Your Charmed Life

Your Charmed Life

A Schedule to Consider …

You’ve read from me before that one of my favorite books is Invitation to a Great Experiment: Exploring the Possibility that God Can Be Known, by Thomas Powers. In response to my squawking about all the time I spend on busywork of the computerized kind while my in-the-works book isn’t getting written, the late Mr. Powers’ son-in-law sent me the schedule his father-in-law was on when he was writing his book. Here it is:

Prayer — 2 hours a day (1 morning, 1 night)
Run — 20 mins a day
Manual labor — 2 hours per day
Sleep — 8 hours a day
Write — 6 hours per day
Mail & music — 1 hour

And made into a schedule with times:

Rise — 5:00: pray – run – breakfast
Write — 7:00 – 12:00
Lunch — 12:00 – 1:00
Write — 1:00 – 2:00
Mail & music — 2:00 – 3:00
Work — 3:00 – 5:00
Free — 5:00 – 6:00
Retire — 8:00: Pray
Sleep — 9:00 pm – 5:00 a.m.

Gosh, I love this. Here’s why:
  • Although I do not aspire to the 5 a.m. rising time, getting up at 6 lights up my life. If I’m up at 6, everything fits. If it’s 7, things just don’t work as well. 
  • Two hours of prayer! Be still my beating heart…I’m still trying for twice a day. Even though I paid the TM people a whole lot of money for a mantra some fifteen years ago, I’ve never been able (willing) to consistently do a p.m. meditation — and they’re only asking twenty minutes, not sixty.
  • The two hours a day of manual labor is brilliant. For me, that’s house stuff — food prep, cleaning. That gets more satisfying all the time. I’m sure it was stifling in the 1950s when women weren’t supposed to do anything else, but now that we have so much else to do, I find it recreational, healing.
  • “Mail and music — 1 hour.” That’s my favorite. Somehow my life seems to be “Email and no music — 6 hours.” I hate that. My husband says, “Only answer what calls for an answer.” “Don’t think of an email as a letter: just the basics.” But still. Is it this kind of time drain for you, too? In my best of all possible worlds, I’d do email one hour a day. And listen to music while I did it.
  • “Write — 6 hours per day.” Wow. That’s a lot. My writing mentor, Jerrold Mundis, tells me that the human nervous system can’t deal with “writing” more than four hours a day. You can research and edit, but not really “write.” I imagine that’s what Tom Powers did — 6 hours of researching, writing, editing. 
  • He has an hour of “free time.” Remember that?
What do you think when you look at this simple, focused schedule? As I try to apply it to my life, I’m seeing:
Prayer/meditation/reading — 1 hour/30 (30 minutes a.m., 60 minutes p.m.)
Gym — 1 hour/30 (that includes travel time)
Manual labor (I’ll call it “creative homekeeping”) — 2 hours
Sleep — 8 hours
Write book — 3 hours
Other work — Research, editing, coaching, marketing, blog, newsletter, email, phone calls, social networking, radio shows, teleclasses — 4 hours
Family time — 2 hours
Enrichment — Classes, lectures, films, religious services, body work, wonderment, & getting there & back — 2 hours
That’s 24 and it doesn’t allow for eating (except for what’s in family time), showering, dressing, or the inevitable interruptions that make up a day. Plus I know that two hours isn’t enough for enrichment, since it’s 45 minutes to most of the enriching places (I live Uptown, but what usually draws me is Downtown). And the fact is, that “other work” block now takes 8 or 9 or 10 hours a day, and I’m stumped as to how to shorten it. Still, I’m intrigued. 
What do you think? How are you inspired to spend your day?
Victoria Moran is a motivational speaker, the author of ten books, and a certified life coach and holistic health counselor. If you are interested in coaching and would like a complementary discovery session, email and put “sample session” in the subject line. And follow Victoria on Twitter:

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posted December 2, 2009 at 8:16 pm

