Last year, Arianna Huffington, one of the world’s most influentials media gurus, published one of my articles on her Thrive Global website.

The title was, Why This 7×7 Grid is Your Secret to a Perfect Week and it revealed my new success system, The Perfect Week Formula.

It quickly became one of my most popular articles, reaching millions of people around the world. 

However, over the last 12 months I’ve continued to refine the formula and test new strategies, and today we’ve realized that the original article was incomplete. 

To make the most out of this formula and consistently experience the most productive, fulfilling, and exciting weeks of your life, there are a few important tactics you must implement. Tactics I left out the first time around. 

So today, I’m updating my formula and revealing the seven new strategies you must implement to take your results to the next level. 

When used with my world-famous 7X7 productivity grid, these NEW tactics will help you enhance your mental energy, achieve higher levels of peak performance, avoid burnout, and make more progress towards your goals in just a few short months than you did all of last year.

1. Use the Secret Alarm to End Your Days Brilliantly

Everyone understands the power of having a consistent morning routine. A quick Google search will bring up more than 252 million pieces of content detailing exactly how you should spend the first few hours of each day. 

However, I would argue that having a consistent evening routine is just as important, if not more so, for sustained success. 

When you get the evenings right, the mornings tend to take care of themselves. 

By setting aside time each night to plan the following day, streamline the following day’s tasks (e.g. outlining an article or email you have to write, organizing documents for a proposal, etc.) and properly unwind for a great night of sleep, everything goes smoother the next day. 

To accomplish this, you’re going to use something I call the “reverse alarm” and it goes like this. 

Set two alarms on your phone. The first one will go off fifteen minutes before the end of your workday. When this alarm goes off, STOP what you’re doing. 

Write down exactly what you plan to accomplish the next day, review your calendar, clear out your inbox, and complete a quick “brain dump” to shut off those pesky mental loops that keep you in “work mode” when you should be relaxing. Take a few minutes to reflect on what you learned that day, what went well, what didn’t, and how you can improve the following day. 

Then, once you’ve finished your “post work routine”, turn off everything related to work and go enjoy the rest of your day.

By having this clear separation or “bookend” built into your day, you’ll be less likely to fall into the trap of working while you play and playing while you work. 

The second alarm you’re going to set will go off one hour before you intend to go to bed. When this alarm rings, turn off all of your electronics. Dim the lights in the house, stop eating and drinking, and spend the next 60 minutes engaged relaxing into the night and preparing for bed. 

Take an Epsom salt bath. Read a good novel. Listen to music. Go for a night-time walk with your dogs. Journal. Review your plan for the following day. Do whatever you want to do as long as it relaxes you and prepares you for a great night of sleep. 

By spending the last 60-minutes of your night engaged in deeply relaxing and restorative activities, you’ll enjoy deeper sleep and wake up the following day feeling rested and prepared for the Empire-building activities you have planned. 

2. Apply the Secret Sauce of Success to Your Life

If you want to supercharge your success in every area of your life, you must become radically accountable to someone you deeply do not want to disappoint. 

Listen, it’s easy to break promises to ourselves because there are no consequences. I’ve done it. You’ve done it. We’ve all done it. 

We can schedule workouts, date nights, and time off all we want. But if we don’t have someone else holding us accountable to these commitments, it’s easy to slack off. 

If you tell yourself that you are going to take your spouse out for a fancy dinner date this Wednesday, there are no consequences whenever you decide to work overtime instead. 

However, if you tell your spouse that you are going to take them out for a dinner date and then decide not to show up. Well…you’ll probably be sleeping on the couch that night. 

When you have the right accountability systems in your life, everything becomes easier. 

You no longer have to rely on discipline or willpower because you have to do what you said you wanted to do or face painful consequences. 

Although you can get accountability from a friend, colleague, or mentor, I encourage you to work with a professional coach. 

The right coach will not only be able to hold you accountable to your commitments, but they’ll provide an objective set of outside eyes and help you make sure that the things for which you are accountable are actually driving you towards the goals you’ve set.

And if you find a coach that you respect, someone who has achieved what you want to achieve (and more), you will not want to let them down. 

