The time was 4pm, if I wanted to get the train to go meet all my old classmates for the reunion I had to leave an hour ago. However I still had 2 hours work to do (and that was being optimistic) and I couldn’t leave until I have this piece of work shipped. I did the inevitable and opened Facebook to send a group message to my classmates that I wasn’t going to be able to make it.
How did I let this happen?
As a scatter gunned entrepreneur with borderline ADHD – structure & focus is something I’ve struggled with most of my life (leading to an ex-g/f once nicknaming me a ‘magpie’ 😉
However being organised is super important, as an entrepreneur your single most important resource is time, and unless you’re organised – it’s impossible to be an effective and efficient with your time as possible.
So you could say being organised is vital to your success.
Hence – I’ve worked hard at developing a system to organise my week, so I focus on the right things and maintain balance and sanity in my life.
But it’s not been easy. Organisation and structure is not something that’s ever come naturally to me. As a predominantly left-brain kinda guy, I’ve had to work hard at it.
In this post I’ll share that system.
Background to the System
I’ve studied & read many resources over the past years including David Allen’s Getting things done, 7 habits of highly effective people, Tim Ferris’s blog posts about productivity and talking to other successful people how they organise their time successfully. All highly recommended on your journey to be a productivity master 🙂
What you will learn:
In this post you will learn a method to organise your week so you’re focusing on the highest impact items for you. FYI I don’t cover longer term (yearly, quarterly, monthly etc) planning in this post, there’s lots of other great resurces out there that covers that
This method has given me a great sense of control and achievement. Although different people work in different ways, unless you have a set routine that really works for you – I would recommend trying this.
It works for me – since using this framework I now feel that it helps give me:
- Focus to achieve the most important things for the week
- Give a more balanced focus across all the important areas of my life (previously I was massively skewed to one area at a time e.g. one areas of my startup)
- Gives me a a sense of control and allows me to track my progress
The Planning Strategy
There are two rituals that help me plan my week:
- Weekly planning
- Daily planning
The weekly plan
Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least – Goethe
The bulk of my weekly planning takes place on Sunday evening. It’s super important to start the week with a clear plan of what you need to achieve. Organising on a weekly basis provides much greater balance and context than daily planning
To plan my week I use this this weekly planning sheet, which I complete every Sunday evening.
Timesheet template final <–click here to download my week productivity template
Big thanks to Emma Jenkins, CMO of Conscious Me who showed me this idea to have a weekly planning sheet first, I’ve taken her weekly worksheet and built on it to personalise it to my planning style)
Define your roles
The first step is to define the different roles you have in life (note I say life, not just work). This step is inspired from the Steven Covey’s book ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ for which he states:
Help you keep balance in your life, to identify your various roles…so that you don’t neglect important areas such as your health, your family, professional preparation or personal development
My roles are as follows:
- Co-founder of Adludio – this includes lots of business / director / fundraising tasks I may need to do
- CMO – My core responsibilities to grow Adludio
- Boyfriend – Stefie my girlfriend is my no.1 priority, so make sure I do things every week with her
- Family – my family back in Ireland
- Personal Development – P.D. is something I’m super passionate about
- Personal – other ‘life admin’ that we all have to do
That’s it. I’ve found there isn’t anything that comes up that can’t fit into one of these roles. Your roles may be different but I would recommend to keep as few as possible and ensure there’s balance.
Define the priorities for each role
Then I write down the 3 most important things I need to accomplish in the week for each of these roles. Think: What 3 things if I accomplished this week for each role, I’d have had a great and fulfilling week?
The key is not to prioritise what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities – Steven Covey
Note: It’s super tempting to put in more than 3 in each area, but don’t. Three is the magic number to keep focused. Remember this is not a list of every task you need to do in the week, rather a list of your top priorities.
I then take my weekly planning sheet and write these priorities for each role in the space provide
As you’ll see I won’t plan every day of the week hour by hour at the start of the week. Rather I’ll input events I know are defo happening (booked in meetings etc).
I then plan each day in detail the night before/morning of each day.
Once I’m done, I fold over the week planning sheet twice (so A6 size), which then fits snugly into the back pocket of my Moleskine notebook – which I bring everywhere with me.
The Daily Plan
My daily plan / ritual is something that I picked up from Tim Ferris, starting using about a year ago and has become an important prt of my daily morning routine ever since.
I sit down at my desk, before I turn on my computer or check any emails. And on the back of my weekly plan (see above), I write the following:
1) Three things that I’m grateful for in life
2) What three things if I do today, I will have had an incredible day
This works really well for me as it gives me an opportunity for short reflection at the start of the day, and then gives me focus on what three things are the most important for me to focus on each day.
I write these on the back of my weekly planning sheet. This means I have room for each day, without having to use up pages of my moleskine notebook
Once I’ve done this, I break down by day, hour by hour on the weekly plan, including meetings that I need to be at and other tasks I know I need to complete.
I find this works best to do the night before / or each morning (rather than do every day on Sunday evening) as I found that things can change during the week (meetings go in the diary etc) which throws everything out. Hence why I now plan each day’s timetable on the morning, but I know what list to pull from.
Overall this takes approx. 5 minutes.
Although I have a system that works for me at the present (which I’ll share in detail with you below), I see this as a constant work in progress as I continuously strive to become more effective. I sense this is a little like fitness – it’s a goal you continuously strive for without ever fully reaching the end point. And I guess that’s why it’s fun.
How do you schedule your week or day? Do you have any rituals you’d like to share? Please share them OR report back how you get on trying my system in the comments below