We all have a set of key result areas in our professional lives.
As a Project Manager, I had a set of key result deliverables I needed to provide my client each week. These deliverables included a status report, new change requests, an updated action-followup register, and revised engineering drawings.
Initially, I had an ad-hoc approach to completing these key deliverables. An ‘I’ll do it when I can’ approach forced me to work weekends to avoid falling behind.
In an effort to make progress throughout the week, I started associating each day of the week with a key result area.
Monday became my ‘Action-Followup List’ day. Tuesday and Wednesday became my ‘Engineering Drawing’ update days. Thursday became my ‘Change Request’ day, and Friday became my ‘Status Report’ day. These daily assignments ensured I made progress throughout the week, never missed a deadline, and enjoyed my weekends.
Theming your week allows you to easily defer tasks. If an action item came up regarding the engineering drawings, I would capture it and complete it on either Tuesday or Wednesday.
Just to clarify, theming your week doesn’t mean you can only perform tasks that align with your theme for the day. It just means if you assign ‘book writing’ to Wednesday, you better make some progress on your book each Wednesday no matter what comes up during the day.
In addition to ensuring your long-term success, theming prevents you from wasting energy each morning deciding what you should focus on. With a key result theme in place, you know your main focus for each day.
Twitter & Square CEO Jack Dorsey uses ‘Themes’ to manage his life. Here’s a typical week in Jack’s life:
“On Monday, at both companies, I focus on management and running the company… we have our directional meeting at Square, we have our OpCom meeting at Twitter, I do all my management one-on-ones on that day. Tuesday is focused on product. Wednesday is focused on marketing and communications and growth. Thursday is focused on developers and partnerships. Friday is focused on the company and the culture and recruiting. Saturday I take off, I hike. Sunday is reflection, feedback, strategy, and getting ready for the week. And there are interruptions all the time, but I can quickly deal with an interruption and know that it’s Tuesday and I have product meetings, and I need to focus on product stuff. It also sets a good cadence for the rest of the company. We’re always delivering; we’re always showing where we were last week and where we’re going to be the following week.” – Jack Dorsey
Strategy Coach Dan Sullivan uses 3 categories to theme his week:
- Focus Days (making progress towards an important business result).
- Buffer Days (catching up on email, making phone calls, holding internal meetings, delegating tasks, processing paperwork, and going through his backlog of articles and educational material).
- Free Days (complete disconnection from work – no work-related emails or calls – a day to completely rejuvenate).
Entrepreneur Evan Carmichael
- Monday: business strategy and admin mode (paperwork, emails, and major decision making).
- Tuesday: book writing mode (introverted creative mode).
- Wednesday: video production mode (extroverted creative mode).
- Thursday: public facing mode (meetings, conferences, and interviews).
By assigning ‘themes’ to different days of the week, you are more likely to make progress in the areas that matter and avoid wasting time and energy deciding what you should focus on each day.