Often, when we aren’t as successful as we'd like to be, it’s not because we aren’t doing enough, it’s because we are doing too much of the wrong things. There are 24 hours in a day and 168 hours in a week. You either are investing in that time or wasting it. Invest it and it will feel like you have 26 hours, waste it and it will feel like a lot less than 24. A lot of people blow through their weeks without a game plan and then wonder why they feel stretched or like they aren’t accomplishing enough.
You need to game plan your week in advance to set up how you will invest your 168 hours. Every night you need to game plan how you will invest the 24 hours in your next day because measurement equals motivation.
Begin by listing all the usual tasks that take place in your typical work week and then schedule them in a planner (online or off). A short list of non-negotiables are scheduled in first (recovery, fitness, nutrition, time with family, etc.). Then subtract each of the allotted tasks and appointments along with their corresponding times from the 24 hours in your day.
Research indicates we perform best with a minimum of eight hours of sleep. I prefer to call it recovery. Sleep sounds ambiguous and like it’s a luxury, not a necessity for optimal performance. Eating or nutrition is also a form of recovery. Budgeting one third of your 24-hour day for sleep/recovery allows you to invest 16 hours towards the active portion of your life.
How to execute your daily game plan:
1. Schedule one-and-a-half to two hours of nutrition (eating) into your calendar before scheduling anything else.
2. Schedule eight hours of recovery (sleep) into your calendar before scheduling anything else.
3. Schedule benchmarks from the minute you wake up until you go to work. For example: wake up, work out, shower and dress, commute.
4. Make a list of all the activities and events you typically have had to schedule (or should have) over the past week, month and quarter.
5. Moving forward, schedule your work days, based on the list in number four. Drill this down into exactly what you’re doing in 15-minute segments every hour. Your final segment of the day should be finalizing the next day’s game plan.
6. Schedule benchmarks from the minute you leave the office until you go to bed. For example: commute, time with children or recreational time, dinner prep, dinner, after-dinner recreation, time with spouse, bedtime.
7. As the great American philosopher Ice Cube likes to say:“Check yourself before you wreck yourself.” Enlist the help of a coach or accountability partner to ensure you execute and repeat your game plan daily.
The difference between you achieving your goals and someone else achieving theirs isn’t money, location, talent or connections, it’s the investment of time. The playing field is level, because everyone is given the same 168 hours in a week and the same 24 hours in day. Your competitive advantage is how your use them.
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This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editor.