Creating an Annual Time Block

Stephen Covey tells the story in First Things First of attending a seminar, in which the instructor pulled out a wide-mouth gallon jar. He sat it on the table next to some fist-sized rocks.

A Jar of Rocks“How many of these rocks do you think we can get in the jar?” he asked.

The students made various guesses. The instructor then proceeded to fill the jar with the rocks. It looked like it was full. He asked the class, “Is this jar full?” Everyone looked at the jar and agreed that it was indeed full.

He then reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. He then dumped the gravel into the jar. The gravel went in between all the little places left by the big rocks.

Then he grinned and once more asked, “Is the jar full?” By this time, the class was on to him. “Probably not,” several of the students said.

“Good!” he replied. He reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He poured it into the jar. It went into all the spaces left by the big rocks and the gravel. Again, he asked the class, “Is this jar full?”

“No,” the class shouted.

He said, “Good!” He then grabbed a pitcher of water and poured almost a quart of water into the jar. Then he said, “What’s the point?”

Someone said, “If you really work at it, you can always squeeze more stuff into your life.”

“No,” the instructor responded. “That’s not the point. The point is this: if you hadn’t put these big rocks in first, would you ever have gotten any of them in?”

I would make an additional point. The big rocks are a metaphor for the important stuff. If you don’t make room for the important stuff, it will be overwhelmed by the less important stuff.

With this in mind, I decided last week that I wanted to plan out the next three years. I am not talking about all the little details. My life is too dynamic for that to work. But I wanted to make sure that I scheduled the most important things, so that I wasn’t overwhelmed by the urgent.

I decided I would “put the big rocks” into my calendar for the next three years. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a good tool to do this with.

What I really wanted to see was the whole year at a glance. Unfortunately, Entourage for Mac doesn’t offer this kind of view. The most you can see is a one-month view. The same is true of Outlook for Windows.

So, I created an Annual Time Block Tool in Excel. I have included my own calendar as an example with a blank sheet, which you can copy. You can enter the year you want to schedule in cell A5, and the calendar will automatically recalculate. It even takes into account leap years.

I began by scheduling the most non-discretionary things and moving to the most discretionary things. So I scheduled in this order:

  1. Company Holidays
  2. Church Holidays
  3. Industry Events
  4. Vacations
  5. Board Meetings
  6. Business Review Meetings
  7. Special Trips
  8. Time with Friends

Your list may differ. The issue is to grab the dates while you can before someone else does. Frankly, I would rather have other people plan around my priorities than be forced to plan around theirs. Remember: if you don’t have a plan for your life, someone else does.

The key is balance. Make sure you schedule time for the things that are important to you. If you don’t, you will find yourself scrambling to find time for the things that are important. If you are not careful, you will wake up one day and discover that you have spent your life living for other people’s priorities.

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  • Mike Pritchard

    Awesome post Mike! Thanks for sharing your Excel document! This is invaluable. I’m just now finally reading Brian Tracy’s book “Goals” and this correlates very well with that book. Gracias!

  • http://www.flurrycreations.com John

    Mike, I can’t tell you how often I have to continue to dodge the “tyranny of the urgent” when I don’t do as you suggest by scheduling out my great/important things first. When I do schedule them out I find it so much easier to say no or yes when people ask for my time. I am still learning the lesson the hard way 70 % of the time. Thanks for the reminder.

    @johnflurry

  • http://jasondtaylor.wordpress.com Jason Taylor

    Mike, thanks for sharing this with all. Great tool and one that will help me again and again.

  • Pat

    This is an amazing tool. Can’t wait to put my own events in it. Thanks.

  • http://www.rachel-homegirl.blogspot.com Rachel Rigdon

    I was instintly motivated by this post, as I always am when I visit your blog. And I had even heard the story of the rocks, gravel, sand, water before! A testament to your excellent application.

  • http://www.ronedmondson.com Ron Edmondson

    I love how you share leadership with others. I aspire to do likewise. Thanks for challenging me.

  • http://www.kylechowning.com Kyle Chowning

    Mike,

    Thanks for the tool and strategy. I’m on a mission to live as intentionally as I can this year. This will definitely help.

    Thanks!
    kyle

  • Mike Pritchard

    Awesome post Mike! Thanks for sharing your Excel document! This is invaluable. I'm just now finally reading Brian Tracy's book "Goals" and this correlates very well with that book. Gracias!

