I found myself saying “I just need more time” a lot recently.

Since I’ve been stationed in Italy, I’ve been busy. Busier than I’ve ever been.

And then, all of the sudden, I had time. I had about a month.

I knew it was coming and I was looking forward to everything I would get done. All of the articles I would write, the progress I would make on my book… all of the hours I would put in.

The month came and went. I’m not ahead. I’m barely caught up. I definitely didn’t finish my book. I barely wrote a few pages.

So what happened? Well, time isn’t what I needed.

I needed to be more disciplined in my daily routine, and stop procrastinatingly looking forward to some magical block of time.

I was writing a little bit during the months leading up to my month of free time, but for the most part, I was putting work off so that I could batch it all together in that month.

“I’ll have plenty of time for that next month.”

Lies. I was telling myself lies. I was simply procrastinating.

Perception Vs. Reality: The Procrastination Cycle

We would rather take advantage of a Saturday morning than an extra 20 minutes before work.

We always think tomorrow will be better because we think we’ll have a little more time.

This turns into a cycle of procrastination.

We don’t see it that way. We see “great time management skills.”

And then a year down the road we see very little progress.

It’s Not About Time, It’s About Discipline

I had a month to get all kinds of work done, and I didn’t.

I think it was way too much time.

Taking a month sabbatical makes sense, because it’s a month away from work. Taking a month just to work doesn’t work. At least not for me. And not for most people.

Take writing for example, most of the famous writers like Stephen King and Jack London have used a daily word-count discipline to write all of their books. Occasionally you’ll hear of writers like Elizabeth Gilbert, who takes long, concentrated periods of time to write her books, and doesn’t generally keep a daily writing habit. But that’s the exception.

If you took an entire month, working 40 hours a week on your side hustle, you still wouldn’t put in as many hours as you can put in working 30 minutes a day for a year.

Batch Tasking Only Works in Small Batches

Batch tasking is the act of grouping similar tasks into a specific block of time.

You want to do all kinds of things that require “extra” time. Things like…

These are perfect things for your morning ritual. These are terrible things to batch into a large block of time.

When I say large block of time, I’m talking weeks. Small batches work great. An extra two or four hours to devote to any of these things would be awesome and productive. Even an entire day would be nice. However, when you try to devote two weeks to any of these things, the time is overwhelming, you won’t know where to start, and you’ll waste a lot of that time.

Easy fix. Use your daily ritual to do the things you really want to do.

Daily Disciplines Rule All

If you get a free day to work on the things you really want to work on, take advantage of it.

If you somehow get a free month to do it, take caution.

I’m not saying it can’t work, but it definitely doesn’t work like we think.

Daily disciplines will snowball quickly.

If you don’t have a list of daily disciplines, you’ll be surprised at what you can do in 30, or even just 5-10 minutes a day.

You have time in your life to do what you want, but it requires planning and discipline.

When I got to my duty station in Italy and started working crazy hours, I realized I would have to “find” time to do all of the things I wanted to do. And I found that time. It’s at 4:30am. Each morning I wake up and knock out the tasks that are deeply important to me, and that sets the tone for the rest of my day.

My morning now consists of (in order):

  1. Coffee – A must.
  2. Vitamins – Vitamin C in the winter, and a daily multi.
  3. Prayer – I use Echo, an amazingly simple prayer tool to keep track of everyone and everything I’m praying for.
  4. Bible Study – Currently going through a detailed study on Matthew with the YouVersion app.
  5. Devotional – A separate devotional, also in YouVersion.
  6. Pushup Routine – A simple Excel tracker. I do pushups every other day. Only goal is more than the last session.
  7. Journaling – I use a private WordPress for this.
  8. Reading – Currently reading Everybody Writes by Ann Handley.
  9. Writing – Currently writing this article. 😉
  10. Daily Review – I go over everything I have to do for the day from this point forward.

It’s changed a little since I last posted my morning ritual.

If I tried to take any of these tasks and do them over a long period of time, it would get dull quickly.

However, doing them in small burst each day is exciting.

My main lesson learned? I didn’t need more time, I just needed to stick with my morning ritual through and through.