Every Sunday, I take around an hour to plan out my week.
I make as many decisions as possible about the week ahead with the benefit of perspective and my best interests in mind.
Then I write it all on my calendar.
Some people think this is crazy - they tell me the last thing they want to be thinking about on a Sunday is the week ahead.
They tell me that the weekend is sacred time and they’ll deal with Monday when it comes. But by Wednesday the same people tell me that they’re exhausted and overwhelmed and that they can’t wait for the weekend. They're - literally - living for the weekend.
It’s because they went into Monday on react mode.
Three days of reacting, in the moment decision making and on the spot thinking will make you overwhelmed and exhausted. But you’ll focus on the fact that the weekend is coming and power through to Friday.
Is this working for you?
If not, try this, this week.
Plan out your week in as much detail as you can and get it onto your calendar.
You need to be able to see it on the calendar; to-do lists don’t work (you know this already).
Here's where people go wrong with time planning:
They plan at a high level and don't set themselves up for inevitable success by mapping the 'sub-tasks' requires to complete the bigger task at hand. They wildly overestimate what they can do in a two hour window and really underestimate what they can get done in a well planned out, focussed week.
By way of example:
This week one of my to-do's is to prepare for a webinar I'm hosting next week. Before I really learned got a handle on how I use my timer, I would have blocked something 2 hours off in my calendar and wrote 'Webinar prep.' across that block of time.
I would have got to the time slot and immediately got overwhelmed about where to start and what to do, so would have needed to grab a coffee and check my phone. I would have faffed and then started putting things in some slides and got annoyed with myself for not immediately seeing a flow there. I would get to the end of the two hour window kind of withered and with not very much output (not to mention snippy and annoyed with myself). I would have ended up working late to get it done and even then wouldn't have loved it. Because I hadn't given it any proper thought.
This isn't what I do now.
Now - today on Sunday, I've made a list of the sub tasks I will want to do under the umbrella of webinar prep. These are:
- brainstorm everything on the topic from notes from coaching sessions, own experience and books read and marked up
- reduce brainstorming down to key teachings
- organise key teachings so that they are accessible using real life examples that are relevant to the women I serve
- storyboard onto slides
- prepare slides
- practice slides
- practice slides again
These are the actual steps I will take to complete my webinar preparation. They will probably take more like 4 hours to complete altogether.
I also know I'll do better if I have time to marinate in what it is I want to tell attendees if I do the brainstorming and brainstorming reduction over 2 days.
I'll also want to practice over two days.
Knowing all this, I have valuable information to plan with. I plan each sub task. Together everything will probably take longer than the 2 hours I would have haphazardly scrawled over the calendar in times of yore. But having planned it properly, I have a huge advantage on my old self. When I sit down to work, I know exactly what to do.
I know I have MADE time for it.
I know that I will get it done. This also stops me from spinning out about in my head.
This is how to really effectively plan. Even if you can see that it makes loads of sense, don't expect your brain to initially love it.
Our brains like to do things the way they've always done them and typically freak out or put up some resistance about changing the way things are done - it feels onerous and cumbersome. Our brains would prefer to believe that we can crank it out in two hours and will even argue hard - 'it shouldn't take longer than that'. Even when we know where thinking that it will just take two hours will get us.
Try this out this week. If you hate it, you need never do it again.