Facebook VP: How asking myself this simple question on Monday makes me more productive all week long

Facebook exec: The one thing I do every Monday morning to be more productive

Julie Zhuo is VP of product design at Facebook. She's also a wife and mom with a demanding personal and professional schedule, and as a result she says she's very intentional about how she spends her time and sets goals.

She tells CNBC Make It that to stay on track, she does one simple thing at the beginning of each week to ensure she remains focused on completing her most important tasks.

"One of the things that helps me the most is sitting down Monday morning and thinking about the week," she says. "Thinking about, 'Hey, if it's Friday afternoon and I'm driving home from work, what do I want to have checked off? What do I want to have done this week that's going to make me feel really accomplished?'"

Facebook's VP of Product Julie Zhuo
Photo credit: Julie Zhuo

She says she writes down her top three goals for the week on a sticky note that she places front and center on top of her computer. "It's something that I look at every day throughout the week," she says.

Additionally, Zhuo says, she looks at her calendar every morning to see what's going on and to see how she can break her goals down into smaller increments for the day. 

The Facebook executive, who has been at the company for more than a decade, isn't the only successful person who relies on the simple pen-to-paper method when setting goals. In fact, 23-time gold medalist Michael Phelps told CNBC Make It in January, "I write my goals down on a piece of paper and they're there where I can see them because I have to have a reason. I have to see something for why I'm getting up in the morning and what I'm doing that day."

What do I want to have done this week that's going to make me feel really accomplished?
Julie Zhuo

In addition to planning the week ahead, Zhuo says, "The other thing that's also equally important is being able to look back and figure out, 'Hey, is there anything I could have done better?" She says she spends a few minutes every Friday afternoon reflecting on whether she could have taken a different approach to accomplishing tasks that week.

"I sit down and look at that set of three goals," she says, "and I say, 'OK, how did I do?' And if I didn't do well, then it's important to ask, 'Why not?' and 'What happened?' What expectation did I have that was maybe off? Or what thing came up that I was unprepared for and that maybe I can do a better job at incorporating into my planning in the future?"

Writing out these goals, Zhuo says, not only helps her to be more intentional about how she spends her own time, it helps her to be a better manager and leader.

Video by Beatriz Bajuelos Castillo

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