How to Optimize Weekly Planning Without Planning Every Second
Did you ever see a weekly schedule or calendar of one of those “super planners?” Or do you even have one yourself? It looks like every second of the day is put into a schedule, even time with friends, spouse etc.
But does that really make sense?
Planning is good – but not that type of planning…
The problem with exact time blocks
Time blocks are not really the best thing to plan. Nevertheless, they still have some advantages which should kindly be mentioned first.
One thing is: with pre-set time blocks you always know what to do and when to do it.
You never waste time thinking about your next action – you just do it.
This can be a real advantage for some people that tend to always get lost in figuring out what to do – and finally never take action.
But this concept can be used in a better way which we’ll cover later.
The pre-set time blocks also kind of force you to stick to them. That’s because they are written out in your calendar – they look like an inevitable appointment.
So, people that tend to procrastinate also have an advantage here. But again, this also can be taken into use in a better way.
Finally, the problem is: even if you are giving your best to avoid distractions during those time blocks – there are always occurring things no one can predict or avoid.
For example, your little kid may fall and hurt itself. You can’t just say: “No, my time block says that I can’t take care of you now.”
Another thing is: There are actions that’s lengths you can barely predict.
This may be especially the case for things you never did before or you are not really experienced in. For example, if you never wrote an article, how do you know how long to plan it in your case?You can only guess!
Especially interactions with people are really hard to predict. No matter if it is a transaction, a sales talk or just a conversation - no one knows if there is more to clarify than originally intended.
Things like that make the predictability of your day really vague. Even one or two little unpredicted or imperfectly planned events can disrupt your whole plan.
Let’s assume one distraction of just 15 minutes occurs and one planned action turns out to take just 15 minutes longer than imagined. This would have the effect that every following event is out of schedule. This leads to stress, overwhelm and to not getting your stuff done.
What do you do you in this case in the following days?
You still have tasks that are open from the previous day - but your next day is already filled. So now what? Do you simply skip those tasks? Do you finish them first with the effect of not getting stuff done this day, too? Do you skip random tasks the actual day? Hard choice, right?
What belongs into a calendar
There’s one thing you need to know when it comes to planning: There is a vital difference between appointments and To-Dos.
An appointment is time-bound.
This means to a certain time at a certain day, you have to do a certain thing. For example, a medical appointment or your time at work. This is nothing you can (or at least should) skip or do another time – it is fixed.
To be reminded of such things, you need a calendar. The calendar helps you organize them and helps you keep an overview.
Of course, it would be really unpleasant having two appointments at the same time. This is what your calendar prevents.
A To-Do is – surprise – not time-bound. It is also a certain thing that you should or must do, but it is not clearly determined when.
It may have a deadline that says when it has to be finished – but not when you should actually do it!
So, for example, it’s Monday and you need to give someone a report or something like that on Friday. You have the freedom to choose when to do it. Of course, you need to consider
- How important it is
- How long it will approximately take and therefore
- How urgent it is.
But away from that you can do it in a flexible way. The only thing that matters, is that it needs to be finished on Friday.
Because of this, you need to have two things: A calendar and a To-Do list. The calendar holds appointments, the To-Do list holds To-Dos.
But of course, this is not all. There’s more to planning that must be considered…
Time vs. results
You have to stop thinking in terms of time. Think in terms of results!
The most (financially) successful people get paid for results – not the time they work.
It does not matter if they work ten or a hundred hours, the only thing that pays is results.
If they really have to work long for the results – bad for them. If they have to work short – good for them. But as long as they get their results, they get paid.
The other way around looks really different. You could work a hundred hours and still achieve nothing.
Because of this, you should not focus on time – focus on results you create – and then try to get there as fast as possible.
If you’re now still into putting your To-Dos into a weekly calendar, just make sure that you plan your things really approximately with good margin.
Otherwise, I highly recommend this: Figure out every week, which results you want to have that week.
Then, figure out which tasks you therefore need to do and get them on a To-Do list. Ideally, spread them a little over the weeks days, so you stay away from being overwhelmed.
If you do this, you:
- Also know what to do each day, so you don’t have to think about it twice
- Also have your To-Dos written out, so they feel more like a duty and you’re more likely to do them
- Are also likely to avoid distractions because you know you need to get stuff done
PLUS: You are flexible. You can more easily deal with the unavoidable distractions and delays.
Do you recognize that you slightly have to change some things on your plan? No problem. It’s easy to find a better time to finish your To-Dos, because the time of your execution is not pre-set.
This keeps you away from a lot of stress and pressure, trying to fit your time-blocks together in a new order every time something comes up.
Finally, you’ll enjoy it a lot more to get your stuff done – which makes it easier to get it done greatly.
About the Author
Maurice Leibinn is the creator of Productive Energy Management – a method that helps people get a maximum amount of results in a minimum of time while sustaining their energy and avoiding any kind of overwhelm.
He is a productivity Coach serving serving overworked entrepreneurs and professionals. Read more...