Who here gets the Monday morning dread?
You wake up, know you need to get a million things done but don’t know where to start. You drag your feet or switch between half a dozen tasks, underutilising precious time.
Monday’s don’t have to be this way.
The secret to making Monday’s your favourite day of the week lies in Sunday. And a little bit of planning.
Why you should plan your week.
There are two big benefits to planning your week. One, you maximise your time. Two, you remove a lot of on the fly, what to do now decisions, which frees up precious brain space. Actually, there’s a third benefit, it’s much, much less stressful.
Mapping out your whole week lets you be realistic about what there’s time for. It forces you to think about how long that report will take, allow for commute time and for meetings overrunning and coffees with girlfriends that actually last for three hours. You can be honest with yourself about what you can commit to. Do you really have time to accept that last minute invitation? Planning your week puts you in control.
Being in control means scheduling time for the important, not urgent stuff. Things that have a tendency to get pushed back for one more email response. The gym, a quiet evening with your flatmates, journalling time. In the long run, these things make a more fulfilled person and more productive at work but in the moment it can be so easy to downplay their importance. Getting them in the diary and knowing you’ve also allocated time for everything else solves the ‘I don’t have time for the gym’ excuse.
Looking at your whole week, not day by day, gives you a broader context to work in so you stop trying to do everything that day. Plus it reassures your brain that your tasks are being taken care of so it doesn’t need to constantly remind you. That means less time awake at night worrying about getting it all done. Maximum time, minimum brain space.
I think my favourite reason to plan ahead is that my brain subconsciously works on it in the interim. Somewhere in the back of my brain, it comes up with ideas or figures out how to solve a problem. When I come to the task I know what I’m going to do. It seriously cuts done on figuring out how to tackle something which is a major maximising your time win.
How to plan your week.
Start with a view of your whole week. I prefer paper but you may prefer digital. Write in all of your commitments – meetings, appointments, events with friends. Everything that is already in the diary, in it goes. this gives you a framework for your week. Where are there big chunks of time for project work? Where can you slot in a few niggly tasks? Do you have a free evening for a long overdue catch-up? You now know what everything else has to fit around.
Speaking of, now write out your to-do list. But not one straight list. Split it into three categories. My categories might be work, personal projects for my blog and hobbies, and self for the gym, time with my other half, reading. The idea is you will always put items in all categories, helping you to maintain diversity and balance. What you call your categories or how often you changes them doesn’t matter. Just don’t have three categories that are really all work. That’s cheating!
Time to put it all together. Work through your lists and decide when it’s getting done. Whether you determine the exact hour or just pick a day is personal preference. If I schedule too strictly I tend to feel suffocated and rebel by doing something else entirely. Kind of defeats the purpose of planning my week. I build in flexibility by allocating tasks to a day. Then the night before, I figure out my schedule for the following day. Waking up knowing exactly what I’m starting on works well for me, hence planning the night before. But if I make all of those decisions on Sunday then by Tuesday I’m off plan. You might find that you’re quite happy following a plan all week and prefer to do all of your planning in one go. Have a play and find what works for you.
Some other tips for planning your week:
- Build in some flex. No week will ever go exactly to plan and the last thing you need is the unexpected sending you into a tailspin.
- Use your values to prioritise what you schedule first. I’m sure hitting the gym or a wine with a friend trumps work on the importance list. Remember that work will expand to fill whatever time you give it so impose some boundaries. You have my permission (not that you should need it) to live your life.
- Learn as you go. It’s unlikely that the first time you plan your week that you nail the process. Come back the following Sunday and refine. Let it continuously evolve as you try things and get to know your productive self.
- Make your Sunday planning session an event. Go on a self-date to your favourite cafe or beer garden. Pour your special tea, use your best china and sit in the sun. Pump up some music. Whether you can get out of the house or not, infuse this time with good energy. If you feel good you’re going to be kind to yourself in how you plan. I like to start my planning by writing a gratitude list and let all of those feel-good vibes permeate my week.
Half an hour on a Sunday can revolutionise your week. You will more than get that time back in first hours of Monday morning as you dive straight into productive mode. It’s less stressful, your brain isn’t preoccupied and you are in control of what gets done.
Tell me, do you think Monday can be your favourite day of the week?
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