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Before we begin, I have a gift for you! 

I’m giving you A WHOLE EXTRA 24 HOURS to use however you want to! You’ll get your extra 24 hours called “leap year” day this Thursday. You’re welcome.

🙄 (corny? Yeah, I know. Sorry.)

If you can forgive me for making a leap-year joke, let’s move on and talk about how you can feel better about how you use your time.

Since New Year’s Eve, it’s been two months, two newsletter themes (goals & time), nine weeks, 57 days, 1368 hours, 82,080 minutes, or approximately 4,924,800 seconds. 

Image of a clock wiht wings, and the phrase "time flies"

So far in February, you learned that time is simple, what it means to spend it, and I confessed that I have judgments about how I spend my time (and you probably do too). 

Some people might love how they spend their time, while most of us wish we would spend it differently. 

Feeling better happens when how you use time matches how you wish 🌠 you would use your time. Feeling stress happens when the way you use time gets in the way 🧱

 of achieving what you want. 

If you want to change how you spend your time, then this week is for you.

Do you actively plan how to make your time wishes come true? Or are you like most people and let perceived obligations or people-pleasing tendencies dictate how you spend your time? 

I like to recommend creating a time protocol. 

Having a time Protocol helps you cultivate using your time in a way you love.

What the heck is a protocol?

  • The government defines a protocol as a set of rules to follow – but I’m not a fan of the government, so I don’t like this definition.
  • In computing, a protocol defines how systems should behave with each other. That is not a bad definition. It’s good to think about how one action impacts another. 
  • My favorite is the scientific definition. “A procedure for carrying out a scientific experiment.” 

I like the scientific definition best because, with a scientific experiment, you try something, and if it doesn’t work, you analyze why, and then you try something else. I like it because it’s emotionally neutral. A scientific experiment starts with a hypothesis. It requires that you learn when things don’t work and encourages you to reflect and adjust to try again.

So, a time protocol is a hypothesis of how you plan to spend your time to achieve your goals. You start by describing your time goal and then what you will do in the upcoming week. 

A time protocol might look like: 

Below is an example of a time protocol. Yours will probably look different, but it can be helpful to see an example. When you create your time protocol, you will try to describe how you want to use your time in the upcoming week so that you feel good about your week. 

The time protocol: 

Goal: I aim to feel relaxed about how I use my time this week. I can achieve that if.

  • SLEEP:  Go to bed at 10 PM and get up at 6:30 AM. Set the alarm for six and allow myself to hit the snooze button three times before I get up at 6:30. Why? I like to hit the snooze.
  • WORK AND BREAKS:  I will start my work day between 7:30 and 8 AM (depending on when my first meeting starts) and wrap it up by 5:00 or 5:30 PM. I’ll find 15 minutes in the morning for a break, 30 minutes for lunch, and 15 minutes in the afternoon for another break. I’ll read, walk, or go outside during breaks. 
  • DINNER: I’ll have dinner with the family at 6:30 PM. If I need quick dinners, I’ll use leftovers, make a quick sandwich, order from the deli, or heat a freezer meal. 
  • EXERCISE: I will exercise for 30 minutes in the morning before work or after dinner. I’ll decide which one each day based on when my morning meetings start. 
  • WORK ACTIVITIES: When the schedule is under my control, I’ll have project planning meetings on Mondays, one-on-one meetings on Tuesdays, scheduled focused work time on Wednesdays, conduct team meetings on Thursdays, and close out the week on Fridays with focus time for work, follow-up activities, financial work, and written status reports. When my work day ends on Fridays, I’ll visit my parents and order pizza to be delivered to my house before I head home from my parents.
  • FREETIME AND HOBBIES: Evenings have sports, hobbies, or family commitments to fit in. I will simplify dinner plans with on-the-go meals when a weeknight has an obligation. If I’m in the car often, I’ll get my “reading” done via audiobooks. 
  • WEEKENDS On Saturdays, I’ll turn off the alarm and sleep in, have fun with family or friends, handle any family-related scheduled activities (sports or clubs), do some laundry, and have as much unstructured and unplanned time as I can. On Sunday, I’ll order groceries to be delivered, do any family or friend activities, and have more unstructured time. I don’t want to spend my weekends cleaning, so I will pay cleaners to come every other week as long as it fits into my budget.

What would your week look like? What would you add or remove?

Creating a TIME PROTOCOL can be fun because you get to start with a hypothesis of what an ideal week would look like for you. Then you decide ahead of time how you will spend your time. How many hours will you work, and when? When will you sleep? Eat? Take breaks. 

If you are finding the process stressful, ask yourself if you are allowing your inner judge to have a voice, and remind the inner judge that you are just forming your hypothesis of how things could work.

Once you have an idea of what your week could look like. Give yourself the time to try to live your week that way. Then when the week is over look back to see what went well, what you would change, and what you need to stop. 

Can You Design and Love Your Ideal Week? Yes. If you practice.

  • You’ll create a plan of what that ideal week will look like and write it down. How can you use your time in a way that feels better than it did last week? Can you get to a 10% improvement?
  • You’ll try to honor the plan you made as best you can, and you’ll watch out for your judge.
  • At the end of the week, you will reflect. Look at what worked and what didn’t, and make adjustments for next week. 

Am I a liar?

The truth is, most of the time, I don’t follow through with my protocol. I flex and adjust my plans in the moment all day long. I get to the end of the week, and I haven’t done the things I planned to do at the beginning of the week. I have never followed it perfectly. Does that make me a liar? 

NO! It’s a hypothesis, so if it doesn’t go perfectly, that’s expected. The point is to look at what helps you feel good and what doesn’t and then adjust the plan for next week. It’s about doing what you can to improve. It’s not about perfection. 

So This week, try creating a time protocol for yourself and go back and reflect next week. Make adjustments as you need to.

A real gift this time.

At the start, I joked about giving you a gift of an extra 24 hours, and you rolled your eyes at me, but I do have a real gift for you. 

I am giving you a guide for your scientific time experiments each week.

Click “here” to download a Free Time Guide (pun intended) to help you build your time protocol and reflect each week. 

  • Once you’ve downloaded it, you can fill in the PDF in a few ways.
    • The old-fashioned way: Print it out and write on it
    • Fill it on an iPad if you have one.
    • Download Adobe to open it and edit it. 
    • Fill the fields in a compatible browser such as Microsoft Edge
    • Upload it onto a Remarkable device or Kindle scribe tablet and write to your heart’s content. – this is my favorite way. You’ll have your own favorite.

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Here is how my goals are going.

Exercise: Better week! I exercised five out of seven days this week.  I’ve gotta tell you, writing this status each week was a motivator! I didn’t want to admit that I lacked exercise again. Reinforcing the point I made in this post

One-on-One Fun: Did I have one-on-one fun with my family this week? We had a nice Saturday hanging out as a family. We also had a few relaxing evenings together. 

Hustle or anti-hustle? This week, 6 of 7 days, did not feel frantic. I was productive but not rushed.

Reading? Continuing Ezra Klein’s “Why we’re polarized.” Read from pages 42 through 119.