The most well-known time management thought-leaders recommend that the personal and professional planning process should be undertaken on a weekly basis, at a set time that you decide suits you best.
During that procedure, be it on Friday afternoon at the end of the past week, the Sunday morning when you’re at your spiritual best, or on Monday morning when you walk into a bucket-load of new ‘stuff’, the objective is to identify all the things you need to get done in that week and schedule when you are going to do them.
This is ‘great’ and ‘ideal’, and for many, completely inefficient. I’ll tell you why.
When I got up this morning I had three things I wanted to do, planned last week. I wanted to write this blog (done), start an amusing speech ready for an event in three weeks’ time, and clean my bike gear (done). By the time I’d finished breakfast I’d added several more things, and you can bet your bottom Euro that by the time I’ve finished this blog there’ll be a dozen more things on my mind.
Is that your experience?
Of course it is.
But does that mean that the weekly planning approach is wrong? No, it does not.
The purpose of planning a week in advance is to address those priorities which you have identified MUST be done, the vital stuff which is on your mind when you do that planning. Your planning will inevitably address all the incompletes from the previous week which were themselves priorities when they came into being, and which are bound to play on your mind when something comes to your notice to remind you about them.
What arises in the moment will be, almost without exception, things which can be done in a moment, or which can be planned far enough away to avoid their having an impact on the important stuff you’re doing this morning. They are either two-minute jobs which will fit into a gap in your day, or longer jobs which you can plan into larger time-periods in that day, or the next.
Or next week, when you plan that one.
The bit of guru-sourced advice which is rarely emphasised is that having done that weekly planning, start your day with a mini-planning session.
- Look at all the tings you planned to do.
- Add the new tasks to that list.
- Then adapt your original plan if necessary to take in any IMPORTANT new stuff, and do any taskettes that are easily shoved into the gaps when an opportunity arises, but be prepared to drop them through those gaps until another day.
You have to decide for yourself whether doing the taskettes before you dig into the real work is better for you, if only because getting rid of them will clear your mid for better things, but that is a personal preference. Just don’t fall into the trap of ending the day with umpteen two-minute tasks done and no real work accomplished.
I know it’s Monday and you’ve already started. But think about this tomorrow when you get into work. Or today, when you get home, because stuff happens off-duty, too.
And you don’t want to get stuck in two-minute taskettes when your children want you to engage with them.
Because childhood happens once. The work will come again.
To summarise, then, a new motto for you.
Plan the ideal, weekly. Adapt to the inevitable, daily. Then focus on the important. Always.
You’ll discover that the opportunity created by planning overcomes that feeling of the accursed Monday.