I have seen many practitioners and coaches struggle to structure their time and figure out what to work on and where to expend most of their energy. I have also seen how that has set them back. How can you avoid falling into that trap? Simply plan your week ahead of time.
I am obsessed with planning. When I wake up every Monday morning, I already have a pretty good picture of my day and week. I attribute most of my success in business and other goal-orientated areas of my life to planning in advance.
This post is all about how I plan my week in my business so that I can control the chaos that is inherent to running a business while doing life.
Not Planning Your Week in Advance Will Keep You Spinning Your Wheels
If you’re not a planner, you gotta try to be one because not planning your week is bad for business. Planning your week without your goals and priorities in mind is even worse. Yes, you may be able to finish all the tasks on your to-do list but you won’t make any headway on your own goals because you are too busy working on other people’s goals.
After all, the entire point of planning your week in advance is so that you can block time for things that are most important in your life and business, today.
So, Plan Ahead
You need to plan ahead if you want to get everything on your to-do-list done on time and to proactively work towards your goals. Knowing your plans a quarter in advance is a great place to start. That’s because having the big picture in mind and knowing how the smaller tasks fit in will ensure that you are always working on something that will further your goals.
An important tool I use, and speak about often, to accomplish this is an editorial calendar, the holy grail of time management. Knowing which tasks you need to be working on at any given time and how you will go about completing them will surprisingly make completing tasks easier; and will greatly increase your productivity throughout the day.
Indeed, prioritizing what you do and when is the golden ticket to feeling in control of your time, energy and effort. That’s why you gotta plan.
So how do we create our editorial calendar?
First, I take 2-3 hours per week to brainstorm and map out everything I need to complete. I call this my planning session.
Keep in mind that life is not always smooth, there will be things that come up unexpectedly that will require your time so always leave some flexibility when creating your editorial calendar. No two weeks are the same so you need to be realistic on what you can get done within your planning session.
I have learnt to cut back my weekly plans to make sure that I can get everything I planned done in a manageable fashion.
Before we dive in, you need to understand that there are three categories to your role: the first is your job tasks (things you need to do on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis), followed by your project work (the projects that move your business forward) and finally, your client work (things you need to do for your clients). You need to manage all three so that you remain in control of your time and energy.
How I Plan My Week
Keeping these three role categories in mind, here’s how I plan my week.
For me, Monday morning is too late to start planning. I actually do my weekly planning on Sunday evenings. You don’t have to do the same but you need to pick a day each week where you sit down and plan ahead.
After you have chosen a date for your planning session, what should you do during that time?
The first thing I do: I look at all of the things that are upcoming for the next two weeks in my business as it pertains to social media, particular promotions, admin work, deadlines for content that I have to produce, podcasts I need to record, etc.
I then do a full brain dump of everything that is in my head — my entire to-do list. From here, I go to my calendar. I prefer to use a Google calendar for both personal and business as you can layer calendars so you have all your commitments in one place. Even if you are a one person show, I highly recommend that you use a calendar tool of some sort to plot out whatever you have going on.
Because if it doesn’t get scheduled, it doesn’t get done. Am I right?
Next, I decide what I need to do first based on my deadlines. I specifically identify the three most important things (which typically revolve around revenue, clients or creating content) I need to get done. It is critical that you keep this list to three things, not ten, and focus on getting these three revenue generating tasks done first. (These three tasks should slot under your project work.)
These three tasks are critical as you cannot afford to roll them over to the following week — they are an essential part of your business. Things like your weekly blog posts; a module for your signature program; crucial emails for your mailing list; and writing ten evergreen style social media posts that promote your lead magnet followed by an offer for a free discovery call fit under this category.
Once I have identified and set deadlines for these three critical tasks, and detailed how I plan to bring them to fruition, I write down the rest of the tasks I generated from my brainstorm.
My job to-dos and client work will then fill out the rest of my week. You should try and use some type of project management tool like Asana, like I do, because it keeps you organized and in control.
When Monday Morning Comes…
It’s Monday morning. So I go into Asana, look at my editorial calendar to see my task list, look at the due dates to see what I have to do first.
Now that all my thoughts are clearly organized on the page in front of me, I can easily navigate my way through the day.
This is the process I go through to generate my editorial calendar. It has given me clarity on my goals, held me accountable and kept me on the fast track to success.
Being self aware, knowing when you are most productive, and what you need to do in order to increase your productivity will greatly simplify your life. For example, I personally do not have the personal bandwidth to work on one task for over an hour at a time unless it engages my creativity.
To deal with this, I break up my day up so that I can switch between tasks after a certain time period. With my creative tasks, like scripting podcasts and writing emails to my mailing list, I block out some time in the morning, usually between 5AM and 7:30AM to work on it. Be sure to check out this podcast episode where I lay out my morning routine and grab the free planning worksheet. Once afternoon comes, I tend to be way too distracted by other activities to get the best out of my creative ability.
So mornings are for creative tasks, while afternoons are dedicated to client and team meetings.
Once you determine how you operate and what times you are most productive at certain tasks, you can arrange your editorial calendar to make sure you are doing tasks at your peak productivity hours.
Don’t Worry, You’ll Get Better at It
Most people tend to underestimate the amount of time required to finish their tasks, but with time, you will become more aware of the amount of time you need for each type of task and write better editorial calendars to reflect this.
So I challenge you, as we wrap up the year, and prepare to enter a new one: start planning your week ahead. If you can prepare an entire quarter ahead, that’s even better!
Accept the challenge? Let me know in the comments!