5 Steps to Successfully Plan your Week!

Are you a planner addict?  Do you cycle through a different planner every year (or every quarter!) trying to find the perfect one?  If so, have you stopped to consider that maybe it’s not the planner?  Maybe, and this is just a friendly suggestion…it’s YOU!  

Now that I’ve been using my new planner for almost a month (and I do believe it is the perfect planner for me!), I wanted to show you how I use my Design Love Planner to organize my week.  

You don’t have to have the DLP to make this work for you, though.  

The process you use to plan your time is much more important than the planner you select. (Not that I’m going to argue that the planner is also important!!  But that in itself, won’t get you organized!)

I know for a fact that there are a LOT of planner addicts out there (planner addicts, unite!).  How do I know this?  Well, just google it (no, seriously!) and my most popular posts, hands down, are my posts that talk about planners!

There’s just something about this need to try to feel organized and that we, not the clock, have control over our own time.

I’m betting that a lot of you went on a hunt late last year to find the perfect planner for 2015.  Am I right? (if you’re still looking, check out my Planner Review post to help narrow down your choices)

And now that you have the perfect planner, a bevy of pretty pens, and maybe even some stickers, how’s it working out for you?

Are you organizing your time better, or just decorating your planner and wondering why your life didn’t magically come together the second you cracked open the perfect planner on January 1?

If you fall into the second category, don’t blame your planner for failing you!  It might be worth taking a good look at how you go about planning your time!

Today’s post isn’t about promoting one particular planner over another (been there, done that).  

Today, I’m going to walk you through how I plan out my week step by step.

With that said, I have been using the Design Love Planner for almost a month now and I LOVE it!  It really is working ideally for me (for my personal life, that is…if you recall from last week, I use a Passion Planner strictly for my blog planning).

I typically carve out 30 minutes or so every Sunday to sit down with my planner and map out my week.  The process that I use works for me and I’m not suggesting it’ll work for everyone, but if you’re struggling to get a handle on your tasks and schedule, then I highly recommend giving this a try.  

One thing you need to have a good grasp on, regardless of your planning method…the amount of time it takes to really get something done.  If you think it only takes an hour to do something that takes 3 hours, then that alone will cause you to create schedules that are unrealistic.  If this is you…this may take some practice and I encourage you to start out by jotting down how long it takes to do certain tasks to start training yourself on keeping it real when it comes to estimating times.

Alright…enough of my blabbering on…let’s get down to business!!

5 Steps to Successfully Plan Your Week

Step #1:  Set aside time every week to establish your schedule for the week 

If you are evaluating your schedule and everything you need to do ahead of time, you’re much more likely to get things done.  You’ll already have a list of objectives for each day, as opposed to trying to figure it out at the last minute (which means you’ll likely forget something).

You could do this on Saturdays, Sundays, or even Monday mornings.   The goal is to pick a time that works for you and stick with it!

Step #2: Jot down everything you need to do on a separate notepad {free form}

Before I even open my planner, I take out a notepad and just start jotting down everything I know I need to do for the week…errands, workouts, tasks around the house, bills to pay, etc.  I don’t put these in order or anything else, I just write it down as I think of it.  Usually, as I’m listing things out, it causes my brain to remember other things I need to do, so on the list it goes!

This list is my master list!  I hang onto it during the week even though I’ve already transferred most, if not all, to my planner by then.  I keep it to add more stuff as I think of it, or to start jotting down to-dos for the upcoming weekend.

Step #3: In your planner, fill in any appointments or blocks of time you know are already accounted for

In my Design Love Planner, there are 2 spreads per week…one showing the daily breakdown for mornings, days, and nights.  The other spread is for a list of to-dos (or whatever else you want to list out) per day.  For this step, I focus only on the daily breakdown pages.  

I quickly go through and note any appointments (if I haven’t already), scheduled workouts, meetings outside of work (I don’t keep my work schedule in here, unless it’s an evening meeting, which I do have a few times each month), social engagements, etc. 

This helps me see how my week is looking…do I have some days that are relatively light versus others that are packed?  Knowing this before I get to my next step will be critical!

Step #4:  On the to-do pages, start filling in what’s on my master to-do list 

Based on my results from Step #3, I know which days will be better for doing errands versus tasks at home.  I know if I have a really busy day, or a day where I have to go to New York City for work, I’m likely to be more tired that evening and won’t have much energy for a heavy to do list once I get home.  

With all of this in mind, I then start transferring tasks from my to-do list to the days that I plan to tackle that item.  And notice I said ‘plan to tackle’…I don’t always accomplish everything on my list every single day!  That’s OK!!  The goal here is to create a reasonable plan that will allow you to accomplish the majority of your tasks on the days that you assign them!

I should also note, that when I do this on Sundays, I don’t typically plan out the following weekend.  I might note a few things I know I need to do, or an event that I plan to attend, but I generally run through this process again towards the end of the week (around Thursday) to set up my weekend.  This doesn’t take that much time since we’re only talking two days!

Step #5:  Highlight the top things that need to be done on each day!

After I have my week planned, I quickly go through each day and just highlight the items that I know I need to do that day.  Those are the non-negotiables and I do make a point to complete these tasks on the day I have them assigned. 

This just helps you get some focus, so when you flip your planner open on Wednesday morning, you already have your top task identified!

As I go through the week, I {loosely} use a bullet journal style of noting what I accomplish on each day and what gets tossed vs. what gets pushed to another day.  I check things off as I complete them, I use an X to denote anything that I didn’t do and don’t plan on doing, and I use a side arrow to denote a task I didn’t complete on the day I assigned it, so I know to revisit this one later on during the week.

I also add other tasks to a specific day as things pop up during the week, which they always do!

While I’m specifically sharing this with regards to the Design Love Planner, you could implement this process with any planner system that you are currently using!!  It’s the process that is important!  

In a nutshell...identify all of your tasks, evaluate your time, divvy up the tasks, then highlight your top priorities!

While it may take a little time to plan out each week, it’ll save you time during the week!  It’ll also help you keep your time organized so that you’re in control of it….and isn’t that why you bought that pretty planner to begin with?

Your turn!  What are your techniques for staying on top of your schedule and your mounting to-do list?  I’d love to hear how you tackle it, so leave me a comment to let me know!