What's going to happen three years from now? Most of us have no clue. (I'm often a little surprised by the things that happen within a 30-day period.) We make short-term plans and set short-term goals, but few of us plan out the events that will occur in, say, 2020.
Chris Carneal does. He's the founder and CEO of Boosterthon, a school fundraising company that also runs the popular Boosterthon Fun Run.
For the past few years, he's created a long-term calendar to spell out exactly what he will do, helping avoid procrastination, keeping long-term priorities in sharp focus, and looking far beyond short-term goals. Typically, he's used sticky notes to track milestones, although he's moved recently to a spreadsheet format.
I asked him recently about why he keeps the 1,000 day calendar and what he has learned recently from being so precise about his long-term plans.
1. What prompted you to create a 1,000-day calendar?
As a busy CEO of a 600-person organization, thinking way out into the future is a habit I'm developing. I'm a husband, a father of four, I coach t-ball, soccer and basketball, and I'm highly involved in our community.
This is a stage of life I'd never been in, and therefore, I needed to think differently about my time. I needed to truly prioritize and spend my time on only what I could do in all my roles. The day-to-day urgency kept creeping up on me. So, I needed a way to lift my head and think future before the busy present took over. Three years (1,000 days) was the perfect time frame to think. One year was too short to intentionally capture one-on-one trips with my kids, family vacations, date nights, professional travel trips and learning. But 1,000 days gave me a better perspective to arrange my life priorities accordingly.
2. How has it helped you build the life you want to lead?
I am more present in big moments because I'd thought about it three years before. I can now plan exactly how I want celebrate my daughters on their thirteenth birthdays and my parents on their 70th birthdays. Professionally, I can think about talent acquisition differently because I see our organization's growth and needs three years out instead of three months. I am less hurried and anxious. I can be proactive and more patient. There will always be "the tyranny of the urgent," but planning years out doesn't give it the opportunity to reign in the moments that matter most to me.
3. We all have the same 24-hours in a day. How have you made the most of your time?
I am a big believer that all time in life is not created equal. Years, seasons, and moments are often disproportional to the rest of our lives. Sometimes a single three-minute conversation is the most important event of the month.
I like to view time through the lens of two Greek words for time: chronos and kairos. Chronos is "time of the clock;" Kairos is "moments that matter." I prioritize the latter more than the former. Some kairos moments appear at will but others are marching steadily toward you. And if you're looking for those kairos moments, you can better prepare for them and intuit them. My morning routine gives me the structure I need to take advantage of these big opportunities.
I typically get up at 4:45 a.m. and workout from 5:15 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. at my crossfit (Iron Tribe) class. From 6:05 a.m. to 7:35 a.m. my Waffle House booth is my office where I eat breakfast. In 90 minutes I get 4-6 hours of work done. I am focused, alone, and in the zone. When I get into work I can support my team's needs because I already accomplished the most important tasks for the day--I thought for myself, my team, and my family.
4. What is the number one question you are asked by the Millennial leaders in your company?
I believe our Millennial team members are driven by what Simon Sinek in his TED Talk called "the why." Millennials don't want to engage with just their head and hands, they want to engage with their heart. If they ask me "why," it's because I did a poor job connecting the dots between work and our mission.
5. Why should others create a 1,000-day calendar?
The chance for optimization. It will help you gain a better vision for your life, recognize the scarcity of time, and it will allow you to optimize your relationships and opportunities. In the busyness of life, you will see what is possible when your perspective is higher and a little further out.
6. With team members in almost every state, how do you maximize your travel? Why is it important to invest in your leaders in this way?
I have the best team in the world! They are amazing and they are better at their individual function than I am. For Boosterthon's first five to seven years, I traveled three times a week almost every week. It was necessary then, but unsustainable now. Currently, I travel more strategically because of one word: multiplication. I've intentionally multiplied myself into others so that they are even better at a talent only I had at the time. Now when I travel, I bring thoughts about the thing I've thought the longest about--the future of the business.
7. Any general leadership tips on time management?
Wake up one hour earlier than you think. I even created a hashtag for my team to rally around: #DontLetTheSunCatchYouSleeping. Think through this grid: If it must be done, it must be done before breakfast. Tackle your top priority of the day first. Spend car time on the phone. Map out the next 1,000 days and think future. And give your best time to your family, not your job.