Taking control: My Ideal Week
Earlier this year Pete Matthew, MD of Jacksons Wealth Management and founder of Meaningful Money, set down his Ideal Week to help him meet his goals in 2016, including specifying the time he would spend with clients. Rob Kingsbury caught up with him six months on to see whether he was sticking to it.
In January Pete Matthew took time out to set his goals for 2016, both personal and for the business. To help him achieve those goals he used a recommendation from business guru Michael Hyatt and structured his entire week, the full seven days, so that every day was part of the process. The idea was that a proper structure to his week, put down on paper and aimed at outcomes, would help him maintain his motivation and momentum towards achieving those goals.
This was his ‘ideal’ week, so it was not completely set in stone but it was meant to be followed as closely as possible.
The following is what Pete wrote at the start of the year. You can find a copy of the spreadsheet he created for his Ideal Week at the end of the article.
But it’s all too easy to set goals and resolutions and seen them fail, so this week, we spoke to Pete to see whether, some six months into his plan, he had been able to keep to it, and what impact, if any, it had had on achieving his goals.
January 2016: My Ideal Week
“The premise is simple enough: I should sit down and design the perfectly ordered week. This should be a week where I have the time to get done everything I need to do.
As Michael Hyatt often says, ‘what’s on the calendar gets done’, so the purpose of the exercise is to design the perfect week so that it can be transferred onto my actual calendar.
Here’s how it works:
Within any perfect week, there will be various themes. These often equate to our priorities or goals, or our areas of key influence. The themes in my ideal week are:
• Work admin/report-writing
• Meaningful Money and general marketing
Chances are that we have goals pertaining to most of these, so we need to make sure that each of these areas of our lives get adequate time spent on them each week.
You may consider devoting a whole day to one of these themes, but for many of us it isn’t possible to be quite that broad-brush. More likely, each day will have segments assigned to two or more of the themes.
The days in my ideal week have three main segments: Before work, at work and after work. Weekends are different of course.
I’m my own boss, so to a certain extent I can decide how my days are structured. But I still have to see clients, so as much as I would like to spend my days fiddling around on the internet in the name of marketing, I have to devote time to client meetings.
By using my three main segments for specific purposes, I can keep my life fairly tidy.
My before work segment for example, which is between 6:00 and 8:00 (sometimes 8:30) – that’s Me time. It’s when I go to the gym, or read, or go for a run. It’s the time, right at the start of each day, where I get to look after number one, including having a bit of a lie-in on weekends.
Work time, between 8:00 and 17:30, is primarily about clients and the admin attaching to serving clients and running the business.
Then after work, I have a couple of hours set aside for dinner, catching up with the kids and helping them with homework and walking the dog. Then I might have a final couple of hours writing or creating content for MeaningfulMoney, before getting to bed around 10:00pm
Once your goals for the year ahead are set, it’s important to keep moving forward each week. So as I move into each segment of my ideal week, I need to have written down the next thing I need to be doing to move forward. It’s no good if I get to my writing time and have to start thinking about what to write. I need to have that planned in advance.
That’s why at the end of each week I have some planning time built into the schedule so I can see how I have done this week and make sure I have updated the next actions for each of my projects and goals. That way I can hit the ground running next week.
It’s an ideal week
Last week, when I completed my ideal week, I then transferred many of the slots into my calendar. I blocked out certain times and made sure that others were left open to be filled with client meetings for example.
But it quickly became apparent that even in the very first week of the year, some things would have to give. It turns out there was a pre-arranged client meeting right in the middle of when I wanted to devote some time to admin, and a planned trip to the health suite at my local gym the week after next will have to be skipped in favour of a parents’ evening at my daughter’s school.
This doesn’t matter of course. It’s called an ideal week, and the chances of me fulfilling it perfectly even one week this year are slim.
The key is that I am being intentional about how I spend my time, which will give me a much better chance of achieving my goals than if I just drift through the year hoping for the best.”
July 2016: Six months on…
ABR editor Rob Kingsbury caught up with Pete this week to ask him how his Ideal Week had panned out. Had his good intentions set earlier in the year waned over the intervening months or been overtaken by his workload, or had he been able to maintain his good intentions and maintain the momentum towards achieving his 2016 goals?
“For the most part I have kept it up,” Pete says. “Sticking with it during the working day mainly comes down to diary management. What was important was ensuring my staff knew when they could and couldn’t add things to my diary. I blocked out recurring times each week and they were kept free.”
One area that has slipped, he says, is the time he booked out on Monday afternoons to do marketing. “That is down to us being very busy and having to use the time to see new clients. But marketing is about bringing in new business and there is plenty of new business coming in so that was the obvious time in which to field it.”
Limiting client time
A clear benefit from planning out his week in this way has come from limiting his client meetings to roughly 2.5 days a week. “What this has done is really focussed my mind on the clients on those days and given me Monday to prepare for the week ahead and Thursday afternoon and Friday to do reports, make notes and plan for the business as necessary.”
There has been the odd week, he says, where he has blocked out client meetings altogether, where workload has dictated it, but he has re-instigated the ideal week immediately thereafter.
“The default position is ‘this is the plan’ “but you do have to adapt on occasion and it’s about being intentional, knowing you’re doing it and why and steering yourself back on track as soon as possible.”
Pete keeps both his 2016 goals and his ideal week pinned to the wall above his desk. “I believe if you have an intent to achieve your goals then you need to have them front of mind.”
He set himself 10 personal and business goals – a number he admits is too high to be able to achieve in their entirety. Already one of the largest business goals, to achieve £1million turnover by the end of the year, has been affected by unforeseen circumstances.
“You have to be realist,” he says. “Personally and as a business some of those goals will be achieved but sometime things come along that mean you’re not going to achieve everything – it’s a matter of setting yourself up for success as best you can.”
Pete had set a six-month deadline for review of his ideal week, to see where it might need amending. “What’s good is that I haven’t had to make any changes in terms of the overall structure. For most part it is working, and I have to say I’m quite pleased with how it’s gone so far.”
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