We all have projects and goals, but the truth is that not all of us manage to achieve them. Not advancing in our projects causes frustration and discouragement.
But what if we tell you that the reason we do not achieve our goals is the lack of planning? Read on and find out how to plan your week, and you will achieve your long-term goals.
- One of the most important points is to be clear about your goals. By making a list of them, you will clear your mind. It will also help you to visualize them so that you can establish the priorities.
- A key benefit of keeping a weekly plan is that it increases your productivity and at the same time reduces stress.
- There are a few methods you can use to keep your week organized. These will be useful for different tasks in your day-to-day life.
What you should know about how to plan your week
It is likely that the first time you set out to plan your week, you will find that you have many more activities than time available. It’s the problem of our time.
We are going to tell you why organizing your tasks will help you in your day-to-day life. Planning does not guarantee success, but it gives you the best chance you have of achieving it (4).
Why is weekly planning important?
Having a weekly plan ensures that we organize the priority of our objectives. Another benefit is that it reduces stress, since having all the important tasks in one place calms the mind. This happens because it frees up space in our memory by not having to remember every pending task.
There are also external factors that cause anxiety, especially in today’s society where technological improvements have produced an information overload for individuals and, since they cannot control these external factors, they become a cause of stress (6).
5 steps to plan your week in the right way
1. Know your goals
Most of us, at the beginning of the year, set goals to accomplish during the year. The bad news is that we rarely achieve our goals as planned. The good news is that there is a solution.
Once we plan our annual goals, it is important that we go from small to large. That is, what small activities are needed to achieve a larger goal, the sum of these will make you achieve the final goal.
If you want to do everything together, your only achievement will be getting frustrated and giving up at the first adversity.
So, when you have a clear objective, dividing them into mini-objectives is a good idea. For this, there are different techniques that facilitate the effective fulfillment of our goals. One of them is the S.M.A.R.T. method.
Through this method, we can analyze each specific goal and see the performance of our efforts to achieve it.
This method allows us to order and measure our work systematically. S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym that refers to the characteristics that a goal must have to be good. Thus, a S.M.A.R.R.T. goal is:
- Specific: a concrete and well-defined goal.
- Measurable: to have certain measurement criteria and thus evaluate progress.
- Achievable: It must be realistic in order to be achievable.
- Relevant: It must make sense to you.
- Timely: It must be set in a time frame.
2. Choose a weekly planner and write a list of the activities you have to perform
To keep all your activities organized, it is important that you keep everything in one place. To do this, it is essential that you find the tool that works best for you.
A good idea is to first write down all the activities you have to do and then organize them in a weekly calendar. Perhaps writing it down in a paper diary is the method you like best.
Another option is to use apps that are designed for this purpose. Digital calendars can facilitate several issues, here are some advantages of their use:
- They can be programmed to make reminders before some activity.
- Having different calendars and being able to add or remove them to the planner. This is very practical when you want to differentiate your work activities from your personal life.
- Share your calendars or activities with other people.
- You can put a different color to each task or event, which allows you to create your own color code. This is very useful to be able to take a quick glance to know how your day is coming.
- You can attach files to have them available whenever you need them.
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3. Assign deadlines to the tasks on the list considering the unpredictability
If you don’t set deadlines for your tasks, chances are you won’t do them. We all know that when we manage our time, there will be tasks that will take time away from the things you really have to do.
By having to have the task ready by the due date, you will channel all your energy into getting it done in a timely manner.
When calculating the organization of your week keep in mind how much time you allocate to each task. You will be able to add a few extra minutes and then adjust to how long each activity actually takes you.
It should be reasonable to present the amount of tasks you can manage to do in a day. If you set too many goals and then can’t meet them, you might get discouraged.
Try setting one big task per day, and then smaller tasks. For example, if you are working on a project, you might spend two hours researching it and writing a report. Small tasks can include things like answering emails, answering calls, reading the news, etc.
4. Learn to prioritize
Surely, when you see the list of activities for the week and the time it will take you to accomplish each one, you’ll think it’s impossible. But the good news is it’s not.
