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The beginning of a slow week feels like punishment.

Your Monday starts as the least productive day that comes with a lot of guilt. And that sets the tone for the rest of the week - tired, boring, simply-looking-forward-to-Friday.

Picture of a dog on a slow day. Photo by Sébastien Lavalaye / Unsplash.
Picture of a dog on a slow day. Photo by Sébastien Lavalaye / Unsplash.

But it doesn't have to be this way.

   

A potential solution

Use your slow days to:

  1. Proactively plan your creativity time and to;
  2. Align your energy level with tasks for the rest of the week.

I find this approach super helpful.

It is an idea adapted from Jeremiah Dillon, previously Head of Product Marketing at Google for 9 years.

At Google, Dillon sent an email that encouraged employees to set aside more time for Maker Time — our creativity and thinking time — instead of having endless busy times, back to back.

Here's a 2-minute video on this concept.

Youtube video on maker time vs. busy time
Youtube video on maker time vs. busy time

In summary: first set aside more time for creativity by reducing the amount of busy times you have. Then align your days throughout the week with your energy level.

Make sense?

Let's go a little bit deeper into each of these.

   

Use slow days for creativity

On slow days, step back from never-ending busy cycles and lean more into your time for making things.

If you're a creator or entrepreneur, this step is key for driving the strategy of your business.

If you're a leader in an organization, this is extremely important for setting a north star for your reports.

Busyness doesn't create innovation; creativity does.

The higher your busy time, the lower your maker time; but you can plan ahead more maker time by reducing your busy time.
The higher your busy time, the lower your maker time; but you can plan ahead more maker time by reducing your busy time.

The chart moves from 100% busy time to 100% maker time.

But 100% maker time is an idealistic state. We most likely will never get there. And that's fine. Think of it as a form of stretch goal.

If you picture the top left corner of the graph, most busy people reside there: busy, exhausting, working on back-to-back tasks. So when a day starts out slow, guilt immediately follows because:

I should be doing a ton of work right now but I'm not! I really don't feel like doing anything.”

A more realistic place to shoot for is somewhere, a little past the center where you're still busy but you've set aside even more maker time.

Key takeaway: decrease busy time; increase maker time.

   

Align slow days with your energy level

Here's a breakdown of an example week by Dillon:

Monday

Energy ramps out of the weekend — schedule low-demand tasks like setting goals, organizing, and planning.

Tuesday, Wednesday

Peak of energy — tackle the most difficult problems, write, brainstorm, schedule your Make Time.

Thursday

Energy begins to ebb — schedule meetings, especially when consensus is needed.

Friday

Lowest energy level — do open-ended work, long-term planning, and relationship building.”

The beauty of this approach is that you set yourself ahead of time and this is particularly powerful if you manage others.

Less guilt; More work; Even more creativity.

   

But I don't manage anyone

That's ok.

You actually don’t have to be a manager to follow the high level principle. You don't even have to work for a company.

You can adapt it for:

  • Workouts: Days where you want to do a full work out. Plan ahead something simple for days when you notice your energy is typically low
  • Writing: You have a book to write but feel lazy in the evenings. You can use that period to plan titles for the book, outline for chapters, etc. But then dedicate your high energy in the mornings to writing at least one pages.
  • Meditation/House Chores/Job application/etc: Plan ahead for low-energy moments.

   

Your next action

Maybe for you, Mondays are not slow.

It could be Tuesday or Thursday.

The most important takeaway is that you should chunk your activities by different days of the week or different hours of the day and align them with your energy level. You can use your slow days to boost your creativity.

That way, you'll feel more balance and control in how your week goes.

Remember, simple little tweaks like this can add up to the big transformation you desire.

Slow days are inevitable. Don't just slog through.

Instead use them to get strategy and creative work done. If you're like most busy people, you're not doing a lot of thinking work anyways.

Change that – with this tiny shift in your approach.

   

Thanks for reading

I enjoy writing for working professionals and small startups to re-focus on what matters. Not just finish busy work.

If you enjoyed this post and would like more like this, let me know on Twitter. If you prefer sending a direct message, my DM is open.