How Do You Plan Your Week Efficiently
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Episode Show Notes: How Do You Plan Your Week Efficiently?
Naturally, when I meet people and we start talking about upping your productivity game, a question comes out such as how do you get more things done in the week?
The next question that comes up is how do I efficiently plan my week?
I don't want it taking hours and hours to plan my week because I have work to do. I got stuff to get done.
If you ask those questions, you're in the right place. A lot of people ask me, how can I plan my week in the least amount of time possible so I can get the biggest return. Another way is looking at what's the simplest or easiest way, Shane, so that I can plan my week and get on to the business of the business?
Welcome to This Week's Plan, where we help you transform possibility into reality. We help you accomplish the right things each week so you can enjoy a more balanced life, both personally and professionally. Join in as we share real world battle tested strategies and techniques to help you center your focus, accelerate your results and improve your momentum to avoid being overwhelmed. This isn't just about making it through. It's about fitting in all the right things. Now here's the host of This Week's Plan Shane Fielder.
I want to remind you that our purpose together is to help you fit in all the right things into your week.
You're not going to be able to do everything.
If that's a myth that I've just shattered, if I've just blown your world apart, I'm sorry, but I'm not sorry because you're here. You're in the right place, and this is going to help you take your productivity and your game to the next level. Because the short answer that I'm going to give you later on in season one of This Week's Plan is you're not going to be able to get everything done. You're going to fit in all the right things to get the right things done.
Guess what has to happen to the rest of it?
It has to be negotiated. It has to be delegated and given out and deferred and put out into other people's quality, capable hands to do so that you can get on to doing the things that you're good at. That's a whole different conversation. That's probably This Week's Plan season two, three, four or five and twenty. It'll take us a while to shift that for you, but we will get that. We will get there. Our purpose here is helping you fit in all the right things so that you can accomplish the right things.
Science or art?
Long time ago I had a sensei who said to us, you guys are martial artists and he had us all sitting on the mat and wasn't sure if he was going to lecture us. But I know that the training was really intense that day and things weren't going so well. And he just kind of sat down and he said, here's the deal.
Martial art. And he looked around the room and he said, martial art, and we were all like, OK, yes, and he said. The martial part is the scientific part of it. We can teach you techniques, turn here, move here, duck, dive, punch, kick, all that kind of stuff. But there's an artistic side to it. It's taking the scientific side of things and customizing and making it beautiful.
He went on to and talk about how our martial techniques should be beautiful. It should be as beautiful as dancing or ballet or any of the other rhythmic arts.
This is a planning art.
When you get into productivity and you're talking about what do I accomplish in this next week coming up, Shane. It's a weekly planning art. I want you to think about going into this, that when you sit down to construct a really great weekly plan, it's going to require some scientific stuff, which I will give you through season one.
But it's going to require some artistic flair, personal interpretation, your own pizzazz, your own flavor, your own interpretation of things applied to you. So never let somebody tell you that here's the five steps to this or seven steps to this or the three ways you have to do this, because guess what?
I've never yet found one resource where they listed out five ways to do something. And I just went on the sky parted, and the clouds parted, and the sun came out and the birds were singing. This is your five steps. And I'm good for the rest of my life. It's just not happened yet to me. It probably hasn't happened to you either.
My job here is to help you find the piece that will unlock the next step for you, the piece that will make sense to you, and that would be my contribution and gift to you.
High achievers generally have one similarity in common.
We as high achievers generally overestimate the amount of things that we can accomplish in the short run. But we largely and grotesquely underestimate what we can accomplish in the long run.
We also underestimate the power of consistency in accomplishing those things over that long run. How do you do this efficiently?
How do you plan this week out efficiently?
Why do you want this to be efficient?
Why does this have to be an efficient process for you?
That's the first question I have. But when we get into it a couple of layers below the surface, when I hear questions like that, the real issue is a little phrase that I have called structure equals freedom. Structure equals freedom. It's always a structural issue. You want to accomplish a lot. You want to get a lot of things done. You want to just max out your productivity, because at the end of the day, you're seeking some level of freedom.
If I can get all my work done early, I get to go home early. Great. I want freedom. If I can get all these projects accomplished, guess what? I'm next in line for the next promotion. If I can get this stuff done, the client's going to be super happy and they're going to hire us for more business or they're going to retain us longer. And so that's freedom. I want you to consider right now what freedom are you going for?
