Ah, the simple, fulfilling, stress-reducing act of planning your week: By taking a few minutes to come up with a really well thought-out plan, whether it’s in your journal, on your laptop, on a sheet of loose leaf paper or elsewhere, you can come with a plan that helps you get the maximum amount of work (or other tasks) done in the least amount of time.
Why is planning your week a good idea?
While we’re not all to-do list people, most of us benefit from having an orderly task list. By organizing and planning out everything that needs to be done, most people are able to eliminate distraction as much as possible and maximize productivity, which leaves more time and space for things like self-care, relaxation, exercise, healthy meal planning, and more sleep.
How to plan your week
If you’ve never done it before, planning your week can feel intimidating at first—but a well thought-out process can go a long way. Here are six steps for planning your week.
1. Pick a day to plan your week
The best day to plan your week is a day when you’ll actually do it, but there are some obvious days of the week that might be better than others. Try planning out the upcoming week as you wrap up your workday on Fridays, for example. Or if you’re totally drained of mental energy by then, do it on Sunday or Monday, when your mind is fresh and you’re better able to think through the week ahead.
2. Figure out where you’ll plan your week
It doesn’t matter where you plan your week; all that matters is that it’s done in an organized fashion and is easily accessible. If you want to plan your week on the “notes” app on your laptop or phone, great! If you’d rather write it out, try a notebook or, if you want to get more organized, choose a bullet journal like Silk + Sonder that you’ll look at frequently.
3. Figure out what your goals are
What are your goals for the upcoming week? If you work outside the home, what work tasks are particularly important and need to be checked off beyond your usual to-dos? What home tasks do you need to get done, and if you have kids, what needs to be done for them? What self-care tasks do you want to prioritize, when will you exercise, and what boundaries do you want to set around your technology? What social plans will you fit in?
If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, think about adding a task (just one!) that you’ve been putting off for a while, like cleaning out the gutters, making an important medical appointment — you get the picture. By figuring out exactly what your goals for the upcoming week are, you’ll be better set up to plan out your week.
4. Set priorities
Now that you know what your goals are, how will you prioritize them? One productivity tip we love is “eat the frog,” or do the worst task on your to-do list first thing in the morning. That way, you’ll start the day off feeling accomplished and like no other item on your list is quite that bad. Make your “frog” a first-thing-in-the-morning priority.
Also, be honest with yourself about what you might not be able to accomplish; too many items on a list can be incredibly overwhelming and actually lead to reduced productivity. Look at what absolutely needs to get done this week, and then look at what’s actually important to you, and eliminate what isn’t necessary. Doesn’t your week feel less overwhelming now?
5. Make a schedule
Now comes the fun part: Figure out when you’ll do everything. If you have plans to go out to dinner with a friend, suggest Wednesday night — that can be a great way to break up the week, giving you something to look forward to on Monday when the week feels long and endless. If you know you tend to dread exercise, schedule it for first thing in the morning (exercise can be your frog) before you have time to come up with an excuse not to do it.
6. Don’t forget to plan the weekend
Planning your week from Monday through Friday is great, but don’t forget about the weekend! The weekend can be an excellent time to catch up on self-care, socialize, clean the house, and so much more. The weekend exists for a reason, so if you’re feeling like you can only fit so much into your week, make some plans for the weekend — those to-dos will probably be the ones you’re most excited for.
Tools and resources for planning your week
If you need some tools to help plan your week, consider…
- Investing in a bullet journal like Silk + Sonder, which can help you get organized quickly
- Buying a great set of pens that will make you feel excited about planning
- Hanging up a big wall calendar that you can look at often to get a clear picture of your week
- Using a project management tool like Asana or Monday.com to help you prioritize