  • http://www.flurrycreations.com/ John

    Mike, I can't tell you how often I have to continue to dodge the "tyranny of the urgent" when I don't do as you suggest by scheduling out my great/important things first. When I do schedule them out I find it so much easier to say no or yes when people ask for my time. I am still learning the lesson the hard way 70 % of the time. Thanks for the reminder.

    @johnflurry

  • http://jasondtaylor.wordpress.com/ Jason Taylor

    Mike, thanks for sharing this with all. Great tool and one that will help me again and again.

  • Pat

    This is an amazing tool. Can't wait to put my own events in it. Thanks.

  • http://www.rachel-homegirl.blogspot.com/ Rachel Rigdon

    I was instintly motivated by this post, as I always am when I visit your blog. And I had even heard the story of the rocks, gravel, sand, water before! A testament to your excellent application.

  • http://www.ronedmondson.com/ Ron Edmondson

    I love how you share leadership with others. I aspire to do likewise. Thanks for challenging me.

    • http://lenwilson.us/ Len Wilson

      Ron, I think you’re doing a pretty good job!

  • http://www.kylechowning.com/ Kyle Chowning

    Mike,

    Thanks for the tool and strategy. I'm on a mission to live as intentionally as I can this year. This will definitely help.

    Thanks!
    kyle

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/jimhandi Jim Oberschmidt

    Thanks Mike,
    A happy new year to you and yours, I hope and pray your efforts continue to inspire others as they have me.
    I am a mechanic and appreciate a new tool to take lead in our lives.

    Make it a great year. jro

  • http://www.structural-integrity.com Joy Montgomery

    Thanks for sharing this calendar! I will make use of it right away. FYI, it was retweeted on Twitter by a friend of mine. Thanks again.

  • http://blinddayze.blogspot.com/ Abel Lalmuanpuia

    Mr.Michael….thank you for putting up this great blog of yours… I have not made any new year resolutions as such but after reading this post i think..no, make that i now KNOW that i have one now..This year i’m gonna start with the “big rocks”..

  • Juan

    Thanks Mike.

    In Australia we use beer instead of water :-). Many Thanks for your Blogg. Excellent reading and priceless wisdom

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/jimhandi Jim Oberschmidt

    Thanks Mike,
    A happy new year to you and yours, I hope and pray your efforts continue to inspire others as they have me.
    I am a mechanic and appreciate a new tool to take lead in our lives.

    Make it a great year. jro

  • http://www.structural-integrity.com/ Joy Montgomery

    Thanks for sharing this calendar! I will make use of it right away. FYI, it was retweeted on Twitter by a friend of mine. Thanks again.

  • http://blinddayze.blogspot.com/ Abel Lalmuanpuia

    Mr.Michael….thank you for putting up this great blog of yours… I have not made any new year resolutions as such but after reading this post i think..no, make that i now KNOW that i have one now..This year i'm gonna start with the "big rocks"..

  • Juan

    Thanks Mike.

    In Australia we use beer instead of water :-). Many Thanks for your Blogg. Excellent reading and priceless wisdom

  • Dave in Nashville

    Mike
    Once again I find that your blog is closely paralleling other very important things that are happening in my own life.

    “First things first” may mean something totally different to each of us…but for me it means this:

    I must continue to give God the first part of every day of my life…or else…someone or something else will sneak in very quietly and take control of my entire day.

    Even today at 3am I was tempted to turn on the laptop and start my “business” day first. But that small still voice stopped me and saved me from this critical error.

    “Get the Word in first…and then mix a good dose of prayer…and then start adding those other “big rocks.”

    I know what the true “big rocks” are in my life…The word and prayer.

    All else is really just sand in comparison.

    Thanks again for the timely word.

  • Dave in Nashville

    Mike
    Once again I find that your blog is closely paralleling other very important things that are happening in my own life.

    "First things first" may mean something totally different to each of us…but for me it means this:

    I must continue to give God the first part of every day of my life…or else…someone or something else will sneak in very quietly and take control of my entire day.

    Even today at 3am I was tempted to turn on the laptop and start my "business" day first. But that small still voice stopped me and saved me from this critical error.

    "Get the Word in first…and then mix a good dose of prayer…and then start adding those other "big rocks."

    I know what the true "big rocks" are in my life…The word and prayer.

