Last week I wrote an article detailing my morning routine. And while it is extremely important to have your morning routine dialed in, there are a few other ways to help you own your week.
These focus a little less on the day-to-day, and more on aligning your daily actions with the bigger picture.
I also recommend sitting down one day every week and planning out your entire week. This is where you plan the weekly objective needed to move the needle closer to achieving your big goals. This is also where I write down my six habit-forming processes, and how many times I plan to accomplish each throughout the week.
You should do this weekly planning session at the same time, on the same day, of each week. Give yourself 30-60 minutes to sit down and really think about what steps you need to accomplish to move the needle forward.
I don’t recommend this is done in place of your morning journal for that day, but a little later in the day, once you’ve had time to think. I tend to do my weekly planning in the middle of the afternoon on Sunday. Generally, I like to grab my journal and walk to a nearby park to sit in the sun and really think about my next week without any distractions around. I usually don’t bring my phone on this walk, and I think you would benefit from eliminating this distraction too!
Planning your week is probably the single most important step you need to take in order for you to own your week!
If you want to take this up a notch, I recommend sitting down at the beginning of the month to really look at your goals for that month. Write down the most important events for you to attend, and actions you want to have accomplished by the end of the month.
Doing this will help you out at the beginning of each week, and really help ensure you are staying on track to achieve your big goals.
Master the night before
If you want to take your morning routine to the next level I highly recommend ending your day by writing in your journal too. Every night, when I sit down on my bed, I grab my journal and go over what I did for the day.
It is extremely satisfying to check off everything I accomplished from the plan I set, and also eye-opening to see how much stuff you failed to accomplish sometimes.
Every night I go back through the day and see what I accomplished. Then I look at what I failed to accomplish and write it at the bottom of the page for items I need to do tomorrow. Finally, I open my calendar for the next day, and write down every scheduled phone call I have, and make sure that I’m aware of anything I need to do first thing in the morning.
I once stood up a podcast guest because I forgot we were recording that morning and was sitting in my bedroom reading without my phone nearby. Imagine how terrible I felt when I finally grabbed my phone and noticed that my would-be guest had tried getting a hold of me.
Luckily, they were a friend, and we were able to reschedule fairly easy, but it could just as easily have been a big guest who I would never have a second shot at recording with.
From that moment on I swore to verify my previously scheduled engagements the night before in order to ensure I didn’t have a similar issue arise.
Guarding your schedule
This is one of the hardest to do, but you need to master the art of saying “no”. The more successful you become in life the busier your schedule will become.
While this can be a good thing, it becomes increasingly more important to guard your schedule against unnecessary distractions.
I learned a valuable lesson about this in the fall of 2019. I had recently gotten stationed at Camp Pendleton, California. Moving to San Diego County meant that I was now close enough for people to visit.
I really struggled with telling people no, especially if they were only in town for a few days, and this was our only chance to meet.
After a few months of increasingly busy schedules, I got completely burnt out. I wanted to be able to meet with everybody who reached out, but it was severely cutting into my productivity time. I was staying up later each night trying not to fall behind on my work and it was taking a huge toll on me.
Then a friend in my mastermind group suggested that I could still meet with everyone, but do it on my terms. The solution was simple, whenever somebody asked if we could grab a coffee, food, beer, etc. I would simply say “I would love to, but my schedule is pretty slammed. I’m meeting with some investors at noon on Saturday though, you should join us!”
Do you see the brilliance here?
You say this, even if it is the first person who reached out that week. Maybe you meet with one person on Saturday, maybe you meet with seven, but either way, it only commanded one spot on your calendar.
The beautiful thing about this style of response is that you don’t have to say “no” to somebody. Instead, you’re implying “yes, but it will have to be on my terms”.
This is the way you guard your schedule against people wanting to pick your brain. There is nothing wrong with meeting them, in fact I encourage it, but you need to always keep your schedule at the forefront of your mind.
You also need to think of guarding your schedule as an integrity check. If you said that you were going to do X, Y, and Z today…then you owe it to yourself to complete X, Y, and Z.
If you can’t keep a promise to yourself, who can you keep a promise to? Whether you like it or not, diverging from your schedule is the same as breaking a promise to yourself.
On the flip side of this, don’t get upset when you try and meet with successful people, and the meeting occur on their terms or aren’t available. It isn’t anything personal, but they probably get asked out to coffee a hundred times a week. If they entertained every offer, they wouldn’t have become successful, because they never would have gotten anything done.
I think I’ve beaten this dead horse enough, but you need to make sure you guard your schedule if you want to become successful.
Batching is another great tool to have in your belt. The idea with this is that it takes time to set up for a task, get in the zone, and tear down when you’re finished. Why not maximize that time, and knock out multiple of the same thing, while you’re already in the zone.
The perfect example of this is when I record YouTube videos. It takes a few moments to tidy up, get changed, turn on lighting, the microphone, camera(s), test the audio, set up any props, or the teleprompter/notes.
If I were to film one video, and then turn everything off, upload the video/audio files to the computer, and mentally switch into the next task, I would be wasting time.
What I choose to do instead is wait until I have at least two, but usually three or more videos to record. The setup and teardown time for recording is almost the exact same for whether I’m going to record one video, or five.
For this reason, I batch multiple videos together and knock them all out at once. This saves me time and ultimately results in a better product because I can wait until I’m in the right mindset to record, rather than having to record a video every time I come up with the idea for it.
Time blocking is simply another way to schedule your day. Think of this as block-scheduling in high school. Instead of doing six different classes every day, some schools to an A-day and B-day, with three longer classes each day.
An example of time blocking would be to block out three hours for writing and then turning off all distractions to focus on that task for those three hours. Instead of doing an hour of writing every day, you might find that you write better in three-hour blocks every few days.
There is a lot of time blocking theories out there, play around with a few of them, and see which fit your style the best.
1% Better – Own Your Week, Own Your Life!
As with most things in life, if you try and become an expert overnight you’ll get burnt out, or injured. You wouldn’t compete in the Ironman World Championship race in Kona the first time you ever put on running shoes.
Yet when it comes to personal development it is all too easy to feel like you aren’t making any progress and beat yourself up every day. Don’t compare yourself to other people’s success. Compare yourself to who you were yesterday and strive to improve just a little bit every day.
If you improve by 1% every day you will improve 365% over the course of a year. I don’t know about you, but if my portfolio saw those kinds of gains I would be ecstatic!
Focus every day to get just a little bit better in one or two areas. In a year or two, when you look back, I guarantee you will be amazed at how far you’ve come!