If you’ve been following along, you know enrollment in the S4D is now open to new students once a quarter (rather than year-round). And that joining the program also now requires answering a few questions beforehand.

Since I really want you to ace the quiz, I’m just going to give you the answers. Well, almost. Consider this and the next two missives Really Big Hints.

Starting with this question…

Completing the Foundations Module of the S4D requires about 2 hours of study each week for the first 9 weeks. While the orientation material will help you figure out the specifics of how to incorporate that time into your week, it assumes this program is within your capacity. Do you have sufficient time available for study and are you ready and willing to commit that time to this work?

If you’re struggling to manage your time well, I get that it’s nearly impossible to answer this question without just making an optimistic guess. So here’s how to figure it out for reals in about ten minutes (for this or anything else you want to do).

Step 1a: Download and print the worksheet. Or, if you’d rather do this exercise digitally, any spreadsheet or table will work just fine.

Step 1b: Grab a writing implement. Or if you want to get all fancy and color-code this thing, grab a set of markers (you’ll need 10 colors).

Step 2: Fill in the squares. X the out. Label them. Color them in. Start at the top or bottom. Whatever. The worksheet is a simple 7×24 grid representing the 168 hours available to you in a week. You’ll note that columns and rows are not labelled because this is NOT a schedule. This exercise is only about measuring your current capacity.

2a: Block out the time you need for SLEEP. Not the minimum you can survive on, but what you need to be a generally happy, healthy, functioning human being.

2b: Block out the time you need for NUTRITION. Preparing and eating meals and purchasing groceries (or picking up take out – no judgment here).

2c: Block out the time you need for HYGIENE. Bathing, brushing your teeth, getting dressed, and so on.

2d: Block out the time you need for MOVEMENT. Exercise, stretching, getting outdoors.

2e: Block out the time you need for CONNECTION. Caring for children, pets or other dependents and interaction with those you love.

2f: Block out the time you need for HOUSEKEEPING. Dishwashing, laundry, vacuuming, watering houseplants, etc. (Not decor-magazine perfect, just to your standard of clean.)

2g: Block out the time you need for routine ADMIN. Email, bookkeeping, and the like. The basic stuff that keeps your business running.

2h: Block out the time you need for FIXED commitments. Standing meetings or appointments, client responsibilities, and the other stuff that’s already on your calendar – personal or professional.

2i: Block out the time you need for LEISURE. You can’t do without regular opportunities for play and rest.

Again, this is NOT a schedule. You don’t need to worry about when this stuff happens, how it all fits together, or what exactly needs doing within a block. Just block out the squares as best you can – and this is important – without dropping into magical thinking (you know, the belief that if you just work a little longer or harder or faster you can squeeze it all in and get “everything” done).

If at any point in filling in the squares you start to feel anxious about how few remain, don’t let that anxiety talk you into fudging about how much time things really take to do. Yes, there are probably some things you could do more efficiently and effectively, but until you develop the skills and systems to make that happen, you need to work honestly with your current reality.

If your grid is filled before you reach leisure, stop here. You are already working beyond your capacity and in a state of overwhelm. This is not the right time for the S4D (or anything else new). Please get yourself back on solid ground first.

If you end with empty squares, huzzah! That’s the time you have available for creative projects and learning new things. If you’ve got more than two squares left, participating in the S4D (or whatever is enticing you right now) is within your capacity. Please proceed.

That said, even if you do end up with more than two squares, this has probably been a revealing exercise about what it takes to support a happy, healthy life and business. As creatives, it’s easy to assume our creative work (however we define it) is the main event. But this exercise often illustrates that it isn’t. A good life is largely maintenance. So you might as well become as efficient and effective about how you go about that as you can, and figure out how to enjoy it – two things you’ll definitely learn in the S4D.

• • • • •

So, now that you know the S4D is within your capacity to take on, you’re ready to answer the last part of the question: are you ready and willing to commit that time to this work? And knowing the answer to that comes from understanding the next question: Why this, now? Hints on how to figure that out in a few days. Stay tuned.

• • • • •

I’d love to know how your “capacity grid” turned out and if anything about the results surprised you. Please share your insights and questions in the comments below or send me at note at hello [at] thirdhandworks [dot] com.

peace and love,