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Productivity

Prototyping your ideal week

How to create a prototype week with enough time to work on your business, balanced between categories that will help your business grow.

Last week we focused on setting clear goals and breaking them down into quarterly or 12-week projects that you can focus on without feeling overwhelmed. This week, we’re going to work on reserving time to work on your marketing projects so you’ll have enough time to build momentum.

What to do if you feel like you don’t have time to spare

How do you spend time working on business goals, when it feels like time is so scarce?

That’s because it feels like time is scarce, when we actually have the same amount of time per day as anyone else on the planet.

Did you know we have something in common with the President of the United States, regardless of who’s in office: We have the same 24 hours a day, 168 hours per week and 2,016 hours every 12 weeks.

Suppose you could take those 168 hours per week and plan them out in an ideal or prototype week, something that would serve as a template for planning your schedule moving forward. This template could help you identify your priorities and reserve time for them, while leaving margin for other things. 

Creating a prototype week

Remember those goals you set, and the quarterly projects you got excited about last week? In order to accomplish those goals, you’ll need to reserve time to work on them, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do now with a prototype week. Your prototype week will help you and others on your team to work toward achieving your marketing goals. It’s helped me a bunch.

How a prototype week helps me

I first came across the concept of an ideal or prototype week by reading “Living Forward” by Michael Hyatt and David Harkavy, and then later taking Hyatt’s “Best Year Ever” course. I have a simple spreadsheet in Apple Numbers where I start with a blank week and fill it in based on priorities. Important commitments such as church activities, social activities and work schedules are placed first, followed then by reserved family time. After that, I then reserve 15 hours a week for working on my freelance business, split across four categories: serving clients, learning, marketing and creating products.

Why do I split my time across four categories? Because I heard Dan Miller of the 48 Days Radio Show share how to build a business with only 15 hours a week by dividing time across serving clients, learning, marketing and creating content. I’ve followed this model for over six months and have found more success than just dwelling on one category. 

How to create your personal prototype week

Step 1: Take a spreadsheet application like Microsoft Excel, Apple Numbers or Google Sheets and create a new document called “Prototype Week”. Then create a grid starting from Sunday to Monday from left to right, and then add hours starting from an hour before you usually wake up to an hour after you usually go to bed (e.g., 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.). The result should be a grid with either hour or half-hour time slots for the entire week. 

Step 2: Block out your current weekly time commitments for this quarter year, filling out the time slots and changing the cell background color so you can see that this time is reserved. If it’s a bi-weekly time commitment (i.e. every other week), I suggest blocking it off and treating it as reserved for each week. Only put current commitments, not ones expected several months from now. Fill out the grid until you’ve placed every commitment in the time blocks. The only remaining time slots should be ones where you don’t have any current commitments.

Step 3: Looking at the empty time blocks on your grid, calculate how much available time margin you have per week. You may have a lot, or you may have very little. If during a usual week, you have…

  • 15 or more hours: You’ll have ample time to spend on developing marketing your business. 
  • 7-15 hours: You don’t have a lot of spare time is limited, so you’ll either need to cut down on other commitments for now, or recruit help from family or other team members to help. 
  • Less than 7 hours: You barely have any margin. Before working on your business, you’ll need to re-evaluate your commitments and delegate to family or team members.

Step 4: After assessing your available time, commit to reserving 7-10 hours for working on business development. Divide your reserved time by:

  • Marketing: Time focused on getting more customers to your products and services. For this quarter, I’d reserve at least 50% of your business development time on marketing. Most of what we’ll cover in the remainder of this 12-week guide will focus on marketing.
  • Creating: Time focused on creating new products or services. Are there new services or products you’ve been thinking about offering customers? That’s what your creating time is for. Reserve around 25-40% for this.
  • Learning: Time focused on getting fresh ideas, learning new skills, etc. so you can serve your customers better. Maybe there are general business courses you need to take, or training for specific software that you use. Reserve at least 10% of your business development time, but no more than 20%, because it’s critical that you put your learning to use rather than just accumulate more knowledge.

Once you’ve reserved time slots you’re comfortable committing to, then you’re ready to move on.

Next week, we’ll take your quarterly projects, break them down into weekly tasks, and then create a review process that helps keep you focused and continue momentum.

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