Weekly planning is often regarded as one of those things you should do but usually won´t do. And, if you do plan your week, eventually, you fail to keep to the plan.
Regardless, weekly planning is still necessary nowadays, that is, if you want to ever feel in control of your life and achieve something else besides going to work.
So, even if you´ve tried before, and failed at it, I am telling you now: YOU NEED TO PLAN YOUR WEEK, ahead of time. Now more than ever, because we no longer live in times when life was all about cultivating the soil in the mornings and drinking coffee in the afternoons.
There are countless reasons and benefits why you should be doing weekly planning. Let’s see a few of them.
What are the benefits of weekly planning?
1. Become more productive
Yes, weekly planning takes time. Nonetheless, you would only need to sacrifice 30 to 40 minutes of your Sunday for the sake of a productive week.
If you schedule your activities and priorities outside of your work, you’ll be more likely to achieve them. Moreover, these scheduled activities will compromise you to invest your time in something else besides watching TV or being on social media during your free time.
2. Reduce anxiety
Anxiety problems? Too many things to do?
I tend to get anxious about the future, a lot (high five to all the anxious millennials out there). However, when I write down on a paper the upcoming tasks for the week and organize them in a way that they help me work towards my goals, I feel reassured.
Leaving your schedule to randomness increases uncertainty whereas planning it out helps you feel in control and therefore, less anxious about what’s to come.
3. Work on your priorities
We’ve talked about priorities before and about how you need to schedule them in order to achieve anything.
It is difficult to schedule your priorities in your week if you don’t, well, aham… schedule your week.
Sitting down to plan your week will give you a good view of the time-slots you could invest in your priorities. You can make time for anything, from exercising to learning a new skill.
4. Save money and make more money
Becoming rich by planning your week? Well, I might not put it that way. However, weekly planning can save you a lot of money. How? Well, imagine a typical Monday.
You got to your home and noticed you don’t have enough groceries to make a proper meal, so you decide to go to the supermarket. Nonetheless, after you get out of the supermarket, you are already too hungry and decide to buy prepared food.
See? If you plan out your week and your meals before-hand, you would have bought your groceries in time and won’t be stuffing yourself with junk food on Monday night.
On the other hand, if you want to start a side hustle, you can schedule it in your free time. TV watching doesn’t put money in your pocket, right?
I could go on and on mentioning the benefits of planning your week. However, you already know a few and you might be wondering how you should plan your week.
So here is how you kick start your weekly planning week.
Beginner’s Guide to Weekly Planning
1. Pick a day to plan your week
Although many people prefer Sundays to plan the rest of your week, you can pick whichever day works for you the best. Yet, you won’t be needing the whole day. Just 30 to 60 minutes will suffice. The important thing is that you designate a day.
If you choose Wednesdays to plan your week, then you must compromise and create the habit of always sitting down every Wednesday to plan for what comes next.
2. Go check your goals
Of course, you would have to check your goals to do your weekly planning!
If you are reading about weekly planning is because you probably want to achieve something, to change something for the better. The right place to start is by revising your goals.
If you don’t have any short term or long term goals, then bookmark this post and go read this article about goal setting and motivation. Discover what you want to achieve in terms of goals, so you can include it in your weekly planning.
3. Make your to-do list
The main foundation for your weekly schedule is the famous to-do list.
To-do lists can seem like an outdated and bothersome way to organize yourself. Well, they work and they’ve been around for a loooong time. So why should we stop doing them?
Get your phone and your stylus or a pencil and a paper if you want to keep it classic, and write down everything you have to do during your week.
And I mean EVERYTHING, from your common activities to anything new.
You can include things like grocery shopping, writing a report for the boss, taking the kids to soccer, writing a new blogpost, 30 minutes of English studying, reading, calling your grandfather, exercising, and basically, everything that you want or need to do and takes time.
If you’ve already written EVERYTHING in your To-do list, you’ve probably noticed there is a lot to do.
Now, read that again and take a moment to see which things are urgent and/or more important and which ones can wait.
You can use The Eisenhower Grid, to organize your things in order of importance, urgency, and compare them side by side. Those things that aren’t either important or urgent can wait for whenever you have spare time to do them.
