Do you struggle to plan out your week ahead of time? Ever find yourself getting behind, or losing track of your priorities? If you want to stay on top of your work, planning out your weekly schedule is key to the long-term. When you’re thinking about how to plan for the week, you want to set time aside to make it easier on your workload.
How to plan for the week: Planning for the week ahead
Whether you work in an office or recently started working at home, it’s a great practice to plan for the week ahead. Knowing which times are better to do deep tasks (or your peak time) is good to keep in mind. For this reason, you know the best times you’re likely to stay focused. On the other hand, you can get an idea when unexpected things might come up. So it’s good to have that mental preparation in mind when things don’t always work out.
If you’re working at home, distractions of any kind will be inevitable (It’s right for parents who are raising young children). More so, that can lead to stress and loss of valuable time when unexpected things come up. It may apply more for working at home, but it can be in an office environment as well. For this post, I will go over some of the best tips to keep in mind when planning out your workweek. These points include:
1.) Setting aside a half-hour each week
2.) Checking your calendar and fill gaps in between (i.e., time blockers)
3.) Taking care of the small immediate tasks
4.) Setting weekly goals to help reach long-term goals
5.) Setting break periods and time for leisure (what I need to do)
How to plan for the week
Set aside a half-hour to prepare the new week
At the beginning of each week, it’s a good idea to set aside time to plan it out. If your workweek starts on Monday, Sunday night would be a good time to do some planning. Whether it’s 15 or 30 minutes, that time set aside can be well spent on planning out your week. Ideally, writing out your goals and priorities in less than a half-hour will work out fine.
When planning out your week, some things you can write out include:
What are the 3-5 priorities I need to get done this week?
What small tasks do I need to take care of immediately?
Do I have any free time that I can fill in to do other tasks?
What I do for planning
I’ve gotten in the habit of planning out my week ahead regularly. Setting aside that time will make my week go much smoother. When I glance at a new week, I’ll write down my top priorities and then set aside time on the days I can get them done. For me, priorities come first so that I can stay focused on my long-term goals. If I don’t prioritize when planning, I’ll end up getting distracted and getting less done. So I do the best I can to have a clear picture of my week ahead.
Check out the calendar and fill gaps in between
Though it’s not required, having a calendar on hand can help keep things organized and straightforward. If you hold a schedule, you can always check what you have going on two days from now. It can be a physical calendar or a digital calendar you pull up on your smartphone. If there are gaps (free time) on your schedule, ask yourself what you can get done during those open time frames. Even small things such as responding to an email or creating a logo design can be excellent uses of those gap times.
My best practice: Time-blocking technique
One of the most common practices I follow is the time-blocking technique. You divide up your day (and weekly activities) into what I refer to as time chunks. Each block dedicates to a specific task that you plan on completing in an hour or two hour period. I usually use Gmail/Google calendar to insert my time chunks.
The aim of time blocking is to set aside time to work on your most important tasks. In the last few months, I’ve found this technique to be extremely helpful when I need to stay focused. Even people such as Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, use time blocking to go about his work schedule. So it’s a common technique to practice and make the most of your time.
Take care of small immediate tasks
There always is an emphasis on placing priorities (and the more significant tasks) first. I consider myself a firm believer in prioritizing my tasks; however, you want to make sure you take care of the small jobs as well. As I mentioned earlier, if there are gaps you can fill in on your calendar, utilize that free time to get the little things out of the way.
What I do: How do I complete a task in its purest form?
Whenever I’m pressed on time (or trying to fill in those gap periods), I do my best to keep things as simple as possible. So if it’s a small task such as creating a quick logo design or responding to an email, I can simply get that out of the way in a few minutes. But if it requires a more extended response, I’ll set aside more time in my calendar to make sure I do an excellent job.
But most importantly, I keep the idea of simplicity in mind to make things not so difficult. When it comes to natural, small tasks, it’s always good practice to get them out of the way and keep it simple. You know what the common saying is, keep it simple.
Set weekly goals to reach long-term goals
Achieving your long-term goals can take time and feels intimidating at first. The good thing is that whatever your long-term goals are (personal/professional), they’re achievable if you work on the smaller ones first. So when planning out your week, set out weekly goals that you can quickly achieve. Not saying they should be easy, but goals that are attainable and can help reach your long-term goals.
Some examples of these goals may include the following:
Long-term goal: I want to be promoted to leadership/management positions at the company I work at
Weekly goals: Take part in group discussions, be engaging and ask questions in the group meetings (portray yourself as a leader)
Long-term goal: I want to write 2-3 content posts for five days every week
Weekly goals: Learn simple processes of doing research, and understand how to write more efficiently in less time
These are some examples that can help differentiate between weekly and long-term goals. Once you take action on the weekly goals, it’ll get easier over time to work on your long-term goals. It’s something I keep on doing each week, so that way it’ll be easier for me to achieve my own long-term goals.
Set breaks and time for leisure
Of course, you can’t forget to take breaks when needed. It may sound obvious, but some people tend to work longer and not take breaks. It’s hard at times when you’re concentrated for so long, and all of a sudden, you went a few hours without taking a short break. It’s essential to give your mind a little rest and refresh before going into another work period.
What I do: Use the Pomodoro technique
I’ve gotten better at taking breaks in between my work. I’ve learned not to go over an hour of sitting and working; otherwise, my mind starts to wander off and gets off track. I am practicing tips such as the Pomodoro technique helps me stay focused at times. Usually, I’ll work 30-minute time blocks, followed by five-minute breaks. I’ll do that again for three more work periods, followed by a more extended break.
It may not work for everybody, though. Some individuals will want to work for an hour, followed by a quick break. Or some people will work longer (90 minutes-2 hours) and take their breaks then. So it’ll vary for some people, but as long as you get some breaks in between, you’ll be fine.
Planning your week out ahead of time doesn’t have to be a complicated task. It was something I thought was the case, but it’s more comfortable than it should be. If you go through some of the layouts mentioned earlier, it’ll help you get a step ahead of the game to stay on track.
One of the main points to take away is not to complicate your tasks. As mentioned earlier, you want to keep things simple. When it comes to small, manageable tasks, doing them most simply will make things less stressful for you. Doing so in planning out your week will certainly help maximize your productivity. Hopefully, these tips can help plan out your weeks ahead while staying on track of your goals.
Which one of these tips do you prefer? Have you tried any of them before?
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Eric is a time management consultant and owner of the blog, quitkillingtime.com. He takes great pride in helping people manage their time, personally and professionally. Eric is a firm believer in time freedom, as he believes in taking ownership of time. “Time is your most important asset. It can be your best friend or worst enemy. How you use your time can shape the future you desire to have.” In his leisure time, Eric loves to write and read whenever possible. He likes to go for long walks out in nature and been taking Zumba classes every week at his local gym. You can follow Eric via Facebook and LinkedIn.