Recently I walked a client through the process of creating more structure in his days, which led to a 3x increase in his productivity.
The big shift came from identifying his most important task (what I like to call the MIT) related to his #1 goal for the next 90 days and moving it to the very beginning of his day, before doing personal self-care stuff like meditation or exercise.
In this article, I also mentioned how we’d created a new weekly schedule for him which had resulted in getting more done while working less, and spending more time with his family.
Today I want to dive a little deeper into what that process actually looks like.
Side note: I can’t take full credit for this. A lot of it is borrowed with permission from my mentor Craig Ballantyne.
In order to begin, you’ll want to open a new spreadsheet with days of the week across the top and times of the day down the side. Or you could do what I did and whip out some good old pen and paper. I suggest doing this first, before putting it all into Google Calendar as repeating weekly events once everything is in place. But without further ado, here’s how to create your own weekly schedule.
How to create the ultimate weekly schedule
1. Schedule the non-negotiables. Before making time for anything else, we want to start by putting in the things that matter most. This includes things like a weekly date night with your partner, a weekly digital detox (highly recommended; I like Sundays for this) and family time. If you’re single, maybe this means visiting your parents every week or allocating time for dates or meetups. These are the things that are easily relegated if we don’t consciously make time for them, so they come first.
2. Treat yo’self. Next, we want to add those things that keep us performing at our best. I know I previously mentioned doing your MIT first each day, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t look after ourselves at all. Looking at your calendar, schedule in things like meditation, yoga, workouts, massages, reading, etc. I like to set aside about 90 minutes each day for exercise (lifting weights or going for a walk), an hour each day for reading, and my meditation and journaling which I spoke about here. As a rule of thumb, I would suggest finding the balance between doing enough to feel energized and rested, without it taking over your whole day.
3. Finish strong. As strange as it may seem, we want to focus next on the end of our day. Remember Parkinson’s Law: things expand to the amount of time we allocate to them. Put in the time you will go to sleep and wake up, aiming ideally for 7-9 hours of sleep). This also includes marking down what time you will stop working each day. As a little hack, I like to set two alarms; one for when it’s time to stop working and one for when it’s time to start winding down for bed (1 hour before). No one said alarms have to be only for waking up 🙂
4. Set yourself up to win tomorrow. As part of your daily routine, I suggest setting aside 30-60 minutes to wrap up your day and prepare for tomorrow. Never again will you plan the day in the morning. Instead, finish your workday by doing a braindump of anything that’s still on your mind, look at the 1-3 MITs for tomorrow and schedule them in the calendar, and do whatever else you can to make tomorrow a win. I like to outline the next day’s article and complete all the small things like finding an image, categories, and tags so that when I sit down in the morning I can just dive right into writing without having to think about it. What is that for you? One other suggestion here is to create some kind of transition between your workday ending and family time starting, such as a song, mantra, physical action, etc.
5. Get to work! Now that everything else is in place, we get to the fun stuff. This is where you’ll schedule in your work time. I highly recommend splitting your workday into 90-minute blocks of deep work time, where you eliminate all distractions and go all-in focusing on one specific task, separated by short breaks. One of these deep work blocks should ideally come first thing in the morning. Looking at things from a weekly view, you can go even more ninja with this by batching your tasks to allocate a specific day of the week to a specific kind of activity (for example marketing, content, admin, etc.). Don’t forget to allocate some time to planning your upcoming week (I like Saturday mornings so I don’t use work time during the week).
So there you have it. That’s how you create a weekly schedule that sets you up to win by getting more done while still spending more time on the things that matter most.
P.S. If you’d like some help putting this together, I’m opening up some spots on my calendar to help. You can grab one here.
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