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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