An unproductive year may have started with an unproductive day that turned into a bad week that morphed into an unproductive month that spiraled out of control and became an unproductive year. You didn’t reach any goals that you’ve set out to do for the year. Just thinking about it gives me goosebumps.
That’s a nightmare that you don’t have to worry about because Asian Efficiency has helped over 13,000 people avoid that nightmare.
You might have experienced the “where did my week go” problem where you ended your week without making any real progress on your goals or priorities. Worse, your todo list is a rehash of the previous week–plus more!
What could you have done better to avoid this?
The key to having a productive week is not about what you do daily but what you do before the week starts. Plan. You need to plan for your perfect week.
How to plan for your perfect week
1. Choose when to do your planning and stick to it
This is a crucial part when it comes to planning your week. You cannot just plan when you have time. You have to make time for it and make it as part of your ritual. Sticking to it every single week is one recipe for your success.
What works for me might not be the best for you. In choosing when to plan, it should be a day and time that you can consistently carve just for your weekly planning.
In my case, I do it every Sunday night, after dinner. This is usually the quietest part of my week and when everything at home has calmed down. Brooks does his planning every Sunday morning while Thanh does his Sunday afternoon. Others do it on a Saturday and some even during weekdays. What matters most is that you stick to it every single week.
Start with 30 minutes and eventually increase to 60 minutes. Think of it as your weekly thinking time where you can reflect on the week that just ended and plan for the week that’s about to start. This requires you to be present so make sure you are free from distractions. You can read about how Thanh plans his week as Asian Efficiency’s CEO here.
2. Schedule what’s important for your week
If it’s not in your calendar, it probably will not happen because you will end up forgetting about it. During your weekly planning, think about all your priorities for the week, list them down, and add them to your calendar so that you consciously make time for it. Your calendar is a powerful tool that when used correctly, will help you achieve your goals.
It’s easy to miss important tasks when you don’t have a visual (whether analog or digital) reminder of it. It happened to me several times before–like forgetting to carve out time to pick up my daughter’s report card (oops) and her parent-teacher 1on1 (double oops).
When something unexpected pops up during the week, you can immediately look at your calendar and decide what you can move or not move to accommodate this surprise. You don’t have to panic since you have everything in place–you just have to move some pieces around.
3. Review your previous week
The review process is vital for you to make the necessary adjustments and improvements to your weekly planning. Here are some questions you can ask during the review process:
- What went well?
- What didn’t go well?
- What can be better?
- What improvements can I make?
Those are just some questions you can use. Of course, feel free to add to it if it helps in your review.
It’s during this step that I realized how important it was to add all time-bound activities to my calendar because I tend to forget if I just file it inside my head.
It’s going to be useless to do a review if you do not do anything about it after. You can immediately make changes to your plans during your review
4. Leave some room for surprises
Whether you like it or not, it’s bound to happen every week. There are things you can control, but there are also a lot of things you can’t control especially if it involves other people (even technology).
Don’t go overboard and fill your calendar with things to do every 30 minutes–that’s overkill. Have enough buffer time that will allow you to accommodate any surprises that may arise.
Meeting a friend for lunch? Make it 3 hours instead of 2. Doing errands for the day? Make it 2 hours instead of 1. Going to the gym? I put in 2 hours even if it usually takes me an hour because there are times when traffic is bad or the gym is full.
Having this extra room to wiggle ensures that you don’t panic and end up canceling out on your priorities.
These 4 steps are pretty simple and easy to follow. The key is consistency in doing it. Find out what day and time is best to do your planning and do it. List down your priorities and add those to your calendar while making sure that you have enough buffer time for surprises.
I wish I had stumbled across your blog a long time ago. I have been a GTD fan for a couple of years and have implemented those strategies…. well most of the time. However, AE somehow breaks it down in a way that works better for me. I am not sure if it’s your content, web design, email, the primer…. I don’t know exactly, but thank you!!!!! My only problem now is spending too much time reading everything on the blog.
Also plan on how to manage being furoughed with no prior notice. Be ready to scale back your goals as you cannot achieve as much if 1 – 2 days cut from your regular work schedule.
Thanks for writing this.
Clear, concise and helpful l!