The pain of going to the gym, waking up the first time you alarm goes off, or devoting three hours to hyper-focused deep work will be less significant than the pain of humiliation and feeling like a hypocrite. 

Whether you decide to work with a coach or enlist the help of a successful friend, find an accountability partner this week and ask them to hold you to your most important commitments. 

I promise you’ll be amazed by the results. 

3. The One Detox Everyone Must Do

All high performers, regardless of their respective fields, follow the same formula to sustain their performance. 

“Stress, then rest.” 

Michael Phelps was famous for sleeping 10-11 hours a day during his training season. 

Bill Gates spends an entire week alone in a cabin (twice a year) without any technology. 

My friends who are professional athletes, writers, and entrepreneurs all take several weeks off after big projects to rest and recharge. 

To perform at our best, we need time away from work and disconnected from our devices. 

And even if you don’t have the luxury of retreating to a hidden cabin for a week, you can still implement the “stress, then rest” model into your weekly routine to increase your productivity and success. 

My favorite method for doing this is something I call “The Weekly Detox”. And even though it’s incredibly simple, it’s one of the biggest reasons for my ability to sustain peak performance for extended periods of time. 

When you sit down to plan out your perfect week, select one day when you will turn off all electronics and unplug from work completely. 

Turn off your notifications, unplug the TV, and spend the day doing things that recharge you and help you feel at your best. 

Whether you go for a hike, spend the day with your family, read, journal, or practice an instrument, spend at least 16 hours disconnected from the rest of the world and tapping back into the things that make you come alive. 

By doing this, you will help free up the mental bandwidth you need to perform at your best and you will likely find that many of your biggest insights and creative breakthroughs occur during those 16 hours. 

4. Use This Farm Boy Secret to GSD

One of the simplest ways to get more done, eliminate distraction, and become a productivity machine is to use a simple method called “batching.” 

If that sounds like something a farmer would do, you’re right.

Back when I grew up on the farm we batched our work, concentrating on one specific task. After all, it was quite dangerous to multi-task when trying to milk a cow. 

Instead of doing a bunch of things simultaneously, we spent days on end planting crops, and would repeat the focus in the fall during harvest time… ignoring all other work as we pulled the crops off the field.

In the context of building your City Slicker Perfect Week, batching is the act of scheduling all similar tasks on the same day. 

For example, you may decide to do all of your writing on Mondays, record podcasts on Tuesdays, host meetings with your team members on Wednesday, and write marketing emails on Thursdays. 

On a micro-level, you can batch similar tasks inside each day. 

You might schedule all of your writing from 8 am to 12 pm and then schedule all of your administrative, lower level tasks from 12pm to 4 pm. 

The exact way in which you batch your tasks doesn’t really matter. 

The most important part of this tactic is to master the art of single-focusing on a task to completion. 

Too many entrepreneurs – excluding farmers, of course 😉 – waste hours of productive time each day by attempting to multi-task and accomplish dozens of things at once (which is one of the reasons why most entrepreneurs fail within the first five years of starting their business). 

By flipping this script and doing only one thing at a time, you will increase your productivity, reduce distractions, and get more done in a day than you used to in a week. 

5. Enter The Witness Protection Plan for Your Time

Achieving lasting success and fulfillment is as much a byproduct of the things you don’t do as it is what you actively do. 

It doesn’t matter how many times you go to the gym, if you are eating McDonald’s every day and finishing the night with a 6-pack, you will feel, look, and perform like crap. 

It doesn’t matter how quickly you scale your business or close new sales, if you are spending more money than you earn, you’ll still stay broke. 

The things you don’t do are just as important as the things you do. 

To ensure that you aren’t unintentionally sabotaging yourself, you’re going to create something I call the “Not To Do List”. It’s like having a witness protection plan for your time. 🙂 

This list, much like the name suggests, is a list of all the things which you will not do. 

For example, my personal “Not To Do List” looks something like this:

  • I will not check email or social media before 10 am. 
  • I will not get drunk 
  • I will not hit the snooze button  
  • I will not skip a workout (unless I’m very sick)
  • I do not consume food or drinks that make me feel tired or unwell 

Inside of my business, I have another “Not to Do” list that prevents me from wasting my time and allows me to stay focused on my most important objectives. 

