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Does it seem like you spend more time planning your week than accomplishing tasks? That’s probably due to spreading the planning process over several days. There’s no need to prolong it, though. You can set a plan for a week of productivity in a half hour or less.
Getting set for a week of productivity gives you several days of perspective about spending time wisely. Daily schedules and plans made on the fly don’t provide that prolonged viewpoint.
A weekly schedule also provides direction, preventing panic and uncertainty. There may be some weeks where you focus on a single theme or project, too.
In any case, you can use a weekly schedule to break down large goals into manageable chunks. So, let’s get started.
1. Plan on Sundays
You might think there’s no difference concerning the day of the week you do your planning. However, it’s best to do it on Sunday night. When Monday morning arrives, you can start with confidence and know which tasks on your list to dive into first.
2. Minimize Distractions
Many people have good intentions to plan their schedules efficiently but get distracted. So, before you start planning the week, minimize distractions that could get you off track.
For starters, tell people in your household you’re not available for the next half hour. Also, don’t plan your week while simultaneously browsing on your mobile phone or watching Netflix.
3. Use Your Smartphone’s Timer
Tasks can quickly take longer than they should without proper time management. That’s why you need to enforce the 30-minute time limit when planning your week. Go into your smartphone’s clock app and set a timer for a half hour.
As the seconds tick away, you’ll stay motivated. The timer will also encourage you to take this task seriously.
4. Smartly Manage Upcoming Appointments
Apps simplify checking the weather forecast, chatting with friends, and more. Of course, apps facilitate your schedule-planning goals as well. Here are a few that are especially useful.
IFTTT lets you set up triggers to handle repetitive or tedious tasks. Think about using IFTTT to automatically add events to your Google Calendar. Then, you reduce the possibility of forgetting one or more.
This app called QLess lets you skip waiting in line by giving a virtual alternative. You avoid standing with others who also want a service or product. Reserve your spot with the app and get notified when it’s your turn. Try using it for appointment needs that crop up without warning.
The Waze app reduces wasted time in transit. It integrates with your Google Calendar and even suggests the best time to leave for a trip to beat traffic.
Provide your start and end addresses, plus the desired arrival time. Waze does the rest and sends a notification to reduce the likelihood of being late.
5. Set Aside Decision-Making Time in the Morning
While reviewing your week, determine the substantial factors that require making BIG decisions. Then, break those decisions into segments by day. You might decide two things on a Tuesday but anticipate no major choices the following day.
Of course, it’s not always possible to know when your life or work will force making decisions. In all other cases, plan your week so it allows making solid decisions in the morning.
Research involving physicians and court judges found evidence of decision-making fatigue. It got worse later in the day, suggesting you should attempt to decide things early.
6. Rank All Activities by Priority per Day
It’s time to look at all the tasks for a given week and arrange them by priority. Make sure to remain realistic about the estimated time necessary for each one. Consider using a time-tracking app if you need help making those calculations.
Rank the activities in order of most to least priority. Then, you won’t waste time figuring out how to start each day. Next, use a system where you fill out each day of the week with those ranked priorities.
Try a method that gives you a visual reference tool. By depending on one, you can quickly gauge the average workload for a day. Sometimes, you can delegate low-priority tasks to people or push them to later days. When ranking your tasks, always focus on the must-do responsibilities first.
Regardless of using a digital or traditional daily calendar, consider implementing a color-coding approach to show priority. Red could be for the most critical tasks, with the least crucial ones appearing in green.
You might depend on that system to accommodate tasks you don’t know about on Sunday night. For example, attempting the steps outlined here lets you plan the majority of a week. What if your boss gives a new responsibility on Wednesday and wants a timeframe for completion, though?
Thanks to color coding, you could see with a glance that Thursday has four high-priority tasks. Conversely, Friday only has one. That information makes it easier to tell a superior you can’t tackle the new work until Friday.
7. Build Breaks Into Each Day
Stopping your workflow might seem like a terrible idea when you’re getting things done. However, a study found that the most productive people work for 52 minutes and take a break for 17 minutes. Each block of work is like a sprint, while the breaks are recovery periods.
When planning your week of productivity, schedule breaks like tasks. Hopefully, you’re using a timer now as suggested above. Depend on one daily. It’ll ensure you take breaks when you should but that the downtime doesn’t persist for too long.
8. Anticipate Time for Unexpected Events
You should ideally build small segments of time into your days for the things that defy prediction. Even when using a time-tracking tool, tasks could take longer than you thought.
Meetings might run over. A morning headache may reduce your efficiency for tasks in the earlier half of the day.
Most people immediately start feeling frazzled when faced with those circumstances. Personal blaming could also come into the equation if people are too hard on themselves.
That’s why it’s useful to set aside time in your week for things that unexpectedly occur. If a particular day doesn’t contain any, use the available time to start the next day’s tasks.
Overscheduling yourself hinders productivity by causing unnecessary stress. It’s easy to pack too much on your schedule, especially when planning days in advance.
Things like severe weather and traffic delays make challenges caused by overscheduling even more frustrating. Adding a few minutes on either side of scheduled events—and staying aware of limitations—avoids problems.
Why Develop a Weekly Productivity Routine?
Going through these steps for the first time will likely require the entire half hour. However, becoming familiar with the suggested processes and apps should make you more efficient. When it does, you won’t need as much time, despite scheduling a whole week at once.
You’ll also likely find some strategies work better for you than others. Feel free to adjust the steps above and adapt them to meet your needs. Also, look into more tools like time management templates that can help you block time for your tasks or productivity apps that can help you perform under pressure.