As your business grows, the question of how to plan your week can become more and more of a conundrum.
You’ll very often feel there aren’t enough hours in the day to complete all the to-dos on your list, let alone the projects you know you need to do to move the business forward.
You’ll likely find yourself pulled in a million directions, and feel like every time you plan it just goes off the rails. So spending the time to decide how to plan your week seems pointless and irrelevant.
But here’s the rub — not planning your week is only going to make it worse.
Without any sort of plan, you’ll find yourself even more overwhelmed and scattered than before. This state can be paralyzing, and getting back into action takes time and energy you simply don’t have.
While I often help clients tackle their overwhelm with a specific process, learning how to plan your week in advance can be a huge proactive step to help prevent overwhelm in the first place.
How to Plan Your Week
There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to how to plan your week. The process is highly dependent on your work style, your business, and your personal preferences. There are, however, some best practices that will help you.
Here are five tips to help you understand how to plan your week successfully and strategically!
Find the Right Time
It’s easy to assume first thing Monday morning is the best time to tackle planning your week. But, for some work styles, this is a recipe for disaster.
Instead, try out different options to see what works best for you.
Friday afternoons work well for many people since they allow you to make a game plan while everything is fresh on your mind. This can also help you feel better able to disconnect for the weekend knowing you’ve already gotten a head start on the next week.
For others, though, they’ve already checked out by Friday afternoon, so this approach would set them up to fail.
If this applies to you, consider whether a Sunday evening planning session would work better. This can avoid the hustle and bustle of trying to plan on Monday mornings but still honor your need for a true weekend.
And, of course, Monday morning does work for some, so don’t discount it as an option.
When you’re sorting through your personal process of how to plan your week, you’ll likely have to try different strategies out before you find what works best for you.
Make your best-educated guess and start with that option. Give yourself at least 3-4 weeks to try it on for size and evaluate how well it’s working. If you find it’s not effective, then you can try other options until you find what allows you to strategically and successfully plan your week.
Keep Your Boundaries in Mind
As you plan your week, keep your boundaries front and center. So much of productivity comes back to your energy levels, and if you aren’t enforcing strong boundaries, you’re very likely going to be depleting your energy on a regular basis. Set yourself up for success by incorporating strong boundaries into how you plan your week!
If you’re struggling with boundaries around your schedule, start there and figure out what works for you. Without strong boundaries, though, your plan is much more likely to fall apart.
Boundaries, again, are not a one-size-fits-all thing, so you’ll likely need to spend some time experimenting with what works best for you. Create strong boundaries that work with your natural rhythm (in a way that supports high productivity without depleting your energy) by paying attention to what works and what doesn’t work.
Work with Your Strengths
As you focus on how to plan your week, look at how you can leverage your strengths to be more productive. If you get drained by some activities, it’s probably not ideal to start your day with those.
Instead, try to start your day with things you know will fire you up.
In my work with clients, honing in on this natural rhythm is the key to successfully mastering how to plan your week. For instance, if you’re an early bird, consider making those early hours your creative time before you’re available for clients or team members. For someone who isn’t an early bird, though, this strategy would likely fail!
It can sometimes also help to keep your strengths in mind when deciding what you keep for yourself and what you outsource to your team. Sometimes the financial cost of a task is compounded by the way it impacts your ability to get other things done.
So often, I see clients struggle to follow their planning because they are far, far too optimistic about what they can accomplish in a given day. Your plan will be much more effective if you’re realistic about how much you can do in a day — especially considering what’s likely to pop up as the week goes on.
Shoot for choosing one to three priority tasks for the day as your goals.
Focus first on tasks that will help move you towards your next milestone or goal. These are typically pieces of a larger project so keep in mind how demanding they are when deciding how many to select. (Remember, protect that energy!)
Don’t over schedule yourself from the get-go. Leave yourself some room to deal with things that pop up during the day or the week.
Also, accept that creating your ideal week is a process. You may not master being realistic when it comes to how to plan your week right out of the gate. You’ll likely have some successes and some failures as you focus on planning your week for productivity — and that’s all part of the process!
Time Block and Focus
Harness the power of focus by time blocking your activities. The myth of multitasking wreaks havoc on productivity, so don’t fall prey to that mess. Context switching causes you to lose effectiveness, so instead do your best to group similar activities into chunks, and focus on one thing at a time.
When you’re planning your week, start with where your time blocks for your priorities are going to go. Schedule in blocks for other activities, like CEO review, financial review, or business development that need to cared for first. Then, schedule in things, like client work and team management — again in larger blocks of time — so you can group like activities.
Consider creating a system that allows you to save the miscellaneous tasks that pop up throughout the day for a single block of time. These are often referred to as buffer blocks and generally work well before or after a natural break in the day.
For instance, adding a buffer block right before or after lunch can be a great time to tackle all the little five minute tasks that popped up during your morning without derailing your plans!
Work Smart, Not Hard
When you take the time to master the process of how to plan your week, you’ll likely find yourself to be far more productive! One true benefit of productivity is you get far more done without necessarily working harder or longer. This is ultimately the true embodiment of the old adage: work smarter, not harder!