Planning your week helps you to take control of your time and get more done, but you have to take the right approach.
I’ve always found that if I am not planning my time then things just don’t get done. To combat this I set aside a chunk of time each week to look at the week ahead and schedule in as much stuff as I can so I don’t have to worry about finding time for it at the last minute. I have a system in place that I follow each week and I think that helps me streamline the process.
If you are going to take the time to plan your week then you need to have the right tool to get the job done. That’s a calendar or some type of daily planner. I use a digital calendar on my phone since that’s the one device I always have with me and that syncs across all of my computers and tablet. But I know a lot of people who still use a paper planner and that’s fine. The key is to use the right tool for you, it’s about making this process streamlined not more complicated.
Now that you know what tool works best for you it’s time to get into the meat of the planning process. I start by going through the past week, I spend a few minutes to flip through what was on the calendar last week and take a deeper dive and identify three things.
First I want to go through what I accomplished that week and and take stock of that. Know what I got off my plate and take a few minutes to reflect on those completions and where they fit in my larger roadmap.
Once I go over what it is I completed I make sure to identify everything that didn’t get finished that week. I want to make sure I know what was left undone and why it didn’t get complete. If something wasn’t completed because it was made irrelevant by something else then I know I can scratch it off the list altogether. However; if a task wasn’t completed because of a conflict in scheduling or it was just pushed off this allows me to allocate time for these uncompleted tasks in the upcoming week.
I cap off this part of the process by looking back and asking myself what I can improve and where I can make adjustments. This is just part of how approach my schedule, constantly looking to optimize how I manage my time and get the most out of it.
Next up I do a brain dump, this is where I try to download everything in my brain that I want to do in the following week and get it listed out in front of me. The idea here is to get it out and in front of me and the same as with the calendar use the medium that works best for you, that could be paper or it might be to type it down in a document to just list it out, just use what works best for you.
The tasks i’m writing down might be to set up a meeting with a friend, get some writing done on a project, research a specific topic, learn a new song on the Ukulele or to set up a meeting with my team. It doesn’t matter if it’s big or small, I just want to get it out in front of me so I can figure out if and where it fits in the next weeks schedule.
Once I’ve gone over everything from the previous week and also made a list of everything in my head I wanted to take care of, I sort everything I want to get done in the following week, the most important and relevant tasks take priority, they come first, obviously. Once all the major tasks are filled in I can start to get the more minor tasks slotted into a spot where they make sense.
The key is to get all of your major tasks scheduled first, and put them in spots in your schedule where you know they will be given the priority they require to get complete. Let the minor tasks fill in around them. These are the tasks that you can bump from the schedule if something more important comes up.
Lastly, you need to keep in mind that your schedule is a tool intended to help you better utilize your time. Don’t be a slave to it, take a look at your schedule each day and make adjustments as needed to ensure you get your major tasks complete. This is really one of the most important parts of scheduling that a lot of people overlook. It’s your schedule, It’s not set in stone, let it be flexible. The more flexible it is the better it will work for you and understanding that it needs to be flexible will help prevent the mental hangups some people have when something doesn’t get done.
This is why you review and make adjustments daily, a week is a lot to plan out in advance, but it’s really just the framework, you make adjustments as you move along to optimize your time and workflow.
Keep making your ideas reality.