I decided to do a blog post about an article sent to me via email by Kate Matsudaira, creator of the THE VOLT PLANNER
Kate is an amazing source of inspiration, she created the Volt Planner and did a Kickstarter page to get funds in order to make the project a reality. Her pledge got $250,000 !
I got so inspired by this article that I decided to share it, all credit goes to her.
Make the most of your week
You only have so many hours in a day, and when many of them are taken up with other people’s needs or extra “work stuff” like meetings, email or travel, it can feel like there is no time left for the things you need to get done.
But really successful people manage to get more out of the same number of hours you have. How do they do it?
The reason most people don’t get more out of their days, is that it’s actually hard to do in the moment. There’s always a good excuse (I’m tired, I’m too busy, I didn’t get a chance, etc.), but here’s the thing: every time you excuse yourself from maximizing your time, you are holding yourself back.
Successful people know they have to maximize every hour (even the hours that feel too busy or filled with unavoidable lost time).
If you’re ready to start thinking different about your productivity, and getting more out of every day, here are some of my best ideas for how to do that.
1. Outline your most important goals early
You have to be deliberate about your goals all of the time. A to-do list is great, but it’s not enough. Planning hours is just the beginning; really successful people do more than look at the time on their calendar. They look at the meaning behind every hour.
If you are going to a conference, think about why you are going. Is it to build relationships? To learn? To network with future customers?
There are lots of ways to spend your time productively. But you have to choose the ways that are actually meaningful to you.
If you go to a conference and learn a lot by sitting in talks all day, that’s great — unless the reason your boss sent you to that conference was to network with your customer base. See? You have to know your target in order to hit it.
You can even write out these plans, every week or for every extra time/event you find yourself in. Answer the questions:
- Why am I doing ____?
- What do results do I hope to get out of ____?
- How will I know if I am successful at ____?
- What would my manager/team/org say are my biggest priorities here?
2. Train your brain
The more you practice following through and maximizing your time, the better you’ll get at it. Once you become super productive, you’ll start seeing more and more opportunities to do even better, and you will begin to stop having wasted downtime.
There are so many things you can do with a spare 15 minutes or a period of low energy. So start looking for them, and use them. Next time you have a lag between meetings or you’re aimlessly scrolling Facebook, this is your opportunity to squeeze productive time out of your day.
I keep a running list of these things so that I always have ideas for what to do with these chunks of time. It might be reading an article I’ve saved (I keep a running list in Evernote), sending an email to check in with a contact, or typing up meeting notes.
3. Schedule your downtime
You have to be deliberate about all the time in your day, from when you wake up to when you go to bed.
This doesn’t mean you have to work all day and never relax, or try to be productive every single hour of the day; actually, you can’t be productive every hour and you shouldn’t try to.
It just means you have to decide when and how you want to relax. You should literally block this time off on your calendar; take your relaxation as seriously as any other appointment. If you aren’t valuing it, then it’s not really worth doing.
Don’t fall into the trap of passive relaxation (like sitting down in front of the TV…and accidentally staying there playing on your phone or zoning out for hours). If you’re not going to be fully present and doing something you truly want to do to relax and unwind, you might as well be working.
4. Listen to your rhythms
When are you most productive? I bet you already know the answer to this. And I bet you already know you should be doing your deep, focused work during this time.
But…when are you least productive? (You can actually maximize your least productive hours of the day too, by planning smart!)
I tend to lose energy in the early afternoon. If I have a blog post to write, I won’t try to do it then; it would take me 2 hours to write something that, a few hours later in the day, would only take me 1 hour. So it’s not a good use of my time to try to do it then.
Instead, I usually take a break during those hours so that I have lots of energy and momentum going into my more productive hours in the later afternoon.
5. Follow through, every time
You want to be known as someone who never lets people down. When you put something on your schedule, you make sure it happens.
In order to do this, you have to be smart about your time. And you have to be committed to following through on the work you know matters.
If you must change plans or not get something done, follow up with any other people involved immediately and let them know your new deadline and expectations. But this should only happen really, really rarely.
You become indispensable not when you’re the only one who knows how to do something or where all the passwords are, but when you are someone that everyone can count on.
You want to be valued by your peers and your team because you are their favorite person to work with. You should be bringing your very best all the time.
To be truly successful, you need to be present and aware throughout every day. This doesn’t mean planning every minute, but instead it means understanding how every minute is best spent. Your decisions should be deliberate and based on what will make you happiest or most successful.
How do you plan amazingly productive weeks? Do you schedule yourself for success? Reply back and let me know – I always love hearing your tips, tricks and success stories. 🙂
Thanks for giving me a moment to share your inbox and I hope to see you again in a couple more weeks. – Kate Matsudaira