How many of you have gotten to the end of the week and wondered "oh my goodness, what happened? Why didn't I get those things done?"!
Well, I'm obsessed with planning. I plan my journaling, daily workouts, grocery list, meal plans, content for my blog and social media posts, play time with kids, meditation, live videos for business, client calls and follow-ups...you name it, I plan it!
When I wake up Monday mornings, I know 90% of what is going to happen during my week. And I contribute 75% of my success in business and other goal-related areas in my life to planning.
Here is my advice:
1. Know your top three priorities
For each day, week and month. Not planning your week is bad. Planning your week without your priorities, to me, is even worse. It means you are able to handle everything “on your plate” but you won’t make progress on your own goals, since you are too busy attending to other people’s priorities. And this is the entire point of planning your week: being able to proactively block time for the things that are most important in your life and business right now.
For your work this might be blocking 2 mornings for deep work on your top priority project. In your free time, this might be blocking untouchable time for your workouts in your calendar or making sure your kid’s soccer game is on your radar.
2. Schedule EVERYTHING in your calendar
And then share that calendar with your spouse, family - whoever needs to know what is going on (we use Google Calendar). They may not like having everything put in a calendar (hey, my husband hates it most days; and my mom had a color-coded wall calendar for us to walk by daily. And if whatever you wanted wasn't on the calendar, guess what? It didn't happen.)
Plus, what a great way to encourage and congratulate family members on what they are doing. For example, I was on a few podcasts this past month and because they were in the calendar, my husband was able to encourage me before going on them. Likewise, when he has a big client meeting, I can ask him how it went).
3. Plan your week on Sunday nights
I'm telling you - you HAVE to do this. We block off Sundays for family activities only - no work. But after the kids go to bed, we take 10-15 minutes to plan our week out and then have our time together before bed.
If I know how my week will look like by the time I am at work on Monday morning(no thinking about what to have for dinner too!), I am not only more focused on actually getting my stuff done, but also a lot less stressed. Furthermore, by pro-actively blocking time in my calendar for the things that are important in my life and work, I am a lot less likely to say “YES” to random lunch invites, projects or after-work activities that are not aligned with my priorities.
Now I am not saying you should stick to your schedule no matter what with no room for flexibility, but say “YES” to the things that are MORE important than what you originally planned (e.g.meeting your friend from out-of-town for lunch, attending a birthday party instead of working out and rescheduling your deep work time for an urgent meeting).
The good thing about blocked out time in your calendar is that your default state for other people’s requests is “NO” instead of “YES” which forces you to actually make a DECISION about the importance of two overlapping events.
4. Plan buffer times
One of the advantages of planning your days is that it takes away a lot of stress because you’ll know exactly when you will do what and that you have thought of everything. On the other hand, over-planning every minute of every day can have the opposite effect because you’ll most likely always run behind your “schedule” (insert the "bossy" kid growing up!).
To avoid this trap, account for buffer times in your day. Here is a few ideas you can do that:
- add an extra 15 min to every event that lasts an hour or more — especially if other people are involved (I always do this with discovery calls and client meetings)
- generously account for daily habits like showering, having breakfast, commuting etc. — there is nothing worse than rushing in the mornings
- keep the last hour of your workday free to be able to wrap things up
5. Plan for spontaneity
Yea this one is hard for me and all you other enneagram 8's out there! Having fun is incredibly important for your mental and physical health. So schedule in time to goof around, play with kids, do something random or out of your comfort zone.
As a wrap, planning helps you get clear on what you need to accomplish in order to move closer to your goals. When you know what to expect, you can keep the momentum going. You got this. I know you do. But you need to plan ahead!