All too many time management books make two mistakes. They are mistakes that quite probably result in a surprising amount of wasted time, and they are mistakes that quite possibly cause the first stress-virus injection of the of the day. The mistakes are that they:
- Advise that one should plan one’s day at the start of each day.
- Almost always focus solely on the achievement of the reader’s personal goals.
Those of us in the know have a different philosophy. We plan at the start of the week. There are a few good reasons for this. To stretch the injection metaphor further, let’s call them inoculations.
Inoculation 1. At the start of the week (or, if you are like me, at the end of the ‘old’ week), you set aside a time and place for the planning process. This means that instead of already being in work and surrounded by pressure, you are in a calm place of your own choosing.
Inoculation 2. You look at your set of written down values, your mission statement, your roles and your goals. This puts you in a frame of mind that invites the establishment not just of direction towards achieving your own goals, but also to reminding yourself that in execution of all your roles, your compliance with your personal mission/values will help you serve others in the achievement of their goals, too. Thus, you plan your week in the context of your whole life – work, family, community, etc. In other words, in a whole life perspective.
Inoculation 3. You don’t only make a list of to-dos. That is a way of creating excuses because you’ll do the easier to-dos rather than the effective to-dos. No, what you do first is you decide what goal- and work-oriented tasks you have (and I include appointments as tasks in this context), and then you decide when, in the next week, you will carry them out. You plan the appointments, of course, but you can also schedule those other important to-dos by day, or even by specific time of a specific day. If you routinely do this at the start of the day, each day, what you tend to have is a mental image of a limited amount of time to decide how you’re going to do ‘EVERYTHING!!!!’
Inoculation 4. As far as is humanly possible, do the things you decided to do, when you decided they’d be done.
Having done all of that, think about the result. You have a schedule that you designed, which tells you when you have decided things will be done. Now, of course stuff will happen to threaten the plan, but you won’t have the stress of juggling everything – in fact, you will probably know how to manage that stuff around your set priorities, because of the plan. You are in control, stuff isn’t.
To break it down into smaller parts, the plan is:
- Get settled, then reconnect to what’s important to you.
- Look at all of the roles you perform.
- Set goals for each of the roles you intend to perform this week.
- Schedule those plans.
- Execute the plan.
Sometimes, genuine emergencies will arise, and it is then, and only then, that you should plan every day. Plan weekly, adapt (if you have to) daily.
And at the end of a week, have a long hard look at yourself and decide if it all went as well as expected. You’ll usually find that it did.
For more, get this, HERE.