This time of year is when many goals are set. I have recently set aside a whole day to outline my goals for 2016 and I have spent some time getting in touch with the reasons I have set my goals, so that I can maintain motivation and momentum. One trick I learned from Michael Hyatt which is going to help me stay on track, is the concept of My Ideal Week.
The premise is simple enough: I should sit down and design the perfectly ordered week. This should be a week where I have the time to get done everything I need to do. As Michael often says, what's on the the calendar gets done, so the purpose of the exercise is to design the perfect week, so that it can be transferred onto my actual calendar.
Here's how it works:
Within any perfect week, there will be various themes. These often equate to our priorities or goals, or our areas of key influence. The themes in my ideal week are:
- Work admin/report-writing
- MeaningfulMoney and general marketing
Chances are that we have goals pertaining to most of these, so we need to make sure that each of these areas of our lives get adequate time spent on them each week.
You may consider devoting a whole day to one of these themes, but for many of us it isn't possible to be quite that broad-brush. More likely, each day will have segments assigned to two or more of the themes.
The days in my ideal week have three main segments: Before work, at work and after work. Weekends are different of course.
I'm my own boss, so to a certain extent I can decide how my days are made up. But I still have to see clients, so as much as I would like to spend my days fiddling around on the internet in the name of marketing, I have to devote some time to client meetings!
By using my three main segments for specific purposes, I can keep my life fairly tidy.
My before work segment for example, which is between 6:00 and 8:00, sometimes 8:30 – that's Me time. Here's when I go to the gym, or read, or go for a run. It's the time, right at the start of each day, where I get to look after number one, including having a bit of a lie-in on weekends.
Work time, between 8:00 and 17:30, is primarily about clients and the admin attaching to serving clients and running the business.
Then after work, I have a couple of hours set aside for dinner, catching up with the kids and helping them with homework and walking the dog. Then I might have a final couple of hours writing or creating content for MeaningfulMoney, before getting to bed around 10:00pm
I've talked about goals elsewhere on the podcast, and last week's episode gave you some questions to ask when setting your sights on the year ahead. Once those goals are set, it's important to keep moving forward each week. So as I move into each segment of my ideal week, I need to have written down the next thing I need to be doing to move forward. It's no good if I get to my writing time and have to start thinking about what to write. I need to have that planned in advance.
That's why at the end of each week I have some planning time built into the schedule so I can see how I have done this week and make sure I have updated the next actions for each of my projects and goals. That way I can hit the ground running next week.
By the way, the two best books I have ever read for improving personal productivity are Getting Things Done and Making It All Work, both by David Allen – read them in that order. The whole principle of determining next actions and moving step by step towards project completion is embodied in these books – highly recommended.
Last week, when I completed my ideal week, I then transferred many of the slots into my calendar. I blocked out certain times and made sure that others were left open to be filled with client meetings for example.
But it quickly became apparent that even in the very first week of the year, some things would have to give. Turns out there was a pre-arranged client meeting right in the middle of where I wanted to devote some time to admin, and a planned trip to the health suite at my local gym the week after next will have to be skipped in favour of a parents' evening at my daughter's school.
This doesn't matter of course. It's called an ideal week, and the chances of me fulfilling it perfectly even one week this year are slim.
The key is that I am being intentional about how I spend my time, which will give me a much better chance of achieving my goals than if I just drift through the year hoping for the best.
My ideal week
And now, if you want to see it, here's my ideal week! I just used Excel to knock it up, but it could just as easily be drawn on a piece of paper.
Why don't you try to nail down your ideal week, and see how it helps you stay focused on what is important this year?