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#35: A counterintuitive way to structure your week

Dominik Nitsch
4 min read
#35: A counterintuitive way to structure your week

"How do you structure your week?" This is how: you & your social connections first, everything else second.

Tomorrow is Monday.

A fresh start to a new week.

So today, let’s ensure you’re killing it in that week.

And to do that, we need a plan.

A friend of mine reached out recently and asked: “how do you structure your week?” He’s newly self-employed, and I can only imagine how challenging figuring out your weekly structure yourself can be when you’ve always worked in environments that provide said structure for you.

With that being said, what I’m writing here applies to people who are - at least partially - in control of their time.

If you work shifts, have very demanding clients, bosses, and/or kids, or are otherwise locked into your working hours, the information here might not be as valuable. I'm fully aware that the strategies I describe here aren't for everyone.

Let’s create a structure for the next week.

We start with our calendar.

[1] Rocks First

Review the items already scheduled on your calendar.

Are there any big events coming up? Travel? Cool weekend plans? If they’re not on the calendar, put them in first.

Check. That was easy.

Next, we do something counter-intuitive: schedule everything that’s not work-related first.

Parkinson’s Law states that work expands to fill the time allocated to it.

Which means that if you allocate most of your week to your work, then it will take up all the time you’ve allocated to it.

Following that logic, we should plan our free time first.

While work will always be there, your friends might not be spontaneously available.

Hence I like to schedule time with spouse, friends, & family first up to ensure they don’t end up as residual beneficiaries (​what’s that?​).

[2] Fill the well, before you let others drink from it

Once you have the big events & free time activities in place, make sure you take care of yourself. This means:

  • Planning your workouts (I like working out mid-day, but any time works, as long as you do it)
  • Blocking time for yourself (for example, 1-2 nights per week and the first hour of the day)
  • Ensuring you eat right by planning your meals and shopping for them
  • Identifying days on which you might be able to sleep less, and creating buffers around them if possible

By taking care of yourself before taking care of others you ensure high energy for all the things you want to do.

Anything will help here, really. You'll never have the perfect self-care week, but paying attention to this factor is a great start.

[3] Set Objectives

With the most important things (you, and the people around you) out of the way, let’s start thinking about work and/or side hustles.

Ideally, you already have objectives established for your year and quarter. If not, that’s okay too (but you should read ​this guide​).

Break down these objectives to parts that you can fit into one week:

For example, if you have a revenue objective for the quarter, you likely know what activities you need to do during the week in order to get there.

If you’re looking to write a book, you know how many pages you have to write, and so on.

Write those down. Written out objectives are the best way to track adherence to them.

[4] Create Time Blocks

Next, allocate time blocks to when you’ll work on those objectives.

Say, for example, you want to book five new sales meetings next week, and it’ll take you 200 cold calls in total to book those meetings. To achieve this, you’d create time blocks that equal ~16 hours of cold calling, in which you do precisely that and only that.

This exercise will also show you whether your objectives are too ambitious or not ambitious enough. A rule of thumb that I like is to plan ~3h of deep, focused work per day, and no more than 6 meetings per day.

[5] Fill In The Blanks

With the main objectives now planned into the calendar, you may now find time for your recurring tasks. Communication (checking email) is a big one. I like to allocate 2-3 15-30min blocks to communications each day, where I handle all email / LinkedIn / WhatsApp etc.

Same goes for anything else that goes up on a recurring basis. If those are meetings, they’re likely already in your calendar, in which case you’ve planned your time blocks around them.

I like the Motion App to fill in the blanks for me and to tell me what to do in the open time blocks.

[6] Execute & Enjoy

Now, you’ve designed your week to mostly run on autopilot - which is awesome!

You probably still have some blank space on your calendar. This is absolutely fine. You won’t be able to anticipate everything, some stuff will come up that you will have to deal with.

And if not - even better! Enjoy your unstructured time to go outside, meet for a beer, do something you love, or work on that thing you’ve always wanted to work on.

With this structure, you’ll be able to execute relentlessly on a weekly basis. Which is what ​professionals​ do.

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Have a great next week!



PS: Check out ​my new website​.

A few resources that might be helpful:

Dominik Nitsch

Proud generalist: Entrepreneur, Athlete, & Writer.