Blog How To Organize Your Week To Increase Productivity

How To Organize Your Week To Increase Productivity

Jun 8, 2023

8 min read

If you’re not in control of your calendar, your calendar will take control of the way you work. Learn how to hack time with these techniques and increase your productivity every week.


Is it Time for a Productivity Boost?

Your day starts with you going to the gym and listening to customer calls while running on a treadmill. You take a business call on your way to the office and by the time you open your calendar you realize that there are not enough hours in the day to attend all the back-to-back meetings, appointments, and focus time you should put in.

Some calendars we’ve looked at are anxiety-inducing with the executive being double or even triple-booked several days a week. So, how does it feel for you to know there is no way you’re gonna get your job done? That’s when stress takes over and that feeling alone can seriously hinder your productivity. In fact, studies have shown that 41% of stressed employees state that stress negatively affects productivity.

Table of contents

  • The power of planning
  • Assess and prioritize goals
  • Reduce content switching and challenge meetings
  • Delegate and compartmentalize
  • Practice self-care

The power of planning

Planning ahead is a crucial skill for startup executives that can significantly impact their success. Effective planning allows you to chart a clear path toward your goals, anticipate challenges, and optimize your resources. By investing time in strategic thinking and mapping out your actions in advance, you can navigate the unpredictable nature of the business landscape with greater confidence and efficiency.

One key aspect of planning ahead is starting early. Many successful executives start preparing for the week on Sunday night, for others is Monday morning. See when you’re most productive and take that time to set goals for the upcoming week. Our tip? Choose a time when others are offline so you’re not bombarded with emails or time-sensitive Slack messages. This quiet time allows you to lay the foundation for a focused and purposeful week.

However, planning is not a rigid process. As Robert Pozen says: “Prepare your plan but be ready to change it”. You may have come up with the perfect approach that will bring you closer to reaching your OKRs, but in business, especially in startups, fires happen, and suddenly all your attention needs to shift from one project to the next. So, stop, reassess, and reprioritize.

Fineas Tatar, Co-CEO at Viva, is in his most productive mindset on Sunday nights, and he designates a fraction of his evening to set three main priorities for the week. He makes sure they are aligned with what’s on his calendar, leaving buffer room for items that may pop up throughout the week.

Try his downloadable productivity template out and see if it works for you.

Productivity template

Assess and prioritize goals

To determine whether you are prioritizing the right tasks, assess whether the work you are currently engaged in is truly the most effective means of achieving your weekly goals. Although it may initially seem obvious that you are working on high-value tasks, the reality is that many low-value tasks can subtly infiltrate your schedule. It requires effort and vigilance to prevent this from happening.

“It’s quite easy for low-value work to unnoticeably creep into your schedule”.
Adora Cheung, former Y Combinator Partner.

Maintain a Notion page that has the potential to positively impact your primary KPI. Rather than immediately acting on each idea, put them on the back burner and log them on your page for later evaluation. This approach prevents the constant switching between tasks that often hinders progress throughout the week.

Once you have a list of tasks, grade them based on their potential impact on your weekly goals. This grading system involves three levels: high, medium, and low. It is crucial to compare each task against the others to determine its relative value. Additionally, considering the complexity of each task, ranging from easy to hard, further aids in prioritization. By evaluating the impact and complexity of tasks, you can effectively rank them and focus on those with high impact and manageable complexity.

Productivity time hack


After doing that, set 3 to 5 clear, achievable goals for the week and prioritize those over the less impactful ones that end up distracting you from your real mission.

“Setting three to five key goals each week helps maintain focus and provides a sense of accomplishment when they are achieved. Be realistic in your goal-setting and adjust them based on the evolving needs of your startup”.
Kathryn Minshew, Co-founder and CEO of The Muse.

Reduce context switching

Content switching, or frequently shifting between tasks, can be a major productivity killer for startup executives. In a fast-paced and demanding startup environment, the ability to focus and make progress on key priorities is crucial. That’s why adopting strategies like time blocking, themed days, and batch processing can increase your productivity.

Time blocking

Time blocking involves dedicating specific time slots to different types of activities. By strategically planning your day and allocating focused blocks of time for tasks like strategic planning, meetings, and deep work, you create a structured routine that minimizes distractions and maximizes productivity.

Themed days

Themed days take time blocking to the next level. Instead of juggling multiple types of tasks every day, you dedicate entire days to specific activities. For example, you could have a day dedicated solely to meetings, where you schedule all your discussions and collaborations. Another day could be focused on deep work, giving you uninterrupted time to tackle important projects or creative thinking. Themed days eliminate the mental burden of constant context switching, enabling you to dive deep into one type of activity and achieve greater productivity and efficiency.

For a lot of our customers, (technical leaders in particular) themed days are their preferred way of working. It may not be as easy to get fully dedicated days to one kind of task right away, but keep on aiming towards it and get your executive assistant to schedule tasks only on the specific days you have designated.

