I’ve advocated in previous posts that, when planning your week, you should proactively choose several “big rocks” to accomplish that week. These are the most important tasks that you can do that week, and they should stem from your values, goals, roles, and/or major projects.
Here’s what I haven’t said before: I think it may work best to keep the number of big rocks down to about 5. If you can accomplish one big rock per day, you will be making huge progress.
But if you try to put much more than that on your agenda for the week, one of two things will likely happen. First, might not feel the freedom or time to address situations that come up — many of which are important, even though they could not have been foreseen. Or, second, if you do give yourself the freedom to turn your attention to them, you will feel frustrated by the inability to accomplish your plans. And so you will feel behind.
I’m writing this because that’s how I feel right now! I tried to schedule too many priorities into my week. If I had scheduled less, maybe I’d even feel about done right now, with everything else I do for the week being gravy. That would be nice — and maybe would result in more getting done, not less. Or, it would result in the ability to say “finished for now,” which I think is something that is extra hard these days but which we all need more of.
The concept of big rocks is from Stephen Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. He advocates about 2-3 big rocks per role, which would end up giving you around 15 or so per week. He doesn’t give that as any hard and fast rule, but it does set up your expectations. Sticking down at 5 is a bit counter-intuitive, but I think it may be about right.
But we’ll see. That’s why I’ve called this post “thoughts on how to schedule your week.” In many ways, effectiveness is an ongoing experiment. You create hypotheses, test them, adapt, and repeat.