As I’ve aged and matured my approach to life, career, and family, I’ve evolved my rubric for organizing each day. Here’s what I’ve used for 2016:
Minimize lost time, by doing the following.
- Avoid commuting delays as much as possible — leave no later than 6 a.m. in the morning and return either before 3 p.m. or after 7 p.m. I generally go in early, return early, care for animals, then work in the evening. I work in Boston Tuesday/Thursday, in our suburban Metrowest office Monday/Wednesday and wherever the most urgent projects are happening on Friday.
- Limit airline travel to impactful events — I have numerous federal/regional/state commitments and used to fly to every one of them. Now I assess the impact of the meeting and limit travel to one day a month. This fall has an unusual cluster of international travel: Denmark, New Zealand, and Israel, all related to collaborations around interoperability and security.
- Be virtual whenever possible — although high intensity meetings are best attended in person, standing meetings with people you already know can be done effectively by phone. A one-hour phone meeting is a much better use of time than a one hour commute, a one hour meeting and another one hour commute.
Do satisfying activities that make a difference each day. Doing a job you love is directly related to happiness, longevity, and domestic tranquility.
Family comes first. Careers can be changed, but family is forever. To keep my family members happy and healthy, I must help my daughter establish a self-reliant future, help my wife achieve her goals, and ensure my mother (the last surviving parent) can do fulfilling activities in a stress free living environment.
Be Well. Personal health directly impacts my performance in all aspects of life. Each day includes at least an hour of exercise (generally related to farm activities) and sound nutrition (vegan for 20 years). I strive to improve life processes, fixing whatever is broken, be that a machine, a schedule, or a relationship. I never stop learning and experimentation.
It Takes a Village. There are too many tasks in too little time to do them all yourself. It’s important to share burdens, whatever they may be. None of us are an island and we need to constantly learn from others. Regardless of what happens each day, there is a process for everything to get to a better place.
Those 5 principles have worked me in 2016. No doubt, 2017 will refine this further. I never know what tomorrow will bring, but I’m confident each day will be better than the last.