Design a realistic ideal week (more on Rule #4: Three times a week is a habit)

This week the Tranquility by Tuesday Challenge is focusing on Rule #4: Three times a week is a habit. Things don’t have to happen daily, or at the same time every day, in order to count in our lives. Aiming for three times a week is often more doable, but is regular enough that these habits can become part of our identities. Think 168 hours not 24!

But as we’re thinking of those 168 hours, it helps to have a general sense of where we’d like all 168 hours to go. I am a huge advocate of time-tracking — noting how you actually spend your time. But just as smart personal finance involves tracking spending AND creating a budget, so good time management involves some forward projections.

Enter the realistic ideal week. You map out a week that takes into account your existing work + family commitments, and the realities of current technology and physics (no flying cars or time machines) yet shows you at your best. If you’d like, you can download the same 168 hours spreadsheet I use for time tracking and plot out what you hope Future You’s time log would look like.

When would you wake up on weekdays? On weekends? What would you like your mornings to look like? What about your workdays? What would you make space for in the evenings? How would you ideally spend your weekends?

No one’s life is ever going to look exactly like the realistic ideal week, because life happens. But if you have set a goal to, say, run three times a week, it helps to see the lay of the land and figure that generally you will aim for Tuesday morning, Thursday after work, and Saturday morning, or whatever happens to work for you.

While I know that budgets don’t exactly sound like fun, ideally they give people permission to spend money on fun things in addition to necessities. It’s the same with a time budget. Yes, we need to spend certain quantities of hours on work, and personal care, and sleep, and so forth. But there might be space for other things. In TBT, I interview Matt Altmix*, who created what he called “Matt’s Perfect Week.” Among other things, he discovered that if he and his wife planned ahead, they actually had enough time to watch a movie after the kids went to bed on a weeknight — which would have seemed irresponsible before the budget. He also aimed to spend one weeknight post-kid bedtime socializing in some way (phone, having someone over to the porch, or visiting a friend if his wife was home). Putting that on the realistic ideal week made it seem like a possibility.

Have you designed your realistic ideal week? What insights came from doing that?

In other news: Wondering what this TBT Challenge is? I’m working through the nine time management rules featured in Tranquility by Tuesday, my most recent book. This book is about how to calm the chaos and make time for what matters. If you haven’t checked it out yet, please do!

*Yes, that Matt.

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