In the series Time Management in Youth Ministry we’re checking out all kinds of ideas, tools and tips for becoming more efficient and more effective. Today’s topic is designing the ideal week. What would your perfect work week look like? Note that I’m saying work week, not vacation or retreat. I know what that would look like…we’d all head to Hawaii, right? But let’s focus on work, if you were to describe your ideal work week, what would you wish for?
Here’s what I would have said when I was still on staff of my church: an hour of uninterrupted time with God to start with every morning. Meetings preferably scheduled back to back, so they were as efficient as possible, and if possible in the afternoons. I’m a morning person, so I like to do ‘thinking-stuff’ in the mornings, like working on sermons, doing creative things, etc. I would love being home on time to have dinner with my family and boy wouldn’t it be great if I actually had more than half an hour for that. And seriously, I would so much appreciate it if I’d be in bed before 10.30 because I really function best on eight hours of sleep…
Designing the ideal week has become an issue again now that I’m working from home and am trying to fit different kinds of activities into my schedule. That’s why I was triggered by a recent post from Michael Hyatt called ‘How to better control your time by designing the ideal week’ (FYI: if you don’t read his blog yet, you really should…he writes excellent posts on leadership, social media, productivity and more). He shows the concept of carefully and consciously planning your week and divide it into time blocks. What appealed to me was the focus he brought into his work week, each day focusing on a different aspect or key priority. That is something I am definitely going to try!
I also came across a post of Doug Fields in which he shared his scheduled work week at that time. While his schedule isn’t as focused as Michael Hyatt’s, there’s still that same tendency to dedicate a certain day or time block to a certain task or priority.
But why would you design your ideal week? Here are six benefits:
- You can schedule the most important things, like quiet time, a date with your spouse, meal times with your family, etc, so they don’t become the first thing to go when you’re too busy.
- You can bring focus into your activities and determine where you want your focus to be (and maybe even which activities need to go).
- You can block time slots for the big things, like preparing for a sermon. We all know that if we don’t plan these, we end up doing them in an hour here and half an hour there and it just doesn’t work.
- You can honestly see if what you want to do in a week is possible. If you can’t plan it, you can’t do it. Something’s gotta give.
- You don’t have to think every day about what you need to do, your focus for that day is clear. It’s then just a matter of determining the activities within the focus area.
- You can decide to not do things, knowing there will be time later in the week. It helps you to let go of the urgent and pressing and focus on what’s important.
Have you ever even thought about your ideal work week? If not, I advice you to take an hour and make a list of your wishes and thoughts. Are there things in your current work week that frustrate you, like constant interruptions from phone calls, people who walk in unannounced, urgent meetings that come up, etc? Sometimes we become so accustomed to these things that we take them for granted, even though they severely hinder our efficiency. So take some time and think about your perfect work week and what’s preventing you from working that way. Write your issues and frustrations down and try to think of solutions. What would you need to do differently to eliminate these hindrances?
I do realize that designing the ideal week may seem like a phantasy for some of you. When I was still a volunteer and had to combine my role as youth leader with working 32 hours a week as unit manager in a hospital, I didn’t have the flexibility to design my week like that. I just had to work Tuesday through Friday and that was that. But the idea of creating a schedule and bringing focus into your week still stands. It’s the conscious thinking about your ideal week and dedicating time slots to certain priorities and focus areas that’s the key in my opinion.
What does your ideal work week look like? Is Michael Hyatt’s schedule something you could try or doesn’t it appeal to you? Share your thoughts in the comments!
p.s. I had just finished writing this blog post when I saw another post on Jon Jolly’s site about the same subject, be sure to check it out!