People ask me how I deliver so much over short bursts, and how I manage multiple projects throughout the week as a company CEO/Founder, consultant, product manager, manager, husband, and father.
I spend 2-3 hours every weekend planning the week ahead. This includes:
- Developing my “Positive Focus” lists – all of the great things that happened to me or that I achieved, both personally and professionally. This is a huge boost when you start your planning feeling good about your accomplishments.
- My weekly planning is iterative. I start with the Positive Focus, which I then follow with a specific action item to continue progress in this area. For example, I had lots of family time later in the week with Halloween and then a camping trip on Sat-Sun. Then I looked at how I can continue this time, and I realized I hadn’t yet bought tickets for a Sean Hayes concert for next weekend in SF, which also requires a babysitter, which my wife is now checking on. It takes work to plan these outings, and starting with the Positive Focus on past accomplishments is the first step to further progress.
- I’m crazy focused on my calendar. I always take the lead of setting appointments with people willing to talk with me. To set these appointments, I always start with specific times when I know I’m open to avoid many back and forth emails. For example, if a contact says – “Sure, would love to talk” – then I follow with – “Great – here are three time blocks – let me know what you prefer: Mon, 2-4pm, Tues 10-11:30am, or Thurs 3-5pm.” Almost always the contract replies with a single line email choosing a time.
- During the planning process, if there’s a short to-do item that emerges, I stop and do it. These knocks off lots of little nit-picky items that later nip at my heels. Like this blog post or checking in on the online class I’m teaching.
- I experiment with outsourcing companies. I’ve tried Brickworks-India and AskSunday. Neither worked for me. Odesk is awesome for specified research and outcome tasks like researching LinkedIn profiles for a list of conference attendees or developing scripts to pull website content I need. I’m constantly investigating new services. Right now, I’m testing out Fancy Hands. Too early to tell.
- The planning process helps me see what needs to be outsourced, farmed out, handed over to our company production manager, or simply ignored. If a tasks remains open for more than 2-3 weeks, it probably isn’t as urgent as I thought when I developed the task 2-3 weeks ago. I’m willing to let projects go if they do not directly relates to our clients or revenue-producing projects. This is hard sometimes, and the planning process forces me to be more objective.
- I’ve found LinkedIn to become more and more a part of my daily routine and tools. Even personal connections seem to respond better to emails through LinkedIn. And for those to whom I send InMails, I have a huge “accept” rate and I used InMails even if I can get their email address directly. I think people see you’re spending social currency, literally, when you send an InMail.
Note: I’ve learned much of this through personal development and awareness, and more recently formalized it with an executive coaching program called “Strategic Coach.”