I spend roughly two hours each week planning my personal life – usually on a Sunday evening.
I start with reminding myself what’s important. Luckily, I don’t have to try and figure this out (that would take longer than two hours!). I’ve already spent a lot of time thinking about this, and have something I can refer to and review.
It hasn’t changed much in the last few years. This is because I’ve done the hard work to figure out what’s truly important to me. So, it becomes more of a matter of connecting with it, and having some high level ideas for how I feel about them.
Next up, I make detailed notes about where I want to spend my time, and what I’ll actually do. That might not seem hard. But, it involves making decisions on priorities, and deciding specific actions. That can take a bit of time to get feeling right.
Then, I’ll break down the week, and start to map out at a high level what will happen every day. Some days will be more work focused, and won’t feel very balanced. Other days will be a better balance, or perhaps entirely focused on something else.
This is where the rubber meets the road. It’s actually quite tricky to get right. You have to look at the priorities and actions you decided in the previous step, and map them into the days. You need to look at existing commitments and where there may be conflicts. Quite often you realise that you’re not able to do everything you decided in the previous step. You’re forced to make further decisions on your priorities.
And lastly, it’s a matter of taking a step back and looking at all of this work. Does this feel like a good week? If the week played out close to that, would I be happy with the shift forward?
You might be thinking, this all feels a bit over the top. Two hours? That’s time that I could spend actually DOING something. I disagree.
If I were to look at the return on investment of my weekly planning, it might be the best two hours I spend each week. It’s absolutely the difference between a focused and balanced week, and, well – the opposite!
Unless you go through this for yourself, it’s hard to really understand how powerful it is.
I also do something very similar with my work week. It involves some extra parts, but the overall high level flow is similiar. And the return on investment is just as high.
I’ll leave you with a quote that sums up quite nicely why I invest so much time in planning my week.
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe” – Abraham Lincoln
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