    All else is really just sand in comparison.

    Thanks again for the timely word.

  • http://profile.typekey.com/schaefmc/ Mary C. Schaefer

    Michael, THANK YOu for this wonderful gift!

  • http://www.relentlessgrace.com Rich Dixon

    Thanks for the inspiring post. I love the illustration of the jar, and I use it with the kids I teach. In fact, I’ve been writing about in my own small newsletter and blog:
    http://www.richdixon.net/
    Newsletters/Newsletter_current.htm

    With your permission, I’ll post a link so my readers can take advantage of your wonderful calendar tool.

  • http://profile.typekey.com/schaefmc/ Mary C. Schaefer

    Michael, THANK YOu for this wonderful gift!

  • HT

    If anyone has this in a blank form, I’d love to have a copy!

  • http://www.relentlessgrace.com/ Rich Dixon

    Thanks for the inspiring post. I love the illustration of the jar, and I use it with the kids I teach. In fact, I've been writing about in my own small newsletter and blog: http://www.richdixon.net/
    Newsletters/Newsletter_current.htm

    With your permission, I'll post a link so my readers can take advantage of your wonderful calendar tool.

  • HT

    If anyone has this in a blank form, I'd love to have a copy!

  • http://www.asgoodadayasany.wordpress.com Marilyn

    ENJOY your blog every time!

    (One possible correction on this post, though: “The point is this: if you don’t put the big rocks in first, you won’t get the other stuff in at all.” I think you mean “The point is this: if you don’t put the big rocks in first, you won’t get THEM in at all.” Yes? The rest of your post seems to make this point.)

  • http://www.maurilioamorim.com Maurilio Amorim

    Thanks for the reminder and for the tool. I pray for discernment to know which ones are the big rocks. I’ve been known to see gravel as the big rocks and short-change myself.

  • http://www.davidteems.com/wordpress David Teems

    You totally rock, Mike.

  • http://www.davidteems.com/wordpress David Teems

    You totally rock, Mike.

  • http://passionsforthesoul.typepad.com/vicki Vicki Small

    What takes up too much of my time and keeps me from focusing on things I really need to do is blogging–mostly reading other people’s blogs, and trying to keep my own from getting too stale. So can you tell me where, in your list, you would put blogging?

  • http://passionsforthesoul.typepad.com/vicki Vicki Small

    What takes up too much of my time and keeps me from focusing on things I really need to do is blogging–mostly reading other people’s blogs, and trying to keep my own from getting too stale. So can you tell me where, in your list, you would put blogging?

  • http://www.asgoodadayasany.wordpress.com/ Marilyn

    ENJOY your blog every time!

    (One possible correction on this post, though: "The point is this: if you don’t put the big rocks in first, you won’t get the other stuff in at all.” I think you mean "The point is this: if you don’t put the big rocks in first, you won’t get THEM in at all.” Yes? The rest of your post seems to make this point.)

  • http://profile.typekey.com/mhyatt/ Michael Hyatt

    @Vicki,

    Honestly, blogging is not a “big rock.” I give it time as I am able. It may be different for you, depending on your profession.

    Thanks,

    Mike

  • http://www.maurilioamorim.com/ Maurilio Amorim

    Thanks for the reminder and for the tool. I pray for discernment to know which ones are the big rocks. I've been known to see gravel as the big rocks and short-change myself.

  • http://profile.typekey.com/mhyatt/ Michael Hyatt

    @Vicki,

    Honestly, blogging is not a “big rock.” I give it time as I am able. It may be different for you, depending on your profession.

    Thanks,

    Mike

  • Jo Huddleston

    Wow. Thanks for sharing this with us. Great motivation.
    Jo

  • Jo Huddleston

    Wow. Thanks for sharing this with us. Great motivation.
    Jo

  • Doug Smith

    Mr. Hyatt,

    Your post arrived at an opportune time for me; right when I’m working my way through DA’s “Making It All Work” book [a book to savor], trying to do some higher-level planning, and looking to make some system refinements. Certainly one category of “big rocks” would be the few to several significant objectives of “the 90-day challenge”; another one of your concepts I’ve found to be tremendously useful. And since each quarter of your Annual Time Block prints out on one page, I’m thinking of adding space for the list of 90-day challenge objectives somewhere; the few to several for the current quarter, and one or two or three for subsequent quarters with more to be added as they become better defined. Perhaps even place milestones and make a rough schedule of those weeks when I intend to work on them.

