Feeling flustered and scattered as you head into the weekend? Try creating an ideal week for getting in work, self-care, and friends without feeling drained & wrung out just in time to do it over again
We are prone to gravitate toward not putting much thought into how each day of our week runs outside of the general. Get up, get dressed, get the crying kids too tired to be up dressed, and get to work. We attempt to get everything on the to-do list checked off. We attempt to make the household run well. We attempt to have dinners ready at 6:00 with veggies on the plate. However, it often feels like a frantic scramble repeatedly occurring as we skid into each box to be checked off. We are living life where tasks run us instead of planning the best time for those tasks to occur. We are living life in the whirlwind. Life in the whirlwind is not horrible, but it can make you feel anxious because of all the things that need to get done and no clear route. Often when I was in ballet class, I would study the others who had a higher level skill down. I would watch how they moved so I could make my body move like theirs and perfect that skill, too—watching the people who live their lives outside the whirlwind can also teach us how and what to change so that we can move from frenzied to controlled.
Who are the people you look at and know they are doing life on purpose? They are the people that seem to get those big things done. They seem to live their lives outside of the whirlwind of the craziness of life. They have time for self-reflection, work, and relaxation. They are almost like superheroes. And the truth is that they are heroes. They are the heroes of their own stories and their own mission because they plan how to get specific things done each week. They have an ideal week so their story can be written the way they want it to be written. Each hero on their mission knows how to manage their time, so they do not feel anxious and stay inspired to do the work that matters. In a word, they have discipline.
We all need discipline, but discipline sounds so boxed in without freedom of expression. However, discipline can allow you to live out your why because you made the time for it. Discipline in a weekly routine will focus us daily, so we don’t have to waste mental energy each day figuring it out. Without focus, TV, food, news, and social media are more than willing to occupy your time. They get money to keep you distracted. Their distractions mean you will not obtain what you want in this season of life or in the coming seasons. An ideal week is a framework for managing your priorities and your time, so you not only kick ass but kick back regularly for self-care, family, and work because you planned it like that.
As Miles Davis once said, “Timing isn’t the main thing. It’s the only thing.” Crafting your ideal week will take thought and time. Daniel Pink’s When: The Scientific Secretes of Perfect Timing is a great guide for planning how to set up your ideal week so you can plan each day with purpose and intention. Pink gives mounds of research noting that morning is the best time to handle analytical tasks that require a logical, focused and disciplined mind for the vast majority of us. Tasks that require more abstract or “outside the box” thinking are best saved for the late afternoon. No matter who you are, try to schedule the mindless, busy work tasks during the afternoon trough, which is that bit right after lunch where the draw of caffeine is real.
Why is this? Your brain is best after rest, and the mental energy you have daily to spend is a real finite thing. It is best to use that mental energy on your highest return opportunity. Each workday morning, you have the opportunity to be distracted or to be disciplined. Your highest return opportunity is to dedicate the mornings to what will allow you to take those small steps towards a bigger goal. It is tempting to allow urgent distractions to take up your morning because we are all attracted to getting in that quick win. Calls to change insurance and replies to emails are all quick wins because they get things checked off your to-do list. Often it is easy to get sucked down a rabbit hole as you see other non-important tasks, and before you know it, an hour or two has passed. The return on investment for accomplishing tasks that don’t require thinking in the morning is low. We often don’t have the mental energy to do those tasks that require deep thinking later. When you allow your quick wins to dictate your morning, you are living a reactionary lifestyle where you are not in control of how your day runs.
Many gurus will tell you that happiness comes by living in the moment or being fully in the present. Being present for each activity is hard if you are letting those urgent distractions direct your day. Writing your own story where you are the hero requires that you have focus and discipline so that you can have those moments daily where you are fully present. If you are the hero of your own story, you know what you want and what you need to accomplish to solve the problem so you can rest at the end of the day instead of feeling frazzled. An ideal week can get you one step closer to grabbing those high-level opportunities and increasing your output without increasing your anxiety.
Grab a blank piece of paper and sketch out your ideal week. Include time for working on your highest level opportunity, self-care, and community. Like the template above? Click on this link to edit it for your Ideal Week. View it as a work in progress and don’t be afraid to make tweaks for the coming month.
Love the idea of discovering your hero path? Check out Donald Miller’s Hero on Mission: A Path to a Meaningful Life