This is a weekly series of posts detailing my experiences as a participant in Niyi Sobo’s 12 week, 12 person Mental Training group.
This week’s focus was getting time management under control. This isn’t like “buy a day planner” but more like mapping out what kinds of accomplishments you want by the end of the week and then working backwards to plan out how to achieve it, breaking it into repeatable or progressive actions to which you are responsible throughout the week. It’s a great habit to develop. It’s also one of my greatest weakness.
I hate making lists, I don’t tend to create week by week plans so much as just decide what I’m working on next and then integrate that into my daily grind. But I can see where my methods have created huge holes in the net, so to speak, where I’m losing substantial benefits and growth due to those gaps. Looking at the hour-long process of planning out my week on a Sunday that Niyi advises made my eyes cross. It’s just not how I work, nor how I like to work, at all. So much so, in fact, that I wasn’t able to even approach it all week. I’d watch the videos he has on the member’s section of his website, which break down the purpose of each portion and how to go about filling it in with your personal goals, targets, schedule, etc. I’d get all the information but just could not put pen to paper. Could not. This demonstrated to me, quite clearly, how much I need this particular skill. If you can’t figure out the time to manage your time, you’re up the creek.
It wasn’t until I got in a fight with Kevin and just left the apartment with all these papers in my bag that I actually just sat down at a cafe and went to work on it. There were quite a few areas where I didn’t understand the reference words, so I couldn’t fill out the paper. I’d go in the member’s section and try to decode it, then come back and try to figure out how to fill it in myself. Part of why I hate schedules like this is that I don’t think a great deal about things before committing to them. That sounds incredibly irresponsible, I know, but it’s how I work. You don’t decide to aim for 200 fights by thinking about it a lot; you decide and then just do a lot. That’s my method. So when I was filling in these time blocks I felt like I was either reaching for arbitrary things to fill the spaces, or I was unwilling to commit to doing a particular thing on a particular day and time, rather than just knowing – vaguely – that I had to get it done “soon.” The way I currently manage my time makes my weeks end-heavy, rather than front-loading and getting a lot done early in the week so that I have more free time at the end of the week. Looking at my inability to fill in a schedule really illuminated that for me.
Niyi teaches about 4 different categories of how we spend time. There’s Distraction, which is checking social media in a loop, watching TV, reading a magazine or surfing the internet. Stuff that’s not important, not urgent. Then there’s Delusion, which is things that are important but not urgent, so you do need to answer emails but not necessarily right at this moment between sets of pullups at the gym. Then there’s Demand, which is both important and urgent, like if your kid is sick or you have an injury that requires you deal with it right now, or like a deadline. Last is Dialed In Zone, which is ideal because it’s where you do the things that have to be done before they are urgent. It’s the prevention to the Demand zone. The idea, of course, is to try to get your ratios so that you’re in the Dialed In Zone about 60% of the time. I, personally, end up in the Demand zone all the time because I procrastinate and don’t make schedules. I feel overwhelmed by “how much I have to do,” but make no efforts to actually write out all the things I need to do and then organize time for each of them so that they get done in a non-urgent manner. Instead, I allow Distraction to masquerade as “rest” or a way to recharge myself (it isn’t either of those things) and end up with all this work I could have been doing steadily throughout the week, all piled up at the end of it with a sense of panic. I learned how to do this, and practiced it thoroughly, in college when I would wait until the last few days before my 30 page Conference Paper was due and then pull a series of all-nighters to get it done. I referred to the author of those assignments as “3 AM Sylvie,” and I owe her most of my Bachelor’s Degree. I’d done all the research for them, it was the writing I put off for so long. If I’d been writing by some kind of schedule throughout each semester rather than putting it off to the end, I wouldn’t have such horrible panic about getting it done on time and, while my papers were always graded pretty well, I know they could have been much better. The Demand zone creates “good enough,” whereas the Dialed In Zone creates improvements and can lead to greatness.
I ended up getting my time blocks filled out this week, with reasonable tasks (70% of the thing fills itself out because I train at the same times every day) and goals that are actually meaningful to me. And I’ll let you in on the secret that allowed me to finally just fill the damn thing out, pretty much all in one go: I stopped worrying about doing it well or right. Just fill it in with a reasonable degree of focus and respect, but know that I can amend it. If it’s not right, I can change it. If it’s not good, I can improve it. How about that?! I feel like that realization, for just this one task, is like a skeleton key to my whole life. Maybe I should write it into my schedule to remember it from time to time.
My Vlog on How Mental Training Has Been Going:
above, my vlog on where I’m at in my mental training process, covering some of the more emotional elements and perspective I’m finding.
My posts from other weeks:
You can follow all mental training progress and process on my Mental Training Facebook Page: