5 Ways to Plan for a Successful Week
“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” -- Annie Dillard
Confession: I feel like I total fraud giving advice on planning and productivity. I have many strengths but let’s just say those two things are not on that list.
However, just like anything else in life, I think productivity is a skill that can be learned and improved upon.
I am someone who doesn’t really tend to plan things out ahead of time and my default mode is to wing it. Because of this, my first year as an entrepreneur was really frustrating and left me wanting to pull my hair out half the time.
How to Plan for a Successful Week
I would go into my week with a loosely formed plan in mind for what I hoped to accomplish but most of it would not get done.
Several years ago, I started doing content marketing for online clients. Suddenly I had daily deadlines that had to be met.
Needless to say, I knew that winging it wasn’t an option anymore.
I still have a lot way to go but here are some of the ways I have learned how to plan and actually execute my ideal week:
1. Do a brain dump and plan on Sunday
Every Sunday, I like to take 30 minutes to braindump everything that needs to be done the following week. This includes work, family events, and activities for my kids.
Once I have everything down on paper, I can begin mapping out my week. It’s important to be realistic about what you can actually accomplish in a given week.
And I have learned not to fill up every minute of my day with activities -- I like to plan for white space time or even days off altogether.
2. Prepare the night before
If I want to have a productive day I need to prepare everything I can the night before. This usually looks like fixing my kids’ lunches for school, setting out my clothes, and having a plan in mind for how my day will go.
Honestly, this is the step I seem to want to skip the most. It’s easy to settle onto the couch with a bowl of popcorn and some Netflix and tell myself I can get everything done in the morning.
But I have seen time and again that a successful day really hinges on my ability to prepare the night before.
3. Finish the most difficult tasks first
I have found without exception that I have to get the most difficult things done first. This is why I wake up at 5:30 AM to work on my blog.
As a writer, you would think it would be easy for me to get this done but it isn’t. I don’t get paid for my blog but I do get paid to write for my clients.
If I wait until my kids are off to school, it is all too easy for me to prioritize client work and never get to my own writing.
What is difficult will change depending on the season of your life and your priorities. At this point, I don’t have to wake up early to exercise because I don’t have a hard time going to the gym at noon but this may change at some point.
4. Make tweaks along the way
I tend to set really unrealistic expectations for myself. I expect things to go exactly right the first time I try it.
But the mistakes are just as valuable as the things you have done well (if not more so) because they give you valuable insight into what is working and what isn’t.
For instance, I have learned that my workday is almost always a disaster if I check my email anytime before noon. Email is like a drug for me, I check it once and then continue wanting to check it over and over again.
Don’t be afraid to make adjustments along the way because life will happen. The point isn’t to be a drill sergeant, the point is to set yourself up for success and to enjoy the way you spend your days.
5. Resist the urge to compare
I am the ABSOLUTE WORST at coming myself to other freelancers and entrepreneurs.
I will look at someone else and think, “Oh wow, she has four kids and a coaching business and a blog and a podcast and has her sales funnel and all her opt-ins set up and always looks awesome. What’s wrong with ME?”
Obviously, this type of thinking is not useful and one of the things I am really working on is being inspired by people who are further along than me, not jealous.
If they can do it, I can do it and I would be better off being friends with that person instead of in competition with them.
What helps you stay on task and have a productive week? Share your best time management tips in the comments!