Episode 32: Sacred Time + The 100/50/10 System

As a young mom in my 20’s with three small children, nap time was terrifying.

Everyday, I would tuck my 4 year old, 2 year old, and 1 year old into their beds, shut the door, and panic.

I had 90 minutes a day to myself. 90 minutes. The pressure I felt trying to figure out what to do with that 90 minutes is where I birthed the concept of Sacred Time and The 100 System.

Like every other mom on planet Earth, my to-do list had items for days. 90 minutes was barely enough time to get to three things done on the list, never mind the 100 other things below it. As I calculated how many nap times I needed to finish the whole list, I would dissolve into tears of hopelessness.

This is a true story. This was my life for a decade.

There were days when I would choose items on my list that, after getting done, would make me feel amazing and spark more productivity. There were other days however when what I’d choose would leave me feeling scattered and unfulfilled.

Eventually, I figured out HOW to choose what to do on my to-do list, and this became a massive aha! for me.

Let’s say my list looked like this:

  • Pay bills
  • Answer emails
  • Clean desk
  • Workout
  • Do laundry
  • Make grocery list
  • Clean out fridge
  • Plan Evan’s birthday party
  • Call my sister
  • Bake cupcakes for school party
  • Research vacation spots
  • Write a blog post
  • Finish book for book club
  • Record video for blog post

I scrutinized every single item and asked myself this one question:

“Can I do this with my kids underfoot or do they HAVE to be asleep?”

What was I really asking?

I wanted to know if the task on my list required 100% of my brain power and concentration, or if it was possible to work it into a part of the day where I had the kids.

The reality is that for that particular day’s list, the ONLY things that I could not do with my kids underfoot were:

  • Pay bills
  • Write a blog post
  • Record video for blog post

All of those either required a quiet house or enough concentration that trying to do them with kids would end in disaster.

Those became my 100 tasks. Things that truly require 100% of my brain power. Everything else, I tried to figure out how I could work them into other parts of my day.

That 90 minutes became the MOST sacred time of the day for me, everyday, and so I vowed that I would ONLY do 100 tasks in my sacred time, no matter what, no exceptions.

This took a lot of practice, because even though it sounds really easy in theory, actually living it is a whole different game.

Let’s talk about what I naturally “wanted” to do (and as you observe yourself, you’ll see similar patterns I’m sure).

When the kids would go to sleep, I wanted to tidy up my space. It was almost a compulsion. It seemed so harmless to pick up the toys, throw a load of laundry in, clean off my desk, and THEN start writing a blog post. However, this meant I was allowing three extra non 100 tasks into my sacred time.

Not only did it eat into the 90 minutes, it also led to other mini-tasks I saw along the way. Every single step I took in my house was like allowing a room full of possible new distractions into my 90 minutes.

At first, I tried to “sneak” in non-100 tasks into my sacred time because I rationalized that it made me “feel” good to get those things done. I couldn’t focus until they were done. But it never failed, I would lose momentum and time, and never get my 100 tasks done in my sacred time.

Eventually, I began the practice of ignoring my instincts and compulsions. It was REALLY hard. So hard in fact I started adding in buffer time BEFORE my sacred time, just to handle these silly little games I would play with myself so that I wouldn’t use my sacred time for anything other than 100 tasks.

As the kids got older, I earned more “sacred time” slots in my day, and continued to earmark the 100 tasks to those time periods and everything else went anywhere it could fit. My business grew, my to-do lists grew, and the concept of sacred time and 100 tasks only became MORE important!

What we’re going to do next is work into your life and business two new systems:

  1. The 100/50/10 Task System
  2. Sacred Time

100/50/10 Task System

The first exercise for you is to identify what 100 tasks TRULY ARE.

This is REALLY important to understand. The 100, 50, 10 system is to label tasks according to brain power, not by how much time it takes, how important it is, how much you love it, etc. We’re categorizing the task based on how much brain power it takes to do.

Make a list of the most common things you do in life, and we’re going to label them as 100, 50, or 10.

  1. 100 means it takes 100% of your brain power and concentration.
  2. 50 means that it takes concentration, but it’s not so difficult that you can’t do it while other things are happening around you.
  3. 10 tasks are just mindless type tasks that are a part of life but can almost be rote.

Some of you who struggle with focus are going to be tempted to identify everything as a 100. Here’s a way to look at it….

When you are categorizing the task, if someone interrupted you, could you get back at it after the interruption was done? If so, then it’s a 50 task.

An example would be working out. If you’re lifting weights and a kid comes into the room and asks where the cereal is, you can answer and go back to working out.

If that kid interrupts a podcast interview or a book writing session, regaining concentration is a lot harder. Those would be 100 tasks.

10 tasks are either things that are rote (like showering and driving), or they are wasted time tasks like waiting in line.

Here are how I would categorize some life & business tasks…

100 Tasks

  • Writing a book 100
  • Recording video 100
  • Building curriculum 100
  • Podcast interviews 100
  • Executive meetings 100
  • Coaching 100
  • Teaching 100
  • Selling 100
  • Livestreaming 100
  • Training 100
  • Tech 100
  • Creative design 100
  • Date night 100
  • Sex 100
  • Heart to heart talk 100

50 Tasks

  • Emails 50
  • Planning 50
  • PM 50
  • Meetings 50
  • Cleaning 50
  • Working out 50
  • Shopping/errands 50
  • Cooking 50

10 Tasks

  • Social media 10
  • Organizing files 10
  • Watercooler talk 10
  • Netflix 10
  • Showering 10
  • Driving 10
  • Waiting in line 10

100 tasks are usually the things that allow creativity to birth new products, services, ideas, etc. They are the hardest things to do, require the most brain power, and get snuffed out constantly by everyday 50 and 10 tasks. Once you have a general idea of all the tasks in your average day, and how to label them, the next exercise is to find and capture Sacred Time.

