How to plan for the week ahead

Planning’s when, what, how

How often do you plan your day or your week ahead? Are you pretty relaxed and decide as you go but then noticed you haven’t achieved as much as needed? Have your friends jokingly referred to as scattered brain and given you notepads and calendars to be on time?

We all have heard about the importance of planning. Abraham Lincoln once said: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” The better prepared we are for our activities, the smoother the execution and the outcome. But why don’t we plan for the week ahead?

Very few people plan their year, month or even week. Often, the argument is that planning removes creativity and flexibility. Planning for the week ahead has advantages like removing unnecessary stress and last minute panic attacks. By planning large parts of your week, you get back into the driver’s seat and can still enjoy spontaneous activities. Here’s how to plan for the week ahead:

  1. Look at your calendar and note special, fixed events. This could be a birthday, a particular meeting or a bill due. Put time aside for these in your calendar. For example, this could be a phone call of 30 minutes or a text (5 minutes) to the birthday girl.
  2. Next, review your deadlines for the week. Your boss may have given you deadlines like submitting a presentation or report on a specific date and time. Confirm that the deadline still stands as previously communicated to you and has not been moved. Block time to work on the required activities before the deadline. If it’s a larger task, schedule some time on different days to break it up. If you need the input from others, factor that in as well. Do these individuals require numerous reminders? Add some extra time. Things do take longer than you think!
  3. What goals do you have for this week? Do you want to complete an additional step in an on-going project at work, exercise in a new gym class or try a new restaurant with your loved ones? Block time for these activities as if they were ordinary business meetings. Sounds very formal? If it’s not in your calendar, it doesn’t get done and will move to tomorrow. And we all know that tomorrow never comes.
  4. Use different colours to quickly differentiate between the activities. This is the fun activity for all visually oriented people. You can take your favourite colours and assign them to different categories or, alternatively, you can use associated colours. Take blue for business, red for activities with your loved ones and yellow for fun activities. This not only gives you a colour splash, it also lets you quickly differentiate your activities without reading the actual text.
  5. Managing also the family calendar? Use a joint calendar for you and your loved ones. Everyone can see what the others are up to and it’s easy to identify any conflicts. Some like to use the traditional paper based calendar hung up in the kitchen while others have moved to cloud based calendars like Cozi. Choose a planner which represents your family lifestyle.
  6. And what about those activities which move from one week to another? Julie Morgenstern once raised the question whether it’s still an important activity if you move it from one day, week, month to the next one. It’s clearly not an urgent activity (otherwise, it’d be done by now) and you may want to evaluate its importance. Do you still need to plan for them or can they be dropped?
  7. Want to plan a bit more? Organise your meals and outfits for the week ahead. Don’t waste your energy on making what appears to be an easy decision but can take for ever (or so it feels when choosing your outfit for the day).

If you aren’t used to planning for your week ahead, you may want to take baby steps and plan for your work week or your personal activities only at first. Experiment and find a way that works for you. Whatever method you’ll use, it will need to fit your preferences. It will need to give you that peace of mind and remove the rush-rush emotions which so often lead to unnecessary stress.

Let me know how are you planning for your week ahead. What has worked for you and how did you find the adjustment from going day-by-day to a weekly view? Can’t wait to hear from you!

Until next time,

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