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Like you I have a list of things that I would like to accomplish this year and a life that often feels like it’s bursting at the seams with all of the things left for me to complete. It’s a little overwhelming, to say the least. That’s why I utilize scheduling tools (like my planner the Visionary Journal) to help me plan and organize the chaos. If you really want to maximize your productivity and check those boxes next to your goals, you have to learn how to plan your week.
The Importance Of Planning Ahead
Let’s be honest, life is messy. There is no shortage of people, ideas, and things constantly fighting for our attention. This causes us to grossly overestimate what we can accomplish in a week and on the flip side underestimate what we can accomplish in a year. Crazy, right?!
Without a plan in place guiding the use of our time, it’s ridiculously easy to get off track or invest in work that doesn’t help us make progress toward our goals. I’m a firm believer of the idea that ‘What gets scheduled gets done’. If you want to get shit done, you need to adopt this philosophy as well.
Planning ahead is a proactive strategy that allows you to make adjustments to your timeline if there’s a disruption in your schedule. It also has the added benefit of reducing decision fatigue. Instead of trying to decide what to work on next when you sit down at your computer, you review your schedule and get to work. That’s an instant productivity boost.
How To Plan Your Week
1. Develop a weekly planning routine.
My first tip is to set aside a time every week to do your planning. This can be as little as 30 minutes after work on Friday or on Sunday to jumpstart your week. The day doesn’t matter as much as you consistently setting aside time to review your schedule and plans.
Gather all of your planning supplies (planner, calendar, pens, yearly and quarterly goals). Then, use this time to review your goals, figure out what work was not completed during the previous week and plan for upcoming deadlines.
2. Prioritize your tasks
Now that you’ve created a regularly scheduled planning routine, it’s time to take inventory of all of your outstanding tasks. You need to write out all of your goal-related tasks (aka your goal action plan), projects and to-do list items.
By now you’ve probably realized that you can’t do it all. So it’s important to evaluate each task on your list and assign it a priority. The key to making progress towards your goals and maximizing your productivity is ensuring that you are working on the most important tasks at all times. In a nutshell, this is how you get shit done.
A simple way to distinguish which tasks are urgent or important is to give them a star rating. High priority tasks get three stars, while low priority tasks get one.
If you’re still stumped by which tasks should have higher priority, here’s how I define important work:
- projects that will generate an income on completing them
- a task that will move you closer to achieving a goal (tasks from your goal action plan)
- tasks with a deadline
3. Batch the tasks on your list
Chances are that you have several tasks on your list that can be grouped together, things like writing blog posts, taking product photos or scheduling social media. It’s more efficient to complete similar tasks together versus doing them one at a time, this is called batching. When batching you block off time for similar tasks and work on them back-to-back. As you plan your week, you should go through your list and group together similar tasks.
Batching is a great productivity booster because it helps you to focus more intensely on the tasks at hand. You lose momentum when your brain has to constantly switch between tasks. For example, let’s say you need to write several newsletters this month. Once you sit down and get started writing your brain will already be in writing mode so it makes the most sense to write several newsletters instead of one.
Batching is also a great way to get ahead of schedule. If you have lots of deadlines to adhere to try setting aside a few days to batch your tasks and complete work that can be scheduled to go out later.
4. Schedule everything
I live by my calendar. Anything that’s important to me that must get done goes on my calendar immediately. I don’t want to clog up my brain with things that I need to remember.
As you plan your week, it’s essential that you schedule when you’ll be working on your tasks. Here are a few pointers to help you get your week scheduled:
- Add appointments and upcoming deadlines to your calendar first– You need to know upfront how your time is distributed for the week ahead. If you have a bunch of appointments on a single day, you can plan to complete less work. This is also helpful when you have a bunch of deadlines coming up so that you aren’t overwhelmed trying to meet them at the last minute.
- Theme your days– This is a way to take batching to the next level. Using daily themes means you only work on certain tasks on certain days of the week. A few examples are using Mondays to write new content, Wednesdays focusing solely on client work or Fridays scheduling podcast interviews.
- Schedule your time based on your priorities– Important work always needs to get done first. The best way to ensure that happens is to carve dedicated time on your schedule to complete it. Allott your most productive and focused time periods to working on the important tasks. You can fit less urgent things into the other slots on your calendar.
- Time block– Try to estimate how much time each task will take to finish (it’s better to overestimate here.) and block that time off on your calendar. I like to work in 2-hour time blocks. That way I can plan for how much work I can realistically get done in an 8 hour day (and no I’m not working all 8 hours).
- Focus on your daily top 3– Everyday make it a goal to complete your top 3 most important tasks for that day.
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. The best way to track and measure your progress on a weekly basis is to create and follow a schedule. I know it can be overwhelming at first but you’ll save time and get more done.
Do you plan your schedule every week? What are your struggles when it comes to weekly planning?