Time-Blocking and Imagining Your Ideal Week
Entrepreneurs, especially those with new or growing businesses, often have a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants approach to life. The problem with this is that it is reactive. Weeks fly by as they are consumed by the fire of the day (or hour). There is a lack of planning and strategy about how time is spent. There is no intention, or rather, there are good intentions but no plan or process to help execute those intentions.
Time-blocking is a way to help you set your intentions for a week: you block out sections of time for certain types of tasks or a particular task. It creates a powerful visual of the things that you are spending your time on, want to spend time on, and how they are distributed across your week. It helps you see the spaces (or lack thereof) in your schedule and take an intentional approach to fit in your personal and professional priorities.
The first step I recommend when you are preparing to start time-blocking is to imagine and time-block your ideal week. Your ideal week is how you would spend your time if the stars aligned and everything went exactly as you planned. No emergencies, no interruptions, no unplanned events, no distractions. Perfect.
The benefit of thinking through your ideal week is that it forces you to be reflective about what you are ACTUALLY spending time on. Some things you spend time on are necessary but need to be intentionally weighed against what you WANT to be spending time on, and aren’t.
Steps to creating your ideal week:
Brainstorm the top activities that you ACTUALLY spend time on.
Think about your daily routine and look back through your calendar for the last few months.
Think about the things you read and watch.
Think about how often you are checking social media.
Brainstorm the top activities that you WANT to spend time on.
Think about how often you get together with your friends or spend quality time with your family and partner.
Think about the things you want to do for self-care (if anything) like exercise or reading or recreational activities.
Think about the things you want to do for self-growth like listening to business podcasts or reading educational books.
Map it out by hand or in a spreadsheet (see below):
Normal day-to-day life things like eating and travel time. Also, include any recurring commitments you have like standing meetings.
Add the things you brainstormed that you have to do and will always be part of your week. See where the gaps are.
Fill in the gaps with the things you brainstormed that you want to do.
Use the picture you have created of your ideal week as the basis for time-blocking an actual week.
Example: My ideal week
This is an example of my ideal week:
Things of note:
I like to work from home on Friday’s to focus on quiet tasks like writing. I don’t schedule meetings on Fridays.
I like to have my weekends be dedicated time to spend with my husband, which is also our downtime.
I like to go for a walk every day after lunch.
I prefer to jam my meetings into a few afternoons rather than have them spread throughout the week.
I like to run or do yoga every day.
I like to have dinner with a friend at least once a week.
I like to leave a few blocks of time open to leave space for the unexpected things that will always pop up during the week.
I usually attend a business event or volunteer at least twice a week.
I like to have at least one night a week where I don’t have anything planned so I don’t burn out.
I listen to business or educational podcasts when I am driving so that the required commute time is spent learning instead of being wasted.
Do my weeks always look like this? Nope. Do I try to make my weeks look like this? Yep.
Something to aspire to
Your ideal week is not likely to be an accurate representation of a real week. There are too many variables outside of our control for it to be a reasonable expectation. You get sick, a project gets delayed, you overbook with meetings, you have a deadline, your kid is in a hockey tournament, your laptop dies, etc. Life is going to happen and throw you off.
Your ideal week is something to aspire to. It is a reminder for you to come back to when your best-laid plans go sideways. It is the basis for laying out your week intentionally with actual time-blocks which include some of the things you WANT to be doing. It is a way to take a breath each week and think about how you are going to work to make this week better than the last.
Use this template to create your ideal week and share it with someone important. Ask them to do it too, and make it a conversation.