In Part 1 of How a 12 Week Year Can Supercharge Your Business, we discussed what the 12 Week Year planning system is, and the steps to implement it into your business and personal life to greatly increase your productivity.
In Part 2, we now discuss how to construct your week and day to day planning using this method.
During a typical day, “other things” will always creep in to eat up your minutes and lower your productivity. Reducing or ignoring these interruptions won’t help … they are just part of your life, and they often just pile up to derail your plans. You’ll end up just approaching everything in a reactionary way as you try to catch up (which you never will. Trust me on this!)
Instead, approach your day in a proactive way. Allocate what is known as “time blocks” … that is, blocks of time you designate to certain tasks.
There are 3 types of “time blocks” you can allocate during your week to stay on track. They are:
This is 3 hours of absolute, intense, uninterrupted time. Turn off your cellphone, your pings, no email, no visitors. All energy goes towards working on preplanned tasks and high-level creative thinking to grow your business and move forward to your goals. It will be a major task you have planned for the week.
Think of it as working ON your business, not IN your business.
Schedule this once or twice per week.
These blocks are used to handle miscellaneous business tasks and unexpected events. Set aside 30 minutes or one hour, depending what your life is like, and add them once or twice per day to your calendar.
They could be to answer your emails, make the necessary phone calls, follow up on to-do lists, drive your child to school. They exist just in case “life” gets in the way.
By including these buffer blocks, you are planning for events in your day where you won’t be able to work. This gives your timetable the flexibility it needs to keep your plans realistic and flexible.
It also helps discipline you in your work day. If you check email every 5 minutes, you remain unfocused on your tasks. By only checking emails during your designated buffer block, you train yourself to stay focused and avoid distractions.
To achieve greater results, you don’t work more … you work LESS! The key is to manage your week more effectively.
This is 3 hours of non-work related activity. Clear your mind and do something else, so when you come back you feel ready to plunge in again.
If you do nothing but work, work, work, you will lose energy, eventually burn-out and your creativity will by exhausted. A breakout block is a period of time designed to refresh and invigorate you.
You will usually have one per week, once you work for yourself. Avoid it if this is your first time using the 12 Week Year. You need to give yourself the practice and intense focus first before having the need of one.
Obviously, if you also work a full-time job, you won’t have breakout blocks either … unless your boss allows it! (Probably nope.)
But I Have a Full-Time Job!
This is actually the beauty of this planning system. It accommodates if you indeed HAVE a full-time job … or some other full-time activity such as being a stay at home Mom (or Dad) or going to college.\
What you will do is assign your time blocks outside your regular work hours. Obviously, if you have a full-time job, your 12 week objectives will be fewer than if you work full time on building your business.
The key is your strategic block, where you focus and work solely on the task you assigned yourself for that week. You will accomplish it before or after your regular work hours. This is where the magic happens, when you work ON your business to move it forward and make it grow, not in it.
Using a spreadsheet, Google Calendar or some other planner, it is now time to fill in all your 12 weeks.
Add your tasks from Step 6 of the previous article into your weekly calendar. Assign your time blocks and your daily routines. Think about when you work best. In the morning? In the evening?
Set aside half an hour at the beginning of the week to review your week, and an hour at the end of the week to examine your scorecard and plan for the next week.
Between the blocks will be all your other important activities. If you have a full-time job, the majority of time will obviously be that. If you work for yourself, examples of other tasks to add could include:
- Client appointments and meetings
- Marketing and sales activities
- Admin and operational tasks
- Setting up and optimizing ads
- Other personal tasks
- Article writing
- Researching new products to sell
- Reading business books or articles to keep yourself educated
Here are two examples of your calendar … one if you have a full-time job, and one if you already work at home on your online business:
Using 12 Week Planning with a Full Time Job:
The purple blocks are your regular work hours. There’s likely not much flexibility you have there. Place them in knowing that during these times, you can’t work on your own personal or business goals.
The pink blocks are your personal tasks. For instance, if your goal is to exercise more, you will work out at home from 6:30 – 7:30AM … perhaps 3 times a week. Then, at work, you will take a half hour walk after lunch.
The black blocks are the time you reserve to review the week (Monday morning). Friday afternoon is when you review what you have done and score yourself.
The green is your strategic block. This is the time where you will be completely devoted to the tasks you would have assigned for that week. It is the most important block, and it is where you will get stuff done.
Finish filling out your calendar with repeatable tasks, such as tweaking any ads you are running for your fledging home-based business, articles that need to be published, marketing tasks, evening meetings, etc.
For the all-important strategic block on Tuesday (or wherever you assign it), let your family and friends know in advance that you are setting aside 3 hours that night to devote to your online business, with no interruptions.
This not only lets your family and friends know in advance that you are absolutely unavailable, but you can also psychologically prepare for that big block to work on your business.
Once that night arrives, hunker down and power through your tasks, as if it’s mid-December with a huge looming deadline! The knowledge that it is critical to complete your tasks during this 3-hour strategic block will give you the laser focus and motivation you need to work at your maximum and get those tasks done.
If you are self-employed and already working full-time on your online business, and/or you are your own boss, you certainly have a lot more flexibility. A typical week in your 12-week planning could be something like this:
For this calendar, you set pink as the personal tasks devoted to your health goals. An hour of exercise in the early morning, and an early afternoon walk, for instance.
Black is the time to review the week (Monday morning) and Friday afternoon is when you review what you have done and score yourself.
Yellow are buffer blocks to check emails and to catch up on anything around the house. If you have repeatable errands, such as driving your kids to and from school, you’ll mark that time in yellow as well.
You could have one or two green strategic blocks where you intensely work in 3 hour periods to grow the business and work on your tasks. Try to have your strategic block or blocks early in the week, in case something comes up. You can then reschedule for later in the week if you need to.
Purple is your break-out block. Thursday afternoon seems like a good time. After a full three days of work and two intense strategic blocks, it is a good time to clear your head and refresh yourself. Think of it as a reward!
Only do this once you have a couple 12 week sessions under your belt. The first time I tried this without having the proper mental focus, I simply watched television. This block is necessary only once you are laser-focused and “getting stuff done” in your strategic block or blocks.
Once these blocks are laid out, the white spaces are your regular activities. For instance, if you have an ecom business, set aside a regular time every day to check and optimise ads, another regular time for customer service, another devoted to product fulfilment, etc.
Once you really get going, these “regular activities” can all be outsourced.
The Flexibility of Your 12-Week Planning
Note how flexible and customizable this all is. Say that you have a home-based business but you also want to homeschool your children. You can do both!
Simply modify your time blocks to accommodate this life. Position strategic blocks and buffer blocks in the morning for your business, and one 3-hour breakout block each day in the afternoon … but in this case, your breakout block is the school day for your children!
The 12 Week Year planning system is designed for you to take ownership of your time and your life. You no longer have to run around, complaining about the lack of time. It’s never the lack of time that keeps you from achieving great things. It’s the way you allocate the time you have, and what you do during that time that matters.
Start your plan now, adjust your mindset to your new “year” and perform at your best. Don’t forget your mini breaks at week 13. After you see the power of this planning strategy and you start to see the results, take the time to reward yourself! Then feel the high and energy of the next 12 weeks. Rinse and repeat your way to fulfilling your lifetime goals!