What would you do if you had a half-day off from work? A recent study of over 3 million people found that we are working, on average, 1 hour longer each day. The result is that many of us are spending 5 hours, or over half a work-day, every week working when we didn’t plan to. There are many reasons why the workday can spill over into the evening or weekends. One of the most effective ways to address the problem is by planning your week. A weekly planner will help reclaim your time and improve your work-life balance.
What is weekly planning?
Weekly Planning means identifying what needs to be done for the week ahead and deciding in advance when you will do it. It allows you to see if what you want to achieve in the week is realistic if you have some free time or need to reduce the list of things to be done. There are four steps to the weekly planning process, and you can complete it in as little as 30 minutes.
Step 1. Write a To-Do list
If you are planning for the workweek, it is essential to include everything you need to do. People often forget to include email or some other small tasks which would not take a full hour. These need to be included if you want to avoid having to “find the time” for them later. If you are planning for your entire week, the same rule applies.
As you make your list, note which tasks are a “must-do” compared to a “would-like-to-do”, as well as how long you expect them to take. Knowing what work is most important will make it easier to prioritise your time.
Step 2: Create or download a weekly planner template
A weekly planner is simply a paper or digital sheet, with the week’s days across the top and the hours down the side. You can download a template and make a copy each time you want to use it. Some people prefer to plan in 1 hour, 30 minute or even 15-minute intervals. The most important thing is to choose time intervals that make sense for you and your week.
Step 3: Block out unavailable time
Before you begin filling the week, you should block out unavailable time, like lunchtimes and non-negotiable meetings or other commitments. Doing this step first allows you to see how much time you really have for the week. You can then fill the available time with the tasks that you need to complete.
Step 4: Use the to-do list to fill in the rest of the week
Map each of the items on your list to the week. Where you place items will depend on how long they will take, what else is happening that day and when they are due. A good rule of thumb is to leave at least 30 minutes each day of “buffer” time for the unexpected things that will inevitably happen.
Top Tips for Successful Planning
If you want to make the most out of weekly planning, you can also follow these tips.
- Respond: The purposed of the weekly planner is to act as a guide. When unexpected events happen, update your plan to respond to them.
- Reflect: At the end of each week, take 15 minutes to reflect on the plan. Take the lessons you learned and apply them in the week ahead.
- Repeat: Schedule time each week for planning. Choose the same day each week to build this into your routine