Create a Weekly Plan That Works
[Reading time: 1 minute 30 seconds]
Planning by the week is the secret to getting things done.
To make your weekly plan a successful endeavor and not just an exercise in empty planning, there are three things to keep in mind:
- Create the list at the end of the week
This takes about 20 minutes. Do it before you head home at the end of your work week so you don't spend any brainpower trying to remember work details all weekend. A weekly plan gives the upcoming week a solid focus AND sets an intention around actually getting the tasks done.
TIP: Use the last 20 minutes of the day on Friday to create your weekly plan.
- Calculate your open hours
How many meetings/appointments do you have scheduled next week? Those eat up time so calculate how many hours in each day you're committed to other things. Include travel time! What you're after here is the total number of open hours you have each day - and for the whole week. Be accurate - don't ballpark your total number of open hours.
When you get to the next step, you're going to make a list of what you want to get done but the trick is to only use 3/4 of your open hours. This is because you need to save time for tasks like answering emails and phone calls.
TIP: If your job requires you to be available for any incoming phone calls or clients/customers, you might only be able to plan for using half of your open hours.
- Decide what you want to get done and write it down
When you write something down, also include how long you think it will take to get it done. Be realistic. The goal here is under-promise and over-deliver so at the end of the week, you get the satisfaction of seeing everything on your weekly plan completed and scratched off.
NOTE: People with strong Goal-Directed Persistence are driven to get a lot of things done. It's not uncommon for them to think "I'm sure I can get these ten things done in [xx] minutes." If that's you and you're often wrong about how long it takes to get things done, be aware that your brain is going to want to write down too much on this list.
Here are the most common pitfalls that I see:
- That weekly plan morphs into a GIANT MASTER LIST.
If you find that you're writing down so much stuff that no human being could ever get it done in a week, that's a signal from your brain that it's overloaded.
Most people think they are going to remember everything they need to do. But here's the problem with that: The brain doesn't categorize or prioritize. Unless you have a killer Working Memory, your brain isn't going to be able to keep it all straight - especially if you're over the age of 35.
- Assigning a task to a particular day.
Weekly planning is about doing your "big thinking" once. On Friday when you create your weekly plan, it may sound good to do the X task on Tuesday and the Y task of Thursday but that doesn't allow for any flexibility. What happens if Tuesday comes around and something's on fire?
Creating a plan for the whole week will give you a reality check on what you can realistically accomplish. It will also support the intention of getting those listed items done and will give you a thought-out point of reference as you create each daily plan.
Why support the brain?
Because the brain is what is driving our day! Our ability to focus, filter distractions, and plan comes from the strength (or weakness) of various brain skills. If the brain skill of Planning isn't strong, it can be tough to get things done. Likewise, if the brain skill of Working Memory is decreasing, it gets harder to even remember all the things that need to get done.
The GoBrainGo approach is to show you how your brain works and then give you the tools and strategies that support each of the brain skills. Don't let weak skills stop you from accomplishing things.
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