Your success in life will come down to 2 things: Knowing what you want in life and taking steps to get you there. This article will show you how to plan your week so you can take those baby steps each week towards your life goals.
For help with knowing what you want in life, please read this article first.
Most people are terrible with getting things accomplished and I feel this is mostly due to poor planning. Procrastination cannot exist if you learn how to plan your week and apply some willpower. Sometimes, even willpower isn’t needed if you have solid habits in your daily schedule.
Benefits of Learning How to Plan Your Week
There are 2 ways to go through life. You can let life happen to you or you can take control of your life.
Going with the flow is easy and relaxing and in my opinion, has its benefits in your life. This is the path taken by most people without clear life goals.
People who take control of the direction of their life usually are more successful because they build the life of their dreams. This could be you, if you make and work towards your life’s goals.
If you define success as living your dream life, then planning your week is like the baby steps to your life’s goals and dreams.
Thanks to the technology, we now have the ability to do more then ever before.
This is both good and bad, because today it is increasingly hard to be able to focus on what to do. There is still only 24 hours in each day and we need to continuously say NO to thing just to get through our day.
Also the biggest benefit of planning your week is putting you in control of your future.
If you let life or someone else plan your week, then you will be building their dreams, not yours.
I bet you will be much happier living your dreams and life goals then your bosses.
How to Plan Your Week
Planning your week in the beginning will take a bit of time as you fine just the right method for your life. There is a lot of flexibility that allows you to create the perfectly tailored plan for your life and goals.
Some people like to plan in the morning, or at night, or some plan in the beginning or end of the week, Its all up to you.
Here are the 6 steps you can follow on how to plan your week and is a great place to start.
Don’t make any excuses putting this off while you search for the perfect planning method. Just follow the plan as outlined below and get started today.
After a few weeks, then make small adjustments that better fit this plan into your life. Whatever you do, start planning (and doing) today.
Step 1: Review Your Goals
The first step in any journey is to know where you want to go. Learning how to plan your week is no different.
First you need to picture your dream life. Then set goals to get you there.
This means you need to create both long and short term goals before you can learn how to plan your week. If you don’t have any goals, then read this article on How to Find Your Goals in Life, to help you narrow them down.
Be visual. You will need picture your future life and the life along the way.
For example, if you want to live a care free life and think being a millionaire will help support that dream. Then you need to visualize your first goal of saving that first $1,000, then visualize a longer term goal of saving $100,000.
By reviewing your goals before the start of each week, you will make sure they will still support you to your future dream life.
If you are on track, great, continue what you are doing. If not, make adjustments to better get you to that goal.
Reviewing your tasks each week to make sure they still support your life goals is key to making sure you are not being taken off course with the daily grin of our overwhelmed lives.
Step 2: Create Habits to support Goals
We all know we have a limited amount of willpower. The best way to change your life is to build habits around the tasks you need to do.
If you try to use willpower to keep you on track to build your dream life, your id will take over and focus you on today quickly making you forget about tomorrow.
Our brain is constantly looking for pleasure and is willing to sacrifice your future dreams and goals to get pleasure now.
The best way to avoid the brain’s pleasure center (nucleus accumbens) from taking over is to make the decision automatic, or already decided. Habits and triggers do this perfectly.
There are plenty of articles on the Internet about steps needed to make a habit work. To save you some time, you only need to remember 3 steps.
- Triggers: Some event that happens just before your habit.
- Rewards: A simple reward for completing your habit
- Time: Be consistent and give yourself 30 days before the habit becomes automatic.
By making as many decisions and taking actions using automatic habits instead of willpower, you will be able to take actions towards your goals without your brain distracting you to focus on more immediate pleasure seeking activities.
For example, maybe you have a goal of losing 5 pounds every month. Then you can make a habit of exercising for 15 minutes before you eat breakfast. Your habit will be wake up (trigger), exercise (habit), breakfast (reward).
Do this for 30+ days and you will not have to think about it anymore. Then you create a new habit to help you reach your goals faster and easier.
Step 3: Pick your Scheduling Method
Most people who teach how to plan your week will tell you to schedule each task you need to do on a specific day and time (Task 1 – 10AM, Task 2 – 11 AM).
This requires a very ridged life which may not work well with peoples lives.
Some people prefer to create TO-DO lists and check off each task as they do it, but not necessary schedule ahead of time when they will do that task.
They just know they will need to do each task by the end of the week. This often fails as less structure lets the unimportant parts of your life (TV watching and other id stuff) to take over your schedule.
I personally use a hybrid approach. I create a task list and schedule several task for each day of the week, but not in a specific time block. I have dedicated time blocks I use for these tasks every day with overflow time blocks as needed.
