If it’s Good Enough for the Pros…
I first heard about the concept of theming your weekly schedule in an interview that Forbes did with Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter and CEO of Square. Obviously, he’s a pretty busy guy, but he still manages to find time in his days for innovation. I wondered how he could make time for creativity and exploration while running two massive companies when it’s such a struggle for me and my average workload.
In the interview, Dorsey explained that he uses a special productivity technique to maximize his output and make time for things that matter. The technique? Give each day of the week its own “theme.” Tasks related to that theme automatically get sorted onto the to-do list for that day. This streamlines your productivity by organizing even those tasks that don’t fall on a specific day or time and eliminates the time you might have spent waffling over what to do next.
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Theming Your Week in Action
What does theming your week look like in practice? Dorsey explained in the Forbes interview that he was working on Twitter and Square simultaneously. On Mondays, he focused on management activities for both companies. Tuesdays were dedicated to products. Wednesday’s theme was marketing and communications, and so on through Sunday, which he dedicated to reflection, fine-tuning, and preparing for the upcoming week.
Obviously, it’s not possible to sort every activity or demand on your time into its themed day. When I set up my own weekly theme, I chose to dedicate my Tuesdays to education, but I have assignments, classes, and tests that fall all throughout the week. My education theme simply means that all the miscellaneous school stuff—emails to professors, course planning, etc.—goes on my Tuesday to-do list.
How to Theme Your Week
- Choose your themes. You know better than anyone else which major areas of your life consistently require a lot of time and attention. Which of those things would benefit from having a specific day dedicated to them? Part of this process is also deciding how many themes you’ll choose. You can set up a theme for all seven days of the week, or you could keep it to a lesser number of days and give yourself some dedicated days off. It’s all about choosing what works for you.
- Assign your themes to days of the week. For this step, it’s helpful to think about what your schedule is like on specific days. My Mondays are often very busy, so when setting my Monday theme, I chose something that can easily be done in a few hours that evening, rather than something that will likely take a big chunk of time.
- Add your themes to your schedule. I chose to do this by creating one color-coded key page with all of my themes written out. Then, when I’m making my weekly to-do list, I color code items by their theme as they come up. It’s effortless to move them from my weekly overview to the daily to-do list where they belong.
- Reevaluate as needed. You may find as you go that you’ve chosen a theme for which you actually don’t have all that much to do. Or you might find that you’ve left something out that you really need. If your themes aren’t working for you, change them. The point is to make scheduling easy, not more complicated.
My Themed Week
Personally, I chose to divide my week into six themes, with one day off. On Mondays, I focus on household chores, bills, and budgeting. Tuesdays are for education. On Wednesdays, I take care of things related to friends, family, or my personal life. Thursdays are for writing and freelancing activities. Friday is consistently my least productive day of the week, so rather than fighting it, I’ve chosen to embrace that Friday feeling and set up Fridays as my day off each week. On Saturdays, I work on anything related to my YouTube channel, and on Sundays, I plan, reflect, and revise.
Since implementing this technique, setting up my schedule feels effortless. For example, one of my sisters is getting married in June. She’s asked me to be a bridesmaid, and if you’ve ever been in a wedding party, you know that it comes with a decent amount of responsibility. Because I’ve chosen Wednesday as my day for family-related tasks, all of those wedding-related tasks for each week automatically get sorted onto Wednesday’s to-do list.
Of course, it doesn’t work out that way 100% of the time. Things like dress shopping, bridal showers, bachelorette getaways, etc. will likely not fall on Wednesdays. But all the miscellaneous tasks like party planning, invitation designing, and address collecting have a designated day where I can get them done.
Streamline Your Productivity
I’m amazed by the increase in efficiency see I’ve seen from theming my weeks. When I have time set aside to get things done, I don’t waste any of it wondering where to start. I know exactly what needs to be done that day, and I can accomplish it quickly and effectively. There’s no more decision fatigue.
I’ve also noticed that my focus is significantly better because I’m moving through tasks that are related to each other. When you’re flitting from one unrelated activity to the next, you have to reset your focus every time. I definitely experienced a loss of focus when I was switching back and forth between brainstorming video ideas, setting up my monthly budget, and studying for an economics final. It’s so much easier to let the momentum from one completed task carry you through to another related responsibility.
We all have the same number of hours in the day, and it’s up to us to make the most of them. Theming your weeks can help you make the most of the time you have.