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Plan with Purpose: 5 Steps to Successful Weekly Planning

Weekly planner on a pink desk background with laptop, coffee, and glasses.

When you plan your week with purpose and intention, you prioritize what's important, eliminate distractions, and make progress toward your long-term objectives. If weekly planning is new to you or you find it challenging to add it to your schedule, I’ve created this guide, "Plan with Purpose: 5 Steps to Successful Weekly Planning." In this guide, you'll learn how to plan your week with intention, set achievable goals, and create a schedule that works for you. Whether you're a student, professional, or busy parent, these tips will help you make the most of your time.

A weekly plan gives you an overview of what’s ahead and helps you prioritize areas that are important to you (sleep, exercise, social activities, hobbies, meal prepping, house DIY).

Step 1: Commit to a time and a place when you will create your weekly plan.

  • Set an appointment on your phone with the time and location

  • Or link it to something fun - meeting your friend, spouse, or significant other for coffee and planning

Step 2: Prioritize one thing

  • There are so many things that we could do, should do, or need to do. Commit to one priority. Ask yourself “What can I do this week that will make next week easier?” You can also ask yourself “what’s important versus what’s urgent”

  • Checking our email makes us feel more productive—after all, we’re doing something. But just because we’re busier doesn’t mean we’re getting more accomplished. We're shifting our attention, not getting our more important stuff done.

  • Ask yourself "What's important now" (WIN)? Responding back to an email might be what's important now. Or it might be that finishing your budget project is what's important now.

  • If you are a goal setter, review your goals and see how you can incorporate those into what's important this week.

Step 3: Review your calendar

  • Look at your calendar for the next week. Also, look ahead to the next month just to see what may be coming. The goal is to find everything that you may need to do. (Feeling overwhelmed by all that you need to do? Sit with those feelings and realize that this is giving some structure to your day.)

  • Gently say no: "Let me check my calendar and get back to you." If you are working on a project, you can postpone with the requestor: "I'm working on a project for Gina. Will you check back in with me at 3:30 and I will have a better idea of my availability."

Step 4: What's important vs. what's urgent

  • By focusing on one important thing, you let go of the fantasy of getting everything done. You let go of perfection. This doesn’t mean you won’t accomplish anything else or that you won’t have to do anything else, but you accomplish your most important things.

  • By focusing on one important thing, you bring all of your mental resources to that one project. This is sometimes referred to as Flow or Deep Work. As you train yourself to do this, you get better at it.

  • When you say yes to something, you are saying no to something else. If you say yes to attending a work function, you might be saying no to watching your kid's soccer game or you might be saying no to watching the latest round of "Wheel of Fortune". It's not that saying yes is inherently bad, it's just important to know what you are saying no to when you say yes.

5: Assign time on your calendar to create your weekly plan

  • This is sometimes referred to as time-blocking. You are assigning a block of time on your calendar to get your most important thing accomplished. Ideally, you would block out time for your most important task for the first two days of your week. You are getting the most important thing accomplished first. This also allows time in your calendar for other things.

  • Your weekly plan provides your navigation throughout each day as well as for accomplishing your larger, long-term goals. It helps you prioritize what’s important and what brings you joy.

"A 40-hour time-blocked work week, I estimate, produces the same amount of output as a 60+ hour work week pursued without structure." Cal Newport, Author of Deep Work

I use my weekend to prepare my weekly plan for the week ahead. Each day I use my process to build a better to-do list as a way of providing clarity around projects and tasks. Are you interested in my build a better to-do list guide? It's my gift to you when you subscribe below or click here.


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