The No-Fail Strategy to Planning Your Week Using a Simple Journal

Posted by Nadia Darwesh on

“Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t.” –Steve Maraboli

If you were to write a report on the way you went about your days, how many hours would you say are spent on meaningful pursuits?

For a lot of us, the answer would be not that many, and sadly, we’d be right.

A 2019 study done by productivity and time tracker app RescueTime found that the average worker only manages to put in 3 hours of significant work per day. In other words, we're likely to waste 14 of our 17 hours awake focusing our energy on duties that we'd otherwise consider trivial.

Therefore, in the spirit of avoiding this predicament, you must have a good plan in place.

Why a Weekly Plan Works

A weekly plan, in contrast to a daily one, is important because it keeps us aware of our big-picture vision even as we outline tasks that will help us realize it.

Added onto that, it’s been proven that by proactively setting in place a strategy for how to confront day-to-day living, we can improve our efficacy in decision-making, direct focus towards achieving set goals, and lessen stress levels.

As for a bonus benefit: you can’t deny that following through on a plan makes you feel pretty darn good about your life and the world in general.

At this point, you're probably keen to get started on creating your no-fail, foolproof weekly plan. Well, you need not wait any longer. Below is a brief guide to set you off, so grab your pen and notebook, and let’s begin.

1. Schedule a Planning Date

This first step in drafting an outline for your week is crucial since your level of commitment to it determines how the rest of the planning session will flow, if it does at all.

To do this, set aside at least an hour of your time on a day that works for you. You will use this duration to focus on putting down your intentions for the upcoming seven days. Sunday evenings are generally a good option since you'll be gearing up to face a new week.

Also, make sure that you pick a place where you can do your planning in peace, and that you have a sturdy desk and chair set up to help you get in the zone.

2. Reflect, Meditate, Release

Before you begin jotting down your goals and objectives for the week, it’s recommended that you do a brain dump. This is a stream-of-consciousness writing technique that involves you scribbling on paper all the stuff that’s filling up your mind.

Write down everything you're thinking about exactly as it occurs to you. It doesn’t matter if what you express is happy, sad, unsettling, stressful, silly, mundane, boring or angry. What matters is that you take advantage of this first couple of minutes to mentally unload.

Don’t worry if you fill up a single page on this step, and don’t try to be logical about it. Just write!

3. Visualize and Plot

Up next is visualization. Pause for a moment and allow yourself to imagine how you'd like your week to roll out. Express these hopes by jotting them down as buzzwords that excite you, quotes that inspire you, or emotions that you'd want to feel.

Once you have your vision, you can formulate your goals. Make sure that each goal is specific and actionable, with a deadline attached to it. Try to incorporate one personal goal, one professional goal, and one social goal in your journal.

4. Assign Your Big and Little Tasks

Big tasks are also known as MITs, most important tasks. These are the high-priority, high-stakes assignments that you'll need to complete in the immediate future. They're usually professional to-dos such as critical meetings or pitching to investors, but personal or social goals can also be classified as MITs depending on how urgent they are to you.

On the other hand, little tasks are the menial, no-brainer activities that make up your routine. Left unmanaged, they can easily turn into time-burners. Examples are grocery shopping, administrative chores, and meeting friends for after-work drinks.

List your big and little tasks, properly prioritizing them to ensure that they align with your goals and vision for the week. Once you’ve done that, block out chunks of time for when you’ll work on them.

5. Sync or Skim

After you’ve assigned tasks, you can spend the last few minutes of your planning in transferring them to your digital devices. Schedule them on your preferred calendar app, set up reminders in your email, and sync them across all smart devices so that you’ll be alerted when they’re due. 

If you want to keep your plans strictly in your pen-and-paper journal, make it a point to carry it around with you. That way, you can flip to individual calendar pages whenever you need confirmation about your day’s or week’s activities.

Just like that, your plan is done. That wasn't so bad, was it?

Feature image by Adolfo Félix on Unsplash

References:

  1.  MacKay, Jory. “The State of Work Life Balance in 2019: What We Learned from Studying 185 Million Hours of Working Time.” RescueTime:blog, 24 Jan., 2019, https:/blog.rescuetime.com/work-life-balance-study-2019/.

  2.  “8 Benefits of Goal Setting.” The Happy Manager. https:/the-happy-manager.com/tips/benefits-of-goal-setting/.

  3. Trepte, Karen. “The Importance of Planning Ahead.” HuffPost, 7 Nov., 2017, https:/www.huffpost.com/entry/the-importance-of-planning-ahead_b_5a014127e4b03f96552bfd16.

  4. Pierce, David. “Sync Your Brain and Your System Using a Mind Dump.” Lifehack, https:/www.lifehack.org/articles/featured/sync-your-brain-and-your-system-using-a-mind-dump.html.

  5. Kruse, Kevin. Caligiuri, Ryan. “This is How Successful People Manage Their Time.” Motivation2Study, YouTube, 28 Oct., 2018, https:/youtu.be/-Qy2vist-XQ?t=157.

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