I am obsessed with planning.
When I wake up on Monday morning, I already know how 90% of my week will look like. And I love it.
Now I know this is not for everyone.
But I attribute 70% of my success in business and other goal-related areas of my life to the way I plan & structure my days.
Here is my advice.
Know your Top 3 Goals
Not planning your week is bad. Planning your week without your priorities in mind is even worse. It means you are able to handle everything “on your plate” but you won’t actually make progress on your own goals, because you are too busy attending to other people’s priorities. And this is the entire point of planning your week: being able to proactively block time for the things that are most important in your life and business right now.
- What are your top 3 goals right now? In business? In life?
- Which activities, habits and projects have a high impact on these goals?
- When will you block uninterrupted time for these activities, habits and projects?
For your work this might be blocking 2 mornings for deep work on your top priority project. In your free time, this might be blocking untouchable time for your workouts in your calendar or making sure your kid’s soccer game is on your radar.
Schedule everything into your Calendar
There is no point planning your week if you forget what you planned for in the middle of the week. Thus, scheduling everything into your calendar and sync it across all devices is extremely crucial.
If other people have access to your work calendar, just use your private calendar for additional time blocks like workouts and family time and sync them all in one single view. This works perfectly well with Google Calendar.
Plan your Week before it Starts
I plan for planning time (how ironic) on my weekends so I can get a head start of the week. If I know how my week will look like by the time I am in the office on Monday morning, I am not only more focused on actually getting my work done but also a lot less stressed. Furthermore, by pro-actively blocking time in my calendar for the things that are important in my life and work, I am a lot less likely to say “YES” to random lunch invites, projects or after-work activities that are not aligned with my priorities.
Now I am not saying you should stick to your schedule no matter what — say “YES” to the things that are really MORE important than what you originally planned (e.g.meeting your friend from out-of-town for lunch, attending a birthday party instead of working out and rescheduling your deep work time for an urgent meeting). But the good thing about blocked out time in your calendar is that your default state for other people’s requests is “NO” instead of “YES” which forces you to actually make a DECISION about the importance of two overlapping events.
Have a Weekly Planning Checklist
When I first started out with planning my week it took me more than 3 hours. And I realised that if it takes me that long it might not actually save me any time after all. But over time as I started to do it every week, I got faster and finally was able to cut it down to 30–60min depending on how detailed I went into planning deep work blocks, meals and specific workouts.
The magic ingredient for planning your week fast and efficient is having a checklist or default template that you go through every week. Make sure to have your top priorities on top of your checklist and then only add the rest. This could look something like this:
- Business: Deep Work Blocks for top 3 Projects
- Relationship: Weekly Date Night, couple time on Saturdays
- Health: 3 Workouts, Meal Planning & Grocery Shopping
- Relaxation: 1x Yoga, 1x ME-Evening
- Social: 1x Dinner with Friends, 1x Meet new People
- Fun: 1x Weekend Activity
- Admin: Clean apartment, Do Laundry, Go Grocery Shopping
I won’t go into too much detail in this post here, but if you are interested in knowing more about the specific blocks, what they contain and how and why I do them — click here to get my full weekly schedule including cliff notes.
Plan Buffer Times
One of the advantages of planning your days is that it takes away a lot of stress because you’ll know exactly when you will do what and that you have thought of everything. On the other hand, over-planning every minute of every day can have the opposite effect because you’ll most likely always run behind your “schedule”.
To avoid this beginner planning trap, account for buffer times in your day. Here is a few ideas you can do that:
- add an extra 15min to every event that lasts an hour or more — especially if other people are involved
- generously account for daily habits like showering, having breakfast, commuting etc. — there is nothing worse than rushing in the mornings
- keep the last hour of your workday free to be able to wrap things up
Leave Room for Unplanned Times
Although I love planning, I have to admit that there are some dark sides to it. Planning is spontaneity’s worst enemy, but spontaneity is fun’s best companion. I have had the best times in my life when things happened unexpectedly and I let myself just go with the flow of life. Luckily, I have found that this is most often true in my private life rather than my business.
Thus, I started to plan for unplanned times. Yes, that’s ironic! But it works extremely well. For example, I like to keep Saturdays plan-free so my boyfriend and I can really enjoy the day together and just see where it takes us. I also love to NOT overly plan weekend trips. I definetely research the best places to eat and the things to do and save them in my Google Maps beforehand, but on the trips itself, I trust the magic of the city and just see where it takes me. This was an absolute game-changer for me when it comes to actually ENJOYING a city break and not just frantically running from one thing to anther.