How to organize your life and avoid burnout

10/14/22

THE GREENHOUSE JOURNAL

Steve Perkins

Productivity

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There’s always more to do than I have time for. 

It’s one of my most constant frustrations in life, so years ago, I set out to find a system that I could rely on to ease the overwhelm. 

It seemed like everything out there was overly complicated or too hard to keep up with, which just added to the overwhelm! So I decided to build my own version. Something that could keep me on track, make my goals a reality, and keep me focused on the important things – not just the urgent things.

The result came from cobbling together the best of many different systems/philosophies and creating a small, simple, repeatable approach that actually works.

An image of an organized desk with a computer, coffee, and a camera.

I call it the Weekly Planning Rhythm, and it has 3 steps:

  • Set a weekly recurring block on your calendar (90 minutes on Friday is best – I’ll explain why later!)
  • During that block, do 3 things:
    • Document a win and a learning from the week
    • Pick your “Main Thing” for next week (more about this below!)
    • Schedule your “Deep Work” block to do that Main Thing (first thing Monday is best)
  • During your Deep Work block, put distractions away, get in the flow, and finish your Main Thing for the week!

Take this quiz to see your next step toward focus in the Greenhouse Method!

Moving things across the finish line

I spent a decade in various corporate environments, where I noticed the trend was to talk about big exciting plans, yet never seem to move anything across the finish line.

It was frustrating because I knew things could be accomplished, but there was never enough time. Only 20 minutes here and there between meetings… time that was inevitably dominated by emails.

I would go through a whole week and think, ‘What did I really accomplish?’.

The frustration was compounded because I’m a thinker and a builder, so I longed for bigger chunks of time to accomplish real things.

I even found myself in roles teaching work methodologies like Agile and Design Thinking, but that just made my frustration worse because we had the tools to stay focused, yet we still wandered from meeting to meeting about non-priority work.

It all felt similar to the overwhelm of my personal life, where all the things on the to-do list seemed to hold equal weight and every day was starting from scratch, wondering what mattered that day.

Doing a little bit of everything, and thus, accomplishing nothing.

On the contrary, some areas of work sparked joy. I kept noticing over the years that I would go home feeling very satisfied after evening project meetings, all-day offsites, and all-hands-on-deck projects where everyone was in the room and focused on one thing together.

There was real focus. Real results. You could point at a tangible result and say – ‘We did that!’.

I thought, ‘There’s got to be a way to have clarity and focus like this all the time…’, so I started studying and testing out various productivity tools and methodologies. I was on a mission to find the parts that really work, and make a simple, repeatable, anyone-can-use formula.

There were too many productivity systems and inspiration sources to list here, but here are some of the books that had big influences on me: Zero to One, Deep Work, The One Thing, Multipliers, Essentialism, The Power of Habit, and Managing Oneself.The common thread I kept finding… the part that really mattered… was momentum.

The idea that focusing longer on one thing resulted in accomplishing exponentially more than spreading yourself across many things. The idea of prioritizing important things and focusing long enough to make real progress while cutting out all the urgent distractions.

Organize for the Important, Not the Urgent

I like to think of it like the momentum of pushing a car. A car is stuck on the side of the road that needs a push. You put it in neutral and a few people put their hands on the trunk and start pushing.

It’s really hard at first to get the car to budge, but if they keep pushing, it gets easier and easier until it’s rolling on its own. But if you had multiple cars sitting there, and the group kept shifting from car to car, pushing each just one inch, then you’d never get any of them moving. 

It’s like that with our time and work. When you have larger chunks of time, you get exponentially more done – kind of like that momentum pushing the car.

It makes sense, right? No musician records an album in between meetings. No author writes a book while answering emails. No one renovates their kitchen in 20 minute increments. Yet… we approach so much of life and work without focus.

We need a system that’s simple and stable to rely on.

The Weekly Planning Rhythm to Stay Organized

Over several years, I’ve been dialing-in the formula – testing and tweaking it myself, with my team, and with many clients across different roles and company sizes.

The result is the sixth step of the Greenhouse Method, called the Weekly Planning Rhythm.

It’s a simple system for identifying your Main Thing each week, making it happen, and organizing your work/life to stay focused on what matters most. A method for accomplishing your goals and intentionally moving toward your life vision.

For me, it’s still tough most weeks not to get sucked into the neverending list of urgent to-dos. But I can confidently say that I always know what matters most, and a week never passes without making progress on those things.

Here are the benefits I’ve experienced and heard from others using this Weekly Planning method:

  • Accomplish goals more consistently
  • Feel more focused and confident 
  • Enjoy work more and feel more fulfillment
  • Remain clear on priorities
  • Rest easy on weekends
  • Come clear-headed into Monday and get more done Monday than any other weekday
  • End Monday feeling great about the week
  • Understand how much to plan for a week (capacity)
  • Make continuous improvements (learning from mistakes and amping up what works)
  • Experience fewer dropped balls
  • Know what to work on in DeepWork blocks

If you want to make this happen in your own work and life, you can get access to the step-by-step videos and guides inside the Greenhouse Method Coaching Membership. Plus, you’ll also have access to coaching and community along the way!

When you join the community, you get to talk to a coach so we can show you where to start and what to do for the next few weeks.

As you implement the steps outlined above, you will quickly find new clarity and finally make progress because the steps are on your calendar and if you want, you’re talking to a professional coach along the way. 

You might as well try it out, because you can cancel anytime if you decide it’s not for you!

Either way, we will show you where to start and we have the simple steps for you to figure out what’s next and step into greater career fulfillment.

Enjoy this post? Check out our Podcast, Career Sweetspot – episode #145 where we share this more in-depth!

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