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What does your ideal week look like?

By Laurence McCahill

I’ve found that asking this question can be a game-changer for many, me included.

Long-term plans can be useful in their own right, but often they can feel too far away and hard to bring back to the here and now.

I’m way happier — and more effective — now that I have control of what my average week looks like — and it’s no coincidence going through this exercise as a team has meant that we’ve found a better rhythm too.

Obviously there are exceptions, but I know that when I focus on activities that create variety and much needed space, I’m more productive and in flow more often than not.

For instance:

  • 📔 Myself and my co-founder Carlos have a high-level catch up every Monday morning face-to-face to help us get in sync and plan ahead (inspired by the Rocket Fuel book)
  • ️☎️ I have calls and meetings on set days and only in the afternoons (Calendly is a lifesaver for this)
  • 🌲 I typically coach people on Fridays, where possible outdoors (if there’s one thing I’ve learnt, it’s not to struggle alone)
  • 💡 I work at home on Thursdays and use this as thinking and writing time (my goal is to write a book this year)
  • 🐕 I make time for walking my dog, pilates and swimming as these things makes me feel good and help to prevent recurring back pain (long story)
  • 👪 Family always comes first so I prioritise time and activities with my kids (as Steve Blank says in this timeless post “your kids are only passing through. It will seem like forever but it will be gone in a blink of an eye”)
  • I deliberately make room for serendipity, particularly activities that include greenery, campfires and coffee :)

How to create your own ideal week

Here’s a nice exercise given to me by one of our community members — burnout coach Ines Gaston:

  • Go through your weekly calendar and mark events in green if they give you energy and red if they drain your energy. The goal is to have more green than red.
  • Green activities for me include writing, facilitating, designing, coaching, walking/wellbeing activities, family time (mostly…)
  • Red activities include long meetings, admin tasks, sales, project management

I’ve found it also helps to have some constraints — whether optimal number of hours a day, days per week or even activities you never want to miss out e.g family time, activities etc. I find there are tasks that I perform better on specific days and in specific locations which helps to piece the puzzle together.

Ines also says:

“Another fun exercise I can share is to PLAN YOUR DAYS AROUND THE THINGS YOU LIKE. Think about it … Why is it that we squeeze in those activities that give us joy (e.g. gym, writing, out with friends, more Q-time with kids)? And eventually we end up feeling bad because we had to cancel or didn’t go? Enough with that … Just get clear on those activities that energize you and plan everything else around it. I promise you, you will feel much better. Disclaimer — don’t overcompensate! Meaning, do the analyse first, get clear on 2 activities that boost your energy and confidence and plan accordingly.”

So ask yourself these questions:

  • What activities in your week tops up your energy vs drains it?
  • What would you love to see in there every week?
  • What times and places help you to complete certain tasks most effectively?

Being otherish

For many, this can seem indulgent or even selfish, but from my experience you’ll be of no use to anyone if you aren’t showing up as your best self. It’s call being otherish (more in this post).

After years of working a certain way, I’ve learnt that it’s ok to work how you want.

When you’re clear about what you want, things start to align.

Why else would you want to be your own boss?

Learn more
I’ve found my ideal week through a combination of experimenting and experience (I talked about it in a recent interview I did for the Life Done Differently podcast– check it out here

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Laurence McCahill

Laurence McCahill

Designer, coach, entrepreneur. Co-founder The Happy Startup School.