  • Doug Smith

    Mr. Hyatt,

    Your post arrived at an opportune time for me; right when I'm working my way through DA's "Making It All Work" book [a book to savor], trying to do some higher-level planning, and looking to make some system refinements. Certainly one category of "big rocks" would be the few to several significant objectives of "the 90-day challenge"; another one of your concepts I've found to be tremendously useful. And since each quarter of your Annual Time Block prints out on one page, I'm thinking of adding space for the list of 90-day challenge objectives somewhere; the few to several for the current quarter, and one or two or three for subsequent quarters with more to be added as they become better defined. Perhaps even place milestones and make a rough schedule of those weeks when I intend to work on them.

  • http://teawithtiffany.blogspot.com/ Tiffany Stuart

    Always appreciate your posts about living life with purpose. Thank you.

    I’ve heard this rock analogy before. Great visual with such truth. Now to determine what my big rocks are for this year…

  • http://GodUsesBrokenVessels.blogspot.com Angie Breidenbach

    I’ve heard this metaphor often, but I like that you added a tool! I’ve also been mentored to look 3 years into the future and block in those important knowns. So far, I finished my first year. It takes some pondering to plan but I feel much more prepared already.
    Angie

  • http://www.courageoussingleparenting.blogspot.com Scoti Springfield Domeij

    I confess…when I started reading, I thought…oh no, not that illustration again. I zoned out until the application. I created an editorial calendar to organize my writing life, but I love your Excel document. Thanks for an inspiring post and a great gift!

  • http://teawithtiffany.blogspot.com/ Tiffany Stuart

    Always appreciate your posts about living life with purpose. Thank you.

    I've heard this rock analogy before. Great visual with such truth. Now to determine what my big rocks are for this year…

  • http://GodUsesBrokenVessels.blogspot.com/ Angie Breidenbach

    I've heard this metaphor often, but I like that you added a tool! I've also been mentored to look 3 years into the future and block in those important knowns. So far, I finished my first year. It takes some pondering to plan but I feel much more prepared already.
    Angie

  • http://www.courageoussingleparenting.blogspot.com/ Scoti Springfield Do

    I confess…when I started reading, I thought…oh no, not that illustration again. I zoned out until the application. I created an editorial calendar to organize my writing life, but I love your Excel document. Thanks for an inspiring post and a great gift!

  • http://www.business-sanity.com/business-coaching-services/time-management-coaching/ Susan Martin

    Hi Michael,

    Love the big rock image – I’ve often recommended this type of activity to clients who are overwhelemed by all the things they have to do, and tend to overlook their most important priorities; but never created a tool to help them actualize that -thanks!

    I agree with Maurilio, you have to figure out what your big rocks are first. Looking at your own values is a great place to start sorting that out.

    Thanks again for a great read, useful tool and tapping into a subject that’s so vitally important.

  • http://www.business-sanity.com/business-coaching-services/time-management-coaching/ Susan Martin

    Hi Michael,

    Love the big rock image – I've often recommended this type of activity to clients who are overwhelemed by all the things they have to do, and tend to overlook their most important priorities; but never created a tool to help them actualize that -thanks!

    I agree with Maurilio, you have to figure out what your big rocks are first. Looking at your own values is a great place to start sorting that out.

    Thanks again for a great read, useful tool and tapping into a subject that's so vitally important.

  • http://www.mikezimmer.com Mike Zimmer

    Dear Michael,

    Thank you for the formatted spreadsheet. As a strong adherent of Dr. Charles Hobbs and his Time Power system, I do all my daily, weekly and monthly planning in my Day Timer paper planner. That being said, I never really do any yearly blocking out of time. However, many of my intermediate term goals (the next 2-3) should have blocks of time alloted to them, to ease up potential scheduling overload in the future. I can see how this technique could really empower me to better reach my goals.

    Now I consider myself quite a computer savvy guy. However, I must admit that I never thought about just formatting an excel file to do the job! I plan on transferring my intermediate & long term goals (both with my business and my family/personal life) onto your template this PM, and tonight begin working on 2010 & 2011 with my wife.

    Thanks again!

