Even with all the built-in phone planners and calendar technology available today, many of us still have trouble planning our lives. We float through our days in a trance, regularly taking challenges head-on as they happen. It’s a stressful way to live. By doing one simple thing — planning your week — you can start to feel in more control of your life.
When you plan out your week, you take control of the chaos that is life. Organizing your tasks into doable chunks makes life easier for you. Having a plan means that when things start to go haywire (as they always do, without fail), you’ll have a guide to getting back on track. It means you’ll have a schedule to follow that includes all your priorities.
Planning helps you focus on goals, too. When you walk through life without a plan, it’s nearly impossible to achieve your goals and dreams. The habit of weekly planning helps you map out those goals and dreams with small steps spread over time. It simplifies ideas that often feel overwhelming. Try looking at your schedule and mapping out your goals in smaller, doable steps. You’d be amazed at what you can accomplish within one week with careful planning.
When planning your week, focus on top goals. If possible, try to take on just one of those important goals per day. That way, you’ll be putting your attention and time into something worthwhile. By giving those tasks your full attention, you’ll be able to accomplish noticeably more than when you were busy multitasking and floating from goal to goal.
Use these tips and tricks to help you plan for a productive week:
Use some time at the end of every week to plan for the following week. Whether that means dedicating an hour every Friday night or Sunday evening depends on what works for you. By using time at the end of the week for planning, you’ll still have the current week’s progress and lessons fresh in your mind. This helps because an important part of planning is reflecting on what did and didn’t work so you can plan better for next time.
Make a list of all your worries and things you know need to be done. Then, be selective. Choose only three to five top goals from this list to focus on this week. If you have trouble fitting all these tasks into one week, it’s probably better that you spread them out over time anyway. Taking on too much at a time is stressful and non-productive. Focus only on your most important goals to see results.
Now, look at your top three to five goals. Each one can be broken down into doable steps. Spread these steps throughout the week on your calendar in a way that leads to the end desired result. Often, we give up on goals because it feels like we keep repeating steps or the tasks just seem too daunting. By breaking them down into digestible pieces, there is no reason to run from a daunting task. Taking a step-by-step approach with your weekly goals will inevitably make life feel simpler.
Go through your week, day by day, filling in blocks in your planner or calendar for the tasks you’ve chosen. Allow yourself enough time to complete each commitment by building in extra time as a cushion. That part is important. It shouldn’t feel like you’re rushing through life from task to task like the Energizer Bunny. Planning your week is a way to help you ease out of the hectic lifestyle.
Everyone needs a break once in a while. Taking downtime for yourself is just as important as making it to those doctor’s appointments or completing scheduled work time. Without rest and taking care of yourself, you won’t be your best you. That means it’ll be hard to complete your goals. So, add some downtime to your schedule. And then use that down-time. You deserve it.
Life happens. Accidents, natural disasters, mistakes, technology failures, you name it. The good news is that you can control your schedule to allow cushions of time for mishaps. For example, when scheduling the due date for a project, plan to have it done a day or two in advance of the actual due date, just in case. This type of time insurance will help life flow more easily in the face of disaster. And if it ends up being unnecessary, look at it as a few more pockets of free time built into your schedule.
Using a weekly planned schedule allows you to work new habits and routines into your life. Schedule activities or tasks on predictable weekdays so they begin to feel like habits over time. In your calendar or planner, track your progress on new habits you’re building each day. At the end of each week, check on the progress you made toward your new habits, and make adjustments for next week.
As you plan your week, don’t forget to set aside time for planning the following week, too. Make sure to keep your goals moving by going through the planning process again and again. You have to keep thinking ahead to keep the cycle rolling.
After you make your plan for the week, the work isn’t yet done. You still have to follow the plan, and to be successful at that, you’ll need some time management skills. With time and practice, though, using a weekly plan will become second nature. It will make your life feel a whole lot simpler, too.
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