How to do more of what you love doing with an ideal weekly schedule

“Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.” — Gustave Flaubert

Some time ago Michael Hyatt shared his “Ideal Week,” where he carves out blocks of time for certain tasks so they actually get done.

One neat trick of his is that each day has a particular theme. One day is for creating content, another day is for meetings, and so on. It can be easier to do certain kinds of work in big blocks like that.

Michael shared a nifty Excel spreadsheet that has his blocks laid out. It’s pretty cool, but I never use Excel, so I left the idea alone.

Recently I saw where Dave Delaney has shared his own take on the ideal week concept. He made a calendar in Google Calendar named “ideal week” that has the ideal week set up in it.

So now when he is scheduling things, he can toggle that ideal schedule off and on. If he sees that from 5 to 6 in the morning he wants to be reading, he won’t schedule anything for that time.

I use Google Calendar, too, so this was appealing to me.

Inspired, I took this a step further.

First, I created some goals for myself in terms of what I want to do with my freelance graphic design business, my fine art, and my relationship with my wife and children.

I know about how much time I need to spend in those areas each week. With that in mind, I created an ideal schedule in Google Calendar:

There are a number of things that happen daily or weekly. For example, I catch the train at 6:12 in the morning and the 4:20 train home in the evening.

If I am going to meet my freelance goals, I have to spend a certain amount of time on that each week, so I’ve blocked out time for that around the absolutes in my schedule such as my day job and the train schedule.

I want to keep up my blog, so I try to work on that at lunch every day. And I try to journal in the morning while I’m on the train.

Studio time is a must since I have set a quota for the number of paintings I want to produce each month before the end of the year. I know roughly how many hours that requires, so I’ve built that in. I’ve got big blocks for that on the weekend and smaller blocks in the early mornings.

I need to keep my mind sharp, so I try to read on the train home, though oftentimes I doze off. But that’s okay.

Last but not least, I want to stay in touch with my wife and kids, so I actually have time scheduled for them.

The “Approved” Schedule

Once I ran all this past my wife and she gave me the go-ahead, I worked this into my real schedule and assigned things to their own calendars. For instance, my lunchtime blogging is on a calendar called bradblackman.com. My freelance schedule is on a calendar named Chrome47. My dates with Hope are on a calendar named 1:1. I try to give myself enough wind-down time before bed.

Holy Moly! You’re busy!

Yep, it looks pretty full. Believe it or not, there is some amount of margin built into this schedule. Eagle-eyed GTD (Getting Things Done) nerds might notice I have “Weekly Review” on here twice, one on Saturday morning and another on Sunday evening.

That’s because some Saturdays are busy (we have three kids!) and it just isn’t possible to get a weekly review in. In that case, my wife and I will see what we can do Sunday night after the kids go to bed. Or we will coordinate our calendars on Saturday and review the family budget on Sunday.

The point of the schedule is not to be rigid. Rather, it should be flexible and allow for things to come up. It’s more of a set of guidelines. I try not to get too hung up if things don’t happen as planned.

I know this flies in the face of David Allen’s idea of using the calendar as a “hard landscape” but it works for us. (Nothing is truly concrete when you have small children!)

See, I know that I won’t always work on freelance every single weeknight. And I won’t always catch the 6:12 train. Fortunately, there are 2 other trains that I can catch.

And You?

Have you done anything like this? If so, what does it look like? How is it for you? Sound off in the comments.

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Photo Credit: Jano De Cesare via Compfight cc