Feel like your schedule is out of control?
Not enough time to get everything done?
Take a couple of hours and walk through this exercise.
It will restore sanity to your life.
1. Make a list of the top 8 priorities in your work
The question that you are answering as you do this – What can I and only I do? Not ten… Only 8. Struggling to figure this out? Read this post on 3 Things You Should Stop Doing ASAP.
2. Determine how many hours you need to devote weekly to each of your top 8 priorities
As you do this consider what a perfect week would look like. (At work, not in Hawaii on the beach) How much time should you be devoting to each of your top 8 priorities weekly? If one of your top 8 is a monthly task then divide the amount of hours by 4 for your weekly allotment.
3. Write down everything else that you are currently doing
What other things take your time? What else are you responsible for?
4. Brainstorm strategies to eliminate or reduce everything other than your top 8 priorities
Questions to ask regarding your everything else list: Does it really have to be done? What are the consequences if it is not done? Can someone else do it 80% as well as I can? Read this post for more ideas on how to offload some of these things.
5. Create an ideal week
Now that you have identified your top 8 priorities and know how many hours you would like to devote to each one, create an ideal week with time blocking. With time blocking, you are devoting a block of time to a work priority so that you are able to focus for an extended amount of time and make significant progress. If you have an unexpected interruption during that time-block than you will likely still have time left to devote to your priority.
My recommendation is to view each work day in terms of two 4-hour time blocks with a lunch in between. You can still do early morning breakfast meetings, lunches etc. around these. Ideally, you will not work more than two time blocks in a row. If you are going to work in a given evening, consider not working in the morning or taking the afternoon off. Another good practice is to completely take off three time blocks in a row in a given week. (i.e. A day off where you do not work)
See the example below for what this looks like. You can mark different priorities with different colors for clarification. Click the following link for a template. Ideal Week Worksheet
As you walk through your ideal week, you are answering the following three questions:
- How many hours a week will I work?
- When will I work those hours?
- What will I do when I work?
6. Print your ideal week and have it visible in your workspace
You want this document where you can see it at any given point of the day. If it is in a file in your computer it will not motivate you to make the right decisions. Print it and keep it where you can see it. You might not ever hit it exactly in a given week but it will keep you on task and help you to make wise decisions about your most important priorities.
7. Redo this activity annually.
Priorities change so do revisit this process as needed.
What else have you learned in this area? Feel free to comment.