The inspiration to plan out my work week started with a gold foil print I saw on Etsy. The cursive, shiny letters read “work smarter, not harder.”
After a week of binge reading blog posts on productivity and working smart, I began to brainstorm what a productive and smart workweek would look for me. I decided to give each day one simple overall theme. I started with the #1 piece of advice I found on every blog I read: always tackle the big and ugly stuff first. I picked out other productivity hacks and themes and came up with a plan of what my workweek would look like.
I started my new work schedule this month and have seen changes in the quality of my work and felt less rushed mid-week. It is amazing.
Ready to know what my smart week looks like? Here you go!
Monday: Start with the big challenges.
You know that big project? Or that one thing you really don’t look forward to working on? That’s what you’ve got to work on today. Only glance at your email and get right to work on the 1-3 big challenges you have on your plate this week. Once you knock them out, you’ll be in a much better shape (and be so relieved!) when looking at the rest of the week.
Tuesday: Sweat the small stuff and start on your unexpected tasks.
Remember all those emails you really didn’t look at on Monday? Now’s the time to dig in and give all of your responses. You’ve likely picked up a handful of medium to small things that weren’t on your to-do list. Tackle all of the new small requests you received Monday and today, and move on to your own small items on your to-do list.
Wednesday: Implement the quiet hour.
Pick 2 hours to be super focused. If you’re a morning person it might be 8-10 am. If you’re more awake in the afternoon, make it 2:30-4:30 pm. Whatever the time slot, have it booked on your calendar as if you were in meeting. Then turn off notifications and work 2 hours uninterrupted.
Thursday: Reflect upon the workweek and document successes.
Take 10-20 minutes during a time you’re usually out of the groove (ie the 2:15 pm mid-afternoon where-did-my-coffee-and-motivitaion-go lull) and get out your work journal. (Don’t have one? This is why you should start a work journal.)
Here are some of my favorite questions to answer in my journal:
- Did anyone compliment or comment my work this week? What did they say? ( Very helpful when you’re trying to recall successes when going for a promotion or raise.)
- Did I do anything above and beyond my basic job description this week?
- Did I affect my colleagues’ work lives positively this week?
- What was it that sparked my creativity this week?
- Does any work or personal life event stand out to me this week, and how did it affect my work life?
- What was a great idea you had this week that you wish you or someone else had the free time (or permission) to implement?
Need more ideas? Check out other questions people answer in their journals. Oh, and you can write in this every day if you like. But if you’re like me, I’m more likely to tackle this if it’s once a week and on my calendar, instead of a carefree whenever I remember to do it kind of thing.
Friday: Clean up and get organized.
Wrap it up 30 minutes early every Friday, and clean up your virtual and physical workspace.
- Gather your water bottles and coffee mugs and wash them or take them home
- Dust around your desk space and wipe down any counters
- Put papers and files in their right place
- Tidy your inbox for a few minutes with a few well-placed tags or place them in folders
- Write down anything you need to remember for next week
- Start your to-do list of tasks you want to accomplish next week
- Take this moment to do a mini redecoration or straightening of your office accoutrement
Now that that’s done, you can walk away, knowing that this little bit of work will make things a lot easier for Monday-You.
How do you work smarter?
I’d love to hear what you do to increase your productivity at work. Share with me in the comments what your workweek looks like.