Increase Productivity by structuring your Week

November 23, 2011

I am often asked how to be more productive each day. This is important. However maybe something even more important to consider is how to be more productive each week.

We have a system for my week. Sounds crazy, I know. No week is ever the same however you might be surprised that when you create boundaries or structure for your week you can achieve an enormous amount.
As a productivity thought leader we spend much of my time travelling to client sites, walking around convention centers, meeting with clients, spending time with women in my mentoring program… oh and then there is the actual running of the business too.

We have found the easiest way to accelerate productivity is to systemize my week. Now like all good systems, we don’t get it right every time and it doesn’t work every time however it is a great guideline for us.

We don’t work weekends with clients. We protect weekends as recovery time. We don’t fly for clients on weekends (unless they are super special clients), we know this isn’t practical for some of you reading this blog. So this is how we try and structure our week:

  • Monday – meeting with mentors in the Stiletto Mentoring Program, networking, client appointments, writing, strategy and often this is a travel day.
  • Tuesday to Thursday – speaking, training and media interviews and travelling.
  • Friday – meeting with mentors (morning only), writing, setting up the next week and catch up.

This simple structure is helpful when we are trying to maximize time balancing what we do with how we do it. Here are some things to consider when building the structure for your week:

Schedule YOU first – book an appointment every day that is focused on you. This might include exercise, mediation, quiet time, reading, self development – or all of the above! My mate Scott Ginsberg has some great ideas on creating daily rituals.  Check out his blog and follow him on twitter @nametagscott

Determine what is most important – what is your plan? What are you working towards? What do you want to achieve? What really lights you up? For me, I love to speak on productivity and to mentor women – simple really. The simplicity allows me to determine where I want to spend my time. It becomes a filtering system for time choices.

Book administration – this is not my favorite activity … even though we have found a way to outsource most of it to my wonderful virtual assistant Maria Novey, I still have to do some of it myself, we try for Monday’s if possible.

Time block for projects – we all have so many priorities and people wanting our attention. To help structure your week, time block for projects e.g. I was co-chairing the UNconference for the National Speakers Association, my professional organization – this was time intensive and could be a full time job (but wasn’t going to increase my revenue directly) so we restricted the times worked on this project to Monday afternoons and Friday mornings. This simple time blocking ensured if we needed to speak with someone, Skype with my co-chair (the fabulous Getting Geeky Gina Schreck) or record videos – we do it in one of these time blocks. What projects are you working on that you could time block this week?

Manage interruptions – if you work in an office or firm you will find that people are a constant source of interruptions (especially your boss!). To help manage these so you can focus on projects and work achievements try wearing headphones while you get tasks completed, stand up when someone comes in your office to help accelerate the conversation or create a do-not-disturb sign (that the whole team understands) while you try and get things done. Interruptions can kill your best time blocking intentions!


Agree time management doesn’t work
– Time management is out the window. The old way of managing time doesn’t work anymore. The rules, systems and processes that were created historically didn’t realize technology has changed the pace at which we work. We have allowed ourselves to be contactable 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  People complain about how ‘stressed’ and ‘tired’ they are and they chase an elusive concept of balance. Some people wear stress as a badge of honour. Not me! We need to realize to be more Productiv-ABLE we need to think about where we invest our time, attention and energy… it is not just about time anymore.

Schedule a trial – decide which week you want to try this new strategy. Select a week, advise your team of what you are trying to achieve, schedule your daily appointment and see how, and if it works for you.

This is a system we use and it helps us to keep boundaries with our personal and professional time, schedule meetings, leverage my travel and allows me to feel more productive each week. Try it and let us know your results.

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