for a mile or so.
If you run at 80% of your top speed, you can go practically forever. (By which I mean you can run a full marathon.)
When I used to have a day job working for Bossbert, crises came up with annoying regularity. So we were “encouraged” to work 10 or 12 hours per day, routinely. I didn’t particularly care for that, especially since I wanted to write some too. It seemed like Bossbert wanted us all to sprint for a marathon. Can’t be done. People wear out. So I made it a point to ignore Bossbert’s request for routine sprints. Once in a while, there was a genuine crisis that called for an all-nighter. Guess who had gas in the tank when that happened? And guess who worked most efficiently during the normal times?
I’ll say it again. If you run at 80% of your top speed, you can go practically forever.
That’s my 80% solution. Schedule yourself to work at 80% of your capacity. When a real crisis happens, you’ll have gas in the tank.
Tomorrow, I’ll talk about longer-term planning — because a daily To Do List is tactical, not strategic. It’s short-term, and you really want a long-term plan for your big and important Projects.
Until then, have some Fun!