Several years ago, I had the opportunity to interview top leaders at various companies about their productivity habits. One habit that every leader mentioned was that they set aside time on Sunday to plan their week.
Your first step to effectively planning your week is to block out the time to plan. You need to actually put an appointment in your calendar on Sunday to Plan Your Week. Just because it’s an appointment with yourself, doesn’t make it any less real or important than say an appointment with a doctor. So put your planning appointment on your calendar and keep it!
I think Sunday is the ultimate planning day. If for some reason Sunday doesn’t work for you, set your planning appointment for Saturday or first thing Monday morning. What you don’t want to let happen is for the week to get rolling without having sat down and planned it.
Okay, so what do you do during your weekly planning session?
Step One: Get everything in one place. Enter any events into your calendar that might not already be in there. Check school newsletters, invitations you got via email, things stuck to your refrigerator - get them all on your calendar.
Step Two: Scan through your email and text messages for changes to existing appointments. This is your chance to catch that email moving a meeting from 8:30 to 9 am on Thursday - stuff like that can easily slip through the cracks - and there is nothing LESS productive than showing up for an appointment at the wrong time!
Step Three: Go day by day reviewing what’s on on your schedule for each day. This is your opportunity to scan for what I call Crunches and Chances.
Crunches are possible time crunches or conflicts. Look for overlapping appointments, necessary travel time between appointments, or activities that you didn’t block enough time for - those are your Crunches. Do you need to make any changes? Do you need any help? For example, do you need to ask someone to give your kid a ride home?
Chances are opportunities to find openings for other activities. For example, when you review your day you may see the perfect opening to run errands or invite a friend to meet you for coffee. By seeing those chances or openings in your day - you’ll be able to plug in other activities, or just block some down time or family hang out time.
After you Plan Your Week, you need to remember to Work Your Plan. Calendars are not a "set it and forget it" tool - they are dynamic, constantly changing and growing. You need to look at your calendar every day. I recommend taking 5 minutes at the end of the day to look ahead at the whole week and 5 minutes every morning to review what’s on tap for today. Many people will make the effort to plan their week, but then forget to work their plan! It’s a two-part process for success.
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