Every now and again I try and implement an ideal week. By ideal week I mean having a set weekly schedule so for example doing client work on Mondays and Thursdays, creating content on Tuesday, working towards bigger business projects on Wednesdays etc.

I know they can be great for adding structure into my week and ensuring that I work on things that will move my business forward. Rather than just working on the things that feel easy or comfortable. Which for me is often doing my books – it’s so soothing when everything balances!

Ideal weeks just haven’t really happened for me this year. I feel like I’ve had a lot going on with medical appointments for my Mum, vet appointments for the dog, urgent house repairs etc. Having a set schedule hasn’t felt doable. I have a goal of scheduling these appointments on a Friday but I seem to be going to a lot of specialist appointments with limited availability so have to take what I can get. I usually work Sundays so I’ve got Fridays for life things.

In the past month I feel like I’ve finally come up with a weekly planning process that is working for me. I’m creating a schedule at the end of each week for the following week that takes into account needing to work around other commitments while still taking action on my business.

The process I’m following is:

Step 1.   Looking at my 90 day plan, as well as my mind map of the things I want to achieve this year, I write a list of tasks that I think are a priority to work on this week. The mind map sits above my desk so that I always see it. It isn’t goals as such, more general areas I want to work on both in my business and personally though there are some goals on it. I like it because it gives me a good sense of what is important to me at the moment. A year feels manageable in terms of a time period to look forward.

The list of tasks is often not realistic to complete in a week but it’s my starting point.

Step 2.   I pop in appointments and client calls into my calendar so I know what I need to work around. In my scheduling system (acuity) I have a call free day on Tuesday so it isn’t a free for all with client calls. And because I’m in Australia I often don’t have calls during my main working hours. If I’ve got calls in the evening then I make sure I block off time in my day for a break.

Step 3.   I block off periods of time for what Cal Newport call deep work. Basically tasks that require an extended period of focus. This is usually writing – whether it’s writing an email to you, a blog post, a sales page or sometimes planning. (Though I often find I do my best planning in a coffee shop.) These periods of deep work are as much as possible in the morning as I know that is when I find it easiest to do this kind of work but that isn’t always possible with my current schedule.

Step 4.   I also block off time on the last day of the week to complete this process for the coming week as I find that I do better when I start the week with a clear plan rather than trying to start the new week with planning. I struggle to get the motivation to start the day if I don’t have a clear plan as to what I’m going to work on.  If I do the plan at the end of the week then I also know where I’ve gotten to this week, what tasks need to carry over to the next week etc. Whereas if I try and do this at the beginning of the new week I find I have to scramble to work out where I got to. It’s amazing how easy it is to forget things!

Step 5.   I then allocate tasks I identified in step one out to days of the week taking into account the periods I’ve set aside for deep work – scheduling things that require deep work for days that I’ve got that planned. It’s at this point I then get clear on what I can actually get done in the coming week. I’ll usually take things off my to do list though in some cases I might leave the item on the list but acknowledge that I’m unlikely to finish the piece of work. For example instead of finishing a sales page I might change it to prepare the first draft or instead of publishing a blog post it might be to review the draft blog post from the previous week.

Step 06.   I then pop the tasks schedule for each day on piece of paper that I put on the pinboard behind my computer so I can see it as soon as I sit down each day. It’s nothing fancy. Just a piece of paper that says Monday with a list of tasks below it, then Tuesday with a list of tasks below it and so on.  I find if I have to log into planning software then I don’t do it and I work on what feels easy instead. I’ve tried all the planning software and for me nothing works as well as a pen and paper.

I still use planning software but its more for things like content planning – capturing ideas and documenting when I publish.

It may look like there are a lot of steps but I can usually get the whole process done in 30 minutes or less.

Even with this process I don’t get everything done that I planned – things happen, tasks take longer than I thought and I don’t always do well with the deep work. I often get distracted. I was reading this post by Chris Guillebeauon time blindness and I’m thinking about getting a timer to help with distractions. I’ve tried pomodoro timers on my phone and they’ve helped but I think I would do better not having my phone in the office with me and something more in my face. To see how time is going on my phone I’ve got to unlock my phone which can lead to unintentional scrolling or checking of email. I want to see if a timer helps with focus.

Since implementing this process I’ve found I’ve gotten more work done and it’s been more of the right kind of work rather than what feels comfortable.

I hope this is helpful if you’ve been struggling to stick with an ideal week. Let me know if you try it and it is.

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