This works for me: i get up, this is no hardship for me, it seems to be my natural rhythm.Sit w/ a hot drink and collect my thoughts time, journal about yesterday/what i choose to do today/dreams/evaluations.Push back the coffee table and ~ 45 minutes of exercise: combo yoga/ small wts / flexability/range of motion ( i have some arthritic challenges). meditation/ deep breathing exercise: 10 to 30 minutes, whatever i have in me that day. Then i run a sink-full of hot water/vinegar/a little soap and do what i call a “round”. Room to room, straightening, sorting, wastebaskets, plant-tending, whatever small household task crops up in front of me. Breakfast, shower/teeth/hair/makeup if i choose it that day,dress.make a lunch to take to work, off to work.
Home from work: change to comfort clothes, wash off the makeup, sit w/ a hot drink and collect my thoughts time.Meal prep, if it’s my job that night (my partner and i share this: 2 resp. adults, 2 people to share the responsibility). A walk/byke-ride, either now or after supper. Dishes and a quick tidy-round(dirty dishes confronting me in the morning makes me grumpy). Then ‘puter/email/reading/tv until bed at about i know, all the good tv is on late, but i catch reruns at more convienient times for my body-clock.
Most of this i’ve arrived at over the years with YOUR guidance, through your books! i don’t do ‘shoulds’ anymore unless they contribute to my integrity or my peace of mind. A lot of time is saved by no longer using the gym, i do go to a yoga class one evening a week.i’m not a chatter, i only answer the ‘phone if i want to, usually i let the voice-mail pickup and return legitimate calls on my own time.i no longer have children at home and i know this helps make this all possible. i find i’m very easily ‘entertained’, quite happy to accept that i’m somewhat of an introvert, get a lot of joy from things i find most people are too stressed to even notice. Used to be a 24/7 perfectionist, stressed to the point of illness. it took a LOT of changes and learning to get to here. Your writing has been an IMMENSE help over the years, and i’m happy to finally have a chance to say thankyou. If you ever get discouraged and wonder if it’s worth it, this is one woman who has benifitted greatly from your help!

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Victoria Moran

posted December 2, 2009 at 9:37 pm

Lynn — You totally made my night. First, I love how you’ve arranged your life. And what you said about my books really lifted my spirits. I like that you do email at night. That’s one idea that came to me after seeing Tom Powers’ schedule and writing the blog post today. I know I have to do some email during the day since I’m in business, but I can cut it back by doing some at night. William likes it when I watch TV with him in the evening and I rarely care much about what’s on so I can easily watch and do email at the same time. (I know it’s not single-pointed focus, but in a 24-hour day I’ll reserve my single-pointed focus for what demands it.) Anyway, thank you, lovely one, for what you wrote. I’ll carry it with me. — Victoria

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posted December 2, 2009 at 11:23 pm

But Mr. Powers did not include reading — and you barely did. I do like your idea of answering sundry emails while “watching” TV. To get everything in you love and/or have to do, maybe you need a weekday schedule for most work and then you could keep weekends free for enrichment, inspiration, family, just serendipity!

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posted December 3, 2009 at 7:37 am

I’ve found that when I use your simple prescription of “ME” time (meditation + exercise) first thing in the morning, my whole day falls into place.
We get up at 5:30 and my husband meditates and I pray for 45 minutes. We’re at the gym and working out by 6:30 am. I work from 9-5 and telecommute one day a week, which leaves time during the telecommute day for me to alternate working and cleaning the house. I have my groceries delivered (I order them online) and that saves a ton of time.
Weekends are never spent working: that’s our recreation and reading time. Also, when we get home at night we have dinner and then read: no more working.

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posted December 3, 2009 at 9:16 pm

Victoria, Thanks for the post. I’m really inspired by all the “other people” out there who are doing a version of the Tom Powers schedule (not that they call it that . . . you know what I mean). I will say that from your observations and from Mady’s comments that “writing” time must of included “reading” time. While he was doing this schedule he worked for Harpers as religious editor, and that required him to read a lot. Anyone who has ever read Powers knows he read a lot. Anyway, I hope the inspiration from friends like Lynn (and others)leads to another great Victoria Moran book! Matt

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posted December 5, 2009 at 1:12 pm

I have a book Autobiography of Ben Franklin & he puts a schedule as follows: you can translate for today…
Morning 5-8 Question: What good shall I do this day? Rise, wash, address Powerful Godness! Contrive day’s business & take resolution of day; prosecute present study & breakfast
8-12 Work
Noon 12-2 Read, look over my accounts & dine
Afternoon 2-6 Work
Evening Q: What good have i done today? 6-10 Put things in their places. Supper. Music or diversion or conversation. Examinations of day
Night 10-5 Sleep

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Elizabeth Grant

posted December 10, 2009 at 12:29 pm

Victoria, this was such an interesting post. I realized in reading it that I need to close my Outlook except when I’m specifically reading/writing emails. I spend way too much time on “busy work,” and not enough writing, singing, writing music and doing other things that fill me up. I don’t spend two hours a day in prayer/meditation either but I know people who do. I’m lucky if I do it for 30 minutes once a day.
Thanks for posting this … food for thought!
PS Can’t wait until I can afford an assistant. What a difference he or she will make in my life, I’m sure.

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