Time Management—Part 4: Weekly Planning in 4 Simple Steps
Weekly planning is the essence of self-leadership because it better enables your personal and professional development
David Cox | September 10, 2019
Why is weekly planning important?
I consider weekly planning as building a “bridge” to a more productive and self-directed life. I feel a self-directed life is one that is primarily led by you rather than someone else. As such, it focuses your time and actions on what you want to accomplish. Undoubtedly, a weekly plan can help you get where you want to go.
Weekly planning can help you increase your productivity and professionalism. You can indeed become more productive by organizing your time, tasks, and activities. However, productivity falls short without professionalism.
Let’s face it; your reputation depends on producing work of superior quality, delivered on-time, and on-budget. The relationship between productivity and professionalism is a reality whether you’re starting a small business or convincing the boss of your management capability.
An essential step in self-leadership
I don’t believe a weekly plan is a cure-all for our deficiencies. However, I do think it’s the essence of self-leadership because it enables you to take the lead in further personal and professional development.
Furthermore, it’s the difference between action and reaction. The more you work towards your goals, the more proactive you are in achieving them.
Weekly planning: A suggested 4 step process
The most frequent comments I hear from those committed to weekly planning center around “freedom” and “happiness.” Therefore, I offer the following 4 step process for your consideration:
Step 1 – Brainstorm your weekly tasks
I suggest you start your weekly planning process no later than Sunday. The first thing you need to do is brainstorm all tasks and activities. Create a list of what you want (and need) to accomplish in the next week. Place each task and all scheduled events on your to-do list.
Sure, the above approach may take a lot of time initially, but eventually, the whole process will take about 10-15 minutes. As you can see, this process is about more than goal setting. Here, we have carefully considered action-items, which will help you make progress throughout the week.
Step 2 – Set priorities
The next step is to decide what is most important this week. You can make these decisions by setting priorities for each of your tasks and activities. I refer you to last week’s article on setting priorities for more information concerning this step.
Step 3 – Put your tasks into your calendar
The next thing is to put the tasks into your schedule to make sure you’re scheduling to get them done. Your calendar can be your most effective tool in weekly planning. I enjoy using Google Calendar and Google Tasks. The apps are readily available, and I can use them to synchronize my calendar and tasks on all of my devices. You can choose from the many available calendar apps such as Microsoft Outlook, Firefox, or Google Calendar. If you prefer to use a plain paper system rather than a digital one, that’s fine. Whichever method better motivates you to manage your time and tasks is the best one to use.
This step is where you begin to organize each day of the week. Meetings, events, and hard deadlines are often “fixed,” and you must schedule them accordingly. Start planning time around your fixed schedule to work on your most critical tasks. Schedule your highest priority tasks early in the week to give yourself every opportunity to complete them. Use a calendar app and set reminders; if necessary, it will inform you about the task. Now you have a system you can trust, and you no longer have to depend on your memory alone. These reminders are essential and will enable you to focus on the one task you need to work on right now.
Of course, it’s imperative to leave some free time in your calendar. Your boss may assign you a new task, a project may take longer than expected, or you could suddenly face an unexpected service issue with a client. The goal remains to get your most important tasks done this week. So leave time open in your calendar. I try to keep 20%-30% free every day, so I will have time to react if necessary. Doing so allows me to cope with the unexpected without abandoning the rest of my plan for the day or week.
Step 4 – Take action
Begin to execute your weekly plan on Monday. Open your calendar and start the week with your most important task. Try to focus on this task only until you’ve completed it. If you get interrupted (the subject of next week’s article), you may have to focus on the new assignment and then return to your current task ASAP.
If you have to reschedule a task, then do it and make sure that you keep working on what’s most important tasks. As stated earlier, the goal is to accomplish your most essential tasks and activities within the week. Once accomplished, you can move on to less critical items.
The result of a regular weekly planning process is that you’ll make significant progress in the direction you’ve chosen for yourself. As a result, you’ll accomplish more than you ever thought possible during the next week. Furthermore, you’ll make incredible progress over the next year if you maintain the discipline of weekly planning.
The fourth rule of time management
As we continue to build our list, let’s review our first three rules:
I end this week’s article by adding a fourth rule to our list:
Rule #4 – Weekly planning is a bridge to a more productive and self-directed life
Next week; I’ll cover the fifth of our five rules of time management. They’ve helped me progress as ThirdPartyBlogger.com continues to grow and develop. As always, I can’t guarantee they’ll help you, but I can attest they’ve worked well for me.