“I want to protect my schedule.”
We hear this so often from our clients. In fact, for many, having an assistant as a barrier to entry into their schedule is the single most valuable element of hiring us. They set boundaries for their time, and we abide by them. We are the bouncers who ward off the dreaded, “Can I pick your brain over coffee?” requests, and we do it in the name of preserving your productivity.
Knowing that you want to protect your time is the first step. Most of us already know that’s a necessity for getting big things done. You need chunks of time to allow your brain to relax and get into a deep-thinking mode. You need deep thinking in order to grow and advance your business to the next level.
But you might be getting stuck in creating the structure within your week to accommodate calls that keep business running while also allowing for those chunks of big-thinking time. Those things should be carefully scheduled when you can do your very best at them.
Timing is everything. That’s where your ideal work week comes in.
What Is an Ideal Work Week?
An Ideal Work Week is your pie-in-the-sky, incredibly optimistic version of the way you’d love to spend your time each week. It should be a visual representation of an ideal week that you can look at each day to measure what you’re actually doing against what you really desire from your week.
How Do You Get Started?
The first thing you should do before setting up your ideal work week is to take stock of your work patterns, your energy levels, and the current demands on your time. This looks different for everyone, depending on whether you’re an early riser, a night owl, or something in between.
Then, create a separate calendar on whichever operating system you’re most familiar. I use Google Apps, and my meetings are all booked through the calendar connected to my email address.
I’ve created a secondary calendar viewable only by me that I can overlay (or turn off!) on top of my real calendar. This allows me to check in with myself and gives me a measurement for how well I’m doing protecting my own time.
Try It Out!
When you’ve got a structure set up that you think will work, test it for a few weeks to make sure it lines up with what you want to be doing and your energy levels during that time period. You never want to schedule a four-hour block of deep thinking when you’ve just taken eight business calls, haven’t scheduled time for lunch, and you’re totally burned out. That’s not going to be productive time.
While you’re testing your calendar, feel free to adjust.
Set Personal Benchmarks
When you think you’ve got it just right, it’s time to consider your benchmarks.
Since this is an “ideal” week, you’re likely never going to make your schedule mirror the structure here, and certainly not right away. Instead, consider what success looks like for you.
Perhaps, if you can get your real calendar to match up to 50 percent of your ideal work week within the first three months, that indicates success for you. Maybe after six months, you’ll be doing about 70 percent of your work when you ideally want to do it.
Again, this looks different for everyone, but the key to remember is that 100 percent is generally unattainable, so that can’t be your benchmark for success.
Just Keep Going
There will always be things outside of your control that you’ll need to accommodate. Whether it’s an important meeting with your biggest client or an office call from the nurse at your child’s school, your week is never going to go completely as planned. It’s important to realize that it’s okay (and even normal) if your expectation doesn’t meet reality and to accept the things you can’t change.
Hire an Assistant
If you’re struggling to say no or redirect things that fall outside of your ideal work week, perhaps its time to get someone to help. Hiring an assistant to help create and maintain boundaries has been a major benefit for so many of our clients.
You don’t have to hire us, but do get someone to schedule your meetings for you. Allow them to be the ones to say no or reschedule when it’s convenient for you. You’ll thank us later, I promise!
Feeling so buried in your schedule that it’s actually running you? Take the first step to freedom from the time constraints that have been holding you and your business back from reaching your full potential. Learn more.