How To - Have a Strong Week

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-- J.D. Meier


Summary

This article shows you how to have a strong week. A strong week is one where you spend more time in your strengths and less time in your weaknesses. This boosts both your energy and results. Not spending enough time in your strengths will gradually drain you. Spending more time in your strengths renews you, rebuilds your energy, and unleashes your best results.


Contents

  • Objectives
  • Summary of Steps
  • Step 1—Map Out Your Weaknesses
  • Step 2—Map Out Your Strengths
  • Step 3—Design a Strong Week


Objectives

  • Learn a simple technique for spending more time in your strengths each week.
  • Learn how to eliminate or consolidate activities that make you weak.
  • Learn how to add strengths to your week to improve your energy and results.


Overview

Spending time in your weaknesses drains you. Whether it’s people or tasks, the effect is the same. Spending time in your strengths is just the opposite. The more time you spend in your strengths, the more you renew and recharge your energy. In addition, spending time in your strengths improves your performance and gets better results. Think about it—you’re spending more time doing what you’re great at.


Unplanned and reactive, your weekly schedule can become a mess. Worse, you might structure your week in a way that reinforces spending considerable time in your weaknesses. The key is to be aware of your weaknesses and identify your strengths. With this knowledge, you can be deliberate about how you spend your time. You can push back where it makes sense. Consolidate your weaknesses; rather than have them spread across your week and dominate your time, batch them together and limit the time spent on them. Furthermore, you can add more strengths to your week. Imagine getting your weaknesses out of the way, first thing, and then spending the rest of the day in your strengths? Restructuring your week and moving things around will dramatically improve your results.


When you do this exercise, don’t be too concerned whether you can accurately tell weaknesses from strengths. You’ll find it’s a sliding scale. The key is to take the first step towards being aware. Once you start paying attention to what makes you weak or what makes you strong, use it to improve your daily and weekly results. You don't need to suddenly get rid of all your weaknesses or suddenly spend all your time in your strengths. It's an ongoing exercise where you incrementally spend more time in strengths and less time in weaknesses. By checking how you spend your time each week, you’ll gradually shift. As you shift, you’ll produce more effective results in shorter periods of time. You’ll have more energy and you’ll enjoy what you do. This is the essence of a strong week.


Summary of Steps

  • Step 1—Map Out Your Weaknesses
  • Step 2—Map Out Your Strengths
  • Step 3—Design a Strong Week


Note: In the following steps, we’ll focus on just Monday through Friday. You can include weekends too if you want, but I suggest first getting a handle on the core week days, before worrying about the weekend. The exception is if your work week starts on a Sunday, then I would start there.


Step 1—Map Out Your Weaknesses

In this step, think of the activities you do during the week and identify the ones that make you weak. Trust your gut. You can use a whiteboard or a sheet of paper. Think of it like a heat map; scan your week quickly for your key activities and identify whether they drain you. If that doesn’t work for you, then walk through each day and determine which activities make you weak. Chances are, when you first do this, it will look like a scatter chart. Your weak activities will scattered throughout the day.


Example of Mapping Out Your Weaknesses

Here is an example of a map of activities that are weaknesses throughout the week:


Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
7:00 a.m.
8:00
9:00 W W
10:00 W W
11:00 W
12:00 W W
1:00 p.m. W W
2:00
3:00 W W W
4:00 W W
5:00
6:00
7:00
8:00
9:00
10:00


Rather than use a “W,” you can identify the actual activity that makes you weak. What’s important is that you can easily see how the weaknesses are spread out.


Checkpoint

  • Can you identify the top three activities that make you the weakest?
  • Can you identify the types of work that make you weak?
  • Can you identify who drains you and who catalyzes you? What’s the pattern?


Step 2—Map Out Your Strengths

In this step, think of the activities you do during the week and identify the ones that make you strong. These are the activities that come easy for you and you enjoy doing. At first, your strong activities are probably like a scatter chart, just like your weaknesses. Awareness is the first step.


Example of Mapping Out Your Strengths

Here is an example of activities that are strengths throughout the week:


Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
7:00 a.m.
8:00
9:00 S S S
10:00 S
11:00
12:00 S S
1:00 p.m.
2:00 S
3:00
4:00
5:00
6:00
7:00
8:00
9:00
10:00


Rather than use an “S,” you can identify the actual activity that makes you strong. What’s important is that you can easily see how the strengths are spread out.


Checkpoint

  • Can you identify the top three activities that make you strong?
  • Can you identify the types of work that make you strong?
  • Can you identify the patterns of people that catalyze you?


Step 3—Design a Strong Week

In this step, you design a strong week. You do this by eliminating weaknesses, adding strengths, and consolidating any weaknesses that remain.


Eliminate Your Weaknesses

If there are activities that make you weak that you can get rid of, do so. This makes more room for your strengths. For many of people, this means eliminating some meetings, renegotiating some current tasks, or delegating them out.


Consolidate Your Weaknesses

Consolidate weaknesses that you can’t get rid of. Adopt a “worst things first” practice by getting your weaknesses out of the way each morning. This creates a glide path for the rest of the day, especially as you add more strengths.


Add Strengths

Add activities that make you strong. This may require negotiation with your team, your manager, or your family, but in the long run, everyone benefits from your renewed vigor for life as you get more from your day to day. You might find that it’s tough to add activities that make you strong. Start simple and don't rush. For example, you might schedule a weekly lunch with a mentor or friend that lifts you up; or perhaps, scheduling time with yourself—some quiet, alone time—is what recharges you. You also might find some simple ways to adjust the work you are already doing to play to your strengths. Get creative. The more focus and energy you put on playing to your strengths, the more you’ll amplify your results. While you might get some quick wins under your belt, it’s really a winning strategy for the long run. Continue improving your weekly schedule over time by adding more strengths and eliminating more weaknesses.


Example of a Strong Week

Here is an example of a strong week by design:


Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
7:00 a.m.
8:00
9:00 W W W W W
10:00 S S S S S
11:00
12:00 S S
1:00 p.m. S
2:00 S
3:00 S S
4:00 S S S
5:00
6:00
7:00
8:00
9:00
10:00


Notice that weaknesses are consolidated, and there are strengths throughout the week and throughout each day. In fact, one key way to improve your energy later in the day is to add activities that make you strong.


Guidelines

  • Consolidate your weaknesses as best as you can. For example, you might use the first hour of each of your day as a timebox for activities that make you weak.
  • Add more activities that make you strong.
  • Start with something simple. You don’t need to make it all or nothing. Simple wins add up. Eliminating even a few weaknesses really lifts a weight from your shoulders. Likewise, adding a few strengths renews your energy and makes thing happen.
  • Pair up with people. You might find that pairing up on things that make you weak helps you enjoy them more. You might also find that you get more from your strengths when you pair up or team up with others.
  • Test your results. Rather than try to predict results, test combinations and observe what happens. Pay attention to how you feel. Simply making a few shifts in your weekly schedule can dramatically impact your energy.


Checkpoint

  • Have you eliminated as many of the activities that make you weak as you can?
  • Have you found a way to add a few activities that make you stronger?
  • Have you consolidated your weaknesses as best as you can?


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