“We must use time as a tool, not as a couch.” – John F. Kennedy
How do you measure a man? Some use the yardstick of a bank account, or a resume’, or a tattered, folded-up, scribbled-through bucket list. Some say you can measure a man by how nice his shoes are, or whether he has a house packed full of loving family at Thanksgiving.
As for me, I rely on what’s on his computer screen.
More specifically, his calendar.
In our fake-it-til-you-make-it world, there’s a lot that a man can do to cover up what’s really important to him. It’s more about talk and impression than action. He loves his wife and his 2 1/2 kids, right? He’s a humanitarian who gives to his community, ya know!
Actually, nope. He mostly goes to meetings. Or sits front of spreadsheet. Or he’s at those appetizer-stuffed, business client lunches at Applebee’s.
Simply put, a man really is who is calendar says he is.
When it comes time to truly define ourselves as men, husbands and fathers, it’s best to have a roadmap — and there’s no better place to start your plan by getting control of the minutes in your life.
You know the old saying about how you have the same hours in the day as Mother Teresa, Helen Keller and Miles Davis did? Well, that’s true. But instead of making you feel like a guilt-ridden wretch, that thought should give you a clear idea of the formula:
Minutes in a day – sleeping = time to do the things that are the most important to you.
Fortunately there are tools that allow us a little more ease in wrangling the beast of time and making it an obedient pup. Here are some tips:
BIG (AND I MEAN BIG) ROCKS FIRST
Ignore work for a second (I know, right) and drill down to the things that are really fulfilling and make your life tick. Faith, family, fitness plus some of the manly skills that Ryan adroitly deems necessary.
Put those items into your calendar first. The commitments you absolutely don’t want to be scheduled on top of and don’t want to have an excuse to miss.
These can be workouts, mastermind meetings, church or date nights with the wife. Let everything else live in the space between.
MAKE YOUR KIDS IMPORTANT
When you look at the average schedule of a family with kids, it’s shocking how little real time there is between parent and child. Maybe 3 or 4 hours a day between when you get home from school and when they go to bed. Add in activities and travel and it doesn’t really scream quality.
That’s why in my house we have re-instituted a rotating schedule of dad-dates. Three kids, one date a week with another week left for a special time with the lady. 🙂 This is another big rock for the calendar.
Another rule to consider: You can do anything for five minutes. This is a great one for kids who just want a little piece of a man’s time. If a kid asks you to do something with them – throw the ball, paint Barbie’s toenails – take five minutes, even if you are in the middle of putting together the big quarterly report. Five minutes of yes always body slams the kid hearing another no.
YOUR CALENDAR: DISTRACTION KILLER
If you haven’t already, go get David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done, and devour it. What you will quickly learn that you calendar can be an oasis for your head, especially when it comes to keeping yourself on task at work.
Are you always getting bogged down in e-mail Hell, checking and re-checking like some Outlook-obsessed hamster in a nonproductive wheel? The solution is to take another chunk of your calendar and label it “check email” and then tell your brain, “Oh, I will read and respond to all that at 10 o’clock so chill!”
You can slot out any kind of distracting tasks and focus on the real work you want to get done in the meantime.
Whether you’re religious or not, we all need rest. A few hours – or better yet a whole day – to devote to mental health and good relationships. The Energizer Bunny may keep going and going, but I’m sure his home life sucks. Heck, even nature’s industrious beaver sleeps 12 hours a day.
If you can escape the grind for 24 hours, make sure you do pack it with all the good you want in your life. Take a break from everything for one day – your diet, chores, workouts – and instead focus on the openness that that empty day of your calendar affords. No deadlines. No ticking clock.
FINALLY, TIME KILLERS
Once a man fills up his calendar with the things that are important to his development as a husband, father, friend and human, a realization will usually smack you in the face. Your time was going to a lot of pointless crap. And most of that is pointless crap was on TV. Sure, we all have our shows and maybe there’s still room for whatever Sunday night drama everyone is mainlining these days, but TV and video game junk food usually gets swallowed up by a calendar that a man has totally under his control.
And with that usually comes margin that is flooded with success. One great stat that shows this is how the rich and poor treat reality TV – only 6% of the wealthy watch reality shows, compared to 78% of the poor. What does your calendar say about you and your time killers?
Where did your time go today? Look at your calendar. It can reveal who you are – and who you want to be. Your time is an investment in your present and future. So how rich do you want your life to be?
Mike Koehler is a husband and dad living in Oklahoma City, where he runs his own business, Smirk New Media (www.smirknewmedia.com), a digital marketing firm. When he’s not spending time with the family (check his calendar!), he roots for Aston Villa Football Club and the Oklahoma City Thunder.