Why 168 is my most important number for time management
- Planning 168 hours is more “in your control” than 24 hours
- Looking forward one week is more tangible than a month or a year
- I find that much of my time management success comes from reflection
Planning 168 hours is more “in your control” than 24 hours
When I look at what I’m going to be doing tomorrow a lot of those decisions about time management seem like they’re “already made”. I know when I’ll get up, eat, get ready, and later go to bed. Most of my plans with other people are already in place (or the time is at least mentally blocked off) and there’s a mounting list of “important” things that I know I’ll need to do.
By putting a plan together for the next 168 hours, instead of the next 24, I’m able to re-acquaint myself with what’s been scheduled while there’s still time to influence that schedule.
- Is there a meeting that is not actually important? Suggest canceling or deferring the meeting.
- Do I have a meeting scheduled that I’m not quite ready for? Block off some time to prep.
- Are any of my plans with friends or family in flux? Use this chance to reach out and firm up the situation.
- Am I including time for the other projects that are important to me? Make sure I block off that time.
Looking forward one week is more tangible than a month or a year
You might think to yourself that I’m suggesting that we all just look further out when doing planning, but I contend that there’s a specific time management sweet spot by looking out one week. Most weeks (for me) there are a number of assumed things (sleep, eating, etc.), known activities (meetings, social events), and important tasks (which may or may not be scheduled).
By limiting yourself to only looking a week out, it’s easier to get a feeling for how hectic the week is. It’s also easier to see where you might be able to re-prioritize things so you can focus on the things that are most important to you, without having to compromise on your commitments to others.
Let me be clear that looking out further than one week is also very important. This is actually a skill that can be practiced and developed over time. In fact, many of the skills for looking out 168 hours are foundational to looking out months, years, or even decades (as crazy as that may sound).