Take control of your day and week

Right now, who is in control of your day and week? Who has access to drop meetings into your calendar? Do you feel like you spend your life in meetings, and never have any real time to get actual work done? Do you end the week feeling like its been incredibly busy, but never actually making it to your to-do list?

Alternatively, do you structure meeting-free blocks of time in your calendar for you to have distraction-free, focussed work time? Do you know your best time of day to work productively, or the best time to bring out your creativity?

In short, do you control your calendar, or does it control you?

Your task today is to come up with a daily and weekly rhythm in your calendar to optimise your performance.

This task is about taking back control of your time, and putting you in the driver seat of your week.

What is a daily and weekly rhythm?

By a ‘daily rhythm’ we mean a regular format to your day, where you consciously decide in advance how to use the different parts of the day based on your typical daily flow of energy, focus, and productivity. A weekly rhythm is the same concept, just applied to your week.

Why you need to control your calendar

Must people tend to bounce through the day from meeting to meeting, interruption from interruption, without consciously scheduling time for what is most important to them. Worse than that, they don’t engineer their calendar to optimally match the activities with their mood, focus, or creativity.

This means that most people don’t prioritise themselves or the work that is most important to them.  Priorities can slip past their deadlines, and outputs end-up lower quality because they are being completed when you are not in your prime state of mind for the task at hand.

Creating a daily and weekly rhythm

Just as we described yesterday, your daily rhythm should start with an early 4-5am wakeup, following by time dedicated to you, including time for self improvement (ideally exercise), working on a significant project, and prep for the day ahead.

Now that you are a morning person, with your new 4am wakeup and 8:30pm bedtime, you may find that you have to leave work earlier in the evenings to get home in time to make that new routine work. If so, schedule that into your calendar.

Think about what else you want to fit into each day, and schedule it in now. For example, if you are always getting home late and missing time with your kids, then block out your calendar to fix it. Have you scheduled time for your staff? Your family? Yourself?

Remember, if you don’t like something in your life, then fix it. And if it isn’t scheduled in your calendar, then it won’t happen.  So take control.

Next, think about your mood, energy and creativity over the course of a day and week.

Most people find they can concentrate better in the mornings before lunch. Meaning that this is the optimal time of the day to block out for getting actual work done – focussed on your priorities. If this suits you, then block out those hours as busy in your calendar (say 8 to 12) with a recurring “focus time” event to prevent it getting filled with meetings.

Similarly most people are likely to feel tired and less focussed in the afternoons, making the afternoon a better time to keep free for meetings.

But this may not work for you. You may feel the opposite about your daily cycle – some people have too much energy in the mornings and can’t sit at a desk, so they need to have their meetings early. Or maybe your work colleagues are only available in certain hours.

Whatever the case, adjust the rhythm to suit your particular circumstances.

Next, think of your weekly routine. Aaron prefers to have a no-meeting Monday to start the week, because he is most energised on Mondays, plus it gives him time to focus on getting work done at the start of the week, to set the sense of achievement for the rest of the week going forward. So he blocks out the entire Monday in his calendar as busy for himself.

You might find that your workplace is distracting on Fridays, and it is tough to get any real work done. In that case, reserve your Fridays for meetings, as meetings typically require less concentration.

What other activities can you add to your weekly rhythm?

We recently interviewed professional surfer Sarah Beardmore. Sarah has won multiple international surfing titles, and is building two tech startups. Sarah finds that surfing is the activity that replenishes her, and surfing is the time when her brain processes thoughts and is at its most creative – it is when she comes up with some of her best ideas.

Every weekend Sarah checks the surf and weather conditions for the week ahead, and then schedules a surfing session for every day of the week based on the best conditions for each day. She then schedules all her other business and work around these surfing times.

Note that Sarah makes surfing her priority in her calendar, because this time she spends surfing is what puts Sarah into her peak persona to then complete all the other tasks and meetings relating to her startup businesses.

With that in mind, think about activities that inspire you, rejuvenate you, or draw out your creativity. Is it meditation? Yoga? Swimming at lunch? A social activity? Family time? Whatever it is for you, make sure you schedule them into your day or week.

Protect your calendar

Lastly, you need to stick to your calendar, and prevent others from sabotaging it.  Consider who can add events to your calendar without you approving them first? If someone schedules a one hour meeting, ask to drop it down to 30mins. If someone schedules a meeting which will require you to commute a long way, question whether you can do it over a call or Skype instead.

Always be optimising and protecting your time.