CMO Rule #10: Plan Your Ideal Week

CMO Rule #10: Plan Your Ideal Week

Big Ideas

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September 25 2020
Big Ideas

Let’s first acknowledge that each of us has the same amount of time. Time is a commodity we cannot buy more of, so we have to use it wisely. We often feel like we’re running at full throttle, like we’re spinning dozens of plates, and adding one more is going to make the whole show come crashing down.

CMO rule #10 - plates image

Do you go from meeting to meeting and feel like you don’t have time to do the work generated during those meetings? Do you have an ever-increasing list of high-priority emails that need your attention? 

That was me a few years ago. I was running Sherpa Marketing with 20 employees, being a dad and a husband. I felt like the few hours of free time I did have were rare and I would use them to try to stay in shape. What happened was that I felt like I was never giving anything my full effort and attention. 

I know I’m not the only one who feels like this. 

Back to my three-step plan. If you follow the steps, you’ll get control back over your time. But, you have to take action on the steps… and the first one is a doozy. 

Let’s get started. 

1. Track Your Time

CMO rule #10 - subhead image

This step is not fun, but it is very enlightening. You have to understand what you spend your time on and identify areas where you can improve. Track your time - work and personal - for two weeks. Sunday to Sunday.

Get a timer. You can use the one on your computer, on your phone, or an app. I like the Miracle Cube desktop timer. Regardless, get a timer. Set the timer for 15 minutes. After your timer sounds, write down a super-short description of what you just did. Be honest. Brutally honest – if you were chatting with a colleague about her new deck, put that down. If you were catching up on social media, admit it. This whole exercise of planning your ideal week starts with the assessment of how you currently spend your time and, since you’re the only one who’s going to see this, do it right.

To track your time, use a notebook, an Excel file, or whatever works best for you. I like Google Sheets so I can easily update it on my phone or my computer. It’s best to make your notes in a spreadsheet - instead of a notebook - for step 2.

Before moving to the next step, add a column to your sheet and call it “Category”. Label all the 15-minute blocks by grouping similar things together, like “internal emails”, “meeting prep”, and “business development”. 

2. Assess Your Time

CMO Dojo Rule #10 - step 2 image 

Here's when you figure out what you can condense, offload, outsource, automate, or delegate. Write down a list of everything you do in a week. You can use the category labels from the first step. Include any task that takes you at least an hour each week. 

Next, put an X next to anything you wouldn’t include in your ideal week. Now you have a list of things to offload. For each of the x’d items, ask:

  • Does this need to be done, period?
  • Is there someone else on my team who could, or should, be doing this?
  • Can this be automated?

There are thousands of automation tools available. My guideline is if a tool can save you at least two hours a month and it costs less than 25% of the time it will save you (based on your hourly salary), then buy it.

Next, plan how to get these items off your list. Add the plan to another column, then prioritize based on what’s easiest to implement and what will save you the most time. 

This is your hit list. Tackle one of these each week, starting at the top.

3. Design Your Ideal Week

CMO Dojo rule 10 - third step image  

Now, you have a list of the things you want to do, from the second step. To that list, add the things you would do if you had the time. This is your wish list.

Next, open your schedule and start entering in your to-dos, using 90-minute blocks as often as you can. Try to do this too: 

  • If you have regular team meetings, try to schedule them on the same day
  • Add 2-3 blocks of “thinking time” or “meeting prep time” each week 
  • Add your important personal things too, like family activities, time with friends, exercise, hobbies, reading, meditation. You should now have time for these items

Summary

Three steps, two weeks:

  1. Track your time. Write down and categorize everything you do for two weeks.
  2. Offload. If you can offload something that saves you two hours per week, it’s worth offloading: figure out how and do it! 
  3. Design your ideal week. Condense similar tasks into chunks of time and block in time for those very important but low urgency tasks.

You have taken back control of your schedule!

CMO Dojo rule #10 - Yeti image

Your assignment: pick a two-week period for tracking your time and commit to it. Today. Book that in your calendar. 

Ideally, revisit this task each year to keep improving on your ideal week.  

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