In 2019, I was starting my transition to the CEO role, leading our business development efforts, and transitioning out of client service. My days were jam-packed with a wide range of meetings and tasks that kept me shifting gears all day long. I often went in early or stayed late to finish all the work I never seemed to be able to get to during the day. And when I got home, my mind was often flooded will all the things I still needed to get done at work. I thought working longer and harder was the only way to get ahead.
But here’s what I know now – more productivity doesn’t come from working more hours, it comes from more energy and focus.
Thankfully, I found the Full Focus System, a productivity and goal-achievement system (and then became certified to teach the system to others). The Ideal Week is one of the tools within the system. It’s designed to help you leverage your energy and focus on your most important priorities. Instead of taking each day as it comes, you intentionally design an ideal week.
Here’s how it works:
- Set some constraints – One of the biggest mindset shifts I made was from trying to get everything done to getting the right things done. First, determine what the right things are for you. Then, put constraints and boundaries in place to rein yourself in. Here are a few ideas to consider:
- Set a consistent time to start and stop working each day.
- Only process your email inbox 2-3 scheduled times each day.
- Review your task list and identify items to delegate, automate, or delete.
- Stop working evenings and weekends.
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
- Leverage your energy rhythms – Though time is fixed, energy fluctuates throughout the day and the week. Before I understood this, I had been jamming activities into my calendar anywhere I had an open time slot. Then, I realized certain activities take a lot of energy and require my best thinking. When I do those activities during my peak energy times (for me, that’s mornings), I can get more done in less time. Determine when you have the most energy throughout the day and week. Then, leverage your energy levels by:
- Completing your highest leverage tasks (i.e. important projects) when you have the most energy
- Saving your maintenance, routine, or administrative tasks (such as email) for lower energy times
- Building in time for activities that restore your energy
- Batch your tasks – The Ideal Week combines the power of batching and planning. Batching is grouping similar activities together to avoid wasting energy on task-switching. Instead of making my calendar look like a game of Tetris, I started reserving large blocks of time, or even entire days for a single type of activity. I blocked time for my most important priorities first and matched them up with my highest energy time slots. Here are a few examples of my batched activities:
- All internal meetings (team-level and direct report 1:1s) are on Mondays
- Business development activities are on Wednesdays.
- No meetings on Fridays
- Content creation is on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday mornings
- Process email twice daily
We also have a company-level ideal week that sets a few constraints for our team (like no meetings on Fridays) and helps individuals synchronize their work. You can download a copy of our company-level ideal week here, along with a sample individual ideal week, and a blank template for yourself.
No one will meet their ideal week 100% of the time. It’s a target to work towards and a tool to help you put first things first. Map out your Ideal Week today. Then, use it as a filter for scheduling and planning so you have the time and energy for your most important priorities.