The pandemic has encouraged—or even forced—many companies to allow their team members to work entirely remotely, but lots of people (myself included) are encountering all the challenges that come with that seemingly blissful dream of working from home.
This big change is an opportunity to redesign our weekly routines. Don’t let your new work habits develop by accident—take the time to consciously design how you want them to look.
Routines are also massively beneficial when it comes to human performance, and I don’t know about you, but I need routines to stay on course with life and work. That is why this is the perfect time to update this post on creating your Ideal Week Template.
The BIG IDEA:
“Don’t prioritize your schedule, schedule your priorities.”
What does your calendar say about what is truly important to you?
A few years ago, I was introduced to the idea of creating an Ideal Week Template. And it totally changed my life—but first it made me depressed!
Let me explain.
I started by completing a Current Week Template—i.e. a visual representation of how I was currently spending my time. And I am terribly embarrassed to say I found that I was watching nearly 21 hours of TV per week (I don’t even like writing that).
I have always been a fairly productive person, but 21 hours of TV was not acceptable for me. After all, that’s nearly an entire day including sleep! It was a great reality check. I had slipped into a bad routine. Thankfully now that I have kids, I have no choice but to be more selective with my time.
Billy Graham once said that nothing will reveal your real priorities more than your calendar and your bank account. What would your calendar say about what is really important to you?
Now let me be clear—I know every week cannot be an ideal week. Life happens. Cars break down. Kids get sick. Urgent work projects land in your lap. But if we don’t make the effort to aim at our highest priorities every week, we dramatically lower our odds of ever having an Ideal Week.
The urgent demands of life and work will fight for our attention every time.
Many time management experts say if you don’t schedule your priorities, you end up living other people’s priorities for your time. I have certainly found this to be true.
Here is one more big reason to use an Ideal Week Template, Harvard Business Review recently published a study by filtered.com that showed time blocking was the most effective productivity hack out of 100 different productivity strategies. If that didn’t get your attention, go back and read that sentence again.
Here is the key question to ask yourself when creating an Ideal Week—If my week included all of the things that nourish me and my family, and take me closer to legacy and impact, what activities would get my time?
You’ve heard me talk repeatedly about the Life Plan in previous posts, but I think a Life Plan isn’t worth much without an Ideal Week Template. That is where you begin to see real progress with your Life Plan. It makes it real—creates traction.
Click here to listen to the Life Plan podcast episode 12 on The Next Peak Podcast, co-hosted by Parker.
I also highly recommend that everyone have a One Page Business Plan, which clearly shows what the purpose of your job is, along with your highest impact work tasks, and current projects.
Then you can take your business goals and your life goals, and plug them into your Ideal Week as appointments.
Some tips I would recommend when completing your Ideal Week Template:
- Schedule your desired wake up and go to sleep times
- Schedule your desired exercise plan
- Schedule family time—like dates with your partner or children
- Schedule spiritual time (if relevant to you)
- Schedule boundaries around work with desired start and stop times
- Schedule appointments with yourself (in the mornings) for your most important work project of the day
Make sure you also schedule margin—empty space in your calendar. Life almost never goes according to plan and psychologists have shown that people chronically overestimate how much they can do in a given amount of time.
Not having margin in your schedule is like driving down the freeway at 100 miles per hour and following so closely that you only leave 6 inches between your car and the car in front of you. I have seen too many colleagues whose calendars look like this—every minute is booked.
If you drive—or live—like this, you will have a major collision—it’s only a matter of time.
Turn information into action
I’ve attached a sample Ideal Week Template at the bottom of this post, or you can create your own very easily.
- Complete your Current Week Template. Be brutally honest about how you currently spend your time.
- Then complete your Ideal Week Template. If you are new to working from home, make sure you design new work routines, don’t let them happen by accident. Use your Life Plan and most important business goals to plug into your Ideal Week Template.
- Compare the two to see where you are, and where you want to be!
Have a great weekend!