How to Plan Your Week as an Engineering Leader

As an engineering leader, your week can quickly become chaotic with numerous tasks and responsibilities vying for your attention. To maintain focus and drive strategic progress, it's crucial to plan your week effectively. Here's a structured framework that can help you navigate your responsibilities and ensure you're working on what truly matters.

1. Identify Your Top Priority

Start with one priority. Identify the single most important subject that needs your attention in the upcoming week. This priority should be as strategic as possible and directly contribute to your team's goals. Allocate a substantial chunk of your time for this task—ideally, 4-8 hours—and block it off in your calendar.

Key Steps:

  • Timebox at least 4-8 hours for this priority.
  • Allocate at least one long block of focused time (minimum 4 hours).
  • Include it as an item to discuss during your 1:1 meetings with team members.

2. Address Two Critical Focus Areas

Once you've established your top priority, pinpoint two additional subjects that require your attention. These should be significant tasks or challenges that, when addressed, will move the needle forward, unblock your team, or add value to your projects. Allocate 2 hours for each of these focus areas, ideally in a single, uninterrupted block of time.

Key Steps:

  • Timebox 2 hours for each of these focus areas.
  • Ensure that you can concentrate fully during these blocks.

3. Keep an Eye on Three Important Areas

Now, designate up to three important areas that you need to monitor during the week. This could involve checking key performance indicators (KPIs), reviewing metrics, or staying updated on your team's progress. While these are important to keep in mind, they may not require immediate action. Instead, they serve to build your awareness in case they become priorities in the following weeks.

Key Steps:

  • Regularly check in on these areas, but avoid diving deep unless necessary.

By following this framework, you've already allocated between 15-20 hours of your week to strategically important tasks. This ensures that you maintain a laser focus on what truly matters. The remaining time can be dedicated to addressing distractors, handling tactical issues, managing firefighting situations, setting aside time for learning, or ensuring the smooth operation of ongoing projects.

Remember: If you find it challenging to allocate time for one priority and two focus areas within a single week, it's a warning sign. Prioritize addressing distractors and eliminating unnecessary tasks to create room for your timeboxed focus, as it's a critical element of your role as an engineering leader.