Your plate is full and you have a lot going on. You can barely think straight. The last thing you want to do is your planning for the week. But, counterintuitively, that may be the smartest option you have.
Because planning out your time, especially when feeling overwhelmed or busy, is an easy way to organize and manage your priorities.
Especially with someone like yourself that is incredibly driven.
Someone like you that wants to get the absolute most out of your time and is relentless in pushing yourself to bigger and better things.
Now, the upside to that drive is that your life will be filled with consistent new adventures and opportunities.
The downside though is that if you aren’t careful, your desire to do more will turn your once barely filled appetizer plate into an overflowing buffet platter.
The habit persisted
Back in college, I had this weird habit.
I would sit down, place seven sticky notes (aka Post-It Notes) on my desk, and plan out my day for the week on each one.
One sticky note would be for Monday. Another for Tuesday. So on and so forth for the entire week.
I would plan out each day in its entirety; from the time I would wake up to when I would go to sleep and everything in between.
And as is natural for college students to do, my roommates would often give me a hard time about this planning ritual I had.
It was all in good fun, but jokes or not, the habit persisted.
When I do something I completely go for it. Doing so allows me to gain the full experience I’m after, but also means that I tend to fill up my schedule to the brim. So, just like my life today, my life in those years was jam packed.
And I needed a way to manage some of that chaos and get everything done that I needed to do.
Thus, my weird habit turned into a weird routine which is now part of my fun, weird, daily life.
Something more flexible
Sticky note planning was how I managed my schedule in college. Since then, I’ve ditched the sticky notes and have gone digital.
Opting for Google Docs instead of paper.
And along with my new place for planning, I’ve also adjusted and honed my overall planning strategy over the years as well. I’ve gone from a rigid weekly schedule to something more flexible.
Something that gives me the space I need to get everything done while still keeping me organized and focused on the priority.
Is my strategy perfect? Or the only strategy that will ever work for me? The answer to both questions is the same:
In fact, that’s something I mention often in my productivity course – that the strategy I’ve cultivated works for me at the moment, but as I continue to learn and experiment with new ideas, I can adjust things accordingly.
It’s all about trial and error.
Regardless, the real importance here, and the point that I’m trying to show you, is how important having a schedule for your time truly is.
The benefits of planning your week
When you create a schedule for yourself, when you do your planning for the week, you are taking control of your time.
You are saying: I’m not going to let chaos push me around. I’m going to be deliberate with my life.
And that’s important!
Because by taking the reigns of your schedule and by creating a plan for your time, you force yourself to pick a lane. To decide where you want to navigate your life by dedicating time to those things that you find important.
And as someone that wants the absolute most out of life, having a plan for yourself is one sure-fire way to make time for things that you value (ie. your dreams, goals, and big picture desires).
If you’re the type that loves little details and logistics (who isn’t, right?), here is my official weekly planning definition for you.
Weekly planning is the act of sitting down and creating a schedule for your next seven days.
It is the combination of coordinating your calendar, goals, meetings, and projects into one cohesive, living document that you can reference and update throughout the week.
When done right, everything will fit nicely together like a detailed puzzled. If you find yourself rushing to put together a schedule though, you’ll likely find that things are just as chaotic as when you started.
You don’t want that. You want ordered chaos, not chaotic chaos.
So when it comes to how to plan your week to be productive, let me be your guide. Abide by the following seven rules when putting together your weekly plan and find that you are able to manage your time much more effectively.
Planning For The Week Rule #1: Make Time For It
First and foremost, when you’re busy and your plate full, you may feel the urge to offload some of your tasks.
And due to the time it requires to do, one of those tasks on the chopping block may be your planning for the week.
Fight that urge!
Rule number one when it comes to planning out your week when busy is to make time for it.
Make it a mandatory line item on your task list. Block out however much time you need (for me it’s about 30-45 minutes) and get to it. Don’t take it off your list or put it off till tomorrow.
Force yourself to sit down and plan out your week.
Personally, I spend time every Sunday planning out my schedule for the week. And as the week progresses, I’ll also spend a few minutes each afternoon updating my schedule to fit my needs.
Planning For The Week Rule #2: Know What You Want
You’ve blocked out some time in your schedule and are ready to start planning. Great!
The next part of the planning for the week process is to recognize what your priorities are.
In other words, of all the things that comprise your busy schedule, what are the one or two most important? What are the big goals you are working to achieve? If you only had time to work on one task, what would it be?
Rule number two is before you start planning out your week, know what your priorities are and what you should actually be working on.
Planning For The Week Rule #3: Check The Calendar
The next step in planning out your week is to check your calendar. I’m just going to assume you probably already have some type of calendar app or system that you use because if you didn’t, you probably wouldn’t be reading this post right now.
