I met a friend for coffee the other day and was talking to them about my daily schedule.
“It seems so restrictive. I can't be tied down to something like that. It's like you're in the military. There's no freedom.”, he said.
“It's actually the exact opposite. My schedule GIVES me freedom. The regimen that I've installed into my life allows me to get done what is important and to not be reactive to other people's goals”, I said politely without taking to insult.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but scheduling your day allows you to live life on your terms.
YOU set your schedule.
YOU determine what's important.
YOU live according to your rules to accomplish your goals – regardless if you work for yourself or someone else.
It wasn't always like that for me.
When I began my journey as an entrepreneur, the idea of being my own boss really got to my head.
I was intoxicated by the 4-Hour-Work-Week phenomenon.
“How great would it be to automate everything, work only 4 hours per week and live life on a beach?”, I thought.
But I had no control…
Rather than being tied to a 6am client that I had to wake up for, I let myself sleep in.
Rather than strategically scheduling my own workouts in during down time between clients, I let that time slip entirely.
Instead of spending time with my family, I would work into the night because I spent my new found “free time” procrastinating.
It's not like I didn't have the time to work out. I had too much of it. And it wasn't structured, so I found “busy-work” to do to fill my time.
The problem was, I wasn't using my time effectively.
I would answer emails and text messages as soon as they would come in.
I would put out fires to make myself feel important.
And I wouldn't identify the most important things that would move my business – and my life – forward.
As a result, during that first year of “freedom”, I learned the harsh lesson of losing money and getting fat.
STRUCTURE GIVES YOU FREEDOM
It may seem to go against all logical thinking, but scheduling your day will give you the freedom to do what you want.
From an outsider's perspective, it looks constrained – almost robotic – to have such a regimented schedule.
But think about it…
If you're able to plan your schedule the day before, you're now in the driver's seat.
You've been proactive because you've set what you want to accomplish for the following day. You have a start and end time to specific tasks that you want to finish.
And you can wake up in the morning with a plan on what to do instead of asking yourself, “OK, what do I now?”
You are now PROactive and not REactive.
Sure, a regimented scheduled doesn't give you much external freedom.
It doesn't give you the ability to “act on a whim” or collect all the information or be as spontaneous as others.
But in the world we live in right now – where with the age of instant information people can't make any decisions because of the amount of information they seem to collect – would you rather decide on something definitively or continue to be paralized by information only to not make any decision at all?
Proper planning – although not allowing much external freedom – gives you much valued INTERNAL FREEDOM.
What is INTERNAL FREEDOM?
It means that every decision we make requires a certain amount of cognitive energy (or brain power).
From “what do I have for lunch” to “what should I do for my workout today” to “what am supposed to do next?”.
All of those decisions sap us of brain energy that we could be using to creatively solve problems at work or in our businesses or think critically in order to offer value to our clients or customers.
Using our brain power for things that really matter is what puts us ahead.
…And getting ahead gives us internal freedom.
The freedom of knowing that because of the choices we made on how to live – through structure and discipline – we are working towards living life on our terms.
And having a plan and being organized allows us to do that.
Think about your training, for example…
Think of the people at the gym that are just “winging it”. They come to the gym, think “maybe today I'll do the chest press machine”, push really hard and then leave.
If you take a look at that same person after a few months, chances are they look the same with no changes to their physique.
Compare that to someone who has a plan – who follows a program.
The program has a set goal. It's all laid out for them – the exercises, the sets, the reps, the rest time.
In addition to that, a properly designed plan will tell you when you need to push hard and then will have planned recovery.
All of this is meant for you to accomplish your goals in the least amount of time.
The result is the accomplishment of your goal instead of just spinning your wheels doing what you feel like doing on a whim for that particular day.
Following a plan – being organized – gives you the internal freedom to use your brain power for the important things.
So this afternoon before you shutdown at the office, see if you can script your day tomorrow.
Make sure to give important tasks not only a start time, but a finish time, and make sure to block off strategic times for recovery as well.
Do in your day like you would in the gym to accomplish your goals.