The Sacred Time Exercise

Some of you reading this might be thinking one of the following things…

  1. Finding Sacred Time is so easy and not rocket science, not sure why you’re making a big deal of this
  2. I am a mom of young kids and have NO sacred time so I’m screwed

Please stick with me! I’ve implemented this system effectively with people who’ve thought exactly the same things, and I promise if you really work at this, it will change your whole life.

The first step to implementing this into your life is to simply identify your sacred time slots.

Take an average 24 hour work day, subtract the time you’re sleeping, and circle the slots that qualify as sacred time.

For the purposes of this exercise, we’re going to identify sacred time as – The Time You Have In Your Day That You Are Absolutely In Control Of. You Can 100% Dictate How You Spend That Time.

This means your kids are asleep or tended to by a nanny or parent, you’ve got an assistant or someone who can answer phone calls and emails, you have the power to ignore notifications and dings from your phone, you don’t have animals begging for you to take them for a walk, or you have a door to your office to shut out co-workers and interruptions.

  • 11:00pm -7:00am SLEEP
  • 7:00am -8:00am Kids off to school
  • 8:00am – 12:00pm Sacred Time
  • 12:00pm – 2:00pm Sacred Time
  • 2:00pm – 5:00pm Half Time
  • 5:00pm – 8:00pm Kids home & dinner
  • 8:00pm – 11:00pm Half Time

You’ll notice on this list, I identified a few things as Half time. That’s because while I do have control of those time periods in theory, I don’t have total control. There are other people around that might need me, and so I wouldn’t truly classify it as sacred time.

Half time is time you control but not fully.

I also know that my brain is usually not as perky during those times, so it would be mislabeling them as sacred time because I can’t truly get 100 tasks done in those slots (which is the ultimate goal of these two exercises).

The two spots that say KIDS, I would label as Busy Time. That means most of my energy is taken up with the logistics of parenting, and there is very little brain power left for creative thinking or my business. So an average day really looks like this….

  • 11:00pm -7:00am SLEEP
  • 7:00am -8:00am Busy Time
  • 8:00am – 12:00pm Sacred Time (for 100 tasks)
  • 12:00pm – 2:00pm Sacred Time (for 100 tasks)
  • 2:00pm – 5:00pm Half Time
  • 5:00pm – 8:00pm Busy Time
  • 8:00pm – 11:00pm Half Time

Your first job is to simply identify your sacred time slots.

Some of you might do this exercise and it looks like this:

  • 11:00pm -7:00am SLEEP (maybe, but baby wakes up)
  • 7:00am -8:00am Kids wake up
  • 8:00am – 12:00pm Babycare
  • 12:00pm – 2:00pm Babycare
  • 2:00pm – 5:00pm Big kids come home
  • 5:00pm – 8:00pm Dinner & Bedtime
  • 8:00pm – 11:00pm I’m dead

If you have NONE (this is mostly a problem for stay-at-home moms trying to run a business), this means you need to rearrange your life a little bit.

  • It may mean waking up super early and NOT using that time for something like working out (which is not a 100 task).
  • It may mean hiring a nanny for a few hours a day.
  • It may mean implementing nap/quiet time in the afternoons.
  • It may mean asking your husband to take over the dinner routine one or two days a week.

Ultimately, having NO sacred time in your life on a daily basis is a quality of life problem. Everyone should have some – somewhere. The question you need to ask yourself is “How can I get at least 90 minutes of Sacred Time in my life, everyday?”

Others of you will do this exercise and it’ll be like this:

  • 11:00pm -7:00am SLEEP
  • 7:00am – 11:00pm Sacred Time

You don’t have kids, an easy going spouse (or none), and your whole day, everyday, is yours. I promise you while the mothers reading this book are completely annoyed at you for having 16 hours a day of Sacred Time, the reality is most of you don’t have much actual sacred time because all your time has lost its sacredness because it’s abundant.

That’s one of the features of sacred time. It’s scarce. It’s sacred. It’s from heaven for Pete’s Sake! When you have everyday, all day to yourself, you are much more likely to waste time because you think, “Well I’ll just do it later.” Because later has more sacred time anyway.

Both extremes are a problem.

It would be amazing if every entrepreneur had 8 hours a day of sacred time each day, but the truth is that you can run a successful business with just 4 hours of sacred time each day. But it actually has to be sacred. It has to be time that is ONLY used for 100 tasks. Once you have a general idea of your Sacred Time slots each workday, block them out in your Google calendar.

The Primary Goal Of the Sacred 100/50/10 System

Like I said earlier, implementing this in your life is not as easy as it sounds. Some of you may have come to the unfortunate realization that one of your sacred time slots every day is 5am-7am and you’re currently using that time to work out, make a smoothie, and shower.

  • Working out
  • Making a smoothie
  • Showering

…None of those are 100 tasks. Not even close.

The idea of this is to MATCH your 100 tasks to your SACRED time. Then match your 50 tasks to your half time. What would life be like if you could sit down and write out your next book or course everyday from 5am-7am and then go do your workout and your smoothie and shower during a 50 block a bit later in the morning?

This is exactly how I wrote Russell’s books in such a short amount of time! I NEVER use 100 blocks of time for anything other than 100 tasks.

If you can identify between 2-4 hours a day of sacred time everyday, and ONLY perform 100 tasks in those times, you will notice a drastic difference in your productivity immediately.

In another post, I’ll show you some ways that I worked to eliminate non-100 tasks from my sacred time when I started with this habit.

P.S. Are you liking the productivity posts? There are MORE of them! Check out The Paper Whiteboard, Stop Stacking Time!, and The Art of Refocus for additional tips and strategies.