Some Notes on Living an Intentional Life

To many people, “ratio” is something that happens on Twitter. I’m not sure exactly what it is, but I’ve heard about it.

To me, ratios are a framework on how I ensure my life is managed and that I’m applying equal weight to the four buckets of life: craft, constitution, community, contemplation.

Here are 5 ratios that I’ve been considering lately

  • Screen time vs. reading time: how often am I looking a screen for non-working reasons (web-surfing, watching TV, etc.) vs. how often am I reading for non-professional reasons
    • A good general rule of thumb is 1:1 – meaning that for every hour you watch TV or on social media, spend 1-hour reading
  • Walking & standing time vs. sitting time: how much time do I spend ambulating around and standing vs. sitting sequestered at my desk or on a couch
    • This is something I struggle with, even with a standing desk and I’m still contemplating a good ratio for this that is tractable but challenging
  • Outside time vs. inside time: how much time am I outside (whether just on a walk, sitting outside, or deep in nature) vs. inside (at work, at home, etc.)
    • As I mentioned in my 28 lessons in 28 years, at least 1 hour outside a day is a minimum, where 2-3 hours would be ideal, so a ratio of 1:5 (assuming 9 hours of sleep per night) would be the goal
  • Work time vs. sleep time: how much time do I spend at work or thinking about work, and how much time am I actually asleep
    • I shouldn’t have to extol the virtues of sleep to anyone, but it’s clearly a long-term competitive advantage to those who sleep 8-9 hours a night to those who are sleeping 6-7 hours a night
  • Deep vs. shallow work: how often am I spending my time at work in a state of undistracted concentration focused on creating new value vs. in a state of shallowness, reactive and responding to emails and slack
    • A classic ratio outlined by Cal Newport in his 2016 best selling book Deep Work
    • An ideal goal is 1:1 – 4 hours a day in deep work, and 4 hours in shallow work, but if I get 2 hours of deep work in, I consider that a success (a 1:3 ratio)

Following the ratios to a T is less important than the deep introspection needed to clarify what’s important and how to spend the time and attention that we have. Intentionality is 80%+ of the battle

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