How To Finally Find Time For What Matters With Backwards Planning

How To Finally Find Time For What Matters With Backwards Planning
The trick to hacking time to get what's actually important to you.

I don’t know you, yet I know this about you: You don’t have nearly enough time for everything you want to do.

The list is long. Enjoy a romantic date night. Get away for a weekend and hike through nature. Work out at the gym to finally get in shape. Watch your kids play their first little league match. Read an investment book and work on your financial freedom. 

But you’re busy with your morning coffee, daytime job, and evening news. You go through your established routines day after day, trying to squeeze things in “somewhere.”

But somewhere is neither a time of the day nor a day of the week. At one point, you look back and realize that despite your efforts, you’ve spent most of your time on banalities and distractions instead of the important things.

If you want to do what matters, you have to plan backward.

a machine that makes time

Step 1: Start With the End in Mind to Determine Your Values

Most people walk through life without a clear plan, so they follow someone else’s.

Society has funneled them into the 9-5, two kids, picket-fence house narrative.

Instead of creating the life they want, they’re stuck in insignificant routines that lead to nowhere, briefly interrupted by painful awakenings and empty promises.

On New Year’s Eve, they look at their life and bad habits, wonder where they have gone wrong, and pledge to do better next year – only to end up in the same spot again.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

The best way to get to the end you desire is to think about your own.

Ask yourself: “When I die, what kind of life do I want to look back upon? How do I want others to remember me? How do I want to have spent my time?”

In simple words, death doesn’t screw around. When you realize that one day you’ll take your last breath, your excuses don’t matter anymore. Just the cold, harsh reality.

As I thought about my end, I realized that many things I spent time on didn’t matter at all. Who cares if I wore the fanciest sneakers, was the most hard-working employee, or had everybody praise me?

Instead, I realized I wanted the freedom to see the world, meaningful connections with a few select people, and the presence to consciously enjoy every moment of my life.

Whatever your end is, keep it in mind in everything you do.

At one point, you look back and realize that despite your efforts, you’ve spent most of your time on banalities and distractions instead of the important things.

Step 2: Use Small Commitments To Create Huge Change

Your dreams, goals, and ambitions mean nothing if you don’t act on them.

It’s simple – if you don’t make time for them, they turn into a dirty pile of should, wants, and wishes.

For years, I’ve wanted to improve the connection with my mom. I love her and don’t want to attend her funeral – or my own – with resentment towards her. But instead of letting it become another item on the long list of things I should do, I decided to cut to the chase.

I called her and told her about my plan to book a holiday together so we can soak up the Italian sun, eat copious amounts of pizza and pasta, and talk heart to heart. Now that we have a flight and hotel booked, the chances of this not happening are near zero. No excuses, no change of mind, no bullshit – just planning backward and forcing myself to do what matters.

Forward planning is trying to squeeze things in. Backward planning means having the end in mind and making time for what matters.

the bs of life will sort itself out.

The reason squeezing things in is so stressful and prone to failure is it is inherently last minute. The Back Planning framework takes the values you identified in Step 1 and puts things onto your calendar that are important to you long term, forcing the rest of your life to flow around them when it’s finally time to do it. 

  • Put a date night with your spouse on the calendar for 3 weeks from now
  • Want to spend more time with your kids outdoors? Choose a weekend in 8 weeks to go camping.
  • Have a desire to be more social? Invite your friends to a game night next month.
  • Want to be healthy and in good shape? Block three slots per week for exercise.
  • Want to have a great connection with your family? Block time in 5 months for a weekend getaway.
  • Want to be financially independent? Block a specific hour every day to work on your side-hustle.

It’s simple – yet most people still don’t do it.

Nothing will change if you keep going through your day-to-day and try to squeeze things in. Instead, you need to sit down and make time for what matters. You need to ask yourself what you need to do to get to the end you desire.

Do this every week, month, and year. Block the time. Put it in your schedule. Then, fight tooth and nail to protect it – because it matters.

The Choice Is Yours

Time management is simple – make what matters a priority.

But good intentions are nothing without actions. The waves of everyday life will always try to wash away your commitments. Keep the end in mind, plan backward, and stick to it.

Every day, you choose what your future looks like.

Will you say “I wish I had” or “I’m glad I did?”

Your time is your greatest wealth – make sure you spend it on what matters.

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