Well, it’s official, another 30 days of whatever THIS is. I tend to think of it as another 30 days without going to a Mexican restaurant. I think we can survive another 30 days of imposed self- isolation, but I think a bigger question is can we survive another 30 days without PURPOSE.
Purpose is a very real human driver of activity and has been since life sprang up from Earth’s primordial ooze. Our most core purpose is survival. Creatures hunt and procreate, a two-pronged purpose with the end goal of survival. It is the most primal of purposes.
As life progressed, we didn’t lose that need of purpose, it just changed.
In the 243 years of our little study in democracy, we have moved towards purpose. We are a nation of work, often to the detriment of our psyche but, none the less, work is critical to us. Like it or not, what we do is a cornerstone of our identity. This is exemplified by one of the most common opening questions when we meet someone, “What do you do?”
A Nation Defined by Work
In the early days of our Nation, we had an agricultural focus that drove our purpose. Farmers were driven by the rotation of the earth on its axis and its annual trip around the sun. They were up with first light and rested when the sun dropped below the horizon. We had a life defined by work and home. A dipole model that hasn’t really changed.
At work we have structure and often contained in that structure is the well-defined purpose of our work. It gives us direction for how we spend our time. We have social touchpoints. Who would have thought how much we miss our bagel driven morning meetings?
The workplace played a significant role in giving us a healthy hunk of purpose. Now, we wake up to a day no different from the last. I love the meme that said “welcome to Wednesday or as we now call it “day.” Despite our best efforts and those of our employers, it is damn hard to motivate with the key pieces of purpose lacking.
So, we need to figure out how to develop that on our own. We need to become the CREATOR of purpose. I’m not talking about task lists, as I am sure your employer is taking care of that, I’m talking about filling the emotional void separating us from meaningful, purpose-driven activity. It feels like we are playing in a playground devoid of slides and swings.
From Process to Purpose
I am not an industrial psychologist, but I have worked like this for 35 years, mostly on my own providing a self-driven purpose. What has driven my productivity is a structure leading to a daily purpose. So here is my formula, adjusted for the zombie apocalypse. Here is my way of creating a real sense of purpose through a simple schedule followed with a sense of self-driven accountability. It is both loose and structured.
- A REAL SCHEDULE: Here is my adjusted schedule
- 6:00 AM WAKE UP. This is two hours later than my normal 4:00 AM. I realize that rest is a key to surviving and I am forcing myself to get more sleep, something that has eluded me my entire life.
- COFFEE WITH LAURA. This is very important to me. My wife and I listen to a book on Audible, talk about the day, and give a brief review of the condition of the world on our iPads. It’s a touchstone to the day.
- 7:00 AM – In the office.
- FIRST FOCUS – OCT – The One Critical Thing. I used to teach that it didn’t matter when this one impactful thing was done but that it needed to be done before the end of the day. Now I believe you need to do it FIRST to provide momentum. Here’s a link to an interview I did with the Native Society where I discussed the OCT.
- 9:00 AM – Facetime Huddle with the Dallas team – never more than 10 minutes. It’s even shorter now as we focus on internal projects.
- 7:00 – 11:00 AM – Time for DEEP WORK. Things that are impactful deserve focus. For me, it’s writing, updating all of our strategies, and developing ideas for the near future.
- 11:00 AM – First exercise break. It can be anything from a walk to a run if you are blessed with functional knees. Do anything that gets your pulse rate up.
- 1:00 PM – Back in the office for “fill work”. Stuff that needs to get done but might not be very impactful and doesn’t require the same level of concentration as DEEP WORK.
- 4:00 PM – Second workout. Usually intervals on our stationary bike in one of the guest rooms.
- 5:00 PM – Two 10-minute Learning System programs. One is the guitar the other is abstract painting. I will spend a structured 10 minutes on each, following our 10-MINUTE LEARNING SYSTEM.
- 6:00 PM – DINNER and then some reading, ending the day with a couple of NETFLIX or AMAZON PRIME shows.
- Rinse and Repeat.
This is how I’m surviving and building purpose. I probably have more freedom than most of you. The new world of an ever-encroaching viral enemy caused me to change my traditional day’s structure. This schedule is built on creating a daily pattern of purpose. Time is unforgiving, without some systemic approach you will flounder and float on whims of activity. You will notice mine is loose, I get to choose my activities where you might have your boss driving yours. That’s OK. In my system, I am guaranteed at least 4 hours of very productive purpose driven work.
You need to find a simple methodology, a loose systemic approach to your professional time. We now have a bizarre singular hybrid of home and work where home is work and work is home.
Create your purpose through simple structure and you will find the next 30 days doable.
Need a little help, lets us know and we will be happy to jump in!
Bill Dexter says
Great recipe for personal growth and productivity with a little fun along the way. The best thing I can say about it is that you have inspired me with a working model of a working day that intertwines the the three corners of life’s triangle:
Family, Profession and Personal !
Thanks, as always (for 20 years of newsletters)
Hey Bill: During times like this we look for those bits and pieces that can make a difference..
Thanks for the kind words and I feel honored that you gave to me a little bit of your precious time!
Lots more coming your way, so keep your eyes out on social media and the website.