Five Ways I’m Improving My Personal System

Ask anyone who knows me well (or anyone familiar with the INTJ personality type) and they’ll tell you I’m a man of systems. I’m constantly asking, “Does it work?” and trying to make improvements to eliminate any friction where I find it. Lately much of my mental and emotional energy has been channeled into trying to figure out how to live life well again. Change has been a constant in 2012. The routines, structures, and systems I’d built my day-to-day existence on for years have become outmoded. I’ve been focusing on five ways I can improve my personal system for the new season I’m in.

  1. Make better use of my calendar. I’ve used Google Calendar for years to keep a schedule of events but I’ve only recently started to use it to make time for personal development goals. For example, I now have an event marked on my calendar as “writing time” reminding me that I’ve already reserved that block of time to something very important to me.
  2. Pursue big goals one step at a time. I use an iPhone app called OmniFocus for project management. It’s helped me break the big goals down into bite-sized steps each with reasonable deadlines. It even integrates seamlessly with my Google Calendar so I can be sure never to double-book myself.
  3. Learn to say no without hesitation. I’m terrible at this. I’m a people-pleaser; I have a really difficult time turning down a chance to prove my worth. And often when I do say no I hemmed and hawed about that decision for far too long, leading that person on unnecessarily as well as wasting my own energy.
  4. Take time to rest well. Step one is a good night’s sleep. Last month I bought a Sleep Number bed and I love it. I’m sleeping through the night and that’s a big change for me. But there’s more to rest than just sleeping well. I’m an introvert who needs his alone time to recharge. Cognitively I recognize that I’ll have less to give to my intentions if I don’t slow down and call a timeout regularly. In practice I find it hard to justify being still when I perceive that there’s so much to be done.
  5. Keep God first. In order to make more progress toward my intentions it’s all too easy for me to crowd out my morning devotional time. Intentional boundaries in this area must be established and maintained. One of those for me is that I’ve committed always to spend time with God before I spend time with my girlfriend Kathy each day. Believe me, that’s a strong motivator.

In the end, much as I hate to admit it, there is no perfect system. Some friction is unavoidable. The trick will be to keep my expectations reasonable. I know there will always be a sense of dissatisfaction with my time management to some degree. But I think these are positive steps I can take toward giving my all to my commitments and goals.

Question: What is one way you try to eliminate friction from your day-to-day life that you’d recommend to others? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • Mitch Mitchell

    Pretty good stuff here. I need to do more of #4, and since I don’t believe in religion I wouldn’t be doing #5. But I love the rest of it, as it’s a way to help plan your days and weeks in pushing towards your ultimate goals.