Sometimes the things that are best for you, aren’t the most enjoyable. That’s exactly how I’m feeling about my weekly and daily planning at the moment.

I spend a couple of hours on a Sunday, planning the week ahead. And then I spend about 15 – 20 mins each evening, planning the following day. It’s a lot of time, and isn’t easy. I don’t tend to look forward to it – or particularly enjoy doing it. So, why would I spend 4-5 hours a week doing something that I don’t enjoy?

Well, the value is indisputable. When I do it, I am intentional and focused. I spend more time on important things, and get far more done (easily 2 or 3 x more). And there’s no doubt about it, I am way happier. Even when you factor in the difficulty and enjoyment of doing it – it’s a gigantic net positive.

I’ve been trying to figure out why I feel like this about my planning? Surely if it’s so good for me, I would feel like I want to do it? I came to the conclusion that it’s because it’s actually some very intense problem solving.

There are a lot of decisions to make. Firstly, where will I spend my time? (and therefore not spend my time) Even when I’ve decided this, I have to decide what specific actions to do. And again, if I choose to do something, it’s at the expense of something else. Everything feels like a constant trade off.

Once I’ve made those decisions, I start to piece the week together. This involves a lot of moving things around to fit. I have to juggle my existing commitments with the extra things I want to do. Some things need to be done on set dates, and others have dependencies.

And then about half way in, I will realise it’s not possible to fit everything in. I then have to go back and strip some things out – which is even more decisions. It’s like working on a difficult jigsaw puzzle.

Daily planning is a similar effort. Luckily, some of those decisions are already made for me from the weekly planning. But, it still involves having to work out some priorities, decide how I will use my early mornings, time boxing the day, and figuring out the balance between work and everything else.

And lastly, I’m constantly wrestling with my expectations, and the temptation to drift into goal setting. Even though I know these get me into trouble, they still creep in. I’ve built up a good level of self awareness for when these things creep in, but it’s still something I have to notice and not get sucked into.

As you can see, planning weeks and days is difficult, problem solving work. Planning a week will often leave me feeling exhausted afterwards. But this level of discipline actually gives me freedom. It’s a huge relief to know everything is well thought out, and that I’m in control. The right things are in front of me, I just have to get on with it.

P.S. Here’s a guide to how I plan my week – How to plan a killer week.

P.P.S Here’s a guide to how I plan my work week – How to be focused and effective at work

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