About two years ago I had my first ideal week. One where I was in a state of flow all the time. I worked on projects that were awesome and I only had a few interruptions I scheduled in to one day. The rest of my week was free to get real work done without interruption.
Then my alarm went off and I was actually smack dab in the middle of a week where I had few blocks of time to get things done and many different tasks each day that pulled me in multiple directions.
It took a while to get to that dream week and I had to design it a few different times before it worked. Here's what I've learned it takes to really build a maintainable ideal week.
1. Know your purpose
What is it that you're around to accomplish? Yup that's a big question but it's one you need to answer.
It's not an easy question, but without putting some decent thought in to your purpose you'll never know what to prioritize? If your purpose is to help others but you don't plan time in your week to do that then it's not an ideal week.
If you need a primer to help find your purpose you need to check out 6 Ways to Find Your Passion and Live Your Purpose.
It may be that once you figure out your purpose and design your ideal week that life simply can't fit it. I was there too. My next step was to write down the 5 things that needed to be true for me to get to my ideal week and then start working on making those things true. It took the better part of six months to get there but if I hadn't gone through the exercise I wouldn't have even known what the goal was.
2. Start with yourself
The first thing that goes on your calendar is time for yourself and your family. For me that means my daily workouts at 5:45 a.m. and weekly events with my kids. These things stay no matter how busy I am.
Without time in the morning to get a bit of sweat going my day ends up in shambles. Without that time to connect with my kids I'd look back in 20 years and miss that relationship.
Many of the people I've coached drop their personal and family time first when things don't go as expected and then stress increases. When they stick to their guns on personal care they find that in the midst of a busy crazy week they still feel centered.
3. Pick your daily themes
Once you know your purpose it's time to decide the themes for your days. For me that means Tuesday is the only day I take calls with new clients. If there isn't time available then they can choose a time a few weeks out. I do this because I know that I need long blocks of time free of calls or meetings to get work done.
Sticking with the same themes every week all the time gives you a solid routine and reduces the number of decisions you have to make in a day. Theming your days also allows you to batch your tasks. Do all your calls and errands one day then you have the rest of your week free to push projects forward.
Little daily interruptions kill productivity.
4. Learn to be realistic with time
We're optimistic people aren't we? When we gauge how long a project will take we assume that everything will be daisies and roses. Nothing will go wrong with the project and none of our time will be interrupted.
Of course it sounds silly, but really think about the last few projects you finished. Did they hit the expected finish date without a bunch of overtime to make it? Unlikely and you know it.
I dealt with this issue by starting to track the exact time a project takes so when I have a similar project I have a good estimate on project length. Then of course I pad by 10 - 20%. At best I have a bunch of extra time to recharge at the end of a project and at worst I've got a buffer so projects don't overlap to much.
5. Comfort with the word no
No is the most productive word you have in your arsenal. Getting comfortable with this word is what's really going to make your ideal week work.
At least once a month I have a prospect get very annoyed that I only take calls for new work on Tuesday's since they want another day, or another time, or they don't want to wait 2 weeks because I'm booked.
Part of me wants to help them out, but that's when my little friend 'no' comes by and tells them that I can't do any day but Tuesday and if that doesn't work we aren't a great fit. Giving in to all the extra requests for my time would simply ensure that I couldn't serve my clients well.
That's a recipe for a terrible week and a terrible business reputation.
Of course sometimes your ideal week won't happen. For me this was a few weeks ago when we moved our house and I was in a wedding and two of our kids got sick. I got some stuff done but really that week was about survival. Telling my wife I couldn't help extra moving the house would have been a bad idea.
Are you ready to get the freedom that designing your ideal week can bring? If so, you really need to go check out Michael Hyatt's Excel spreadsheet as a template for your ideal week