2016 has been quite the challenge.
We achieved a personal goal to buy (what will hopefully become) our dream house but we have spent six months renovating it (and are nowhere near done yet).
I also run a digital marketing agency in the UK called Bowler Hat. The business is evolving from offering just search engine optimisation to offering a range of services: Strategy, SEO, PPC, Content, Social and Web. Gobbledygook to most I guess but a necessary and difficult change for the business and industry as a whole. Managing this change is fun and rewarding but a challenge at the same time.
Then I have three children of 12, 11 and 5 and a wife – all of whom I want to see more of. Twelve hour work days leaves little time for family in the week. Factor in popping to the shops, walking the dog, exercise, cooking dinner and trying to wind down… there just is not enough hours in the day when you work 12 of them.
Time flys by so fast
This previous year (2016) I became more aware of how this stage of life parenting young children will soon be over. That makes me sad. But I can use that energy to focus my time better so I can enjoy all the time we have left with the children. In a blink of an eye, I will be 50 and I don’t want to look back and think “well Marcus, would have been good to get home a bit earlier and do a bit more with the kids”. Prioritise and change now. Don’t have regrets.
The overarching purpose of this blog is how to be happy, healthy, productive and successful for those of us 40 and above. How to navigate the modern world where we are all just so damn busy.
Clerly a big change I need to make here is to work fewer hours and spend more time with the family. This will require two major factors:
- Routine – less chaos to enable planning
- Productivity – removing all wasted time at work and home
During the week most days I will be up at 6 am and in the office from 7 am. Often I will not be back home till 7 pm. Factor in some running around and various after school activities for the kids and it is pretty much a routine of wake, work, cook, eat, sleep & repeat.
This needs to change.
This year my priorities are:
I want to spend more time with my family. More time helping my eldest kids with their homework. More time being around to spend quality time with my youngest and playing with him after school. More time to spend with my wife. Just more time at home and less time wrapped up in the stresses of work.
Health is a difficult one to pin down and is primarily about doing more of the good (food, exercise) and reducing the bad (inactivity, stress, alcohol, bad foods). My main focus here will be to improve our diet even further (which is already pretty damn solid) which really just comes down to cutting out alcohol & sugar and then having more time to shop, cook and prepare food for in the week.
I want to be as fit and strong as possible for as long as possible. This is primarily so I can continue to enjoy my life into my fifties, sixties, seventies, eighties and nineties even. I would also like to be lean and strong and look good (just being honest here). I have a desk job where I sit down most the day so it’s super important for me to exercise for my physical (and mental) health.
I also want to get better at mountain biking and a large component of this comes down to fitness. So, I want to exercise but tailor it towards my general goals and towards my chosen sport (which requires cardio and strength).
I want to have a less stressful year. I am developing a business and still renovating a house. This is alongside a fast-paced life at home with two near teen children, my youngest (5) and my wife (who has MS that we manage through diet). My life is a little stressful. So, this will be more about stress management than the removal of the things that apply stress.
I can tend to use alcohol to wind down after a fast paced day. It allows me to switch gears from work mode to chilled mode. Usually whilst cooking on the evening. Due to the hours, I work this tends to be unhelpful and just feeds into bad sleep, more stress and negatively impacts my fitness and health goals. I am going to revisit my thoughts about alcohol in a future post but for now, I will cut out all alcohol in January whilst I revisit that.
Time for myself
Whilst most of this involves improving the time I spend with my wife and children I also want to have some more time for myself. Maybe regular exercise and meditation go most the way for this but I may also want to spend an hour on the games console a couple of nights a week. Not too much to ask I hope.
Sleep. Often overlooked but so, so important. I want to allow for 8 hours sleep each night. I tend to need somewhere in the region of 7 to 8 hours. Closer to eight when I am exercising. So any schedule has to allow for a full eight hours with some time to wind down before that. Ideally three hours of time to just chill out and 15 mins to
The below looks at my daily schedule – I will detail my work schedule in another post covering all the time management and productivity hacks I am working into my daily routine in 2017. The goal is work less hours but eliminate wasted efforts (80/20 rule) and push productivity up.
To summarise I am looking for:
- More time with the family
- Regular exercise
- Less stress
- More relaxation time
- Improved health, fitness and lose a bit of weight
Monday to Friday
- 5:30 am – get up: cold shower, coffee, some chess tactics for fun
- 6:40 am – leave for work
- 7:00 am – work: 8 hours 30 mins at work
- 7:10 am – meditate for 10 mins
- 3:30 pm – finish: drive home
- 4:00 pm – home: see the kids
- 4:15 pm – exercise, shower and get everything ready for tomorrow
- 5:15 pm – cook
- 6:00 pm – eat as a family
- 6:30 pm – walk the dog (as a family)
- 7:00 pm – two hours to relax or even catch up on work if needed 🙁
- 9:00 pm – go to bed to read for 30 mins
- 9:30 pm – sleep for eight hours
This allows me to get three hours of time each night to just chill out and get an eight hours sleep each night if I need it due to increased exercise. If not I can read more.
Saturday I tend to do my big bike ride for the week. This is the main goal of my exercise here and my benchmark. I don’t want this to eat into family time so up at 6.30am and meet my riding buddies at 7 am. I also need to sort out the meal plan and food shopping for the week.
- 6:00 am – get up with my youngest (coffee etc)
- 6:45 am – bike ride
- 12:00 pm – home
- 12:45 pm – meal plan for week
- 1:00 pm – shopping
- 3:00 pm – chill out
Sunday is just to chill out with the family so no schedule there. That said I do want to take the kids swimming every Sunday morning so I can teach the youngest to swim before our summer holiday.
- 10 am – take kids swimming
- 12 pm – sort out clothes and schedule for week
- enjoy the rest of the day
Spend the rest of the day just hanging as a family. Walk the dog. Play some chess with my kids. Watch a movie together. Eat a nice dinner. Just fun.
To make this happen I also have to remove all the wasted time and inefficiencies in my day to day life. Time spent looking for my keys, time spent sat in traffic, time lost in my email inbox, doing our shopping day-to-day and any other wasted time but that’s a story for another day and a future post.
There you go
So there you go folks. I will be putting this into practice from the 3rd of January when I am back at work and will report back on the progress as I go. I will also follow this post up with a look at how I am going to strive to reduce time in my work and home life to give myself more time to relax.
Week 1 – went okay. Have made a few small revisions but in practice I am sticking to the schedule. Did not exercise as much as I intended but was tired post xmas and the shift from getting up at 8 am to 5.30am was not an easy one. First day of week 2 I am up and feeling good so exercise is starting in earnest today.