“Fail to plan, plan to fail,” is something we’ve all heard, but we may not realize that planning isn’t only relevant for work projects or projects around the house. It’s a simple way to get the most out of every week. In this article we’ll share a few ways you can set yourself up for success each week by just taking a bit of time to plan it.
Start Sunday Night
The end of the weekend is the best time to plan the week ahead. Hopefully you’ve taken some time to recharge and rest, and things might start occurring to you that need to be accomplished the following week.
If you have a running to-do list, pull that up. Otherwise, create one with a brain dump, writing down everything you need to do professionally or personally in the next week, and then in the next month. Once you’ve finished that, organize it by priority (when it needs to be done) and by time (complicated vs simple). You can use a digital list or old-fashioned paper and pencil. Whatever works better for you.
Sketch the Week
The goal is not to have every hour or minute planned for your week, but to make sure you’re aware of what needs to be accomplished on a given day or by the end of the week. For example, you might know you need to drop the car off to get serviced, but the only day you’ll probably have time to do so is Thursday. Or you know you’ve got a bunch of smaller simple tasks to do (e.g. make a dental appointment) so make sure whenever you do that, you batch those so you knock out a lot of those types of tasks in a short amount of time.
When planning, use a combination of getting those small wins done along with 1-3 “big” tasks that you want to get done in a given week.
Automate Food and Clothing
You don’t want to be staring at a fridge thinking about what to eat or a closet thinking about what to wear. This is wasted time for you and an extra decision in the limited number of decisions we can make effectively each day. Again, you don’t need to plan every meal or set of clothes exactly, but you can mentally prepare by writing down some ideas for meals on those days and/or putting aside the clothing you want to wear in a certain part of the closet or dresser so they are ready to go when you need them.
You can always change your mind on a given day based on your mood or feelings, but by having a plan already in place, you make things easier on yourself.
Don’t Let a Bad Day Pull You Down
Inevitably a day or week or even a month doesn’t go the way we want. If we let ourselves get dragged into feeling bad for ourselves, the effect can multiply. Account for the fact that some days we will not accomplish what we hoped for and be ready to shift those tasks into other days and just shrug it off as part of the process.
Don’t Forget to Sleep
One of the most important aspects of being productive is being rested enough to make good decisions. Don’t forget to set aside enough time to sleep, and before that sleep time, sufficient time to disconnect and recharge from a given day.
And remember, there’s no one way to organize your week ahead. Find a way that works for you. Whatever you pull together is going to make your week go better than if you just lurch from day to day without a plan.
This content originally appeared in our monthly Open Calendar Club newsletter.