    Sincerely,

    Mike

  • http://www.mikezimmer.com/ Mike Zimmer

    Dear Michael,

    Thank you for the formatted spreadsheet. As a strong adherent of Dr. Charles Hobbs and his Time Power system, I do all my daily, weekly and monthly planning in my Day Timer paper planner. That being said, I never really do any yearly blocking out of time. However, many of my intermediate term goals (the next 2-3) should have blocks of time alloted to them, to ease up potential scheduling overload in the future. I can see how this technique could really empower me to better reach my goals.

    Now I consider myself quite a computer savvy guy. However, I must admit that I never thought about just formatting an excel file to do the job! I plan on transferring my intermediate & long term goals (both with my business and my family/personal life) onto your template this PM, and tonight begin working on 2010 & 2011 with my wife.

    Thanks again!

    Sincerely,

    Mike

  • http://benkomanapalli.blogspot.com Ben Komanapalli

    Thank you very much for the information. Very useful!

  • Ron

    Hi Mike,
    As always, brilliant and amazing wisdom. Thanks for sharing your valuable life tools with the world. I was a bit surprised to see only one weekend a month dedicated to family or friends. Do you have a standing weekly date or time with your wife?
    I’d love to know how you keep your marriage strong while accomplishing everything else you manage! Thanks for sharing as always.
    Ron

  • http://profile.typekey.com/mhyatt/ Michael Hyatt

    @Ron,

    My one weekend a month dedicated to friends is actually a dinner party at our home. It requires prior planning and is very intentional. However, we get together with friends every weekend and sometimes during the week on an impromptu basis. We have a very rich social life.

    The same is true of my marriage. I have certain things like vacation that must be planned out and coordinated. But, as nearly empty nesters, Gail and I eat dinner together almost every night. Friday is our standard “date night,” but this can fluctuate based on our circumstances. For example, she is going to be out of town this Friday night, so we went out for dinner last night.

    I hope that helps.

    Thanks,

    Mike

  • http://benkomanapalli.blogspot.com/ Ben Komanapalli

    Thank you very much for the information. Very useful!

  • Ron

    Hi Mike,
    As always, brilliant and amazing wisdom. Thanks for sharing your valuable life tools with the world. I was a bit surprised to see only one weekend a month dedicated to family or friends. Do you have a standing weekly date or time with your wife?
    I'd love to know how you keep your marriage strong while accomplishing everything else you manage! Thanks for sharing as always.
    Ron

  • http://profile.typekey.com/mhyatt/ Michael Hyatt

    @Ron,

    My one weekend a month dedicated to friends is actually a dinner party at our home. It requires prior planning and is very intentional. However, we get together with friends every weekend and sometimes during the week on an impromptu basis. We have a very rich social life.

    The same is true of my marriage. I have certain things like vacation that must be planned out and coordinated. But, as nearly empty nesters, Gail and I eat dinner together almost every night. Friday is our standard “date night,” but this can fluctuate based on our circumstances. For example, she is going to be out of town this Friday night, so we went out for dinner last night.

    I hope that helps.

    Thanks,

    Mike

  • http://thinkingtoodeeply.blogspot.com Karin

    Thank you so much for this excellent gift! I’ve used the story of the jar as an object lesson! Very effective and I enjoy it every time. The commenter who wanted a blank copy needs to look again and see your blank template! I nearly missed it too!

  • http://thinkingtoodeeply.blogspot.com/ Karin

    Thank you so much for this excellent gift! I've used the story of the jar as an object lesson! Very effective and I enjoy it every time. The commenter who wanted a blank copy needs to look again and see your blank template! I nearly missed it too!

  • TenTen

    Excellent!
    Thanks so much for the calendar too – I’m sending thisl link out to my friends right now!

  • TenTen

    Excellent!
    Thanks so much for the calendar too – I'm sending thisl link out to my friends right now!

  • http://www.bookschristian.com Patrick Edwards

    My Father took great pride all his life in creating tools and widgets to do a specific job, or to manage various aspects of his life. Not only am I using this for myself, but I am sharing this with him. I thinks it’s great, and I know he he will agree! Thanks!

  • http://www.bookschristian.com/ Patrick Edwards

    My Father took great pride all his life in creating tools and widgets to do a specific job, or to manage various aspects of his life. Not only am I using this for myself, but I am sharing this with him. I thinks it's great, and I know he he will agree! Thanks!