This is a real example of how one of our customers has started to theme his calendar:

Productivity time hack

Batch processing

Batch processing is another powerful technique to combat content switching. It involves grouping similar tasks together and tackling them in one go. For example, instead of responding to emails throughout the day, you allocate a specific time block for email management and address them all at once. By batching tasks like email responses, phone calls, or administrative work, you reduce the cognitive load of switching between different activities and increase your overall efficiency.

Adnan Khan, Co-CEO at Viva is an advocate for batch processing, especially when it comes to checking his email and Slack messages. He only checks his email in batches a couple of times per day. If he is in the middle of a meeting he doesn’t only refrain from checking his messages, he closes Slack altogether, even if that means keeping somebody waiting.

Ultimately, you can avoid around 80% of these tasks with the power of an executive assistant. Ask your EA to be the first filter of your email and the person in charge of writing the first drafts, so you can take on the remaining 20% and use the rest of your time on more pressing matters.

Challenge meetings

All too often, we find ourselves trapped in a cycle of excessive meetings that eat away at our productivity and keep us from doing any focus work for days, sometimes even for weeks. Also, constant meetings can lead to mental exhaustion, making it difficult to think clearly and make informed decisions. So, how can you get ahold of your time and use it on your main priorities? One way is to challenge the amount of meetings you have on your calendar.

It’s essential to ask yourself (and your coworkers) if there is an actual need for a meeting to address specific topics. Many discussions can be effectively resolved through simpler means like email threads, collaborative documents, or quick conversations.

“What one-on-ones can I get rid of and solve in a group meeting?”
Kim Walsh, CEO at Practice Better.

As leaders, it’s important to realize that we don’t have to attend every single meeting. Delegating attendance to capable team members who can provide updates and contribute meaningfully allows us to focus on strategic initiatives and high-priority responsibilities.

When you do have to attend a meeting, a little preparation goes a long way. Request your executive assistant to work with you in creating a clear agenda beforehand. This ensures that discussions stay on track, time is utilized in an effective way and objectives are met.

To further optimize our productivity, consider scheduling meetings back-to-back or in specific time blocks. This approach minimizes disruptions to our focused work periods, allowing for a steady workflow throughout the day.

Delegate effectively

Leaders often struggle to delegate due to several challenges. For some it might be a lack of training in delegation, for others, it can be a matter of control, a sense of urgency, or even remorse. Whatever the reason might be, the truth is working too much can lead to burnout. Given the fast-paced environment startups have, working too many hours seems to be the common denominator.

According to a recent study, 73% of C-level executives are overworked and are not getting enough rest. If you’re one of those it’s time for you to let go of the barriers that are keeping you from delegating effectively.

Have you ever considered delegating something but changed your mind? These are some of the most common reasons why leaders don’t delegate:

  • I can do it faster
  • I can do it better
  • My team is already busy
  • I might make myself obsolete
  • I don’t know how

Download our free Notion template: the 5Ws of delegation and start delegating effectively.

Productivity time hack


Compartmentalize ruthlessly since your time is so scarce

Mastering the skill of compartmentalization is essential for maintaining focus, efficiency, and overall productivity. The workplace is filled with common distractions, ranging from incessant notifications and interruptions to multitasking and information overload. These distractions can have a detrimental impact on productivity by fragmenting attention, disrupting workflow, and hindering deep work. By ruthlessly compartmentalizing tasks and minimizing distractions, startup professionals can create a conducive work environment that fosters concentration and allows them to dive deep into their work

For Katie Tokars, CPO at Apollo, compartmentalizing ruthlessly was the answer to all of her calendar concerns. Working with people scattered around 4 different time zones meant she had meetings from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. on a regular basis. The things that were once a priority to her started to get lost in the sea of work coming her way. Until her executive assistant took control of her calendar and became the defense line she needed to keep her personal and professional life in balance.

Practice self-care and breaks:

While the startup culture often glorifies long working hours and constant hustle, taking regular breaks throughout the day is essential for maintaining a healthy balance and sustaining long-term productivity. By stepping away from work and allowing time for rest and recharge, startup professionals can renew their energy levels, enhance focus and concentration, and foster overall well-being.

Davis Smith, founder, and chairman at Cotopaxi, has a very interesting way to do this: every other Friday all the employees at his company get a Zoom invite on their calendar to join a virtual hike: a watercooler in which one team member tells everyone else their life story while going for a collective walk. With such a simple idea he kept his entire company not only engaged but also active.

Reflect and review:

In conclusion, planning ahead is very powerful, and can change the way you work. Determine 3 to 5 goals for the week based on their impact and complexity and ruthlessly prioritize those throughout the week, even if that means you’ll drop the ball on less important projects.

Use our productivity template to keep track of your weekly progress and tailor it to your needs. Go back to it every time you need to and reassess your goals.

In order to tackle your priorities allocate focus time during your most productive times (morning, afternoon, or evening) or devote a themed day for deep work (if you’re lucky enough to make that happen).

The results of doing it right will be a quite literal time hack. Organize your week and see how much time you get back for yourself.

Try one out and let us know what worked best for you. We’d love to hear your feedback.

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