This post was originally published on August 7th, 2015. It was updated on June 26th, 2017.
If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you likely already know that I love to plan. I rely on my Erin Condren LifePlanner, as well as digital tools on a daily basis to create to-do lists and to keep me organized. If I didn’t plan in advance, it’s safe to say my productivity would likely plummet. With so many tasks on my plate, I have to be strategic about how I spend my time. That’s why I think it’s important to plan your week in advance.
Taking the time to plan your week before Monday arrives gives you the opportunity to reflect on important tasks. You can review what needs to get done and schedule time into your days to ensure you’re able to accomplish everything. This will increase your productivity and help you start the week off on the right foot. Instead of feeling overwhelmed, you’ll have an efficient plan in place to make use of the time you have.
How to Plan Your Week
If you’re ready to make the most of every week and maximize your productivity, you’re in the right place. In this post, I’m sharing my top tips to help you plan your week in advance. You’ll learn the things I do to prepare for the week ahead so I can set myself up for success. These tips ensure I’m maximizing my time, meeting deadlines, and checking things off my to-do list. And I’m confident they’ll help you do the same.
1. Use the weekend to your advantage.
My first tip is to use the weekend to your advantage when it comes to planning. You might not want to think about work during the weekend, but it’s going to be a valuable use of your time. Simply set aside time every Sunday to take a look at what needs to get done in the week ahead. By reviewing your schedule before the work week begins, you’ll get a better grasp on your workload. You’ll also be able to schedule in ample time to ensure you get everything done.
The reason this is so beneficial is that you’ll no longer be scrambling to meet deadlines at the last minute. You also won’t have to worry about forgetting those important meetings either. A refresher before the week begins helps you to mentally prepare for what’s ahead. It’s also a great opportunity to remind yourself of any important things that are coming up. If you have appointments to make or bills to pay, write it down!
When you plan your week in advance, you can enter Monday feeling confident and ready to take on the week. You’ll have a plan in place to tackle everything in the most efficient way possible.
2. Reflect on the past week.
Before you can look to the week ahead and begin making a plan, it’s helpful to reflect on the previous week. This is your chance to review the work you accomplished and which remaining tasks still need to get done. If there are any lingering items on your to-do list, ask yourself if they’re still important. If you have remaining tasks, add them to your new to-do list for the week ahead. For tasks that no longer matter, eliminate them.
You can also use this time to celebrate your successes from the past week. It may seem silly, but celebrating what you’ve achieved is so important. It doesn’t matter how small that success was, allow yourself the opportunity to celebrate it. You deserve to feel good about what you’ve been able to do. It’s sure to put you in a better mindset as your plan your week ahead.
3. Prioritize your tasks.
To get started with scheduling your time, you’ll want to begin by listing all the tasks you have on your plate. Then, you’ll need to prioritize them by ranking everything in order of importance. The best way to do this is to figure out which tasks have impending deadlines. There’s nothing worse than rushing to finish something before it’s due, which will only leave you feeling stressed. This step aims to cut down on that.
If you have tasks that don’t have set deadlines in place, you’ll need to assign them deadlines. Determine how important that task is, how soon you’d like to get it done, and how much time it’s going to take you. When choosing a due date for your tasks, it always needs to be realistic. Don’t give yourself two days to complete something that you know is really going to take a week. That doesn’t make sense and it’ll only lead to trouble later. Deadlines need to be manageable.
There are a variety of ways you can note the importance of the tasks on your to-do list. One simple way to do this is through the use of exclamation points. After all, the Reminders app on your iPhone does this when you set the priority for a reminder. You can rate each task with one to three exclamation points, with three being the highest priority. You can even color-code items by using different colored pens in your planner or by changing the color of a task in your digital calendar.
Another popular option is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. If you haven’t seen this before, it’s a way to prioritize your tasks that requires you to separate them into four different categories. Those categories include: Urgent + Important (tasks you need to do ASAP), Important + Not Urgent (tasks you’ll have to decide when to do), Urgent + Not Important (tasks to delegate), and Not Urgent + Not Important (tasks you can do later or ditch altogether). You can design an Eisenhower Matrix of your own, or if you’re an Evernote user like I am, you can download the template to use.
4. Batch the tasks on your to-do list.
Once you have prioritized your tasks, take a look at everything you have on your to-do list and make a note of any tasks that are the same. If you notice that you have to do things like write blog posts or film videos, you should really consider batching those tasks. Batching essentially requires you to block off time for similar tasks and work on them back-to-back.
For example, let’s say you have three videos you need to film this week. Instead of filming one video a day, block off time to film them all in one sitting. This is going to save you time because you won’t have to set up your filming equipment every day. Not only that, but once you get into that filming groove, it’s easier to keep going and knock out the next two videos. From there, you can schedule time to batch edit your videos by editing all three of them back to back.
Batching provides many benefits and it’s something that has been game-changing for me in terms of productivity. One of the main ways I utilize this tactic is for writing blog posts. Whenever I have blog posts to write, I sit down and write as many as I can because it’s easier for me to keep up the momentum once I’ve already gotten started. Plus, your brain actually functions better when you focus on one task instead of jumping back and forth between two or more things. To plan your week in the most efficient way, batch similar tasks and you’re sure to see an increase in productivity.
5. Plan your week by scheduling your days.
Now, it’s finally time to plan your week by moving those tasks on your to-do list into your calendar and blocking off time to accomplish them. A blank calendar can feel pretty overwhelming at first. However, once you get into the habit of planning in advance, it’s going to get much easier. To help you out with this final stage, I have a few handy tips you can keep in mind:
- Create themes for your days. One way you can easily plan your week is to create themes for each day. This means that you’ll handle specific tasks on certain days so you can always anticipate the kinds of things you’ll be working on. It’s also going to make it easier to choose where to schedule certain tasks into a blank, wide-open week. For example, your schedule could look something like this: Monday is for admin tasks, Tuesday if for working with clients, Wednesday is for working on projects, Thursday is another client day, and Friday is another day for tackling projects.
- Organize your days based on when you’re most productive. It’s also helpful to plan your days around your productivity zone. If you’re most productive in the afternoon, you can schedule those tougher tasks for that time since you’ll likely be in a better mindset then.
- Schedule your time based on the priority of a task. You’ll also need to consider the priority of a task that’s on your to-do list so you can assure everything gets done on time. This may mean you’ll wind up breaking away from any themed days you’ve set for yourself on occasion, which is totally fine.
- Estimate the time a task will take and block it off. Next, you’ll need to estimate how long a task will take you to accomplish and then block it off on your calendar. This isn’t always easy, so don’t get frustrated if a task takes longer than you anticipated. It’s important to allow yourself some buffer room for moments just like this.
Afterwards, you’ll be left with an organized calendar that’s filled with tasks. Not only that, but your tasks will be planned out in a way that’s most efficient. You can maximize the time you have available to you and boost your productivity. After all, those are the benefits you receive when your plan your week ahead of time.
Final Tips to Help You Plan Your Week
There are two final things I want you to remember when you plan your week. The first thing is to not beat yourself up if you don’t finish everything you had planned. The reality is, sometimes things happen and we just aren’t able to accomplish everything we intended. That’s okay! There’s always going to be another opportunity to get back to those remaining tasks.
And lastly, make sure you also plan time for self-care while you’re organizing all of those work tasks. It’s important that you take care of yourself if you want to stay healthy. That’s key to doing your best work possible. So, make a regular appointment for self-care with yourself and do not cancel it. Taking some time for yourself is going to help you have a better week every single time.