If you don’t find The Eisenhower Grid useful for your weekly planning, you can try other methods to set priorities like the Relative Prioritization method or the Most Important Task method.
This article describes different methods that you can use to prioritize.
Remember, include in your week’s plan only those things that are “worth your time” and that contribute in a way or another to your life.
5. Set weekly goals
No, you are not seeing double. I know I already mentioned reviewing your goals. However, if you have a long-term goal like becoming fluent in a language in six months, it is hard to visualize how that affects your planning in the short term.
Therefore, you must break-down your long-term goals into monthly and weekly goals. If your goal is to become fluent in Italian in six months, then you must schedule Italian lessons and practices in every week’s calendar for six months.
6. Baby steps matter
When it comes to scheduling, nothing is “too small” or “too unimportant” to include in your schedule, as long as it represents a step in the ladder of success.
Let’s say you want to start a blog. While you’re planning your week and making your schedule, you might want to schedule some time for reading about blogging. Will you be opening a blog that week? No. But, you are scheduling the first step in your blogging career.
Finally, scheduling! Time for some action. Crack your knuckles and get down to it.
Your weekly planning up to this point might have felt messy and maybe pointless, but this is the step in which the magic happens.
Now, you need to create your schedule. This schedule should include your to-do’s, your regular activities, and your priorities.
Here are some basic concepts you should always remember when you are making your schedule:
Time – blocking
It doesn’t matter if you use a paper or a digital calendar for scheduling. You should always time-block. Why? If you don’t use time-blocking, then you are already setting up for failure.
Let me illustrate that for you. It is Thursday night. You already have plans. However, that friends, you know, the one that always makes an invitation at the last minute, wants to go to the movies on Friday. You accept his invitation because there is nothing written on your calendar.
Later, when you remember what you had to do, you’ll either have to cancel with him or you will delay your compromises to another day.
Time-blocking your calendar will also keep you from wanting to multitask, which usually is a synonym for “not finishing any task at all”.
Meal planning is often disregarded when it comes to weekly planning. The truth is meal planning can save you TONS of time.
Instead of just standing in your kitchen for five minutes wondering what to cook for dinner, the meat could be already unfrozen and seasoned, and every ingredient could be gathered on the kitchen counter.
And of course, you wouldn’t have to go rushing to the supermarket, because you already would have your groceries according to the week’s menu.
Schedule around priorities
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: you can’t fit your priorities in an already-packed schedule. You must organize your schedule around your priorities. Dedicate your precious time to what matters the most.
Leave some room for flexibility
Alright, this might sound contradictory. However, you must understand that weekly planning is all about balance.
Another thing you must accept? Things won’t always go your way.
What I mean by this is that even when you make plans, life happens. Therefore, when you schedule your week, you should take into account all those variables that might affect your plans.
For example, if you have a meeting with friends on Friday night, you might want to leave the rest of the night’s schedule free. Why? Because it is highly possible that the meeting gets extended. That way, you won’t be frustrated by any delayed task awaiting you.
Learn to say no
This is your most important weekly planning lesson of the day, and probably the most difficult to apply.
Sometimes you will have to say NO.
Many events, invitations, and distractions will come your way on a daily basis, but if it is nothing important, if it doesn’t contribute anything to your goals, then you have to say no.
Evaluate each case individually. Just be aware that your time is gold and your priorities derived from the things that are important to you, and something unimportant shouldn’t take time from them (unless you want it that way, of course).
Reviewing is a vital part of weekly planning because it will let you see what works for you and what doesn’t.
When you are planning your week you should review your previous week to see what was left undone, what plans worked, and what you want to give continuity to. That way you can always adjust your plans since nothing is written on stone.
Also, it is always good to review your plans mid-week, just to check that everything is smooth and running and to remind yourself of what is coming next.
Weekly planning is a basic life-skill
I could keep talking about why you should give weekly planning a try. The benefits definitely outweigh the time you will dedicate to the actual planning. You should see weekly planning as investing time in yourself.
So, to summarize, to plan your week like a boss you should: set a time to do the plan, include your goals in your schedule, make a to-do list, prioritize what’s important, and schedule around your goals and priorities.
Remember, it might not work at first, but like everything, you should practice. As you continue to plan, you will master time-scheduling and you’ll make the most of your week.
Now tell me, how is your weekly planning process?