time management

The Secret to Winning Your Week Before it Starts

September 26, 2018

Reading Time: 4 minutes

READ TIME: 3 MINUTES

Does this sound familiar?

It’s Monday, and you’re already swept away into the busy rhythm of your week:

Coffee. Carpool. Commute. More coffee. Work. Commute again. After work stuff. Home stuff. Kid stuff. Volunteer stuff. House stuff. A few minutes with your significant other and BOOM time to do it all over again – Repeat times 7 and WHERE DID THE WEEK GO?

You’re left with unfinished items on your to-do list, forgotten laundry, and regret from skipping the gym, fast food meals and an empty fridge.

You keep thinking there has to be a better way, but you’re not sure what exactly that means or when you’d even find time to fix all of the problems scattered throughout the week.

Trust me. I know EXACTLY what that’s like – minus the kid stuff, but give me a few months and I’ll weigh in on that subject, too. 😉

And believe it or not, there IS a better way, and it’s easier than you might think.

ENTER: THE WEEKLY PLANNING SESSION.

A Weekly Planning Session (WPS) is a small chunk of time that you set aside each week, usually on the same day of the week, to look ahead and make a few decisions that will help your week move smoothly once it’s in motion.

Me? Every weekend, I set aside some time on Saturday or Sunday (whichever day of my weekend is less hectic – and I aim for mornings) and pull out my laptop (to view my Google Calendars) my paper planner, a notepad, my favorite blue pens and maybe some cute stickers.

I knock out my Weekly Planning Session in about 5 steps. It usually takes about 30 minutes, never more than an hour. And the 30 minutes I spend thinking through the list below makes a HUGE difference in my week – not just for me, but for my husband, clients and anyone who’s counting on me to be somewhere or do my part on a project.

Mine looks like this:

  1. Review my calendar and my client calendars

  2. Add time blocks for drive time (so I get places on time, instead of guessing at what time to leave.)

  3. Review unfinished to-dos from last week + upcoming deadlines and schedule time to make them happen. I also look for things that can be cut to create more “white space” aka rest time/down time.

  4. Plan meals for the week

  5. Make a grocery list

If “Weekly Planning Session” sounds boring, you can even jazz it up by calling it your “Weekly Mastermind” or your “Mission Control Meeting.” Michael Hyatt and David Allen like to call it “Weekly Review.”

WHY ARE WEEKLY PLANNING SESSIONS AWESOME?

  1. They give you a chance to think through and visualize your entire week before it happens.

  2. You get to make a bunch of decisions at once – from the calm of your kitchen table or a coffee shop, instead of scattered throughout the week while you’re hungry, tired, frazzled or running late.

  3. They give you an opportunity to figure out where the tough spots in your week are, and when/where you might need reinforcements or a little extra planning to get through it.

HOW TO HAVE YOUR OWN WEEKLY PLANNING SESSION

Your WPS is going to be personal to you based on what kind of work you do, your kiddos’ activities, your nonprofit volunteering, church events and more – but here are few elements that you can mix and match to create your own signature WPS.

One note – it can be SO tempting to start strong and aim to plan ALL THE THINGS in your first few Weekly Planning Sessions. Try to keep it simple at first, because if it takes too long or feels too complicated, you’ll ditch your weekly planning sessions like that Tupperware of forgotten leftovers in the back of your fridge.

Start with 3-5 of things most important to you from the list below:

  • Review your work calendar and think about what you need for upcoming events and meetings.

  • Create time blocks for drive time if you spend chunks of your day behind the wheel.

  • Plan your meals.

  • Make your grocery list.

  • Make a weekly Amazon order or schedule grocery delivery.

  • Plan your outfits for the week.

  • Plan your kids outfits or lay out their activity gear.

  • Schedule babysitters or line up friends/family to watch kids if needed.

  • Plan your fun activities or self-care fo the week.

  • Check for upcoming birthdays or birthday parties and add cards or gifts to your shopping list.

  • Review your long term goals.

  • Pick your top 3 priorities for the coming week.

HOW TO MAKE YOUR WEEKLY PLANNING SESSION EASY AND FUN

I really look forward to my WPS every weekend because it gives me a sense of calm about the week ahead. I find some quiet at the kitchen table while Scott is mowing the lawn or some other homeownery-type activity, make a big cup of coffee, gather my things and get after it.

Here are a few ways that you can make having your own WPS easy and fun, instead of just another weekend chore.

  1. Make it a ritual.

    Put on some music (I like Philadelphia Freedom Radio on Pandora). Light a candle (this one’s my forever favorite.) Make a fresh cup of coffee, or pour a glass of wine if it’s wine time. Or – head to your favorite coffee shop or library for a change of scenery.

  2. Gather all of your “planning stuff” at the beginning.

    This keeps you from getting up and looking for stuff after you’re in a good groove. If you’re forgetful (like me, lately) you can even keep a checklist of stuff to gather so you don’t forget anything.

  3. Use fun markers or stickers to add a little joy and delight to what can be a boring activity.

  4. Go in the same order every time.

    My WPS is only 5 steps, but I still keep a checklist in my Trello to make sure I don’t forget anything. I’ve found an order/rhythm that works for me, and it helps planning time flow more quickly because each step builds on the next.

RECAP

Weekly planning sessions are awesome because they help you think through your week before you’re in the thick of it.

Your weekly planning session will be unique to you, but it’s a great time to review your calendar, plan meals and make your grocery list.

A great cup of coffee, fun markets + stickers and a checklist can make your Weekly Planning Session fun, easy and something you’ll stick to.

ASK YOURSELF

  1. What makes me feel most frazzled during the week?

  2. Do I want to start a Weekly Planning Session?

  3. What will I include in my Weekly Planning Session?

LEADERSHIP CHALLENGE

  1. Make a list of what you want to include in your Weekly Planning Session.

  2. Figure out what supplies you need.

  3. Set a time and a date for your first Weekly Planning Session.

  4. Let me know in the comments if you have any questions about Weekly Planning Sessions and if you start your own!

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