No one has 24 hours per day, 7 days a week. Yes, there are 24 hours in a day, and there are 7 days in a week. But the concept of 24/7 full-time availability is just that, a concept, a myth.
No one has all the hours of every day available to do with as he or she pleases. Our bodies need regular periods of rest. In order to function optimally, we need to sleep sometime in those 24 hours.
Of course, a person can stay awake for longer than a day. But at some point, he will experience “progressive and significant deficits in concentration, motivation, perception and other higher mental processes.” At some point, he’ll need to catch up on that missing sleep.
So why do some planner pages show the full 24 hours of the day? And why do I like those pages? (I suspect I’m not the only one.)
I admit I like the flexibility of the 24-hour daily planner. I like to think that, if I had to do something at any hour – even at 3 a.m. – my planner page could do its job of recording that hour.
However, I’ve been wondering if being able to see “the full day” is tricking me into believing the myth of the 24-hour day.
You see, even if my planner page tells me that my day goes from 12 a.m. through 12 a.m. the next day, that’s not true at all. The reasonable me knows that I have to stop, call it done, and go to sleep. If I don’t, or if I don’t do it early enough, I suffer the consequences the next day.
But when I see those “available” hours late at night, the unreasonable and tricky part at the back of my brain interprets those hours as being fair game. I do “just one more thing.” I forgo sleep. And then walk around in a caffeine-propelled haze the next day.
Am I trading optimum concentration and productivity for the promise of flexibility? Yes.
Why? I really don’t know why. Except to say that it’s the unreasonable part of me that does it.
Once I realized this, I started tweaking my planner to help me rein in that unreasonable part of my brain, especially late at night.
I still like to see all the 24 hours of the day. But I want my planner inserts to reflect that not all the 24 hours are available for any kind of activity, regardless of its merit.
I want my planner not just to record what I do, but also to help me use my time wisely. I want it to help me become more productive, not just for a frenzied 20-hour stretch, but consistently throughout the week. To remind me of what I need to do in order to have an optimized day, every day.
I need sleep. We all do. I want my planner to give me a clue when I tend to forget that simple fact.
My late-night habits started when I was in high school. At that time, novels kept me up late. These days, I still like to finish a good book in one reading. But now, there’s also the flexibility of being able to work anytime and anywhere, plus the internet and “Amazing Race” marathons on TV.
Yes, it’s a self-control thing, and I’m working on it. I’m using my planner as a tool to help me achieve the right balance of productivity and personal health.
In my next posts, I’m going to show you the planner setup that helps me overcome the 24-hour myth. Stay tuned.