We all have a choice. To tell the truth, you’ve already made the choice. You are either living and growing on purpose – proactively according to a written plan. Or you are living reactively – subject to the needs and demands of your environment and those around you.
This post is part of the series – Get Your Life Back!
Take Control of Your Schedule
4 Tips for Managing Your Calendar More Effectively
Plan Your Year with Your Annual Time Block
Create Your Ideal Week
You Can Keep Up With Your Email
The Secret for Managing Email More Efficiently
I have done both. And I can tell you from experience that it’s far more fulfilling to live with purpose – knowing what is most important and intentionally working toward it every day.
Although I had very specific plans in place, I realized I also needed a tool to be more effective with my top priorities and decision-making.
The best time to make decisions is before they have to be made.
So I developed My Ideal Week.
Michael Hyatt illustrates the ideal week perfectly when he suggests:
The ideal week is similar to your financial budget. The only difference is that you plan how you will spend your time rather than your money. And like a financial budget, you spend it on paper first.
My Ideal Week template, which I created in Microsoft Excel, is the “perfect” week I would live if I could control 100% of what happens in my life and work.
Themes and Focus Areas
The image above is a snapshot of my ideal week. You’ll notice my daily themes listed on the top row above the day of the week. Then, I divided each day into 3 specific areas of focus which are listed in the left column.
Here are my themes:
- Monday is devoted to my team – one-on-one meetings and a staff meeting at lunch.
- Tuesday is spent on short-term planning and thinking.
- Wednesday is for meetings with key stakeholders – colleagues within my organization and those in similar positions in other organizations.
- Thursday is an ad hoc day during which I schedule various requested meetings.
- Friday is primarily spent on long-term planning which includes reviewing my business vision and business plan.
- Saturday is for family time, personal chores, and activities.
- Sunday is for church, rest, and planning and preparation for the coming week.
My areas of focus include:
- My mornings are devoted to personal growth (or self) – reading, praying, working out, writing.
- The bulk of the day is devoted to my work.
- My evenings are set aside for my family and writing. I spend time with our daughter, Madison, every evening. We also eat dinner together as a family every night unless I’m traveling. At dinner, we discuss our days – the good and the bad. Later, I write while Madison is preparing for bed.
Tips and Notes
You’ll notice that I have blocked out margin time throughout the day for “unexpected” events, processing notes, etc. The nature of my role requires that I plan for unforeseen events. You may not need as much margin time – or you may require more.
In my template, the activities that contribute to my goals and priorities are shaded blue. Those not related to my goals are shaded red. Those that could be either are white. Planning activities are shaded yellow.
As with any planning exercise, My Ideal Week is somewhat subjective. However, I’ve found that placing bookends throughout my week has enabled me to gain more clarity, focus, and momentum in my personal life, in my interactions with others, with projects, and in my planning time.
Now it’s your turn – map out your own Ideal Week. Feel free to download my Excel spreadsheet or draft your own.
Once you have created your Ideal Week, I recommend testing it for a week or two. Tweak it where necessary.
Then, once you’re comfortable with it, plug the items from your ideal week right into your calendar. This is the most important step – if you’re going to make it work!
Here’s what my calendar looks like on a typical week before plugging in other specific meetings.
I gave my ideal week to my assistant to simplify the management of my calendar.
You’re busy just like me – so everything won’t fit perfectly. The key is to get the important stuff in there.
And developing your Ideal Week will help you accomplish those things that are most important in your life and work.
Question: What other ways do you use to plan your week more effectively? Share your ideas in the comments.