Fundamentals of Less Doing is a series of articles detailing how we think about productivity from a conceptual level. If you are new to Less Doing, the Fundamentals series is a great place to start.
Many people, especially those reading this blog, have heard of The Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. The title is a bit facetious because Tim admittedly does more than four hours of work per week, but you really need to define what a workweek is and then you can decide how much of your life you want it to occupy.
What is a Workweek?
Glad you asked. For me the workweek is a very simple concept. It’s the times when clients, vendors, and really any business contacts can have a reasonable expectation of getting in touch with and/or receiving some sort of work product. While it will probably become the time that you get your work done, that is not what defines it.
My personal workweek is tuesday through thursday. I guess I started doing this back in college. In my senior year (I graduated a year early) I only took classes on tuesday and thursday. That meant every weekend was a four day weekend and I had a day of rest in between. In addition, by batching classes into these two days, I was in the most efficient work mode possible. I originally had a 5 day workweek like most, then I shrunk it by a day and have settled at my current schedule. Again, this doesn’t mean that every weekend can now be a four day weekend. Every weekend IS a four day weekend. The logic behind this is pretty simple. We can over generalize and say that most inefficiencies come from the other people in your life rather than your own internal issues. A supplier might be late, a client might have trouble making up there mind, an electric company refuses to join the 21st century by offering electronic billing, etc….by shortening the window in which they can interact with you, you automatically force batching on their part as well as yours.
I chose the middle of the week because it works with my schedule, I like to go to my farm in the country on the weekend and not have to worry about Friday night or Monday morning traffic, pretty basic needs. It also means I can avoid the drowsiness of everyone’s Monday recovery from the weekend, as well as their lack of attention on Fridays as they countdown the minutes until their weekend. For you it may make more sense for your workweek to fall on other days but you can also experiment.
This also doesn’t mean that my workweek is completely filled up with meetings and presentations, but with everything else going on life they are always pretty packed. This form of batching fuels me for the entire day to power through with motivation and efficiency and at the end of the day the feeling of accomplishment is busting out of me.
How to make it happen?
The easiest way I have found is through our old friend ScheduleOnce which allows people to schedule meetings with you on their own. You can set parameters that are off limits. In my calendar only Tuesday through Thursday from 10AM to 4PM are available time slots. Next, while you may receive an email and start to work on it on an “off day” don’t send it until your workweek starts again. Don’t respond to phone calls or voicemails outside of the workweek, even though you may take action. Eventually you can channel people into learning the best times to deal with you…during YOUR workweek.
We’re Still Learning
Of course there are times when someone is only able to meet outside of your workweek and there is nothing wrong with making those exceptions because it is your decision and one meeting in a whole day won’t hurt too much.
If You Only Walk Away With One Thing
Your workweek is not the time when you do your work it’s the time when business contacts can interact with you. You can make that as much or as little time as you want, hopefully the latter.