  • http://jjustj.livejournal.com Jeffrey Holton

    GREAT tool! I *love* Excel. …maybe *too* much.

    Teensy bug though. I fiddled with a couple leap years in A5 and it kept moving the last day of any month after January to the *next* month. (I’m using Excel 2003 in WinXP [SP2] on a MacBook Pro, if it matters.) I wish I knew Excel well enough to fix it myself.

    You are clearly a master of the art, sir. Thank you for sharing your wealth of knowledge AND practical tools for applying it.

  • http://jjustj.livejournal.com/ Jeffrey Holton

    GREAT tool! I *love* Excel. …maybe *too* much.

    Teensy bug though. I fiddled with a couple leap years in A5 and it kept moving the last day of any month after January to the *next* month. (I'm using Excel 2003 in WinXP [SP2] on a MacBook Pro, if it matters.) I wish I knew Excel well enough to fix it myself.

    You are clearly a master of the art, sir. Thank you for sharing your wealth of knowledge AND practical tools for applying it.

  • Venice

    Thanks for the advice Mike.
    Unfortunately I am unable to open the xcel sheet.
    Any advice??

  • Venice

    Thanks for the advice Mike.

    Unfortunately I am unable to open the xcel sheet.

    Any advice??

  • http://www.advocace.com/ Mark Kordic

    I appreciate the article. Can you give directions on how to access the excel tool?

  • http://www.advocace.com/ Mark Kordic

    I appreciate the article. Can you give directions on how to access the excel tool?

  • Kent

    When I click on the link to your "Annual Time Block Tool", I get this message: "Oops! This link appears broken." I'd love to have access to your excel spreadsheet.

  • Kent

    When I click on the link to your "Annual Time Block Tool", I get this message: "Oops! This link appears broken." I'd love to have access to your excel spreadsheet.

  • http://www.whakate.com/ Whakate

    Great post and calendar. Having a long term plan and outlook it essential for making best use of your time.

  • http://www.whakate.com/ Whakate

    Great post and calendar. Having a long term plan and outlook it essential for making best use of your time.

  • Pingback: Annual Planning Calendar | Michael Hyatt()

  • http://www.westernhillsonline.org/ Scott Meyer

    Michael,
    Thanks for sharing this insight and this tool that you created. We (the ministry staff) took the spreadsheet and have now been planning more than 1 year out. Know that your tool is having an impact on one ministry team and a church in Texas.

    Grace & Peace
    Scott

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Scott, this is so encouraging. Thanks for sharing with me.

  • http://www.westernhillsonline.org Scott Meyer

    Michael,
    Thanks for sharing this insight and this tool that you created. We (the ministry staff) took the spreadsheet and have now been planning more than 1 year out. Know that your tool is having an impact on one ministry team and a church in Texas.

    Grace & Peace
    Scott

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Scott, this is so encouraging. Thanks for sharing with me.

  • Brian York

    wow…thanks for this. You just saved my sanity!!!

    "if you don’t have a plan for your life, someone else does." – how true is this!!

  • Brian York

    wow…thanks for this. You just saved my sanity!!!

    "if you don’t have a plan for your life, someone else does." – how true is this!!

  • http://twitter.com/johnataylor @johnataylor

    Mike,

    Thanks for sharing. This came just in time. I'm working through the same process right now, and was just considering creating something in Excel for the same reasons you described.

    You've saved me some much-needed time.

  • http://twitter.com/johnataylor @johnataylor

    Mike,

    Thanks for sharing. This came just in time. I'm working through the same process right now, and was just considering creating something in Excel for the same reasons you described.

    You've saved me some much-needed time.

  • http://www.gracesanantonio.com/ Mike

    Totally just watched Bill Hybels teach and use this illustration (stones and sand) at willowcreek.org in his message "The Forgotten Way" Hmmm.. maybe the Lord is trying to teach me something.

  • http://www.gracesanantonio.com/ Mike

    Totally just watched Bill Hybels teach and use this illustration (stones and sand) at willowcreek.org in his message "The Forgotten Way" Hmmm.. maybe the Lord is trying to teach me something.

  • Mike

    Great tool. I made three modifications to this that others may find useful. First, I aligned the days of the week horizontally (so that all of the Mondays in a quarter show up in the same line). I realize that the dates at the beginning of the month or end of the month end up being in the wrong column (e.g., August 31 may actually show up in the September column), but being able to see the days of the week aligned far outweighs that.

