What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, or Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson? For me, it’s not their wealth. It’s a question of how they can accomplish and manage so much in the same 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 52 weeks a year that we all experience.
These three people may be well-known examples of success, but I’m sure you can think of others in your own life that seem to go above and beyond conventional success. While some people possess qualities and advantages that make working hard and achieving their goals seem straightforward, I believe the primary reason we create extraordinary lives is intention.
Every person that is living today, has lived in the past, and will live in the future is constrained by the same 24 hours in a day. How someone chooses to spend those 24 hours is the difference. In striving to place more intention in my life, I’ve learned how to best go about being more purposeful in how I spend my time.
Build a schedule, not a to-do list
How many times have you started your day by looking at a to-do list? How do you choose which task to begin? My default was always to start with the quickest and easiest item, so I could cross it off and feel accomplished.
While that feeling was real, I often ended the day having crossed a bunch of items off my list (even adding some only for the satisfaction of crossing them off) without making any progress on my most important and fulfilling tasks. I would even reward myself for crossing items off the list by taking a break to scroll social media or watch TV. But I found by building a schedule, instead of a to-do list, I accomplished more, worked more purposefully, and sparked transformative growth.
Take a moment to think about what’s on your plate tomorrow and schedule your tasks by time block. The workday is full of inevitable surprises, so don’t get too attached to your schedule and plan. The idea is to approach your day, and each task or project, with more intention so you can make progress on what’s most critical.
For example, set a time to exercise and stick to it, block off 30 minutes to reach out to people in your life (friends, family, prospective business partners, or mentors), dedicate an hour to relaxing or watching your favorite TV show, and make sure work responsibilities have a time block that is realistic and attainable.
By focusing your attention on the task you’ve set for yourself (even if it is scrolling social media), you will be fully present and know you’re spending your time intentionally.
Planners have the most fun
I have a friend who seems to always have fun and do exciting things. When I asked his secret, he told me, “I like having things to look forward to, so I just make plans to do things I enjoy with people I enjoy being with – simple as that.”
Think of how grateful you are for the friends that initiate a themed party, make plans a week in advance for dinner or brunch, or set reminders so they are the first ones to secure concert tickets or a reservation at a new restaurant.
Make a concerted effort in your life to commit to spending time doing things with people you love. It won’t just make for a more fun and eventful weekend; it will strengthen your relationships and create genuine connections.
Deadlines motivate action
How many times have we been given a deadline, weeks in advance, and found ourselves frantically starting and finishing it only one day before it’s due? Would you say this task took weeks to work on, or was it only one day?
It’s amazing what we can accomplish when time is constrained. External constraints often force us to focus and get work done, but what about the important life tasks that don’t have a deadline? Imagine your relationship with your significant other. Is there ever a deadline forcing you to spend quality time together? It’s the most important relationship in our lives, and we often neglect it because there isn’t a deadline to motivate our action. Go create one and watch how your relationship evolves because of your intentional and purposeful approach.
Thoughtful prioritization leads to high-value outcomes
Intention requires thoughtful prioritization, which then leads to high-value outcomes. My ultimate goal is not to be Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, or Dwayne Johnson, but I do try to emulate their intentionality to achieve the high-value goals in my own life: compelling relationships, a purpose-driven career, and financial freedom. We all have the same 24 hours in a day, so figure out what’s important to you and make sure your time is spent pursuing that goal.