It's structural. To get to freedom. It requires structure.
So where do things go?
When do they need to be done?
How do they need to get done?
That's what we're going to explore in today's episode, knowing when you're going to plan.
I want you to pick the same day each week. It doesn't really matter which day. However, I'll cover this in the next episode. Next week, we're going to talk about which day the science around it, why you should do it on a certain day versus another day.
But you know what? I had an old friend, and he said any day ending in a Y is a good day to do anything. I thought I was a little gimmicky at the time, but it works. Next session we'll cover that. But just for now, just pick one day.
If you're working the traditional Monday to Friday week, is it Friday, Saturday or Sunday for you?
Some people even go to an extent and go, hey, Monday mornings works for some people. So just pick one of those for today and we will move forward.
What's your goal for your planning session?
This is a critical question. Not many people ask. What's your goal for the planning session now in this period of time, this chunk of time that you've set out to weekly plan, what should this accomplish for you? Because you need to be very clear.
Once you're clear on what you have to accomplish, that will really give you a bird's eye view, an overview, actually. It'll give you a detailed view, if you want, about how much time is required to efficiently plan. In every week that you're going into and you're setting up your weekly plan, it's going to require three components. Now, these three components should be done in successive order.
What I want you to be very mindful of and intentional about is: Are you trying to accomplish all three of these as part of weekly planning? Or can you actually separate them into different blocks, get them done ahead of time and then come into the weekly plan?
The first session is the cleanup session.
And this is where you're going to sort organize, get the paper stuff and the digital stuff talking together. Get them harmonizing to get them working together. You want to understand what you're working with. You want at this time to get a handle on your email inbox. Those messages, messenger alerts, slack alerts or whatever other digital communication forms that you have in your universe.
This is not the time to clean up and go to zero inbox.
That's a different project for a different day. What it is, is just getting a grasp of what is on fire, what's not on fire, what could become potentially problematic for this upcoming week that you need to deal with now? That's the cleanup session.
Next on the list is the weekly review.
This is a specific time where you look back at the last seven to 10 days.
Where did you win? What surprises came about? What priorities changed?
It's incredible to think about the amount of priorities that change on a day to day basis today. Now, the reality and the truth is that your priorities change because other people's priorities change. The reality. And the truth underlying that is that their priorities change because one or two reasons, there's actually things changing and moving which is ebbing and flowing.
And that's great. Or guess what?
They don't have their act together.
And so because there may be a little more disorganized or chaotic that spills over into your life when you're in the right place, because over the next season, I want to walk you through the different strategies so that you can be one of those people that's a lot more immune to other people's chaos and stress and poor priorities. And we can actually start managing back in a more appropriate way.
The weekly review is really looking back at that last seven to ten days and really dissecting what was awesome, what wasn't and what needs to be focused on in the upcoming week. After that, we then go into prioritize and forecast.
Prioritize and forecast becomes the starting point of your weekly planning session.
In this session, we're looking at what needs to most happen next week. I mean, there's going to be one to three things that must happen.
If you don't sign off on the payroll or push the payroll approval button and your employees don't get paid because it's payroll week, that's going to cause you a headache.
If you don't go on date night or invest time into your family or personal relationships, you're going to end up a lonely person one day. There's a few things that must happen. You must get a good level of sleep and some exercise and eat. Well, those are all must things.
What are those things that must be done and must happen for you next week?
And how much time do you need to allocate to those things?
Where in your calendar should you be allocating them?
The next question, which is a very powerful one, is what can be pushed off onto other weeks?
Where can you renegotiate things?
You think to yourself, next Wednesday afternoon I really had planned to work on the X, Y, Z thing. You got this ABC opportunity and it's stellar and I need to capitalize on it. We've got to go back to the parties that are involved in X, Y, Z thing. A lot of times it's just you and then renegotiate a time. What a lot of people typically do is they go delete and they forget about it.
But then sometime down the road, the X, Y, Z thing does become a reality. We do want to go back and renegotiate with the X, Y, Z people and say, hey, I have to shift priorities.
I have a conflict, I have something that's come up and depending on who's who, you may be able to be more transparent and truthful. You may not, but at least say, look, I just need to renegotiate this time.
