Weekly planning time

I have let this habit lapse for the last couple of months. So I’m writing about it to make myself start doing it again.

I like Sunday nights.
End of the week, new beginning ahead. Time to sit down, look at the week ahead, consider both my ideals and my reality, and think about how it’s all going to mesh.
It’s a good time to consider that there are always more options than there is time. Some things will, inevitably, have to slide. For me, this always seems to be “cleaning the house.” Odd.
Planning your week doesn’t have to take too long. I like to spend about 20 or 30 minutes reviewing the week that’s ending, first:
  • Did I do what I wanted to do?
  • Did I get derailed or distracted often? Why?
  • Did I avoid certain projects or tasks?
  • Do I have stuff to carry over from last week? Do I have to carry it over?
  • Did I take time to rest?
  • Exercise?
  • Read?
  • Think?
  • Be with the people I love?
  • Be alone and still and quiet and not try to fix everything?
  • Am I happy with how I spent my time?
  • Am I keeping track of the most important things?

You don’t have to answer all those questions. I don’t. But that’s my general sense as I review. I want to get a high-level view of how I’m making progress in what matters to me. And I want to check myself of what I’m neglecting or paying too much attention to.

Then I have a better idea of what to change, if anything.

Maybe I’ll cancel an appointment so I have more time to rest or be with family. Or maybe I’ll schedule a workout with a friend so I don’t skip on the exercise.

I like to look at the week’s schedule in terms of the big important areas in my life.

There aren’t that many big important areas. So it’s pretty easy to think about what I want to do in each area for the week.

What usually happens is I make a list for Monday: here’s what I want to do on Monday, I think.

And then I remember that I have to sleep, exercise, shower, pick up kids from school, make a phone call, and so on, and I divide the Monday list by 5 and boom: I have a list for the week.

I always think I can do more on Monday than I really can. Actually I think that pretty much every day. I am a chronic optimist about my own productivity. It’s a problem. I’m getting better, but I throw myself off because sometimes I really do have one of those amazing, super-productive days in which I write 8,327 words and exercise for an hour and read all the things and make an amazing dinner and finish a project and spend high-quality completely focused time listening patiently to my kids talk about whatever they want to talk about (hahahah never mind).

I like to look at

  •  Scheduled events & errands…  and eliminate as many as possible. I like to be home or at the beach and I like having a wide-open day and I like not running around. But you do you.
  • Regular tasks I need to accomplish… and streamline them as much as I can. Or delegate them. Or remember that I haven’t cleaned out the fridge for 13 weeks running now so it’s probably okay if I don’t ever do it.
  • Big stuff…  and try to realistically divide it up into chunks to work on each day or clear out a day or afternoon so I can focus and make headway.
  • My week as a whole… There’s a weekly ebb and flow. Usually I hit the ground running on Monday. Usually I have a busy day or two and the following day needs to be simple and easy and less intense (more reading and researching and editing, less interacting and creating and meeting deadlines).