My Weekly Planning System: The LEGO Framework

written by Dan Silvestre
Time Management

weekly planning

Today, I’m going to show you my weekly planning system aka The LEGO Framework.

This simple weekly planning system will allow you to achieve more in any week than most people do in a month.

My weekly schedule these days is a lot different than what it used to be a few seasons ago.

Before, every week felt like a constant battle uphill.

My focus was going in ten directions and my time split into so many different things.

At the end of the week, I felt exhausted and frustrated. Most times I made little to no progress on my most important projects.

I felt trapped, like a hamster on a wheel.

Nowadays, I focus on a few things every week while allowing time to rest and recharge.

By working smarter, I’m able to achieve 10x while working fewer hours and enjoying life more.

Leaders know that good times come and go.

Of course, we care about results. But we obsess about building systems that allow us to excel every single day.

The LEGO Framework

True success is the result of habits that compound over time.

The LEGO Framework helps me stay on track and give my absolute best to my work.

My weekly planning system will allow you to:

  • Make consistent progress on your goals
  • Lower your stress levels, knowing you’re on top of everything
  • Leave ample time for your family, hobbies, and rest

Over the years, I’ve simplified my weekly planning to a few core principles.

Here are the only 5 things you need to start conquering your week.

#1 Identify your priorities for the week

Successful leaders know that not all tasks are created equal.

The number 1 difference between a calm and a chaotic week is prioritization.

Invest the majority of your time in your highest-leverage tasks and projects.

I like to call these “foundational LEGOs” because the rest of your week is scheduled around them.

To discover your foundational LEGOs, I like to use Khe Hy’s $10,000/hr Work Matrix:

weekly planning 10k-matrix-white

Here’s more on how I use this matrix:

First, define your $10K tasks. Start by making a list of all your todos and then assign them to a quadrant of the matrix.

Your next step is to set aside time in your week for your $10K tasks.

#2 Schedule Deep Work blocks on your calendar

Okay, so you’ve nailed down your most important tasks.

The next step is to schedule them into your calendar:

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” — Stephen Covey in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

In his seminal book Deep Work, Cal Newport argues that the ability to perform deep work is becoming increasingly rare and valuable in the Knowledge Economy.

Those who cultivate this skill and make it the core of their working life will thrive.

To make Deep Work a habit, schedule 3-4 deep work blocks into your calendar every day:

“The key to developing a deep work habit is to move beyond good intentions and add routines and rituals to your working life designed to minimize the amount of your limited willpower necessary to transition into and maintain a state of unbroken concentration.” — Cal Newport in Deep Work

I prefer to schedule them in the morning so I eat my “frogs” first thing.

I have 3 or fewer tasks I want to complete every single day (aka The Rule of Three).

And I write down each task on a Post-it and put them in front of me, with the most important task at the top.

No fancy software. Keep it simple.

#3 Schedule the rest of your obligations

In a perfect world, you’d only work on your most important tasks. But in this world, you also have to work on a few other things. You have admin tasks, minor todos, outside work obligations, and activities.

So let’s also schedule them into your calendar.

Get used to working from your calendar. If it’s not scheduled, it isn’t a priority. And if isn’t a priority, why are you doing it in the first place?

Create “blocks” of time in your days and give them tasks to focus on. Every task fits into its own time block, without interrupting anything else. This is known as time blocking.

Here’s another pro tip: use colors to group types of tasks. This is called color coding.

For example:

  • Red for your deep work blocks
  • Blue for breaks or tasks you enjoy doing
  • White for planning-based tasks
  • Grey for tasks that may not be set in stone
  • Purple for creative tasks
  • Green for health or fitness-based tasks

weekly planning color coding

#4 Apply the 80/20 rule to everything

The 80/20 rule aka The Pareto Principle tells us that “80% of the output or results will come from 20% of the input or action”.

80-20 rule pareto principle

In other words, the little things are the ones that account for the majority of the results. The ratio – 80/20 – is a common number for simplification purposes. In reality, it can mean 90/10, 95/5, or even 99/1.

When it comes to productivity, ask yourself: “Do 20% of my tasks bring me 80% of the results?”

Which 20% of your daily tasks create the most value and happiness? How can you spend more time on these?

How can you cut away, reduce, or delegate the 80% of tasks that do not give you much in return?

By focusing on activities that produce the most results and eliminating or outsourcing trivial activities, you can free more of your time while accomplishing more.

Other examples of the 80/20 rule in productivity:

  • 80% of the value is achieved with the first 20% of the effort
  • 20% of the emails are 80% of the important conversations
  • 80% of your distractions come from 20% of sources

Apply the 80/20 rule to everything you do and see your results skyrocket.

#5 Leverage Parkinson’s Law

We all have tasks that seem to drag on forever (planning fallacy, anyone?).

With time, you know what type of tasks you procrastinate on or take too much of your time.

The solution?

Race against the clock.

Parkinson’s Law states that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”.

You’d be surprised how much faster you can be when you’re racing the clock.

parkinsons law

For example:

You receive an email from your boss asking for a report due 2 weeks from now.

But what would have happened if the report was actually due by the end of the week? Or two days from now?

Chances are you could still manage to complete the report on time. It wouldn’t be easy, but you could get it done in time.

You’d cut out the unnecessary work. The shorter deadline forces you to focus on the 20% of tasks that bring 80% of the results.

When you have more time, you spend it.

“I don’t need time, I need a deadline.” — Duke Ellington

The magic of Parkinson’s Law is that it gives you a new lens to look at deadlines. You realize they’re not the enemy, but an essential tool for productivity.

Start using smaller, shorter deadlines to challenge yourself.

Weekly planning: how to have the perfect week

Here are the 5 essential steps for great weekly planning:

  • Identify your priorities for the week. Use the $10,000/hr Work Matrix to figure out your most important tasks
  • Schedule Deep Work blocks on your calendar. 3-4 deep work blocks every day
  • Schedule the rest of your obligations. Create “blocks” of time in your days and give them tasks to focus on
  • Apply the 80/20 rule to everything. Which 20% of your daily tasks create the most value and happiness?
  • Leverage Parkinson’s Law. Set shorter deadlines and race against the clock

Once you’ve nailed your weekly planning, here’s how to plan your day.

Tags:: Calendar, Deep Work, Planning

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