Mondays are for me like my first pee in the morning. Why?
Think about how good it feels going to the toilet in the morning with a full bladder of pee. Before you can release, you’re restless, can’t sleep or relax anymore. Your full bladder occupies on your mind the whole time. Do I go now? Can I sleep a little longer? OK, its unbearable now.
For the past 4 years or so, the first thing I do each Monday morning is my “weekly meeting with myself”. This ritual helps me to get clear my mind and set the focus of my week. It helps to reset my brain, and also makes sure my brain-bladder is not getting too full during the week.
I am usually most stressed and overwhelmed if I have too many things to do on my mind, and not know what to do next in order to ease the cognitive load. In these situations, my mind gets scattered, prone to distractions and I loose a bit of motivation.
Here is how I organise my “Weekly Meeting with Myself” (WMM)
Also check out this notion template if you like to use the same structure.
Step 1: Fill my Braindump
In the column “No Prioritisation” I put all ideas, thoughts, (not urgent) tasks I come up with during the week. It’s my braindump that prevents me from getting too deep into things or work on unimportant stuff in the heat of the moment. To measure if a task is urgent or not, I ask myself: Can this wait to be tackled until next Monday? The answer in 99% of the cases is: “yes!”. Having this dump is already a huge relief to my brain-bladder.
Step 2: Check all inboxes
At the beginning of my WMM I go through all my emails and social accounts to figure out if there are any mails I still need to respond, or emerging tasks from them, and put them into my Braindump
Step 3: The 4 quadrants
Now I go through my Braindump to pre-sort the tasks in to 4 quadrants of priority. It allows me with little cognitive load to make a first determination about what is important to tackle this week. This is an excellent post by Alex Czarto explaining the concept of the 4 quadrants and how to use them.
- Important - Urgent
- Important - Not urgent
- Not important - urgent
- Not important - not urgent
Step 4: My Weekly List
Now I pack tasks from quadrant 1, 2 & 3 into a list of all tasks I intend to tackle this week. Then I prioritise them within the Weekly List.
Step 5: Set my weekly goals:
In this column I try to formulate a maximum 3 goals I want to accomplish this week. Note that this is not a task, but more of a state to reach. So not “Write on application for grant” but “Version 1 for grant application done”. This helps to make it measurable and see next week if you achieved what you set out with. A good method to set and evaluate your own goals are OKRs, Objectives and Key Results.
Step 6: My tomorrow list
Additionally, my last task of the day is to sit down and plan what to do the next day. I either freshly formulate tasks that serve a weekly goal, like “Write first chapter of grant application”, or pick tasks from “My Weekly List”.
Other productivity hacks that help me:
- Reading the book “Deep Work”. Excellent piece on how to be able to use focused periods of uninterrupted time to get you in the flow. I have 30% more time with the people I love while getting more of the things done that are important.
- Working in 30-60min chunks and making 5 min pauses in between.
- Do a 15min checkout as your last task every day. In this check out I plan my tasks for the next day, and most importantly, wire my brain for really shutting down. “no more work today!” Notorious diagnosis for founders.
- I strive to write things in my braindump as if someone else will read it. I do this because sometimes, whenever I don’t and am sloppy, I have a hard time recalling what I actually meant. That doesn’t always work yet though
- I don’t try to get more than 1-3 cognitively intensive/creative tasks done per day. I try to get those done in the morning where I have the most brain juice, and do shallow administrative tasks in the afternoon.
- Time your weekly meeting. I take 30min for collecting tasks and 30min to prioritise and plan.
Hope this helps you folks!
Always eager to hear about ways of improving those methods.
Feel free to share what works for you and ideas how you would make this one better!