    Secondly, I formatted the cells to "wrap text". Just a simple way to give myself more room on a line if I need it (without having to add in another row).

    Finally, because of the wrap text feature, I decided to put each quarter on a seperate Excel tab. That way, if I have a row whose height is 4 lines tall (for example), it only affects that row in that quarter and not all the rows in other quarters. This might not make sense unless you you are more than a novice at Excel.

    Overall, great help. Thanks for sharing.

  • Mike

    Great tool. I made three modifications to this that others may find useful. First, I aligned the days of the week horizontally (so that all of the Mondays in a quarter show up in the same line). I realize that the dates at the beginning of the month or end of the month end up being in the wrong column (e.g., August 31 may actually show up in the September column), but being able to see the days of the week aligned far outweighs that.

    Secondly, I formatted the cells to "wrap text". Just a simple way to give myself more room on a line if I need it (without having to add in another row).

    Finally, because of the wrap text feature, I decided to put each quarter on a seperate Excel tab. That way, if I have a row whose height is 4 lines tall (for example), it only affects that row in that quarter and not all the rows in other quarters. This might not make sense unless you you are more than a novice at Excel.

    Overall, great help. Thanks for sharing.

  • Jeremy McGarity

    Great post-How long did it take to get this mapped out? a day? or two?
    thanks for the help.

  • Jeremy McGarity

    Great post-How long did it take to get this mapped out? a day? or two?
    thanks for the help.

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  • http://www.danieltardy.me Daniel Tardy

    I use this all the time now and I LOVE it! Great tool! Especially if you travel a lot.
    My recent post No one cares about your snow.

  • http://www.danieltardy.me/ Daniel Tardy

    I use this all the time now and I LOVE it! Great tool! Especially if you travel a lot.
    My recent post No one cares about your snow.

  • http://twitter.com/realestatebecca @realestatebecca

    Great perspective! My version for the less tech savvy or those using paper day planners… Flag that page usually found in the back for future year plan and put your "big rocks" there. ____This has been so helpful to me and this year marks the first I've attended a couple of annual events that I always really wanted to go to and somehow they always just slipped by due to lack of planning and/or overcommitting. Whenever I missed such an event last year or did something that I definitely wanted to repeat again, I posted it into the future year calendar immediately and it is working!! Thanks Michael!

  • http://Bridgescovenant.com Mark Andrews

    Thanks again for another great post. I will be printing this out and using it for our young church and my family. People already thought we were cutting edge for planning preaching out a year in advance, this will be quite interesting. After 15 years of marriage my wife and I are adopting two brothers from the Phillipines, and this will be an interesting tool to use.
    In case anyone is wondering, I’ll be planning for the family first, then the church. I know what my biggest rocks are.

    Again, thanks a ton!

    • http://lazarspinalcare.com Jonathan Lazar

      Michael,

      Perhaps a bit of irony, but in my attempt to be efficient, I have tried using your spreadsheet, but am unable to successfully change the date in cell A5. Is there a simple solution to this?

  • http://lazarspinalcare.com Jonathan Lazar

    Michael,

    Perhaps a bit of irony, but in my attempt to be efficient, I have tried using your spreadsheet, but am unable to successfully change the date in cell A5. Is there a simple solution to this?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Yes, it is set up for manual recalculation. You can change this in the preferences or you can recalc the spreadsheet. Hope this helps.

      • http://lazarspinalcare.com Jonathan Lazar

        Perfect. Thank you!

        • Anonymous

          This thread saved me. I was struggling with the same thing. Thanks Jonathan and Michael!

  • http://www.embracepositivepassion.com Georgiana

    Wow ~ love the rock – gravel – sand -water illustration! This is definitely a great reminder on how important it is to create balance in life and place our most vital plans and priorities first in our schedules. By not being overwhelmed but pacing our tasks out in a flexible way, we live more peacefully and in harmony.

  • David

    Michael. This is a great tool. I will experiment with it in 2011.

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  • Jenni Hypes

    Hi Michael!  Your annual time block planning tool sounds great.  I’m trying to download it on my mac, but when I try to open it, it’s telling me that it’s a read-only file?  Any suggestions?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      You have to be using the most recent version of Excel.

  • http://wewannado.com Ryan K

    I  love the rock story. It’s easy to lack structure and run on the fly but planning the big things out helps to make sure they happen.

