In our accountability group, the topic of time management comes up a lot, and I mean a lot.
Members often feel like they have no control over their calendars. They are the whim and mercy of customers, vendors, staff, and more. They feel out of control and struggle to keep time for themselves.
When I share my idea for managing a calender that feels out of control, everyone tells me it will not work for them. Yet, after trying everything else over time, members realize that my idea could work.
Are you wondering what this magic idea is?
Will you read the rest of this blog with an open mind? Or will you automatically assume it will not work for you?
If you want control of your calendar, you need to set boundaries.
You need to get clear about your priorities and how to structure your week so that you can ensure that your priorities are met.
What is the best way to do this? Create an ideal work week.
An ideal work week is your dream week. If everything went the way you wanted, what would it look like?
If you define your ideal work week, and map it out, you essentially create a blueprint for your boundaries.
If you want no client meetings after six, your ideal work week will reflect that. If you’re going to do all your marketing activities in one afternoon, your ideal work week will plan for that. If you’re going to do all your administration work on Monday mornings, your ideal work week with have a schedule for it.
These are boundaries. Boundaries that you map out into an ideal work week.
Yes, your week will never ever go according to plan, and that is life. But you will have a better chance of keeping your calendar in control if you map your ideal week and then try to keep within the boundaries you created.
I have seen many people “sell” their calendars, and they make people believe that they have the secret formula.
I will never sell you a pre-made ideal week.
How can I? No two people’s ideal week looks the same. An ideal work week is a product of the people themselves. What they have going on in life, who they are and what is important to them.
I like to get up early and spend some time with myself before I start my work day. I also like getting dressed for a work day before sitting at my home office.
My husband is my opposite, as he would rather sleep in. When he gets up, he grabs a coffee and goes straight to his desk. Mid-day, he’ll take a break to exercise and shower.
How we start our day, when when we are at our peak, and even how we work are as unique as we are. Your ideal schedule needs to take you into account.
To get started, spend a few days and pay attention to how you feel throughout the day. What times do you feel are your most productive and least productive?
Next, sketch out your boundaries.
Start with what your work week looks like. Does it include weekends? Are you working in the evening?
I like to start with a 168-hour week. I then ask myself how much time I want to spend on buckets of activities. Right away, I carve 1/3 of the 168 for sleep. I then roughly plan 1/3 for work and 1/3 for personal. This is a guideline. You can move the scale any way you wish or that works for you.
When considering how much to allocate to your work bucket, consider what falls into a personal vs. work. For example, is personal development work or personal? Exercise? How you define this may depend on the way you carve the buckets.
In my work bucket, I further break it down into x hours for client meetings and networking, x hours for administration, x hours for marketing activities, etc.
I recommend this exercise because we either don’t realize how much time we have or we underestimate what we can do in 168 hours. This mini-map lets you think about where you want your time to go. For example, a client wanted a 9-5 work day. Yet when we started to break down the hours they wanted for planning, client meetings, client file review, and more, there wasn’t enough time.
When this happens, you have to consider your options. In this case, they could expand their work hours, reduce their time spent on specific activities or get an assistant (something they were considering).
When I do my ideal weeks, I map out more than just my work week. I also plan out exercise, personal time, social time, etc. This helps me maintain balance.
You map out what you think will help you get control of your calendar.
Next, map it out. Keep your productivity highs and lows into consideration.
I like to do it in an excel spreadsheet and create my ideal week.
It is your choice to sketch out your whole ideal week or your work week. As I mentioned, I sketch out my entire week.
See below for an example.
Once you have your ideal week, it’s time to test it.
If you have a calendar booking system, like Calendly, adjust it to fit your ideal week. That way, someone can only book outside those hours if you agree.
I guarantee it won’t be perfect.
I recommend that you try it out and review it weekly. What is working, what is not, and make tweaks.
For example, at one time, I had personal development mapped out at the end of the day, but this was a low-energy time for me, and I would avoid it. A quick adjustment to move personal development to the morning worked.
I like the feeling of starting my week with quick wins. Therefore, I want to schedule administrative and quick-win tasks at the start of the week. I also like to book Friday afternoons as buffer/clean-up time. If I don’t need it, I have a free afternoon to do what I want.
I also like a full day with no meetings, so I have one day without interruption for blog writing, social media, etc.
All of this is a result of trial and error.
I will also warn you that getting used to this takes time. Don’t expect perfection right away (or ever). After all, this is an ideal week, and like anything, you have to work toward it.
I have found that working with someone to do this process of building your ideal week helps. If you want to learn more, let’s connect for coffee.
If you don’t make the time to work on creating the life you want, you’re eventually going to be forced to spend a lot of time dealing with a life you don’t want. Kevin Ngo
If you don’t make the time to work on creating the life you want, you’re eventually going to be forced to spend a lot of time dealing with a life you don’t want.
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