Then I schedule rewards after each time slow and can only have the reword after the task is completed.
This way I do task 1, 2, 3, 4 until my time block runs out. Then I pick up the task list at my next time block. This is a more effective and easier way for me to plan my week.
This also allows life to get in the way but will still get my work done on time. If I get a call during my task that uses up my time block, then I finish that task during my next scheduled time (and no reward).
Whichever method you choose to use, make sure you schedule enough to fill your day, but not too much to fall behind and get discouraged.
Step 4: Plan your week
If you also want to use my hybrid approach, then the first thing you will need to do when learning how to plan your week is to create your task list.
Start with a brain dump and write everything down. This approach was made very popular in the Getting Things Done (GTD) system by David Allen. To learn more about GTD, I wrote a 3 part article that will help you learn how to incorporate it in your life:
- Getting Organized through Digital Minimalism
- Getting Organized with OneNote
- How You Can Use Getting Things Done with OneNote
Write everything your brain dump To-Do list.
- Make a detailed priority list to meet short term goals
- Focus on 5-10 tasks that will achieve your best results
- Big Picture how each task helps get you to your long term goals
- Estimate the amount of time each task will take
- Prioritize those 5-10 tasks into your week’s schedule
- Balance these tasks with your other life priorities
More then likely, you will have more tasks then time in your week. This is where you will need to prioritize your goals against each other.
Prioritizing is REALLY IMPORTANT, and really hard.
Prioritizing means first scheduling the really important things first, then the smaller ones until your whole week is filled with the goals that are important to you. Then you just follow your schedule.
But I promise you, after you get really good as learning how to plan your week, you can easily triple the things you can do in a week without sacrificing much of the smaller luxuries in life.
Step 5: Balance your life
Living a balanced life is critical.
“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” is at true today as when it was over 400 years ago when it was first recorded.
But equally true is “Enjoy the Little things in life, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things” (Robert Breault).
Life is all about balancing the enjoyment of life today with the betterment of life tomorrow.
In your plan should also be the stuff you need to do that may not be important to your long term goals. These things would be weekly chores like food shopping, exercising, and house cleaning.
It should also include something everyday that you truly enjoy and provide valuable life experiences that you will look back on in fondness and be proud of. These are your rewards from the habit section.
We all have our life to live but must balance life with our future dreams. I balance my life using these 7 categories:
- Personal Development
I try to spend some time in each and make sure that I don’t neglect any one area by keeping them close to the same level.
Every year I rank my self in each category and make sure I apply more time on any category that I feel is lacking.
This provides me a well balanced life that also focuses a lot on driving success towards my future dreams and goals.
Sample Balanced Checklist
- Projects: Deep Work Blocks for top 5 Projects
- Relationship: Weekly Date Night, couple time on Saturdays
- Health: 3 Workouts, Meal Planning & Grocery Shopping
- Spiritual: 1x Yoga, 1x Mediation Evening, Mindful Living
- Social: 1x Dinner with Friends, 1x Meet new People/Clubs
- Chores: Clean apartment, Do Laundry, Go Grocery Shopping
- Career: (separate task schedule)
- Family Fun: Game movie night, Water Skiing, Golfing
- Personal Development: 1 hour of reading/training each day
I sometimes do not hit every category every week but I do make sure I keep a balanced life through my schedule. Also, by scheduling it like this, I never miss the things that are important to me.
Step 6: Reflect on each day and week, make adjustments
Now it’s test time. How did you do on your task list? Did you complete everything, 90%, 50%?
The purpose is not to knock off everything your task items, the purpose is to move yourself a effectively as possible towards your goals.
Some people lightly schedule their week or just tackle the east stuff in their schedule, but these rarely move the needle on making progress towards your goals.
You need to make sure you eat the elephant!
This means you knock off the hardest, most complicated tasks first. These will accomplish the most in achieving your goals.
You need to judge yourself on how many elephants you ate this week and find ways to improve this ability in future weeks.
Constant improvement and movement is key learning how to plan your week.
To learn more about this, there is a productivity method that is focused on results called “Agile Results” and you can read all about it in the article called “Agile Results vs GTD“.
There are a lot of different ways on how to plan your week to get more done and this is just the way I have used for the past 2 years and have been very successful while using it.
Will this method work for you? Yes and no. We all have different lives, careers, families, goals, and personalities, and your method on how to plan your week should be custom for your life.
The key is to start. Most people get stuck in learning how to plan your week.
Don’t get stuck! Start today with this plan and make adjustments along the way.
In the end, you will have something custom to your personality and situation and will be on the road to a more successful you.
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Thanks for reading!