Could it happen the following week?
Could have happened ten days later. And guess what? You will have a more successful chance of renegotiating the focus and the effort that's required. You may run up against an obstacle where they say, hey, no, like you're at the end of the road, you've hit the wall.
The deadline is coming up. The timeline is due and we need your contribution. That's a different situation. We can figure out another day. But I want you to start asking what can be rearranged and reprioritized.
At this point, I just want to remind you that this session, this episode is sponsored by our No Fail Planning Methods course.
All you have to do is go to NoFailPlans.com. And we actually have eight no fail planning methods that will stop you from hacking your way to productivity and actually give you some substance that will help you in a very concrete real way. Add on to your weekly planning process, add onto your current productivity practices.
That is going to be our gift to you. We're going to purchase that course for you because you are a listener to This Week's Plan.
The next thing that we need to consider in how to efficiently plan your week out is your time budget.
Your time budget.
This is where a lot of people say, Shane, what's the most economical or efficient way that I can plan out my week?
And there is no right answer. I mean, I could say twenty seven minutes.
OK, great. Twenty seven minutes and off to the races they go.
But that's not what we want. So we want to understand how much time do you really need now based on what we just talked about, if you're doing a big combo session where you are combining the weekly look back and you're looking at the sorting and organizing and doing all of that, you may need three hours. I mean, there is a time in a space where I would pick every second Friday afternoon into the evenings and at least minimum once a month.
I would do like a four to six hour purge. And sometimes people wouldn't believe me.
They would say, oh yeah, Shane's not in the office Friday night. I remember one time, my manager was present for that conversation and he said, no, he is because I see those emails once or twice every Friday night, a couple of times a month. I see the emails at eight or nine o'clock at night coming out.
That would be my time to just do more of a monthly or biweekly purge where I would just go in and just blow off a whole bunch of stuff and get things organized and really containerized so that my next couple of weeks would go really well.
But let's focus back to this week.
Let's set a time budget that's appropriate for you depending on what that time needs to accomplish.
Now, if you're doing your cleanup and you're sorting and you're organizing in a different block, great plan, a time budget for that. If you're doing your weekly review and you've decided to kind of compartmentalize, that could be 20 or 30 minutes. And then now what's the prioritize and forecast for the next week? That could be another hour.
So just pick a time right now, arbitrarily estimate it, and then let's move forward. Now, the key thing around efficiency and effectiveness always is what's the ROE?
What's the return on effort (ROE) that you want from this planning?
I realize that you don't have six or ten hours to sit there and planning because you probably will feel like you're never getting any work done.
Back in 2002, I entered into the Franklin Covey, Seven Habits coaching series. It was an elite mastery coaching series which was a one year program. You had to join for an entire year. And all you did was learn how to master the seven habits of highly effective people.
I remember when Stephen Covey and his master coaches had said, "for every minute that you spend in planning, you can save yourself ten to twelve minutes in execution."
I don't have any science to back that that up right now, but I believe that number has actually multiplied. It's gotten larger, more toward the twenty minute mark because we have an exponential amount of interruptions and distractions than we did in 2002.
I mean, think about it.
Think about it. What was your tech stack in 2002?
You probably had a desktop computer; you may have had a laptop computer. You may have had like a tiny little cell phone and that might have been about it for you and maybe a calculator in the bag. And that was your tech stack. That was really awesome. I remember still having a cell, separate camera and cell phone and all that stuff and I had a Palm Pilot back then.
I thought I was like really high tech and I had like five devices. And one day I realized, like, I think I'm like Batman. I have a bunch of stuff on my belt.
Now we have more distractions.
The minute you get out of out of doing good quality deep work and you get distracted, guess what?
You have to go back and revisit that. I think they were right when they said every minute of planning can save you ten to twelve minutes of execution. I think that that's correct.
What kind of return do you want? If you want a good return, invest into that. That may up your number a bit. It's okay if it's an hour or two hours. You still are talking about your forty to fifty, our traditional work week. And then depending on what you're wanting to accomplish, that's just work.
What about your personal life?
What about your personal ambitions?
That all has to be factored into it. I want you to figure out what is the balance for you, knowing that all the variables are going to change by midweek next week?
No matter how good of a plan that you set out, there's going to be variables that will change. The people in the work and the constraints and the priorities might not change.