However, it is clear that you will have to think about what you want to achieve and what will take you to achieve it, and what diverts you from your goal.
It’s hard to accept, but the reality is that we waste a lot of time on tasks that don’t bring us anything. To achieve your goals and make space in your life, you have to give some things up. It may be those hours you spend surfing the web, or on social media, etc.
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Time is not free, in fact, it has one of the highest prices that can be paid for something, the opportunity cost. If you invest your time in something, you are paying with the impossibility of not being able to use it for something else (2).
For this reason, it is important to learn to prioritize. Think about the main tasks in which you spend your time, and evaluate if by doing them you are taking steps towards your goals. If the answer is yes, prioritize them and use your time on them. If the answer is no, you know, move on to something else.
5. Create time for breaks and leisure
Not everything has to be work, you must create time for rest and entertainment. Concentration is diminished when you are tired and that affects productivity.
Taking breaks, practicing hobbies, going for a walk, and doing recreational activities, must also be present in the planning. This will improve your performance when you are working.
Optimizing time does not mean increasing the number of hours dedicated to each task, but making good use of the time available (5).
Good practices for planning your week
- Keep your commitments separate from your desires.
- Take a break between tasks.
- Reflect on the tasks you are giving importance to and see if that will lead you to accomplish your goals.
- Divide your calendar into blocks of time.
- Use the Pomodoro technique.
What is time blocking?
Time blocking is a strategy that allows you to order the activities of your day. With this technique, you group activities that may be similar in a block of time to work on them. This method has several benefits:
- Planning in blocks on the calendar helps to visualize the time for each activity. It avoids interruption and overlapping of work.
- Combine similar activities in a block of time. It can be in the same block answering emails, checking the agenda, and answering messages. In another block, you can dedicate yourself to activities that allow you 100% of your concentration and focus. Another block for lunch, etc.
- Scheduling similar group tasks is useful so that your brain does not have to switch between different activities all the time. This way you will be able to reduce context switching.
Time blocking allows you to set specific times to work on important tasks. This way, you will be able to concentrate effectively on your work.
What is the Pomodoro technique?
This method proposes to structure the study or work time in short but high-intensity spaces, followed by short breaks. These breaks will make the tasks much more bearable, and you will avoid interrupting the work moments.
The first thing you have to do is choose a task from the list that you are going to dedicate yourself to. Then with a clock or app, you schedule 25 minutes and get on with it. Once this time has elapsed, you take 5 minutes off work.
Each of these periods is called a Pomodoro. After 4 Pomodoros you should take a long break of 20 or 30 minutes. This is really important, as it will allow you to clear your mind and disconnect from the task you were doing.
It is concluded that the Pomodoro technique, given the change in efficiency it creates, as well as its convenience, simplicity, and change of discipline, is a good technique for time management (3).
Analyze your work plan every week
Choose a day and time of the week that you use to plan your time. Sunday evening is a good time of the week, since you can review what you have accomplished the previous week and evaluate the week ahead.
By organizing your week, you avoid procrastination and get important tasks done at the right time. Also, creating weekly goals helps to have the plan to work towards your long-term goals.
Anxiety is the problem of our time, as is procrastination. Putting off tasks and leaving them undone generates restlessness. We suggest you start planning your week and notice the positive changes it generates in your life.
Integrating weekly planning into your life will generate security and confidence. You will notice how your stress level decreases by having everything more organized and planned.
1. Gamonnet, F. (2010). How to manage your time better: strategies based on objectives and priorities. granica.
2. Caballero López, M. Á. (2020). Libro. Editorial circulo rojo.
3. CORREA CASTRO ISMAELBENJAMÍN. DEVELOPMENT OF A PERSONAL MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUE BASED ON AN ADAPTATION OF THE POMODORO TECHNIQUE [Internet]. Academic repository of the University of Chile. 2020 [cited 2022Nov1].
4. Thomas CJ. Basic guide for middle managers and team leaders. Madrid, Spain: FC Editorial; 2007.
5. Gonzalez Garcia MJ. Efficient time management. Málaga, Spain: Innova; 2006
6. Mancini M. Time Management. Los Angeles, USA: McGraw-Hill; 2003