Weekly planning is one productivity system that is the most simple but can yield maximum productivity. I started weekly planning sessions right from my middle school days. I would plan my study sessions, my classes and fun activities for the week on sundays. I have maintained that habit up until this day. My weekly planning techniques have evolved in all these years but the foundations remain the same. In this blog post, I will be sharing a system to plan your week.
The problem with planning ahead of time is that things change. You plan your week on sunday, things go well on monday and then there comes tuesday with newer tasks and commitments. This is exactly why I follow a technique that is a mix of organization and intuition. I will elaborate more on this as we go into the steps.
Perfect Weekly Planning = Organized + Intuitive Plan
How to Plan Your Week?
My weekly planning system consists of 4 simple steps. If you follow this routine, it will only take you 30 minutes to plan your week. I usually love to do this on a Sunday. It makes me feel prepared for the week and motivates me to take action on the next day.
Step 1 – Decide on 3 main goals
The first step is very important because if you have no focus, you will end up in chaos. So take a few minutes to decide the 3 most important goals that you would like to accomplish this week. Make sure that they are challenging but doable.
Your goals can be mini projects, milestones or high impact tasks. Here are a few things that I maintain while setting these weekly goals –
- One goal in each area of life – career, relationships, personal life
- They should be aligned with your yearly / monthly or life goals
- These goals should be actionable and should have a higher impact than other normal tasks
For example, this week my 3 main goals are –
- Complete updating Self-Discovery Journal
- Call a friend I have lost touch with in the last few days
- Learn to cook thai food (thai curry and rice)
These goals are not small errands or habits. Also, they are controllable which means I have full control over their completion. Setting goals such as ‘Reach 500 followers on instagram’ can be out of my control but ‘create an instagram content strategy’ is controllable.
Set 3 goals with these guidelines and them move ahead to the next step.
Step 2 – Write down all the tasks you need to do this week
The second step is a no-brainier. Brain-dump all the tasks that you need to get done this week. These tasks can be small errands, work stuff or anything you wish to do that week. I use the inbox list from the GTD method to help me brainstorm (You can read about how I am implementing the GTD (Getting Things Done) method by clicking here.)
If you do not have a tasks list while planning your week, then you will end up missing out a few ones, not prioritizing the right ones and under utilizing your productivity.
Now here is the thing – some tasks will come up as you go through your week and they will need urgent attention. In that case you can add those to this list. When you have all the tasks you need to do in front of you, you can decide which one needs to be done when. You always have a complete view of things. You can eliminate some, you can postpone some and you can schedule the others.
Step 3 – Pen down the habits / everyday tasks in a tracker
We all have some tasks and habits that we do every single day. Working out, reading, planning for the next day or tidying up my space are some of the everyday tasks that I have on my list. I put these in a habit tracker so that I do not lose track of them.
You are highly likely to not do those habits / tasks if you are not tracking it. I will not tidy up my space if I don’t feel accountable. That is why it is very important to have a weekly habit tracker to keep yourself on track with things that need daily work.
I also add some of my work stuff such as responding to emails and posting on instagram in this tracker. Feel free to track anything that you need an accountability system for.
Step 4 – Roughly time block your week
This last step is where it all gets interesting. Now that you have all your tasks and habits in front of you, give it a time in your calendar. You can do this in your digital calendar or on a time blocking worksheet.
I have some guidelines that you can follow to execute this step. These guidelines help me be more intuitive in my planning. Here are those guideline –
- Firstly, block out all your appointments and meetings in your calendar
- Batch your taks and fill them out in your calendar. For example, batch all the tasks that you need to do on the computer and do them in one time slot. Batch out all the tasks you need to do when you go out and do them all in one time slot.
- DO NOT fully book your calendar. So give your days a general structure when you start planning your week.
- Time block each day completely on the day before so that you are planning by considering your energy and priority. GTD system has helped me with this system.
Plan Your Week for Action & Implementation
I have made the mistake of being a great planner and a bad implementer. I learned from my mistakes and I urge you to learn from mine as well. Do not spend 3 hours on planning and then taking no action at the end.
Be an implementation oriented planner. For this, you need to keep a few things in mind before planning –
- Make sure you are not overbooking yourself
- All tasks should be actionable
- If you are working on anything that needs more than 1 action to complete, write down all the broken down tasks (I love the projects tool from GTD for this purpose)
- Have white-space in your calendar (buffer time) for when tasks take more time than anticipated or new things come up or you just do not feel like it
Follow these steps and guidelines to plan a productive week!