My youngest daughter is playing basketball. It is her first season. She is learning, but doing great. When she scored her first points recently I broke down crying. Seriously, ugly cry. Yes, I was that guy.
Her team is fantastic. The reason is her coach. This lady teaches, loves and leads those girls in ways I am learning from. During a parent meeting early in the season I heard her say multiple times that she has a "system" she uses coaching. Each practice has a predetermined purpose. If a child misses practice, they miss that element and are left out.
Being a nerd for systems and processes that work, this made me happy. Processes bring purpose to every moment, even 9 and 10 year old basketball.
Today I want to share with you a system I use for one area of my life: Time Management. Honestly, I hate using the word "management" in conjunction with time. I don't have enough time to manage, I need it to be maximized! This process will set your week on fire and you will accomplish more than you thought you could. Here are 3 ways to make your week more productive.
Plan your week on Sunday night.
Too often we roll into Monday with no plan. Planning ahead squeezes every ounce of potential out of your time. One way I determine if a leader is responsible or flippant is how they respond when I ask, "How does your calendar look?" Effective people plan.
Every Sunday I take 15-30 minutes to think through my week ahead. Look for a post soon breaking down how I do this. In short, I identify my 3 major accomplishments for the week. Once I add tasks and actions to this, I have a workable plan.
Kill the to-do list.
I hate to-do lists. Some of it is personality, but I believe to-do lists impede productivity. Without focus, to-do lists give the illusion of effectiveness. To-do lists do not necessarily produce results, but they always create busyness.
Instead of endless lists that pile up, I calendar what needs to be done. Often a to-do list exists outside of your calendar, combine the two. Schedule appointments with yourself to execute what needs doing and stick to that plan. Productivity doesn't happen when you create boxes to check but appointments to keep.
Give each day a purpose.
Having a unique theme for each day keeps the week fresh for me and guards from boredom. I was inspired to do this by a pastor friend of mine, IV Marsh, and by reading about the weekly practice routines of the Seattle Seahawks. Every day has it's own flavor and focus. This brings that extra 10% of intensity to your week in measured doses.
Here is how I attack the week from a thematic standpoint:
Kick off the week by moving something. I have a goal of advancing 3 things down the field each week. On Monday I get them started by having conversations or emailing details to those who need to be in the know.
Since I have a leader I work under, I need to make sure I am creating momentum around the things he cares about as well. This means a couple of things: First, I cannot have all 3 of my weekly objectives be things that I want. Get used to that, or go start something so you can do everything you want. Next, I float multiple things out to him on Monday, see what sticks, and chase that. It keeps me in touch with what he has energy around as opposed to guessing what he wants.
Tuesday challenges my grit. Tuesday is when I do the tough work needed to make things happen. Since progress does not occur without resistance, I tackle that on Tuesday. Difficult conversations, meetings that grind through details and pulling away alone to write a process all take place on Tuesday.
In church work Mondays are often bad days to expose holes in weekend services. Your team is tired. The issues are still fresh on Monday. Let them breathe. Tackle those issues on Tuesday. If they can't handle it then it means they're being emotional and they'll get over that.
Another reason I focus this type work onto one day? If I am constantly in everyone's crawl about things I earn the reputation of being a jerk. Measure how often you are pushing against everything or people will see you as combative and argumentative. Leaders can be this at times, but not all the time.
Work On It Wednesday.
You cannot spend every day executing and working in the weeds. For your church or organization to improve, you need focused time working on it instead of in it. Create space to rise above the details and think about bigger picture things. Since this is a discipline for me, especially during busy times, I dedicate a day to have it shaping every meeting or conversation I have. Ask questions about processes, big picture goals, push people out of being lost in details, and refocus people on "the why" behind what you are doing.
Thank You Thursday.
I am terrible at slowing down enough to cultivate gratitude in myself or others. It is a weakness of mine. Therefore, I give it a day. The higher you rise in leadership the more "thank you's" you need to say. On Thursday I schedule zero meetings so I am free to walk around our offices, sit down with people, find out what they're doing and tell them they are awesome. All of the thank you notes I write happen on Thursday. Keep a running list of people who do good things all week and express your gratitude on Thursday.
Finish Strong Friday.
Our team is off on Friday. We do not work. That is my focus and how I finish strong on Fridays: I do nothing. Rest matters to leadership. It is the fuel to keep you going for the long haul. Things I do on Fridays are work out, sit in the woods behind my house, fall asleep in front of the TV or take a trip surfing. I finish strong by resting.
Adopt this system or one similar to make the most of your week. Do not wait on a perfect process, adopt one today and work it until it works for you. Embrace the day. Keep leading bravely!