This is Part V of the “168-Hour” series addressing how leaders spend their available 168 hours per week to grow and develop. You can begin this series with Part I, here.
By Josh Powers, author of The Field Grade Leader
Self-development is a critical facet of our education as leaders. I use my blog as a method to frame self-development, providing space to think and interact with other professionals while being held accountable for regular contribution. Here is a summary of how I make use of available time each week for self-development while contributing to the profession through blogging and social media.
Reflection (3.5 hours per week). I invest a good amount of time each day in reflection. There is a section in the back of my notebook where I capture thoughts throughout the day: sometimes they are good ideas for articles, sometimes they are observations of other leaders in action, more often than not they are reminders of things I messed up. At the end of the day I look through notes, unpacking the big ideas and sorting through them. The next morning, I wake up at 0430, brew a cup of coffee, and spend about 30 minutes writing down reflections, using the previous day’s notes as a guide. What is important to me today? Are my priorities aligned with my goals? Are my actions in line with my principles? I find morning reflection an important time to check in with myself and get ready for the day ahead.
Reading Part 1: Blogs and Articles (5.5 hours per week). Following reflection I fire up my iPad and read the articles and blog posts I collected the previous day. By now it is about 0500. There are a ton of great resources out there: The Military Leader, The Company Leader, 3×5 Leadership, Doctrine Man, From the Green Notebook, and The Cove to name a few. I read through military posts along with articles from the business world, looking for connections and inspiration. I read around 20 articles throughout the day and usually post the best one or two I find to social media with a quick intro.
Writing (6 hours per week). After around 30 minutes of reading it is time to write. My goal is to put a post together once a week, but in reality, I publish about once a month. Writing is a way for me to sort out and capture the lessons I learn through self-development. I pull the big ideas out of my notebook each day and capture them in my notes app. In the morning I expand one of the ideas into an outline, then mess with it for a few days until it is developed or deemed boring and deleted. Eventually I will move the outline to Microsoft Word on my iPad and then to my blog via the WordPress App. At this point it is 0600 and time to head off for a workout.
Listening to Podcasts (3 hours per week). Podcasts are a way for me to disconnect for a few minutes while exploring unique topics. I tune in while I am driving, traveling, or while doing auto-pilot tasks around the house like dishes. I am relatively new to the podcast scene, but enjoy Serial, This American Life, War on the Rocks, Ted Radio Hour, and HBR Ideacast.
Reading Part 2: Books (9 hours per week). Finally, I spend a good amount of time each day reading books. After dinner, dishes, homework check, and clean up, my family gathers in the living room for about an hour of reading. I try to balance between military history and books on business or leadership. Right now I am working through The Coldest Winter and Leaders Eat Last. I love to read, and hope my wife and I are setting a good example to our children through this nightly ritual.
So there it is, my time investment in self-development. Of the 168 hours in a week, I have about 46 available once I subtract the essentials (good sleep, duty days, PT, etc). Of those, I invest around 27 hours a week in self-development. So is 58% the right balance? For me it is but for you it may not be, especially in the exact proportions I detailed above. We divide and conquer each day, focusing on family, work, development, and other interests in unique ways. Compare and contrast what is presented in this series, then reflect on your use of time and self-development. How are you using available time to develop yourself as a leader?
Josh Powers is an Infantry Officer in the United States Army and founder of The Field Grade Leader, a blog focused on organizational leadership in the military. Josh is currently assigned to the United States Army Pacific Headquarters in Hawaii where he serves as an operational planner. Josh’s views are his own and do not necessarily represent that of the US Army.
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