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You know that feeling that you get as a new week approaches.
It seems like the weekend just flew by and all of a sudden, you’re knocking on Mondays door.
How did it happen?
You feel exhausted just thinking about all the things that you have to do this week. The week hasn’t even started.
We have all been there.
You’e unprepared for week ahead. While the feelings are justified, there’s a way to persist with less fear and anxiety about the week ahead. The simple solution is to plan your week ahead of time.
So simple, yet so difficult to do.
As a working mom, entrepreneur and content creator, it’s been really important for me to plan my weeks ahead of time. The habit of weekly planning is perhaps what has the greatest impact on my productivity and preparedness for all the things I’m faced with each week.
This 30 minute routine has saved me the stress and worry that I usually associate with the start of a new week.
I now look forward to my weekly planning sessions because I immense benefit of this planning routine.
In this post, I’ll walk you through how to plan your week ahead of time and set yourself up for success every single time.
Why You Should Plan Your Week
Planning is bringing the future into the present soALAN LAKEIN
that you can do something about it now.
Planning your week ahead of time is a habit that’s worth starting.
Not only does it give you a space and time to figure things out, it also makes you better prepared for the week.
I do not think that it is a coincidence that the weeks where I was unable to plan my week ahead of time, ended up being the most chaotic and anxiety inducing weeks. I pretty much stumble through trying to do everything but never quite being able to achieve what is most important.
Simply put, planning works. You just have to commit 30 minutes (sometimes less depending on what your life looks like) to planning.
Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.Paul J. Meyer
Planning does not guarantee that you are going to achieve everything on your to do list, but it does give you incredible peace of mind.
In the book Eat That Frog, the author Brian Tracy explains that when you plan your day in advance, it becomes easier to keep going. In fact, theres a 10/90 rule in personal productivity which states that “the first 10 percent of time that you spend planning and organizing your work before you begin will save you as much as 90 percent of the time in getting the job done once you get started.”
When you consider how powerful of a tool planning can be in improving your productivity, it’s amazing how many people ignore this practice.
Tip: Before you start to plan your week, you will need to ensure that you have the necessary tools for the process. I like to use a blank piece of paper for brainstorming and making notes, a physical planner for my daily tasks and a project management tool (my tool of choice is ASANA) to set deadlines. I have synced my ASANA calendar to my phone and Google calendar so that I am able to keep track of everything.
Here Is How To Plan Your Week
Start With A Weekly Reset
The goal of a weekly reset is essentially to reset yourself and your mind at the start of the new week. I start by asking myself 3 questions.
- What worked last week?
- What didn’t work last week?
- What do I want to focus on this week? (If I could only do ONE thing this week, what would it be)
Asking myself these questions is important for self awareness. It also gives me guidance into what the next steps should be.
Write Out Your Goals
Many of us set goals at the end of the year and leave it at that.
Goals are nothing without action. Writing down your goals is an important step in making your goals a reality.
Neuropsychologists have identified that individuals demonstrate better memory for material they’ve generated themselves than for material they’ve merely read.
By writing out your goals every week, you’re not only reminding yourself what your goals are, you’re actually taking action towards your goals.
The approach I recommend when setting goals is to set quarterly goals. A quarter, 3 months or 12 weeks is a time frame that’s long enough to achieve a considerable amount. It’s also not too far away that it seems unattainable.
The truth is that most people set goals that are too big or too far away. When this happens, you do not tend to:
- feel overwhelmed by the big goals
- lack a sense of urgency to do the work necessary to reach those goals
Break Goals Down Into Baby Steps
Once you know what your goals are, you need to break those goals down into tiny baby steps. These are actionable steps and tasks that when done should lead you to acheive those goals.
These tasks are the things you’ll focus on a day to day basis. They are are also what you’re going to fill out in your weekly schedule during your weekly planning session.
Brainstorm Tasks For The Week
The first place to look when it comes to deciding what you’ll do each week is to look at those tasks that will lead you to achieving your big goals.
Once you have that, you can also consider other tasks that you do regularly.
Tasks can be broken down into different sections. In my current season of life, I like to break down my tasks into the following sections:
- Life & Relationship: eg date nights, leisure activities, appointments
- House Admin: e.g laundry, cooking, cleaning, groceries
- Health: e.g working out
- Projects: e.g business, blogging projects, home projects
Your list may look similar to mine. It it doesn’t that’s also ok. Feel free to modify
Once you have the list (on paper), go through it and make a mental note of what needs to be done this week and what can be moved to later.
Put first Things First
The previous step will likely leave you with a really long to do list for the week.
Most people stop here and work their way through the list, trying to cross off as many tasks as possible.
While this is one approach, it can leave you filling your days with busy work rather than work that is important to you.
Instead, you should rank each item in order of importance.
In his book Eat That Frog, Brian Tracy talks about a strategy for priotizing called the ABCDE method.
When you write down all your tasks, you place an A, B, C, D or E before each item.
A tasks are very important. They are must do activities. These are tasks or activities that must be done for the week to go smoothly. You can include sleep, your work schedule and appointments in this category.
They are tasks that would have serious consequences if you fail to fo it.
B tasks are tasks that you should do. B items have mild consequences if they aren’t done. They are often related to your big goals (remember the goals you wrote down earlier?).
These are important, but should never be done at the expense of your A tasks.
C tasks are tasks that would be nice to do. Meaning it would be great if you can get these done, but they are tasks that can easily be moved to the next week. They’re not important or urgent enough to be done this week.
A D task is defined as something that you can delegate, and an E task is one that you should eliminate.
Fill Out your Schedule in the correct order
Start With The Must Dos FIRST
I currently have a full time job, so I start by blocking out my work schedule. I also make sure to block off time before and after work for getting ready and commuting.
Once I’m done with these, I go through my calendar and my notes to write down any events and appointments that I have coming up the following week.
Next Fill Out The Should Dos
The tasks in your should do category will mostly be things that will take you closer to your goals. Whether it is your goal to lose weight or launch a business, it is important to work in order of priority so that you are focusing on important tasks rather than urgent tasks.
Lastly, Fill Out The Nice To Dos
By working in this order, you are essentially making sure that you have set aside time for the most important tasks first.
These are things that will be nice to do if you can but are not an absolute necessity. This will look different for everyone. The key is to be honest with yourself about these activities.
Many people lead their lives as if everything has equal priority. In reality, not everything will deserve priority. The word priority itself suggests that there should be some sort of order.
The important thing to remember when planning your week is to put first things first and always make time for whats most important
Revisit your plan Daily
Things change all the time, so it is important to revisit your schedule daily and make adjustments.
I try to do a daily review every night before I go to bed so that when I wake up each morning, I do not have to spend time figuring out what I have to do that day. I pretty much have a game plan and I am able to hit the ground running.
Books On Productivity And Planning
I hope that you found this post helpful, and has given you some ideas that you can use to plan and organize your week ahead of time. What I shared is the framework that I use. Feel free to use it and adapt it to meet your needs.
The reality is that even with the best made plans, things won’t always go exactly as planned. Try not to be hard on yourself and always give yourself grace.
Reflect on the setbacks you faced and use them as opportunities to learn.
The great thing about planning ahead is that you mitigate some of the unexpected roadblocks and challenges. You can even prevent some of them from snowballing into full fledged disasters.
Leave a comment and let me know if you have a planning routine. What do you do? What works and what doesn’t?