I mentioned in last week’s post about a few days in my life that I sit down and do a weekly planning session every Thursday for the upcoming week. I really believe this weekly session is one of the most important things that I do to keep myself organized and able to complete my work in the brief amount of time that I have and so I thought I’d share more details about this weekly ritual in case it can be helpful to you in your own personal and professional organization.
Why is the weekly planning ritual important?
Because it forces me to look at how I can take the things from my running to do lists from ideas to reality.
It makes me really evaluate the time that I have available to me and my priorities so that I am able to create and do that which most moves me. It gets me clear. It keeps me on top of things. It helps me look long term. It allows me to trouble shoot before there’s trouble.
You know that old saying, “if you fail to plan then you plan to fail.” Well, the weekly planning ritual is the antidote to that.It gives me a sense of security and safety and reassures me that I am not likely to forget anything because there is a built in reminder-system which is such a relief to me (this is more important than ever given my B-12 deficiency).
How does it work?
Get it on the books. The weekly planning ritual needs to happen on a day and time that works for you. Right now, I most like doing mine on Thursday. I was a Friday girl before but with my heavier teaching load, I found that I was kinda brain-fried on Fridays and so I moved my planning day to Thursday so I could be fresh enough for it (that said, I am teaching this fall on Thursdays and Fridays so it’ll be interested to see if my review date changes). I could see some people wanting to start their week with it (that doesn’t work for me as I think the review would just give me anxiety at that point. By doing it the week before, I have a little time to settle into what needs to get done the next week and, come Monday, I just get started). So, figure out when you want to do it and put it on your calendar or to do list, whichever system works for you.
Grab your tools. The organizational systems I use are essential in allowing me to be prepared for the weekly planning ritual. Make sure that you have a system in place to capture your running to dos so that you can eyeball that list when you sit down for your planning session. In addition to all of your checklists, you also want your calendar and, perhaps, some blank paper (for brainstorming, note taking) on hand. If you keep monthly goals, you can review them during this time and you can also review your summer of intentionality or birthday lists, if you do those.
Review. Start by taking a look at what you’ve done this week. Did everything get wrapped up in the way you wanted it to be. Do you have anything that needs to move forward in time for further completion? Take moment to relish in what you got done before moving on.
Preview. Now, look two weeks out. In order to be prepared for the Monday that is a week or more out from now, what has to get done next week? Apply all of that to your to do list for the next week. I like to plan with my everyday life in mind and so I go with a day by day to do list. I go ahead and put the things that need the most time, etc on the day where I have the most time. That gives me a sense of relief that I can do it when I say I am going to do it (and an awareness that I have to do it that day to get it done).
Reflect. Now look at your to do list. What things will you address next week? Apply that to your to do list or calendar, depending on how you work, for next week.
Nest. Now, what do you need to do to be ready? First and foremost, organize your space. Over the past week you may have pulled out papers that didn’t get refiled. Refile now. Put everything in it’s proper place so you are ready to start fresh.
Prepare. When you are done, eyeball the next day’s to do list or calendar. If you are working from a to do list, go ahead and consider what you might do first and so forth. My first task of the day is always the thing that absolutely has to be done on that day. Flexible things come later. Know what you are getting into tomorrow by eyeballing it today.
Make it happen. Now, it is time to tweak and trust the process. You’ve got a plan in place that as you practice it will give you great calm that you aren’t forgetting anything and that you aren’t over promising (even if it is just too yourself). I love the feeling that most of my days are really accomplishable because I’ve planned with my reality in mind and that if I don’t get something done, it’s not urgent because of how I prioritize when I start my day. That gives me both a sense of calm and clarity in a world that sometimes has neither.
How do you organize yourself? How do you plan your weeks? What advice do you have for others or what challenges could you use help in figuring out?
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