Ben Franklin’s 13 Virtues: Week Three, Q1

Order: “Let all your things have their place; let each part of your business have its time.

Personal notes to start the week:

  • Stick firmly to a prearranged schedule.
  • “Seize the day.” wake before/by 6am (goal 5am).
  • Focus on tasks at hand/block out noise.
  • Navigate pain points by preparing for them.
  • Ensure time is scheduled for critical pursuits +exercise +personal development +new skills
  • Allow flexibility to enjoy family; plan “cheat time” for one off events.

This week was a failure. All my attempts at Order were botched. One thing after another brought disorder: inclement weather, daughters sick, winter blues, winter break, mother-in-law, helping a friend. Worse still, I couldn’t stay focused. Aiming for “Order,” I bulls-eyed “Distraction.”

When I derailed, I tried to get back on track but it was no use; bad habits reappeared. Despite spending the last several months weening myself away from the internet, I easily drifted towards email, Facebook and the iPhone. Mindless distractions and sore thumbs followed.

There were some wins but not enough to offset the feeling of failure. To get rid of clutter I organized the office and the bedroom. Spent some time tackling the retirement plan. Cleaned up the garden. But nothing you would call a home-run. Maybe that was the problem. I should have been swinging for singles.

A few observations:

  • In the beginning of the week I “Ordered” my schedule into 1 and 2 hour segments. It did not work. 2 to 5 hour blocks were superior.
  • 1 hour segments resulted in being busy but not productive. If I organized bigger chunks of time, I was productive and not busy.
  • Small time blocks worked for email – if you stick with it! I did not and found my day destroyed by email. When email was limited to 15 or 30 minutes at 9am, 12pm and the close of the day, I was effective. When email controlled me, I went down the rabbit hole of distractions.
  • Having a check list for the day was helpful but my goals were unrealistic. Need to lower the success hurdle.
  • There were periods when the kids needed more from me than planned. I organized around that time so we could hang together. If I tried to do something during those needy periods everyone ended up angry.
  • Ah, and about that goal, “wake up super early this week.” Up by 6am? Yes (begrudgingly). Up by 5am? Not even close. Kids are exhausting and I’m not a morning person. I also haven’t been drinking coffee.

Looking back, I had a great week. Seriously. Despite sickness and interruptions, everyone was happy. My family was all smiles. The gratitude journal provided a solid base for the day.* The angst stemmed from “Order.”

It’s odd that by aiming for Order, I achieved the opposite result. That was frustrating. If I could distill it to 2 failures it would be 1) email and 2) lofty goals. By setting impossibly high goals each day, I paved the path for failure. My outlook was clouded as more and more items did not get addressed. Failure became self fulfilling – swing for singles and aim for consistent wins. As for email, it was a gateway drug that opened up a million avenues of distraction. Remember 9am, 12pm and end of day.


*This was a challenge listed in the Bens13 weekly email.