This post is an experiment on multiple levels. First, I’m testing how well I can get feedback on content for my book, by sharing content on my blog. Second, I’m testing how well I can share a techniques that’s easy for me to do live, but tough to write down. This is the same exercise I go through with my mentees at Microsoft to have more energy, have more fun, and get more done. It’s about spending more time in your strengths, and less time in your weaknesses.
The first time I did this exercise for myself, it was eye-opening. I was spending way too much time in my weaknesses and not enough time doing what I do best. A little awareness can go a long way. Once I knew the problem, I refocused, reprioritized, and reorganized my weekly schedule to spend way more time in my strengths, and a lot less time in my weaknesses. It’s not an easy battle, but it’s a worthwhile one, and if you don’t fight the good fight, nobody will fight this one for you. It’s all you. Even if you have the best manager in the world, you first need to do your homework. You need to know which activities make you strong, and which ones makes you weak.
Why a Strong Week?
A strong week is one where you spend more time in your strengths, and less time in your weaknesses. This will boost your energy and results. When you don’t spend enough time on your strengths, you gradually get drained. It’s a slow emotional drain. By spending more time in your strengths, you renew yourself, rebuild your energy, and unleash your results. The big deal is that by consolidating activities that make you weak and adding activities that make you strong to your day, you have more energy throughout the day, and throughout the week. Rather than end your day or weak drained, you are continuously recharged.
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 Saturday and Sunday 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 and scan your week quickly, along with key activities, and identify whether they drain you. If that doesn’t work for you, then walk each day and determine which activities make you weak. Chance are, when you first do this, it will look like a scatter chart. Your weak activities will be all over the board.
Example of Mapping Out Your Weaknesses
Here is an example of a map of activities that are weaknesses throughout the week:
Note that “W” in the table above represents “weakness”.
- Can you identify the top 3 activities that make you the weakest?
- Can you identify the types of work that make you weak?
- Can you identify the patterns of people that drain you?
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. When you first do this, chances are, your strong activities are 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:
Note that “S” in the table above represents “strengths.”
- Can you identify the top 3 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 your weaknesses that remain.
Eliminate Your Weaknesses
If there are activities that make you weak that you can get rid of, do so. You need to make room for your strengths. For a lot of people, this means eliminating some meetings. This also means re-negotiating some of the tasks they do.
Consolidate Your Weaknesses
For the weaknesses you can’t get rid of, try to consolidate them. If you adopt a “worst things first” practice, you can try to get your weaknesses out of the way, first thing in the morning. This creates a glide path for the rest of the day, especially if you can add more strengths.
Add activities that make you strong. This may require negotiation with your team, your manager, or your family, but this will be one of your best moves for renewing your life and getting more from your day to day. You might find that it’s tough to add activities that make you strong. Start simple. For example, you might schedule a weekly lunch with a mentor or a friend that lifts you up. 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. You can continuously improve your weekly schedule by adding more strengths, and eliminating more weaknesses.
Example of a Strong Week
Here is an example of a strong week by design:
Notice that weaknesses are consolidated and there are strengths throughout the week, and throughout the day. In fact, one key way to improve your energy later in the day, is to add activities that make you strong.
- Consolidate your weaknesses as best as you can. For example, you might use the first hour of each of your days 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. Just by eliminating a few of your weaknesses, can really lift a weight from your shoulders. Similarly, adding a few strengths can really help you renew your energy and make things 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 every possibility, test combinations and evaluate your results. Pay attention to how you feel. Simply making a few shifts in your weekly schedule can dramatically impact your energy.
- 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?
- How you consolidated your weaknesses as best as you can?
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