  • I do not upload emails or blog posts myself 
  • I do not upload my own Instagram stories 
  • I do not take work-related calls before 11 am 
  • I do not handle sales calls for programs under $10,000 

My personal “Not-to-dos” have given me structure, freedom, and peace of mind, and they will do the same for you. 

Right now, take a few minutes to identify at least five things that you will no longer do. 

Then, send your “not-to-do” list to your accountability partner and watch the magic happen. 

6. Watch One “Movie” Per Week 

And I don’t mean settling back with Netflix or going to the cinema. Instead, I’m referring to something you’ll do in the “theater of the mind”, as Napoleon Hill would say.

One of the most underrated and underutilized habits that Empire Builders and entrepreneurs can use to increase their performance is intentional reflection. 

We all have busy lives. We all have mortgages to pay, families to raise, clients to serve, and businesses to build. But we should never get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life that we forget to pay attention to the lessons we’re learning along the way. 

Your worst weeks are often your most valuable teachers and by taking the time to review how your week actually unfolded, what you got right, and what you got wrong, you can quickly identify the gaps in your performance and take the action required to fix them. 

To do this, I encourage you to spend 30 minutes each week (preferably on a Sunday morning right before you plan the following week) replaying the “movie of your week.” 

Sit down in a comfortable position, close your eyes, and vividly visualize the events of the prior week. Think back on your successes, your failures, and (more importantly) the cause for these events. 

Paint a clear mental picture of how your week went. What can you learn from it? How can you learn from the mistakes and the breakthroughs to improve next week? 

As simple as this tactic is, it has the power to rapidly transform your life and your performance. 

7. Say Goodbye to This Bad Habit From Your College Days

“Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life,” Dean Werner said in Animal House. 

Now listen, I know you don’t share the same bad habits as Bluto Blutarsky, but you’re still probably making one mistake that carries over from your college days of cramming.

I’m going to be blunt. 

Most entrepreneurs are way too cocky. 

I don’t mean that they think they are better than anyone else or that they are somehow superior to 9-5’ers. Rather that they overestimate what they are capable of in a given week.

They bite off more than they can realistically chew, “cramming” in way too many meetings, calls, and projects into an already packed schedule, and find themselves at the end of the week having accomplished fewer than half of the tasks they planned to accomplish. 

As I like to say, they try to cram 10 lbs. of potatoes into a 5 lbs. sack… and of course, fail epically along the way.

Luckily, there’s a simple fix for this. 

Every week, when you’re doing your Perfect Week Planning, I want you to set aside at least 90-minutes each day and a three hour block of time once a week for “buffer time”. 

Don’t schedule any meetings. Don’t plan on doing any deep work. Don’t put anything on the calendar. 

As the name implies, this time is designed to provide a buffer in your schedule where you can catch up on tasks that took longer than anticipated. 

This simple strategy will prevent you from overloading yourself and force you to ruthlessly eliminate tasks and priorities that don’t serve your mission. 

Try it out this week and you’ll be amazed by the results. 

Want to achieve your 12 month goals in the next 12 weeks and start building lasting success?

Then click here to get access to my 90-day reality maker blueprint. The same tool I give to my $25k/day 1-on-1 coaching clients (a tool that has made many of those clients millionaires).

I’ll walk you through step by step exactly how to reverse engineer your biggest goals and achieve them in 90-days or less.

Craig Ballantyne

Craig Ballantyne is the author of The Perfect Day Formula: How to Own the Day and Control Your Life. Craig has been a contributor to Men's Health magazine for over 17 years. Today he teaches his gift to high-performing entrepreneurs how to squeeze more out of their days, increase their income, and make more quality time for their families in his Perfect Life Workshop and Work-Life Mastery programs. Craig used his own advice to overcome crippling anxiety attacks in 2006, and he'll teach you his 5 Pillars of Success so you can increase your income, decrease your work time, and live the life of your dreams. Learn more about Craig at craigballantyne.com

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