How to plan your days and weeks for maximum output with less effort

How to plan your week to maximise your productivity.

How to plan your week to maximise your productivity.

Following on from my last blog around, we are going to further explore some ways to structure your days during the week to maximise your output while decreasing your effort.

Again, let’s think about the way the athletes train over the week.  They typically mix up their training according to heavy, medium and light training principles.  Each of these categories leaves the athlete with varying levels of fatigue.

For example heavy training is designed to take the athlete to the next level, to improve their results.  If they were to train heavy again too soon this training effect will be counter-productive.  It will feel really hard and also increase their risk of injury.  Instead they are better to mix in some different training in terms of exercise or intensity.

Likewise, during the day you probably have some tasks that you find take a lot of your mental energy.  You might think of that as a heavy task.  Likewise there are probably aspects of your job you find really easy in terms of mental energy.  For example, as fast paced person would probably find a twenty minute meeting with another fast-paced person really light.  However a slower paced person may find this a really heavy mental energy drain.

The first step to improving your productivity is to be really clear about what are YOUR heavy, medium and light tasks.

You might find it interesting to complete the following table:


It’s also interesting to do this exercise as a team.  You will find it interesting that often people who have the same job description put the same task in completely different categories.  It often makes sense for people to realign tasks so that people are doing more of the tasks they find light and energising and less of the tasks they find heavy and draining where appropriate.

Once you have a clear understanding that tasks fall into each category, you can now think about planning your week.

When planning your week, start by thinking about how you like to operate in terms of when you are better at attacking heavy tasks and when you feel you may need some lighter tasks to help you to manage your recovery.

For example, you might prefer to ease into the start of the week.  Perhaps you need to come to terms with the week before you can get into your meaty tasks.  In this case you probably prefer to plan for a light Monday morning.

Or you might be someone who is a morning person and attacks Monday mornings with gusto.  In which case you might plan your Monday morning to start on your heavy tasks.

Try completing the table below by mixing up your heavy, medium and lights tasks according to how you would plan your perfect week:


You may find that all of your days follow the same format.   Or you may find that some days are slightly different to others.  Often this may be the result of things that are going on outside of work.

Some people may like Fridays to be light and happy to do more heavy lifting mid week.

Everyone is different and there is no right or wrong approach.  Again it can be interesting for all of your team members to share their results.

If you currently have a team meeting at 9am Monday mornings and you want people to be prepared, on the ball and energised you may want to make sure that the people in the meeting actually have a heavy or medium in their Monday morning 1 box.  If all of the attendees prefer a light Monday morning it’s unlikely you will find the meetings as productive as you would like them to be.

But I can’t always control when I have to do certain tasks…….

Now let’s face it, assuming you have clients and have to work with other human beings, it is highly likely that your perfect week will never actually happen.

The important thing is to think of this a map that you manage towards.  If you know that you need to do heavy tasks in the time that you would prefer to have as a light time, you will need to manage your recovery in some other part of your schedule.

Of course there will be weeks where every part of your day appears heavy.  It’s certainly possible to do this on a temporary basis but it’s important to know that if you don’t schedule some recovery time at some stage you will be well on your way to productivity decline and possible burnout effects.

Knowing your perfect week (even if it doesn’t happen according to plan) will at least give you an awareness of your recovery requirements for peak performance on a sustained basis.

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