You might just be generally exhausted because you've been going running extra or you've worried a little bit extra. And you've got mental fatigue or physical fatigue, and that's a variable change. Something may happen in your community or something may happen to some friends or family. That's a variable change. And something may happen like some positive opportunities, some positive news. Your sports team wins the Championship Cup or race. You're excited about that. And, you know, you celebrate that a little longer than you maybe wanted.
That's a variable change.
It's not all doom and gloom. Let's remember that.
Our lives are exciting and have possibility and there's great opportunity. The variables will change, they'll move around a little bit of bump up against each other. We need to be planning and mindful of that. Just pick a time right now that works for you. 30 to 90 minutes. Let's go.
You really have one reality.
Your reality is time and time exists in clocks and calendars. Let me say again.
Time exists in clocks and calendars.
We know we can measure sixty minutes on the hour. We know we have a clock that tells us what time it is. And we know we have calendars that have blocks of time that tell us what can happen in that magical 24 hours that's assigned to each of us.
Nobody is better than anybody else. I haven't met anyone that said, hey, I figured out I was born with twenty five hours. Nope. Everyone's got the same twenty four.
But what happens in clocks and calendar is that's the place that you put your structured blocks. Now you need a couple of different structured blocks.
First one is what are the physical structured things that you need to accomplish. Put those in the calendar first. It's the report you need to work on. The research you want to do. The collaboration meetings that you want to have happen so that you can innovate a project or move something forward. Those are the important time blocks that you really need to have on the calendar first.
What's the second time block?
The second block is transition or buffer blocks.
Transition or buffer blocks. You need to have time in between things. Why?
Because things are going to run over and that could be for an opportunity. It could be that you meant to talk to somebody for thirty minutes. And guess what? You guys got into a massive debate.
You guys were talking for twenty nine minutes. And the key idea emerging is like, we can't leave until we flesh out the salient points on this before, you know, we need to get it all in the whiteboard or whatever happens. You need time for transition. Anybody ever get stuck in traffic? It's fine that the mapping program on your phone might say, hey, it's going to take you twenty seven minutes to get here, and then you don't realize that somebody got into a fender bender and it's 47 minutes by the time you walk in the door.
We need to build in some of those buffers. You're going to need to be a human being and use the restroom or the washroom. You're going to need to have a snack and feed and water yourself, and you're going to actually want to actually insert a couple just breathing and thinking moments.
I've been there. I've had those days where it's meeting after meeting stacked upon each other, and you do a Herculean effort and you think you're going to be Superman or Superwoman and you're going to go in there and just do it all.
You might be able to do that for a short run, like a day or two, but it's going to cost you in the end. We'll talk about that cost later on in the season. The third one is your free time or your opportunity blocks.
Free time or opportunity blocks.
I grew up in the hospitality industry and in that industry, we had something called MBWA.
Management by wandering around.
There were times where the great hotel managers, or the great facility operators would set time to go walk around the facility. They didn't really have a set agenda. Sometimes we did. Sometimes we would be walking around and looking at cleanliness.
Sometimes we'd be looking at signage and presentation. Sometimes we'd be evaluating employee performance. How were the employees interacting with the guests? What were they doing?
Every business requires some management by wandering around time where you can just be present in the business. Now I know in different days and ages that can change. We're living in more of a virtual world. More virtual meetings are happening today than ever before. But you can also structure that with text messaging, phone calls and other things.
But you just want to have that flex time in your calendar.
You want to have that time so that when somebody says, hey, I got a grand idea, do you want to explore it?
You can say, hey, great, why don't I call you in a couple hours? I got some time on my calendar today. They weren't expecting to get in your calendar today, but they can get in. Have that time for yourself. Have that time for other folks.
Digital and analog.
Make sure you have all of that stuff together. If you want to efficiently plan out next week, make sure you've got your devices together. Make sure you got your old school notepads, journals, papers, books, reports, banker's boxes full of stuff like whatever you need, pens, paper, scissors, rulers, tape, have it all together. Post-it notes, fill your boots. Just make sure it's all in the same spot that you are. Then we can go to town and construct an architect, a really awesome weekly plan.
