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Create a CEO Week to Boost Your Productivity!
By Valerie A. Rivera
When you are the founder and CEO of your own practice and intend to stay a solo firm with outsourced help, you are ultimately responsible for, well, everything. This can mean your calendar can be color coded to the point where it hurts your head. You may jump from task to task, thinking you are accomplishing everything you need to do. Maybe. But what is the cost of task-switching to your time and well-being?
Estimates show that only 2% of the population is proficient at multitasking. If you’re like me, you fall into the 98% of people who think we are. This is partly due to deep-seated habits we were once praised for. Job descriptions often listed the “ability to multitask” as a desired trait. We tend to feel we are accomplishing more by doing two tasks at once or starting one task and then switching to another. However, this constant context-switching actually increases fatigue and kills productivity.
I hit a point in my practice when I was experiencing rapid growth that stressed my ability to keep up. I knew there had to be a better way. Another advisor introduced me to the concept of a “CEO week,” and it has dramatically changed how I focus my time and energy.
What’s a “CEO Week”?
CEO week is a way to dedicate time to specific projects or themes focused on working on your business instead of engaging in client-facing activities. It is one week each month of the year, and each day can be dedicated to something different.
Here’s how it looks in action. Each December, when you are doing year-end planning, decide on one week to block off each month. If you are starting midyear and already have client sessions scheduled, consider starting with some CEO days instead of a full week until you build up enough blank space in your calendar for a full week.
From there, I think about what I want to accomplish during my next CEO week. During the month, I use TasksBoard by Google (you can use Asana, Trello, or any other task management software) as a way to have a board for each category of my business and personal life. (Client information is not stored here and is kept in the client relationship management software.) Each board is a different category. I have boards for compliance, marketing, future goals, personal items, etc. As I have an idea, question, or item to work on, I “brain dump” and put it on that task list. For the personal category, it might be something like ordering a new credit card or signing up my daughter for dance classes.
CEO Week, Day by Day
When the time arrives for the next CEO week, I have one hour on the calendar the Friday before to organize what the next week will look like. Mondays tend to be compliance and finance days. I know I always have compliance questions, so I have a regular monthly meeting scheduled in which I can ask the questions I’ve been gathering over the month. On that Monday afternoon, I work on bookkeeping.
Tuesday is professional development day, during which I watch the webinars I registered for during the month. When I register for any webinar, I don’t save it to my calendar. I have a folder of webinars that goes straight to a dedicated folder using SaneBox email management software. I don’t like the task-switching to webinars, which often conflict with my client meeting calendar, so I almost never attend live. Listening later allows me to attend when it works for me, which is also when I can focus. This also allows me to fast-forward through any parts that aren’t relevant or the first five minutes when the weather is discussed. Because I work from home, I’m generally doing laundry or washing dishes at the same time, so this allows me to move around and be active while I watch on my laptop.
One of the advantages of being a business owner is that I don’t have to wait until Saturday morning to handle my personal affairs. Wednesdays tend to be personal days, and this allows me to get more done in less time and leave the weekend more open to relaxing and enjoying time with family. The morning is generally something for me, whether it is a haircut or a facial. It might be when I take the car in for the emissions test without any lines or make a Costco run without any crowds. And it’s when I handle my TaskBoard of personal items so that I can group all of the little things I have to do in one swoop. Many of these to-do items require calling during business hours, so this allows me to actually get things done instead of starting the process on a weekend only to find out the call center is closed.
Thursday tends to be my day to batch my marketing efforts. This could mean writing LinkedIn content, saving tweets in draft form for later use, and planning what the next client newsletters will contain. If I want to pitch a story to a journalist or apply for an award, this is handled on Thursdays. Thursday is my most creative day of the week.
Friday is a bit of a catch-all that may not fit into any one category. I’ve been using it more often as a time to reflect on my current service calendar. After working on marketing efforts on Thursday, I generally have new ideas about changes to make. Because I work with a part-time virtual assistant, many of the projects she works on relate to creating client deliverables. We meet on that Friday to talk about things she is working on and to keep implementing her more into my client service process.
I try my best to stay off Zoom during CEO week. That’s partly for a detox and partly so I can have an excuse not to do my hair for a week. If any professional contacts, such as advisors who want to network, ask about scheduling time, it is scheduled during this week, and I try to make them walk and talks to get in some fresh air and exercise.
Adapt This Schedule to Your Needs!
This schedule works for me, and your schedule will look different. I used to feel guilty about handling personal affairs during business hours. But then I concluded that I built my practice partly to provide flexibility for my real life. This schedule allows me to serve my clients to the best of my ability while maintaining my self-care and choosing to be the default parent in the household.
If you have a CEO week, I would love to hear how you schedule your time!
Valerie Rivera, CFP®, is the founder of FirstGen Wealth, a Fee-Only practice that provides no-shame, no-judgment financial advice for early to mid-career individuals who are the first to grow wealth in their families.
image credit: istock.com/fizkes