Lately as I’ve been a guest on podcast episodes like Law Chat with Girija, Living Well-Rounded with Geomyra and Amber Brogdon Page’s Cultivate and Celebrate – I’m always asked this question: If you have one recommendation that someone listening in can take action on this week to improve their time management and work life balance, what would that be?
My answer is always the same, because I 100% stand by the success of this strategy.
Don’t let the word strategy scare you. My number 1 tip is something you can do once a week in 30 minutes or less.
I’m talking about a weekly planning session.
So in today’s episode, I’m diving into
- 3 big reasons why you need a weekly planning session
- How a weekly planning session helps you beat decision fatigue
- The surprising number of decisions we make every single day
- And plenty of ideas for what to include in in your weekly planning session
A weekly planning session is the hands down the most important 30 minutes of your entire week.
Here are three reasons why you should absolutely make time in your week for a weekly planning session.
01. A weekly planning session is your bird’s eye view of the week ahead.
When you carve out time for a weekly planning session, even just 30 minutes, you have a designated opportunity to zoom out and look at your week ahead. When you look at your calendar or your to-do list day by day, you’re getting a narrow view of what’s actually on your plate. When you look at the week as a whole, you can gauge the overall feeling of the week.
Is this week going to feel hurried or rushed because there are a lot of things planned? Is your week going to feel chill or relaxing because you’ve got a lot of open space? Is it somewhere in between?
When you zoom out and look at the week as a whole, you’re able to set expectations with yourself and others about what each day will look like. This helps you head into your week with a realistic idea of what you can do, and what you can’t. What gets a spot on your to-do list because there’s space available? What gets pushed to the next week when you have more capacity?
I know how common it is to write a 37 point to-do list each day and then feel like a failure when you only cross maybe 4 things off the list. Or you manage to knock out 12 things – but they were little insignificant things, leaving you stressed out because you didn’t do what was actually important.
Looking at your week as a whole helps you create a manageable to-do list and increases your chances of ending each day – and the week as a whole feeling content and accomplished.
02. A weekly planning session enables you to make a lot of decisions at once, which decreases your decision fatigue during the course of the week
Decision fatigue is the feeling when we make a whole lot of decisions. The more decisions we make – the worse we get at making decisions. There’s definitely a law of diminishing returns when it comes to decision making whether we realize it or not.
Did you know that the average adult makes around 35 thousand conscious decisions each day? Fun fact – about 250 of those are JUST about food. What to eat, when to eat, where to eat, should I have a donut or an apple? Takeout or actually make dinner with the groceries I bought earlier this week?
When you do a weekly planning session, you’re able to take your birds eye view of the week and make a lot of decisions in advance. One of the biggest opportunities to cut that decision fatigue before it kicks in during the week is to plan your meals in advance. What does your week look like? Will you bring lunch to work? Make a sandwich? Do you have a late meeting one day? That could be a great night to do a crock pot recipe or just order takeout.
When you decide in advance you can plan in advance – because there’s nothing worse than opening up the fridge at 7PM to find a slice of cheese and a bottle of hot sauce. And, by the way, if you want to start meal planning, check out Episode 68 of It’s About Time, all about masterminding your meals so you can spend more time on what matters most.
Ideas for things to plan in advance
But even beyond meal planning, there are so many other you can plan in advance to stop decision fatigue in its tracks.
You can choose your outfits for the week. You can decide which mornings you plan to stop for coffee on the way to work. You can decide which days you’re working remotely and which days you’re working in the office if that’s something you get to choose. You can pick out your kids’ clothes, arrange childcare, coordinate carpools. The possibilities really are endless.
How can you decide what you should plan in advance during your planning session? Over the next week pay attention when you find yourself making the same decision over and over again.
03. A weekly planning session helps you identify obstacles and potential solutions.
Just like a weekly planning session helps you make decisions in advance, it also helps you identify obstacles, like communication breakdowns in advance. Then you can come up with solutions before there’s a real problem.
Here’s what I mean.
When you zoom out and look at the week ahead all at once, you might notice that on Thursday you accidentally double booked yourself. You’ve got a dentist appointment at the exact same time that you’re supposed to be leading a meeting for work.
When you notice this on, say – Sunday, you can move your dentist’s appointment. Or you can reschedule your presentation first thing Monday morning, giving everyone time to adjust.
But when you don’t zoom out and you notice on Wednesday, or worse – Thursday morning – that you’ve double booked yourself, you’re in a huge mess.
You might look ahead and realize that you’ve got a big deadline coming up. This gives you an opportunity to map out time blocks for when you’ll finish up your work and hit your deadline. When you don’t zoom out, all of a sudden the deadline sneaks up on you. Then you’re scrambling to finish, staying up late stressed out to get it all done.
If you and your spouse, or a babysitter take turns picking up kids from school or taking them to activities, a weekly planning session is your chance to map out who is doing what when. This is especially helpful on mornings when I’m doing a live interview and can’t take the girls to school. I’m able to tell my husband Scott in advance – Hey, you’ll be taking the girls to school Solo on Wednesday.
Planning ahead can be for fun things, too!
And it’s not all dodging problems! It’s also planning fun things in advance too! When you look at the week ahead, you can make fun plans for the weekend that wouldn’t be possible as a last minute decision. You can decide to buy tickets to an event or make a reservation.
So there you have it.
three big reasons why you need a weekly planning session
You get a birds eye view of the week ahead.
You get to make a bunch of decisions at once, cutting back on decision fatigue.
And finally you can spot potential obstacles and opportunities and come up with solutions and ideas in advance.