I coached a woman last week who was seeking a bit of a Time Management top up.
She was feeling tired, her brain was close to bursting and she was feeling disheartened by all she wasn’t getting to. After hearing her out I suggested something so simple that I knew she was probably thinking ‘Why have I paid you?’ but that’s just the point. Oftentimes a solution is so simple that people disregard the work. The client even admitted this, “I love how simple this solution is, but also acknowledge how difficult that is to implement.”
And what was the simple solution? To use her calendar. To depend on her calendar. To follow her calendar.
It's a template
We found a regular time during the week for her to do her Life Admin tasks and set it up so that she would make it a habit to plan ahead to do tasks at this time. The relief on her face was wonderful to see! “Yes! There’s no reason that I need to think about a bill that needs to be paid in two weeks time for the whole two weeks until it’s paid, scheduling that to a Friday list will free up head space and time.”
I’m definitely not saying become an overscheduler. That has its own issues (I know, I’ve been that person) plus leaves no time for the inevitable life things that pop up. But scheduling in regular events creates a blueprint for a successful life. It’s this forward planning that creates a sense of purpose, meaning, and focus. Plus it helps you avoid procrastination, stay motivated, and properly manage your time.
Since we can’t predict what every day or week will be like, you need something flexible. You need a weekly schedule template. The word template is very important to note. It’s not something set in stone and it probably works 80% of the time, but it’s something to always return to when that 20% throws you off balance. Imagine the most inspiring schedule for you and your needs and that’s your weekly schedule template.
Five steps to building your template
1) Start your day with your most important work
Structure your week so that each day you’re either getting your most difficult task out of the way first or focusing on meaningful work before anything else
2) Understand your unique energy cycles
When are your energy levels at their highest? Everyday we all go through ebbs and flows of energy because of our Circadian Rhythm. An internal clock that sends our mind and body through moments of alertness and sleepiness. So what you want to do is match your energy levels to the type of work you’re doing throughout the day rather than fighting against them.
3) Use “time blocking” to be in control of your time
Using the information above about your cycles, plan out when you’re most suited to do certain types of work and set those times in your schedule. This skeleton is then what helps you build your week. For example, I know someone who keeps Mondays for writing and sets the afternoons for regular calls and meetings.
4) Follow your flow (of both tasks and energy)
People often forget to think about their state of mind when scheduling meetings, events, or tasks. It takes a bit of a leap to go from a deep-thinking activity to say, a daily catch-up call. So as you design your weekly schedule template, try to group similar tasks together. And when it comes to actually doing the work, make sure to turn off distractions and get into focus mode.
5) Do a regular calendar audit to ensure your template is up to date
This is a simple exercise where you go through and audit past obligations. Every three months reflect on where you’ve spent your time and ask yourself if your template is still current, does it reflect your current needs, do things need to be deleted or moved around?
These five steps will help you ensure balance across the various departments of your life. And it guarantees that there will be enough time for all your core activities. Like my client above said, rather than worrying about a bill for two weeks straight or something similar, you get to live in the moment.
If you need more guidance on these 5 steps and you’re ready to start doing things a little differently, clearing the mental clutter and getting your productive self in prime position to achieve all that you wish to achieve – let me know, I’m here to help. Feel free to book in for a free 30 minute call with me.