So with your calendar open, take note of the various events, meetings, and appointments you have coming up this week.
Rule number three is to take stock of your calendar items so that you know exactly what you have going on over the next seven days.
Planning For The Week Rule #4: Don’t Forget About Chores
You know what your priority is in the big picture. You also know what mandatory events you have coming up based on your calendar. The next step is to take stock of your administrative tasks.
Meaning the chores, errands, and other things that you need to do in order to keep your life running smoothly. That could be:
- Grocery shopping
- Meal prepping, etc.
Yes, you need to bake some time into your schedule for these boring but important tasks. So rule number four is to recognize what mandatory chores you need to complete this week.
Planning For The Week Rule #5: Recognize Your Productivity Peaks
Rule number five is a little ambiguous, but stay with me here. This rule is all about understanding when you are most productive.
Because if you think you are more productive at night, when in actuality you are more productive in the morning, you are only doing yourself a disservice.
So before you move forward, be sure to adhere to rule number five – understand when you are most productive.
To help you figure that out, I have two suggestions.
AM vs PM
Look at three important tasks you have to do tomorrow. Plan to do one of those tasks first thing in the morning, then one around mid-day, and another at night.
When working on each task, consider your energy levels, your ability to focus, and how well of a job you feel you did.
That will help determine when during the day you seem to have the highest rates of productivity.
Another option to help you discover when throughout the day you are most productive is to track your time. That means that for the next 24 hours, write down every single thing you do, along with the time, in minute detail.
- 8:16 AM – 8:46 AM – Work on project
- 8:46 AM – 9:22 AM – Facebook
- 9:22 AM – 10:07 AM – Meeting about product design
Do that for a full 24 hours (or longer) and you’ll be able to spot patterns in how you spend your time. The more trends you spot, the higher the likelihood that you can fix some of those productivity lulls and get even more done in your day.
Bonus: A productivity plan
Before we move forward, there’s something else I should mention. If you like this post so far but want something a little more detailed, consider signing up for my productivity plan bootcamp.
It’s a free email series where I’ll email you with a new lesson each day over the span of five days. Lessons include how to prioritize your tasks, plan out your time, and ensure that each day is more productive than the last.
You can sign up right here:
Planning For The Week Rule #6: Remember Parkinson’s Law
Keeping everything so far in mind, you’re just about ready to do your planning for the week. BUT, there’s one major thing that you need to be aware of: Parkinson’s law.
What is Parkinson’s law?
Well, to keep it brief, Parkinson’s law states that the deadline you set for a task is the amount of time it will take you to complete it.
For example, if you set a deadline to finish a design within two hours, it will take you two hours to finish it. However, if you were to set a deadline for one hour instead, you’d probably get that task done within the hour.
That’s Parkinson’s law at work. It makes the argument that humans are generally bad at determining how long tasks should take.
So rule number six is to keep Parkinson’s law in mind and to be realistic with the deadlines you set for yourself.
Planning For The Week Rule #7: Plan It Out
With rules one through six taken care of, the last piece of the puzzle is to now plan out your week.
Get out a piece of paper, pull up a Google Doc (that’s what I use), or prepare a page in your notebook. Take everything into account that you prepared earlier. Things like:
- Goals you’re working towards
- Items on your calendar
- Chores that you need to do
And with those items, go ahead and create a plan for your week. Feel free to be as detailed as you’d like.
When I plan out my days, I write down all of the important things I have going on during the week. And then for tomorrow (meaning that if today is Sunday, I would do this for Monday), I write down every single thing I plan to do from morning till night.
From when I wake up to when I go to sleep and everything I want to get done within those two points.
So the final rule to follow when planning for the week is to – you guessed it – actually plan out your week.
Planning for the coming weeks
You know what to do. You’ve worked your way through the rules of this post and are now ready to start planning out your week. Congrats!
Don’t waste your momentum. Go ahead and actually start planning your week!
Keep my rules for planning in mind. Create a schedule that allows you to stay organized and focused on what is truly the priority.
Because having a plan for your time is one of the smartest things that you can do – especially when you’re driven and have a lot on your plate. Because, again, creating a plan gives you:
- Clarity to see what needs to be worked on
- Confidence that you can get everything done
- And the serenity of knowing that you’ve properly allocated time for what matters most
It gives you the freedom to put your drive into action and to keep building out that amazing life of yours.
So get to it. Go create your plan for the week right now!
If you still want a little extra help for being productive with your time, check out my productivity course. It’s a full start-to-finish solution to helping you fully utilize your time each day.
And if you haven’t already, consider signing up for my free, five day productivity plan bootcamp.
Each day, over five days, I will email you with a new lesson that you can use to:
- Better recognize your priorities
- Reduce some of that overwhelm
- And work on things that are actually important
You can sign up for my free bootcamp right here: