Within every given day, a person’s life is a reflection of the organization and arrangement of 24 hours. And as we can see from the distinctiveness of each person’s life, there are infinite ways you could arrange 24 hours.
It’s safe to say that your current arrangement of 24 hours is not optimal. It may be good, but is it best?
Case 1: Stacy
Stacy is in her early 40s. She has 10- and 12-year-old sons whom she home schools. She works about two days per week. But for the most part, she’s home with the boys.
Her daily routine for the past few years has been as follows:
- Wake up between 7–8 A.M.
- Get breakfast ready and eat around 8:30 A.M.
- Home school her boys from 9 A.M. to 2 P.M.
- Decompress (e.g., take a nap, surf the web) from 2–5 P.M.
- Get dinner ready between 5–6 P.M.
- Eat dinner with the family around 6–6:30 P.M.
- Hang out with the family from 6:30–11 P.M. (although bed-time is inconsistent)
With this schedule, she hasn’t been able to purposefully move toward her dream of getting back in shape and finishing her first novel. She decided to restructure her 24 hours to make that possible.
Here’s how she rearranged her schedule and what the results have been:
- Wake up at 6 A.M.
- Exercise from 6–6:45 A.M. from her house (various cardio moves to get her blood flowing and a dopamine release)
- Get ready between 6:45–7 A.M.
- Eat a quick and healthy breakfast by herself from 7–7:15 A.M.
- Meditate from 7:15–7:30 A.M.
- Write in her journal (e.g., to-do list, goals and vision, and daily affirmations) from 7:30–7:45 A.M.
- Write her novel from 7:45 A.M. to 1 P.M.
- Have lunch with her boys at 1 P.M.
- Home school her boys from 1:30 to 4:30 P.M.
- Get dinner ready between 5–6 P.M.
- Hang out with the family 6:30–10 P.M.
A few tweaks in her 24 hours have changed Stacy’s life
First, she goes to bed and wakes up an hour earlier. She’s developed a morning routine to get back in shape and orient her life toward her highest ideals.
Previously, she spent a few hours in her afternoon recovering and relaxing. After having spent five hours homeschooling her kids — and knowing she’d soon have to make dinner — she just needed a break.
According to psychological research, your willpower is strongest in the morning, after a night of regeneration.
It’s not surprising that by mid-afternoon her willpower was depleted (with her previous schedule), leaving her with two to three underutilized hours each day. Consequently, she took those two to three hours and rearranged them in the morning when her willpower was stronger. She now has the entire morning to herself to do her creative work, distraction-free.
Needless to say, this reallocation of 24 hours has changed Stacy’s life.
Not only has she gotten tons of writing done and improved her health, she has way more clarity and confidence about her future, and where she wants it to go.
In order to make this happen, she had to talk to her boys. They now get themselves breakfast and have been given loads more autonomy with their morning time (within constraints Stacy has set).
Instead of doing five hours of homeschooling each day, they are focusing on quality over quantity with three hours each day. Like exercise, an intense short workout is almost always better than a long and less-intensive one.
Her boys have the entire morning for self-directed learning through books, documentaries, and educational websites – which they love. Their schooling is much better now that it’s compressed into three hours. The boys are more focused, as three hours is easier to handle than five.
And Stacy is a more energetic and passionate homeschooler, since she’s been investing in herself all morning. So the boys get a more present, caring, and inspired teacher.
Stacy is far also more present and excited when her husband gets home from work. As a musical duo, they’ve begun dreaming and talking again about touring Europe together. Because Stacy is now exercising in the morning and going to bed on routine, she sleeps better at night.
Case 2: Matt
Matt is in his late 30s. He works between 40–50 hours per week in his salaried job. He has four kids and a wife whom he loves. He’s also an avid runner with several marathons under his belt, and dreams of one day running a 100-mile ultramarathon.
Matt runs 365 days per year.
But he hates how much running impedes on his family time. Usually, he runs after getting home from work, then hangs out with his wife and kids for a few hours before bedtime.
He decided to shift his 9 P.M. activities to the morning, since 9–10 P.M. is an underutilized hour for him anyways.
Instead of vegging out during that hour, he goes to bed earlier and converts the saved hour into morning running time. He now wakes between 4:30–5 A.M. and goes running for two hours before work.
All he had to do was stop being awake from 9–10 P.M. and instead be awake an hour earlier in the morning.
A reallocation of his 24.
But it didn’t just change one hour. Because he gets to bed earlier, he actually wakes up one and a half to two hours earlier than he used to. He just sleeps better now that he goes to bed a little earlier and on routine.
He also gets way more time with his family. Instead of commuting 15 minutes each way and running for one to two hours after work, he now heads straight home.
By reallocating one hour of time, he has actually gained approximately three hours of quality life each day.
24 hours is enough to create whatever life you want. How you arrange your 24 hours is up to you.
However you want.
For starters, make a few minor tweaks like Stacy and Matt did. You can dramatically improve your life by simply shuffling a few hours from here to there in your schedule.
With practice, you’ll be able to completely control and optimize your 24.
If you resonated with these ideas, please subscribe to my blog.
A note from The Hustle: Every morning at 9am Pacific, we send an email with the top news stories in business and tech. It's kind of like if your friend read the internet all day then told you the important stuff in a fun, easy to understand way. Join the club and impress your coworkers with how smart you are.