How to Weekly Plan Like A Leader
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So… You’re great at planning and therefore have zero need to read this, right? Welp, we all think that. That is until we have a roommate reunion, a birthday, and a running trip planned on the same weekend and that weekend is… tomorrow.
I’m excited about this post because I know the power and freedom that comes from weekly pre-planning. I also created a video version and a downloadable resource that anyone is free to use.
Planning is putting things on a calendar. The act of weekly pre-planning is actually organizing the things that land on our calendars in an effective and efficient way.
When weekly pre-planning is done right, Margin is created in the calendar for decompression and creativity. Margin is time. This is done primarily through scheduling margin and mitigating calendar conflicts BEFORE you are calling to apologize for missing a meeting.
Structure of PrePlanning
Surprise! Having structure is vital to weekly pre-planning. To get things done, approach weekly pre-planning in a methodical way on a regular basis.
Without a structure, you find yourself handling a calendar crisis. Nobody wants that, right?
The structure I use is Week in Review, Current Week, and Rolling 4 Weeks. We will dig into each one for some practical tips that create margin, get stuff done, and give you mental peace to enjoy being the rockstar that you are.
For weekly pre-planning to be effective it needs to be sustainable and it needs to be simple. The more complicated things get, the more likely you are to blow them off.
The format I use is each week is captured in this resource. I do a week in review, the current week, then the rolling four weeks. Here’s what each section looks like.
Week in Review
Reviewing the prior week reduces the mental clutter everyday life creates. This exercise shouldn’t take you more than 10-15 minutes each week but can save you a lot of time. To keep it simple I ask myself the following three questions. Capture your answers in a journal like this one or a Day Planner for best results.
What are you grateful for?
Writing down what you are grateful for is powerful. It’s even more powerful when you include a “because”.
I am grateful for my interaction with John last week because he affirmed my thoughts on _______.
What did you learn?
Asking what went wrong is not helpful. Asking what you learned keeps you in a growth mindset. When you view things that happened as “wrong” vs a learning opportunity, you subconsciously commit to not repeating any of the situations again (even the good parts).
Your brain is trying to keep you safe and it does not want you to repeat things that are “wrong”.
“What did I learn from _______ that happened?” activates thought patterns that improve your response to the situation for next time.
What things did you miss and what things can you move?
There are inevitably tasks that will get missed even when you have planned your tail off. Things that move on the calendar, calls you didn’t make it to, tasks that get pushed.
Forgive yourself already. Get over it and do this instead. Answer these two questions within two minutes time. “Do I need to do this to meet my objectives?” and “When can I really do this?” Keep the tasks & meetings you need and forget the rest.
Use your overall goals as your guide. Each week’s plan should tie to your major goals. I like to look at my upcoming goals and then decide on 5 weekly objectives to focus on for the week.
Once I have these 5 weekly objectives aligned with my overall goals I write them into my calendar where I can reasonably get them done based on what I know right now.
3 Ps of Creating Margin
Prayer & Meditation
Spending 5-10 minutes each day praying and meditating frees up mental hard drive space, connects your heart and mind to God, and clears the airways for the good stuff God is trying to send you.
Prayer & meditation are vitally important for your heart and head to connect with God. God is talking to us all the time. We often block His messages or simply aren’t listening because we are focused on our own junk. The subconscious mind and the heart are often at odds with each other. Prayer and Mediation bring them back together.
Plan to Plan?
Plan a two-hour block of time to do weekly pre-planning each week. It may seem extensive at first, but it’s not.
Fitness & Food
In my weekly planning time, I cover the next week’s fitness and food plan. Having no plan for fitness or food leaves your decisions to your tired and hungry mind; not your sensible, fit into your pants, mind.
We are different people when we are tired and hungry. We make decisions like the Incredible Hulk. When it comes to fitness and food, be Bruce Banner.
Block and Tackle
Finally, block and tackle things in your calendar on a regular basis. Schedules change, things pop up, or other people’s plans change and affect yours. You need to be flexible. The margin you created will help with that too.
Look at your calendar and ask yourself what can be delegated, what needs to get done now, what is urgent, and what is not.
Rolling 4 Weeks
Now, look into the future for the next four weeks. Follow a similar format for the Rolling 4 Weeks as did for the Current week, but less intense. Align your Objectives and plot them into the week you think you can get them done. Make notes to eliminate any conflicts.
Look for upcoming travel, doctor and dental appointments, maintenances required for your home, maintenances for your car, and maintenances for you!
Share conflicts immediately with those involved. Be the sharp one that is looking into the future and calling the shots. If you don’t, expect others to call the shots for you. Remember, when others call the shots for you it creates even more changes in schedules at the last minute. Be the one ahead of the game.
Weekly planning or preplanning seems really simple when you see the checklist I created, right? That’s on purpose. It has to be or you will put it off! First, get over the initial backlog of crap that’s piled up. Once through the backlog, the process can be done in an hour.
Do not let it go. You will have to begin again. But that’s not gonna happen to you, right?