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Feeling stuck? Ready for something more?

My 3 phase process to make time for your goals

Published 24 days ago • 6 min read

Too busy, overwhelmed with work and personal to-do’s, burned out…

How could I possibly start a side hustle that would give me the freedom to quit my job?

Ah, the vicious cycle rears it’s ugly head. The age old question emerges:

How do you make time for a change when you’re already overloaded?

I quickly learned an important lesson: I must create space if I want to change my life.

Time is a non-renewable resource.

The only option is to make better use of the 24 hours you’re gifted every day.

In this distraction-filled world, you must continuously optimize your time or risk falling victim to how media companies and advertisers lure you into spending it.

Today, I'm sharing how to set up your calendar to make success a default.

We’re going deep here, this isn’t surface level time management advice...

Up to 40% of productive time is lost to task switching. Every productivity guru will tell you: Time Blocking is your friend. It’s a method of accounting for your entire day and combining similar tasks into blocks so you can optimize for flow.

But what do you work on in those time blocks? How do you know those tasks will move the needle on your goals?

You can’t just slap on a few blocks for “deep work” and “email” and hope it’ll magically get you from A to B.

There are 3 important phases to creating your Ideal Calendar, and the actual calendaring part comes last.

If you’re struggling to make time for your goals, this one’s for you.

Phase 1. Define a clear PURPOSE

If you aim to live an intentional life, everything has a bigger purpose behind it — your WHY, the reason for doing it.

When you’re building your career and life by design, there are 2 key components behind creating a purpose that pulls you forward.

  1. Long-term vision: Who do you want to be in 5 years?
  2. Short-term objective: What goal are you working in the next 90 days that will get you closer?

I recommend choosing just 1 short-term goal, but definitely no more than 3. If you add more than that, it becomes impossible to prioritize.

(If you have a bunch of goals, chances are you have 1 major goal and the other “goals” are actually part of the HOW — the projects or steps to achieve it.)

Phase 2. Ruthlessly PRIORITIZE

Now that you have a clear objective, it’s time to create the process that’ll help you get there. The process includes the key milestones and focused activities you’ll do to achieve the goal.

Leverage the Pareto Principle, aka ‘The 80/20 Rule’ — 20% of your actions produce 80% of your results.

Your mission is to continually identify and pare back the 80% of activities you’re doing today that don't move the needle on your #1 goal. Then, optimize for the 20% that do.

This prioritization work is painfully easier said than done because we humans have a strong aversion to loss. But it’s a required step for real growth. (I’m currently reading Immunity to Change which studies the principle of the psychological pain of letting go and how to overcome it.)

How to start prioritizing:

  1. Look at your calendar. Write out everything you’re currently doing in a big list. Health, wealth, relationships — it all matters.
  2. Label each item as Keep, Kill, or Optimize based on how well it aligns with your greater purpose and 90-day objective.
    • Keep: Continue it
    • Kill: Eliminate it
    • Optimize: Keep it, but do it faster or more efficiently
  3. Now that you’ve made some space, write out everything NEW you plan to add to achieve your goals.
  4. Question your assumptions about what’s truly required… it is likely simpler than you think. Be ruthless! Where can you apply the 80/20 Rule?

Once you have a streamlined priority list, it’s time to put it into your calendar.

(Interesting note: The word “priorities” in plural didn’t even exist until the 1900s. Before that, there was just a singular “priority,” meaning first in order of importance. Life got too complicated!)

Phase 3. Calendar it to create your PLAN

“Show me your calendar and I’ll show you your priorities.”

Harsh but true. If your declared priorities don’t actually take up any time in your life, they are not priorities.

Get ‘em on the calendar! This step will force you to pare down the list if you didn’t get ruthless enough in Phase 2.

Your goal is to create an Ideal Calendar.

Every week will not look exactly the same, but this becomes your target. Good thing you don’t require the perfect conditions to make progress. You’re adaptable and can adjust as necessary.

How to build your target schedule:

  1. Create a separate Calendar for your “Ideal Calendar”. I toggle mine on/off alongside my main calendar in GCal.
  2. Set themes for each day of the week based on your priorities. Don’t get too rigid, it doesn’t always work based on your commitments. Aim for 1 day with no meetings (or lighter meetings) where you can really get into flow.
  3. Calendar your non-negotiables — family/friend time, workouts, meals, and those precious deep work blocks.

    The trick with deep work is knowing when you personally focus best. For most, it’s first thing in the morning before distractions pile up. For others, it’s late at night.

    You will move your goals forward most in those deep work blocks. You don’t need to decide the goal of every deep work session way in advance, just protect the time ferociously. Each week, you’ll determine the objective for your deep work blocks based on your most important problem to solve.
  4. Pare down those meetings. The productivity killers! Adjust in this order: eliminate altogether, consolidate, reduce cadence, shorten duration, rearrange so they’re clumped together, delegate attendance.
  5. Batch tasks together. Determine what tasks need to happen daily vs. weekly vs. monthly. If you can batch repeating weekly tasks into 1 day per month, do it. If you can batch dailies into a weekly block, do that too. This saves time context switching and reduces your cognitive load.
  6. Keep adequate buffer time. Things change, you’ll get sick, need personal days, etc. If you have no buffer, you are expecting yourself to operate like a robot — not fun and not sustainable.
  7. Don’t forget less frequent activities. What must happen quarterly or annually? Add placeholders for those too. You can firm up specifics later and leverage your buffer time!

Below is my Ideal Calendar for a typical week. I want to stress the word IDEAL — this is not what my actual calendar looks like (I wish!). It’s the target I aim for.

I am guilty of forgetting the buffer time and overloading a given day... then getting behind and frustrated at myself for it. I also have a hard time going to bed on time! No one’s perfect but we're constantly improving!

The Ideal Calendar is not set-it-and-forget-it. When my schedule changes dramatically (e.g. like traveling as I am for the next 2 months), I have to update it accordingly.

The hardest part is being realistic about how long tasks actually take and then creating systems to help you do them faster over time. That’s a topic for another day :)

Let me know if this resonates with you! My clients have been asking about it. Thought I’d share since you too are goal-oriented, purpose-driven leaders who want to make the most of the time we have in this life to increase your impact, influence, and income.

If you send me a screenshot of your Ideal Calendar once you’ve gone through the exercise, I’ll try to guess your priorities from it!

Happy prioritizing,

P.S. Whenever you’re ready, there are 3 ways I can support you:

1) [Limited Time Only] If you’re looking for clear direction and want to get FIRED UP about your career again, grab the limited time replay of Career Clarity Launchpad. In 60 min, you'll learn how to get career clarity & immediate action steps to unlock more income, impact, and energy. It expires Sunday 6/23 since there's a special time-sensitive opportunity inside 👀. Grab it here.

2) 1:1 Career Coaching. High achievers who've lost their spark work with me to uncover work that lights them up & navigate big transitions with confidence. Unlock clarity on your path, a compelling personal brand, and a clear roadmap to attract aligned opportunities. If you're craving direction, accountability, and allll the good energy, grab a free Career Strategy Call.

3) Follow me on LinkedIn for daily advice on building your career and life on purpose ✨

Feeling stuck? Ready for something more?

I'm Katy Culver, founder, coach, and startup operator.

I help growth-minded professionals get clarity and pivot to work they love. Join my newsletter to build your career by design and navigate transitions with confidence. Expect big ideas, tactical strategies, and seriously good vibes. You in?

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