We've reached this part of the show where we want to activate, we want to actually get you into some action, I know I've kind of I've kind of left leaped over the activation early. I've been asking you a ton of great questions. You may need to go back and revisit or listen to this episode.
This is the part where I really want you to give some thought as to what steps are you going to take from here.
All right, my friend, you get one life, and we want to do it right.
What part of today are you going to implement?
What have I said today that's been most helpful to you that you really want to go out and implement?
What are you committing to as a result of joining me today?
Let's start here. Which day will you assign one hour to at least start or enhance your weekly planning process?
Second, what will you accomplish during this time and be intentional?
Are you doing the cleanup?
Are you doing in the review?
Are you doing the prioritize and forecast?
Are you doing one of those three or all three together and then set your time budget accordingly? Looking into the prioritize and forecast part of the week, where can you insert a few blocks of structure to get the must do things done? Where can you put in that transition or that buffer time structure?
Then where can you put in that free time and that flexible opportunity time?
That could just catapult your week into a game changing positive week, and that's what I want for you next week. Make sure to become part of the show. Send us your question. When you go to This Week's Plan dot com, you will see a black box there. It's a black form. You go in there, you type in your question to me, and then I can put you into the show in future episodes.
I'm looking forward to that. And we'll get back to you and answer your question.
Today's question was brought to you by David from Minnesota.
David's been a long time dojo member with us. He's an Implementor Member as well. A while back, he'd emailed into me and he asked:
How do you select your top priority and what are some strategies to find and protect the time for that top priority?
It's a great question, David, and I've had a long, similar conversation and answers with members like you.
Here's the deal. Your top priority probably needs to be broken down into what's your top priority, what's the other people's top priority?
Let's break it into two priority stacks.
What's important to you?
What's important to other people?
Let's be honest. There's going to be things that you are going to manage and handle and contribute to this week that's not going to excite you, but it's exciting to somebody else.
Let's make sure that we honor that person or honor that group or honor the task and put that on the put that into one of those structured blocks so we can get it done. What's more important is that people honor you back because they know you're dependable, they know they can, and they value your contribution. Hey, if I give something to Shane and he commits to getting it done, I don't have to follow up with him. It's there next Wednesday like we agreed upon and it's delivered. Then everybody else can get on to the next part of the project or the task or the plan. And so that's exciting.
Now for priority, I actually use a different four part system. If you break it down, it's mind, body, spiritual and emotional.
I actually look at what are my priorities for each component. What are my mental priorities? What are the things that I need to do this week mentally?
That can mean working on some reports, research, studying, working on a course that I'm like some of my own personal growth or professional growth course, read a book, whatever physical body. So that could be what am I actually producing with my body? What are the places and spaces that I need to attend? I will go there. And I also look at what it's my physical rest and relaxation and exercise priorities for the week and nutrition and all that stuff.
Spiritually, I look at how I'm doing on the spiritual front. I like to remind myself that I'm a spiritual being as well. I have an important part in the whole universe. I'm an important part of humanity and I have to contribute, and I have to give and serve and help. I remind myself of those things and ask myself, what are my priorities there?
Then emotional. What are my emotional needs that week?
Do I need to have a week of solitude and more quiet time?
Is it a week where I want to be at the party, and I want to be out with friends or out volunteering at different things?
I think if you just take that that framework, mind, body, spiritual and emotional to filter in the things happening in your world. That will really quickly give you a head start onto prioritizing things. You can go to other things like the ABC method, the one, two, three method.
You can use all sorts of task planners in many different electronic formats. But really, I think it's really important is what's important to you, what's important to other people? Harmonize the two together and you'll be off to the races.
In our next episode of season one for This Week's Plan will be:
When should you do your weekly planning?
We are going to dive deep into that question. We started on today about like the actual day and which day should it be and why and all that kind of good stuff. And I'll have some really interesting things to present to them. It's been really fantastic, you honoring me with some time that I could build into your week and build into your life. Thank you for that. I want to encourage you to forge ahead this week with confidence to start with a reasonable time budget in your calendar for your weekly planning activities.
Let's get next week's plan set up and let's have an awesome week coming up and then agree to just modify and adapt the plan every day as you go. It's a daily event from there on in. We haven't even started talking about daily planning, so that'll be later on, maybe even in season two. I'm excited to be on the journey with you. I'm Shane Fielder. Thanks for joining us today.