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  • http://paulpetersonlive.com/ paul peterson

    Michael, no kidding here… most of your posts make me just want to hug you because they are so good. This one is no exception! GREAT post! Thank you for unearthing and sharing this gold! Have a great night!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Paul. I consider myself “cyber-hugged.” ;-)

  • Bill Dodge

    Mike, I love the spreadsheet, but I can’t get the year to update when I change the date in A5.  is there some trick to getting the weekends to adjust?  I am trying to do 2012 and 2013.  I have tried several different ways., nothing moves the weekends.

    • Bill Dodge

      Mike, I checked the other responses and I was able to change the calculation to Automatic from Manual and it worked.  Thanks.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I’m glad you solved the problem. Thanks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=650931649 Jonathan Watson

    Google is the way to go. Not only does this allow me to see years at a time (Go to Labs) but it’s fully syncable between platforms and devices.

  • Mark Weaver

    thanks Mike, for so willingly sharing your time management skills.  the time block tool ROCKS! 

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  • Tasha McKinlay

    What a great idea, and a great template! I do believe I’ll do this too! Thank you!

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  • http://darensirbough.com/ Daren Sirbough

    I’ve filed this excel spreadsheet and will begin working on it on the 2nd of January 2012.

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  • Casey

    Love this post! Great idea! Unfortunately, when I download the Excel document and recalculate the date to 2012, the leap year throws the entire layout off. Any ideas? I am using Excel on Mac, btw.

  • toddplunk

    Michael,
    Do you happen to have an updated excel file for 2012?  The Leap year seems to be causing problems when I try to update for 2012…

    • toddplunk

      Never mind my request above, I was able to update and recalculate the template!  Thanks again for this resource.

      • Eric

        Todd
        How did you do this? I love this template but wont update 2012.

        Eric 

        • toddplunk

          Eric, Let me know if you run into any issues, happy to send over my version if you can’t get this to work…
          On the Template Tab:1. Change the date in cell A5 to 1/1/2012 (in the formula bar, not the actual cell)2. Next, change the formula in cell G5 (March 1) to read =D33+1 (instead of =D32+1)3. Copy cell E32 and paste in cell E334. Rename tab to 2012

          • bwang

            Todd you wouldn’t be able to send your updated template to me would you? bawang75@gmail.com?

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  • http://twitter.com/KarinaAtTheSeed Karina Elizabeth

    I’m so glad you posted this! I  am about to finish a dissertation and am so excited that I will get to start devoting big chunks of life to something new.  This will be a great resources as I move on!!

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  • TrishM

    Hi Mike.  I am a huge fan of your blog and the work you do – thank you for making the tools and information you have gathered available to all.  It has really made a huge difference to my life.  

    I downloaded your wonderful Annual Time Block worksheet with Excel 2011, and spent a frustrating few hours trying to figure out why the worksheet wouldn’t calculate the day of the week correctly once I had entered the new year (2013).  It turns out that I needed to set >Calculate to >Automatically in the >Preferences window in Excel first (which I didn’t know).  I am not sure if anyone else as had this problem, but I thought I would post this thread in case they do.  

    Warm regards, 

    Trish Mitchell

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for letting me know. I thought I had reset the calculation to automatic, but perhaps not. I have done so and re-uploaded the file. I am wondering if local preferences override the setting in the workbook. Hmmm.

  • Mb252490

    Great idea. Just spent an hour trying to start it up for 2013. But, MAC and Windows version of Excel handle dates differently. It won’t work.

    Pity – a great idea

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  • Olabisi Ridges

    Exceptional planning, I will be following this format, thank you very much.

  • Jim Harmon

    Michael, I would love to hear about the role friends play in your life
    and how you work them into your schedule. I see that you have a monthly
    Friends Saturday on your annual time block and a week night dedicated to
    friends on your ideal week plan. How do you use these two planned
    events to foster and maintain deep relationships? How did your mentoring group develop?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I answer some of this in a podcast I did with some friends.

  • http://www.redcaperevolution.com/ Darcy Eikenberg

    Thanks for sharing this, Michael. Do you (or your team) have an updated version for 2014? If not, it’s certainly straightforward enough to adapt, but thought I’d ask to leverage it if it already exists. Much thanks.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      No, we have not posted that. Please feel free to adapt. Thanks.