As a creative, I generally struggle with long-term planning. I usually have numerous projects going at one time. The minute I put something on paper, it seems like I’ve got a conflict. This usually results in one of two scenarios. Either I don’t plan, or I decide that I’m going to micromanage the whole week. Gain control. Solve the problem for once and for all. So I spend hours on a Sunday, planning each day of the week, hour by hour. Unfortunately, this usually works for the first hour or two on a Monday until the first conflict or unanticipated delay, and then the whole plan crumbles.
Can you relate?
Because of this, I’ve had to come up with some workable tools over the years that are quick to implement and offer great flexibility. My simple weekly planner came out of my frustration with traditional rigid time management plans. It has helped me focus a week ahead of time, yet have the flexibility to make changes along the way. Tying it in with my Top 6 Daily Planner, it’s become a mainstay of my personal success plan.
Weekly Planner: Here is how it works.
The basic concept of the weekly planner is to gather ideas and divide them into two areas. Goal Related and Maintenance (Status Quo).
I ask two questions…
What do I absolutely have to do next week?
What do I need to do to advance my goals next week?
Both of these can be worded differently and sometimes I will get more specific. Overall, I want to know what has to be done, or suffer the consequences (ie pay bills or get late fees) and what needs to be done to further my short and long-term goals. Using the word “absolutely,” helps me weed out urgent but unimportant tasks. Advancing my short and long-term goals helps me break them down into action steps.
Once you have your tasks and maintenance items filled in, you can add them to your daily boxes. Next to the subject area is a small box for allotted time and a small square box to check off the item when completed.
I’ve made this sheet available for free in both MS Word format (which is editable) and in PDF format which you can print from almost any application.
Get both in a handy Zip file here. Weekly Word Planner Combo
Open the PDF version here. Weekly Goal Planner PDF
How to Use: I recommend that you set aside at least a half hour on the weekend to plan out the upcoming week. For me, Saturday mornings work well. Many others tell me that Sunday evenings are best. List out your must-do items in the top box along with your goal related items in the goal planning box. Once you have your items thought out, insert them into the appropriate day of the week for completion. You add suggested times for completion and check them off when completed. If plans change, it’s easy to move things around. This weekly planner works well with our Top 6 Daily Planner. Just copy your items over from your weekly planner at the beginning of the day. Sort them by priority. Create a next action to-do list. Top 6 Daily Planner instructions and free download here.
For more information on using the weekly planner, pick up a copy of my popular eBook, Get a Life. In it, I lay out a complete personal success plan that starts with cleaning off your desk, planning your week, prioritizing your day, and managing your time. It’s available in the Kindle store and can be read on almost any device using one of the free Kindle readers.
Question: Have you used daily or weekly planners before? What was your experience like?