The Perfect Schedule – How to Massively Execute on Your Goals (and reach them)

by John Cummings on September 9, 2012

Post image for The Perfect Schedule – How to Massively Execute on Your Goals (and reach them)

The perfect schedule. Is it possible? Believe it or not, it is, if you choose it.

Stephen R. Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People®, has been a top-seller for over 20 years and there is no mistaking the reason for its success. Simply put, being proactive about planning what you do each day is critical to success.

As Covey notes in Habit 1:

Your life doesn’t just “happen.” Whether you know it or not, it is carefully designed by you. The choices, after all, are yours. You choose happiness. You choose sadness. You choose decisiveness. You choose ambivalence. You choose success. You choose failure. You choose courage. You choose fear. Just remember that every moment, every situation, provides a new choice. And in doing so, it gives you a perfect opportunity to do things differently to produce more positive results.

The interesting thing about this observation is that we tend to think that somehow, we’ll be able to wake up tomorrow, with this revelation in mind, and be able to take on the world in a new way, simply having been made aware of this concept.  “Yes, I will choose happiness today. I will choose courage.”  Bla bla bla. I love Covey but let’s put some teeth into this.

The problem is that everyone around you doesn’t really care that you’ve woken up on the right side of the bed with those lofty goals in mind. Quite the contrary, everyone you encounter each day is worried about THEIR day, their goals, their dream, and usually, they don’t align well with YOURS.

So how do you avoid having your day disrupted, every day, by what everyone around you is doing and instead, execute massively on your goals while others around you spin their wheels. It’s actually quite simple.  It’s starts with the “Perfect Schedule.”

The Perfect Schedule will never come to fruition in the real world so put that notion away for a moment. Instead, realize that planning for the perfect schedule is the best way to ensure that you’ll get as close to a perfect schedule in your real work week as possible.  Picture this like a football game. Both teams come to play with a very specific playbook in mind and know what they would like to do as the game unfolds. “If we’re down 14 points and we’re on the 20 yard line, we’re going to do this play.”   And often, an audible or change is necessary. But the flow of the game is only possible because the entire thing has been planned, including potential variations, for a week or more before the game.

Are you doing that each week before you hit game time on Monday morning? If not, guess what? The other team is going to run all over you, all day long.  The best defense is a good offense and the perfect schedule is that offense.

How to Create the Perfect Schedule

Your Perfect Schedule starts with a Personal Energy Plan. Before you fill your calendar with what you are going to do each week, you should know what you want to be doing.  So, without opening Outlook or whatever calendar program you use, open a word document and map out the things you want to and think you need to accomplish each day of this coming week so that you can go to bed on Friday night and say “I did it!”  This is called your Personal Energy Plan.

Right now, my personal energy plan includes a workout of some kind every day except Sundays. Each day, I want to spend at least an hour with my spouse and an hour with my kids.  I also want to spend 4 hours a day doing the things that pay my bills. For you, that might be billing legal fees (for 9 hours) or doing the activities that create new client leads or prospects, depending on your profession.  Figure in the number of hours of sleep you need. How many calls do you need to make to reach your goals? How many chapters of that book do you want to write each week?

Now that you’ve got an idea of what the bucket of items are that should be on you calendar, open your Excel or other spreadsheet software and play “perfect planner.”  By plugging into a spreadsheet all of the things you have to do, want to do and already have on your planned calendar, you’ll bring to life a calendar that merges your obligatory schedule with your wish-list schedule, known as your “perfect schedule”.  (I have a template for this that I’ll be happy to share with you at the bottom of this article.).

You may find that there are not enough hours in the day for all that you want to do and this, my friends, is where the magic happens. Where the rubber meets the road. Where you learn what you’re skipping every day and why you’re unhappy, or overweight, or unfulfilled. This is where you face the fact that most days, you’re only getting to the things that you HAVE to do, and not many of the things (if any) that you wish you were doing.

Start with your waking hour.  What do  you do first when you wake up? Do you do it every day?  Should you? Do you want to?  Make a row for 6:00 am and set it for “wake and workout”.  Make it different for weekends if appropriate.

Now repeat this for each Personal Energy Plan item.  How (at what time) are you going to spend that hour with your husband or wife each day? Be intentional about it and schedule it.  Don’t worry about whether you’ll honor it yet. Work on building the schedule one block at a time until you have everything figured in. Do you wish you slept more, prayed more, practiced guitar, Russian, riverdance? Put it all in there.  Once you’re done, you should have what looks like a scary grid of times that are all planned out for every day of your week.

After you have your perfect schedule, you may realize that you can’t get to all of the things you want to do each week. Now what? Well, it’s time to make some choices. Do you have to work until 6:00 or 7:00 every day? Can you have lunch with your spouse to spend that precious time? Are there a few hours on Saturday or Sunday that you can absolutely lock in for your kids or your passions and hobbies?  The fun part is it’s only a spreadsheet for now.  Add rows. Delete rows. Change it.

Most of all, don’t leave out the things that you wish you were doing but have been avoiding because of work. I guarantee that if you treat work like the bully that it is and put it in the corner like a kid that needs a timeout, you’ll manage to get work done in less time. We tend not to be efficient about work, or we let others pull us into more work or inefficient work, because we’re not intentional about what we need to do throughout the day, after work, at night or on the weekends. Think about how good you are at getting out of work when their is a real crisis or when you have to get out for vacation. You do what has to be done and you leave it at that.

So, stop drifting. Make your Personal Energy Plan, convert it into a Perfect Schedule and then, put it into your Outlook Calendar. When your co-worker asks you if you have time for a beer after work or a client seeks to impose on your personal time, you’ll have a concrete and important reason to tell them “no, I’m already booked at that time.”  OR, if you decide that you will stop for a beer or meet that client on personal time, you’ll know that you’ve just impacted something else on your schedule and make an allowance for that.

I have specific times that I meet with clients and specific times that I do writing.  If a client needs me at an odd hour or I add a client during a writing time slot, I am able to move my slots around because I have a plan.  Without a plan, time slots in my day would just bleed into other times slots and I would have no way of measuring how much I slid from my intended plan. My perfect schedule allows me to maintain control.

Sound like too much to worry about? It’s the opposite. By the time my day starts (and usually before my head hits the pillow the night before), I have every minute of my next day planned out. You may already do this with your meetings and phone calls but if you’re not doing this with your planning, marketing, personal, fitness, prayer and rest time, you’re probably missing out on a lot of those things every day and every week.

Weeks become months and then years. Don’t waste another day to live in your perfect schedule. Like the Covey quote at the beginning of this article, your life “doesn’t just happen.” I think what he meant to say was your life “shouldn’t just happen.” But it’s up to you. Control it. Own it. Schedule it and make it what you want.

For Personal Energy Plan and Perfect Schedule templates, please enter your email at right for a copy of Killing Time Vampires.



Testing appearance of the gravatar.

Eric, I’m emailing them to you now and I’m glad you enjoyed the book. Let’s talk when you’re available about how to best implement the perfect schedule.


Eric Bolves says:

Killing Time Vampires is great. I’m not sure how to get the Perfect Schedule Templates though.

Previous post:

Next post: