Over the years, I have become a Friday planning evangelist. Every Friday, I sit down with my calendar and my “planner” (a notebook from Target, but hey…). I think about my goals for the upcoming week. I look at what is already on my calendar. I make a plan, note (and ideally solve) any logistical challenges, and figure out roughly when I will be doing what.
Of course, stuff always comes up. Bad stuff, good stuff, a bit of both. One cannot know on Friday everything that will need to happen before the next Friday. One can know a fair amount, just not everything.
So my solution to this challenge is to plan tight, then plan light.
Here’s what I mean. I aim to schedule anything difficult or speculative, or anything I view as a top-but-not-time-bound priority for Monday. That increases the chances that it gets done before stuff comes up. Since there are inevitably some meetings or calls on Monday too, that means Monday needs to be planned fairly tightly. Tuesday often is too, since anything that won’t fit on Monday tends to go there.
But then, as the week goes on, my plans get a little lighter. I don’t allocate many of the known priorities for Wednesday or Thursday — in order to leave space for the inevitable new stuff. I try not to plan anything for Fridays so it can be a mop up day.
This works fairly well for me because much of Monday’s landscape can be known by the Friday before. The next Friday’s landscape, though, is naturally going to be a bit hazier.
By planning big stuff early in the week, I increase the chances that I get to it before the emergencies arise. This doesn’t always work. This Monday, for instance, I wound up spending a big chunk of the afternoon at the dentist’s office (again!) getting a broken tooth/filling repaired. I broke the tooth on a lentil. A lentil! How sad is that? But as long as there is enough slack later in the week, stuff can generally get moved around.
How do you plan your weeks?
Photo: Planner and calendar, with a pleasingly open week in May.