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Have you tried to plan your week and failed to get into a good routine? I know the feeling.
I’ve learned that how I plan my week determines one of two things. I either have a great week where I’m super productive, or become so stressed out that I get nothing done.
Either way, I can look at my schedule and accurately determine how the week will go and what needs to expect.
There’s still room for spontaneity and flexibility, but it takes a lot of the stress out of working from home. You probably already know, but there are quite a few distractions when you’re the boss.
How can stress less and get more done each week? Start by pre-planning your week in advance!
This is a strategy that I’ve used to be less stressed and more organized. I suggest doing this on Fridays before “clocking” out for the day. You can also do this on Sunday nights if that works better.
Here are 5 steps to take to plan your week in just a few minutes, so you get more done in less time.
1. Clean up pending tasks
This is the best time to clean up your office, file away paperwork and receipts, then wrap up pending projects. Perform a weekly review and make a list of what still needs to be done.
Are there urgent emails that need your attention? Are you out of printer ink and need to buy more asap?
Take stock of last week’s routine and finalize any pending tasks before moving onto a brand new week. You’ll be thankful for a clean office and brand new ink cartridge when you start Monday morning.
You’ll finally feel on top of things instead of being behind before the week has barely started. Do everything you can to start out the week fresh and clean.
2. Block out time for appointments
The hubs and I have different schedules. As a personal chef he often works evenings and on weekends for special events, while I work during the daytime each workweek. To help streamline conflicting schedules, we use the same shared Google Calendar.
We’re able to aggregate all of our appointments, work times and social events without a lot of effort. This is always schedule off before the week starts so we can coordinate together.
No more confusion and no stress!
And the best part is that neither of us have to “ask the other spouse for permission” when trying to schedule a social event or book extra freelance work.
3. Brain dump all of your to-dos
Before the next work-week starts, I always brain dump everything that I need to get done. Usually this is a mix of personal and business tasks, which is totally fine.
This can be organized later. But the goal is to get all of the pending to-dos out of your head and onto paper, or into a task management system.
I like to use Asana since it comes with a super handy mobile app for jotting things down on the go. It’s easy to capture ideas and to-dos I think of even when I’m not in front of the computer. And it’s totally free!
Another option is to use the Focuster app so you can cut out double work of capturing tasks and then adding them to your Google Calendar. Focuster syncs your to-dos and calendar automatically so you can create the most productive workday possible.
4. Use admin tasks to fill dead spots
The amount of time you give something is the amount of time it will take to complete. This is not a new concept. It’s based on Parkinson’s law where, “work expands so as to fill the time available to complete it”.
In other words, the more time you give a certain tasks, the longer it takes to finish.
If you have blank spots in your calendar before the week starts, use admin tasks to fill those dead spots. Avoid the temptation to stretch out work-related to-dos and fill the extra time slots instead. Choose less demanding tasks like replying to emails, updating blog images, or taking pictures of receipts.
A great way to think about this is to break down your tasks into smaller chunks whenever possible. That way you can organize these tasks based on how long they take to complete. Ten minutes here, fifteen minutes there, and before you know it you will have checked off a lot of little things from your list.
Stagger the different type of tasks, with income-producing work mixed in with admin tasks. Not only will you be much more productive and have less of a tendency to get behind, but your brain will get a much-needed break.
5. Manage your energy and focus
What times of day do you work best? Categorize your days into themes based on this information.
For example, Mondays are when I manage the budget and pay the bills. Tuesday-Thursdays are for coaching sessions, interviews and other calls. Fridays are set aside for business development and planning for big ideas.
Then divide your day into sections: morning, mid-day and evening. Tackle different to-dos based on your energy levels with more intensive projects being done during your peak productivity hours.
Save the less demanding tasks for gaps in your schedule (like when someone cancels a call), or when you need a break from the tough work.
If you’re struggling with not getting enough done every week, or feel like you’re a slave to your schedule, try pre-planning your week. The steps outlined here will help you stress less, get more done and actually cross things off your list.
You’ll be working smarter, not harder!
Your family will be happier too as they don’t have to bug you to help them schedule things, or keep track of when you’re working. This means more time for what’s important and less time spent worrying about stuff you didn’t get done.
Give it a try! You’ve only got more productivity to gain.