Many people tell me when we first meet that you sometimes feel you take on too much, and that the week ends up fragmented into urgency, with no sense of controlled progress.
It always fascinates me that one of the first lessons we learn at school is how important a timetable is, and yet so few people in business know how to create one.
When we are at school, we don’t arrive on a Monday and wonder what we will be doing that week. We don’t think “Oh, it will probably be a bit of History in the morning, and then I might just do a little Maths in the afternoon, and then perhaps some Biology later on.” No. We get a timetable, designed so that each element of our education is catered for. It is laid out in an easy to read format with some specific timeslots for each element of the day, the week.
We can do the same in business.
For example, you know that a certain amount of your time each week will need to be devoted to your KRAs (Key Result Areas), whether that be selling, marketing, meetings with clients, and so on. You also know that you may need a study section for some professional exams, for example, or to maintain your CPD. You also know there needs to be time set aside for Visualisations every day, and your daily action plan where you prioritise and plan the day in detail. And for your weekly meeting with your team, and your Friday highlights session.
You also know you want to have time for other things in life, time with the family, time for hobbies, time for health and fitness, time for your weekly night-class in Serbo-Croat, salsa dancing, or whatever.
The advantage of laying it all out on a timetable is that it gives you the chance to see where all these elements fit into the week, and how it really is possible to fit it all in. By the way, if you discover that it really isn’t possible to fit it all in, then you have to reassess, and based on your priorities decide what must be cut out.
Now, this timetable is aspirational. It needs some flexibility to cope with unforeseen events, and it needs to leave room for impulse for the fun of life.
It might not even be something that you will be able to stick to every single week. But it is a template to work to. It also means that when things crop up out of the blue, you can see what you are displacing.
It works as a simple grid… amazingly like a school timetable. And the entries in each section might be very basic… you may just write for example “Focus Time”, in the knowledge that your groundrule for Focus Time is that you are working on your KRAs. Similarly you may have SOS (Self Organisation Session) taking up a whole morning, but each element is not noted on the timetable. I actually have a separate agenda detailing each task on the SOS, but I do know that the SOS will take approximately 3 hours.
The whole premise is that you consider what would be a “magic” week for you. A week in which you were able to feel in control, have time to do everything that’s important to you, and time to achieve your weekly goals. A week where on a Friday you finish the day, put the pen down, close down the computer, close the office door and go home for a restful weekend, fully at ease with your week’s accomplishments, and with time to recuperate and refresh for the next week.