For many, planning a week seems like a waste of time. There are so many distractions, interruptions, and “fires” that come up during the week which make the process seem pointless. Illness, car trouble, customer complaints, unscheduled meetings, you name it and it can quickly derail all of your plans and good intentions. Having these types of weeks over and over again can quickly lead to an unhealthy goal of simply trying to “survive” week after week. As a coach, I encourage my clients to be more proactive than reactive in their life and business. When it comes to being more proactive and intentional during the week there is a five step process many of my clients and I use with great success.
Step 1 - Review Your Priorities - I start off every week reviewing my top priorities in life and business. These are the 7-10 priorities that I have centered my Life Plan around and ones that I know if I stay focused on, will lead to overall success. I never want to have a week go by where I have not allocated a portion of time to thinking about and praying for these top priorities. For me they include my wife, my children, our finances, my faith, my coaching clients, my friends and extended family, and my community. If there is a priority that needs special attention in the week, then I schedule time to focus on that priority.
Step 2 - Define Your Outcomes - After reviewing priorities the next step is to define what you want the finish line for this week to look like when you cross it. In coaching, we call these your “outcomes”. These are objective or subjective goals that define how you will measure success in the week ahead. For example, you may have an objective outcome of losing three pounds this week or a subjective outcome of being more engaged at home with the family after work. Your outcomes should be crystal clear and tied to your priorities, so that you will remain motivated and know when you have achieved them. Identifying three to five key outcomes per week is a great starting point. Try not to get over seven as you progress in this process.
Step 3 - Identify Your High-Payoff Activities - Once you’ve defined your outcomes, you need to identify how you must behave this week in order achieve your outcomes and focus on your priorities. This starts by saying “Yes!” to the activities that will help you reach your outcomes and saying “No.” to the activities that will get in the way of success. Once you have identified these high-payoff activities you MUST block time in your calendar to perform them. For example, don’t just say you will go to the gym 3 days a week, schedule the exact time on your calendar when you will stop work or leave home to go to the gym. This will prevent you from scheduling another appointment during that time. The most successful people I know have narrowed down their activities to 5-7 that are truly high-payoff.
Step 4 - Create Your To-Do List - I believe the best time to create your To-Do List is the night before each work day. My clients that have this best practice report to me they are able to sleep better and awake more energized to start the day when they go to bed knowing exactly what needs to be accomplished. Having a To-Do list for the week and for each day is crucial to helping you achieve your outcomes and focus on your priorities. Caution! Do not let a To-Do List replace the best practice of blocking out time on your calendar to do your High-Payoff Activities. You need to have time on your calendar for working on your To-Do List and time on your calendar for performing your high-payoff activities.
Step 5 - Share Your Weekly Plan - The last step is for you to share your plan with someone you trust and that will hold you accountable. This may be someone on your team, your spouse, or a close friend. Give this person permission to ask you how you are progressing during the week. If you have an assistant or lead a team, I recommend posting your weekly plan so they know when you will be available and when you will need privacy to focus on your high-payoff activities, priorities, and To-Do List.
As I said before this is a simple process but it can be very challenging to implement. Don’t give up if you hit road blocks the first week. On Sunday night use the Keep-Start-Stop exercise to help you make adjustments and plan for the next week. Keep trying this method for at least 30 days, I promise it will make a difference!
Make it a great day!