Unique Thinkers United
How to Plan Your Week: 3 Steps to Productivity
ou have a choice in life. You can be proactive, or you can be reactive. You can either live on-purpose, according to a plan you’ve set. Or you can live by accident, responding to the demands of others.
I mentioned in my previous blog “16 Tips to Simplify Your Life (and Increase Your Productivity)” about proactively planning your week ahead. It is something I do every sunday evening, and although it takes literally only 10 minutes, it has created huge space for me in my work, in my play, and in my relationships.
Here’s how I do it:
1) Establish Roles and Goals
Stephen Covey suggests that we all have many different roles in our lives. However sometimes we can loose perspective and get so involved in one role that we neglect others, sometimes even our loved ones or our own health.
So think about and write down all the roles you fulfill. After that identify “goals” that support and help you to fulfill those roles – to become the person you hope to be. For example, here are some of my “roles & goals”:
Husband spend quality time with Jess, date night, cook dinner,movies, buy flowers, gifts, walk on the beach…
Leader read books, mentor meetings, listen to podcasts, prepare sermons, study, pray…
Christ Follower pray, read the Bible, fast, serve, solitude, study, worship…
Friend phone call, sms, lunch meeting, braai, surf, weekend away…
2) Put the Big Rocks in First
If you think of your week as seven jars – each jar must be filled with “big rocks” (the major and important things you want to get done that week) as well as “sand” (unimportant but necessary things). If you go into each jar without planning ahead, it will inevitably be filled up with little pebbles, sand and whatever other debris comes your way. Soon there will be no room for the big rocks.
So, with your “roles and goals” in hand grab your diary or calendar and start to put the “big rocks” in first. Things like reflection time, date nights, exercise, important work tasks, etc. That way, as the week goes on and the pebbles and sand of daily life fill up around around them, you will be able to look back and say that you’ve been productive and meaningful. It makes a world of difference.
3) Map out Your Ideal Week
As this process unfolds, you will begin to develop an “ideal week”. Some sort of basic template that you can use that gives shape and purpose to your week. You can see an example of my ideal week below.
After these three steps, the rest is easy. Simply spend 10 minutes on a Sunday night or Monday morning with your “roles” looking at the week ahead, inserting “goals” that will move you towards those roles, and making minor adjustments to the basic template.
Obviously everyone’s ideal week will look different, and of course, you can’t plan for everything. Things happen that you can’t anticipate. But it is a whole lot easier to accomplish what matters most when you are proactive and begin with the end in mind.
Sunday is a work day for me devoted to church. I also use Sunday’s to sync my technology (download and update apps etc) and to plan the week ahead.
Monday is a creative day. After my regular morning exercise and 30min of prayer and reflection, I spend the next 3 hours doing my best creative brainstorming and sermon prep. It is absolutely critical in this time to discipline yourself and turn off your email and all other technology. Monday is also “date night” for my wife and I – an absolute non-negotiable!
Tuesday is meeting day. I keep that afternoon free for various admin and am usually back for work in the evening, so try squeeze some exercise in between.
Wednesday is a fairly flexible day. Starting with a creative time and then shifting into preparation for the evening work session or course.
Thursday starts off with meetings and some general admin, but I always try to keep the afternoon open to study. The critical thing here is that when I leave work on Thursday (my Friday) I make an intentional decision to “cross my finish line” and switch off my work email on my phone and iPad.
Friday is a day for personal chores and activities, and my wife an I make a habit out of intentionally reflecting on how we are doing in our marriage – usually at a breakfast after I’ve had a surf.
Saturday is a day of rest and recovery.
What does your ideal week look like?