Tranquility by Tuesday Challenge, Rule #2: Plan on Fridays

Welcome to the Tranquility by Tuesday Challenge, week 2! Yep, the TBT week starts on Fridays. Why? Well, it has a lot to do with this week’s rule, Rule #2: Plan on Fridays.

One of my fundamental tenets of time management is that most people, and particularly people with a lot going on, need a designated weekly planning time. A week is the cycle of life as we actually live it (is Tuesday a typical day or Saturday? Both happen just as often; a week contains both.). A week is long enough to take a holistic perspective, but short enough that the plans you set will likely be doable.

Planning should not just be about figuring out what you have to do. When you look at a whole week, you can figure out what you want to do too. I suggest people set  priorities in three categories: career, relationships, self. What would make this feel like a really good week? Just 2-3 items in each is plenty, but figure out where these can go.

You should also figure out what you need to do for the next week. A lot of this will already be on your calendar, but you might need to add things. You can be judicious; this is also a good moment to remove something that isn’t the best use of your time. You can solve any logistical problems and spread out anything big (deadline on Wednesday and a busy day Tuesday? Carve out time Monday to work on it too.).

Finally, make sure you have something you’re looking forward to! Not only is this good for mental health in general, it will motivate you to stick with the planning habit.

As for Fridays? If you have a weekly planning time that works for you, and it isn’t Friday, you don’t have to change But! Friday has a lot going for it:

  • It tends to be a slower day, and a lower energy day. If you’d just be sliding toward the weekend, why not use what could be wasted time to plan?
  • It’s during business hours. If you plan on Sundays, and you need to set an appointment or a meeting, you might not get a response (well, you will if you’re setting a meeting with an employee…but do you really want to be that boss?)
  • You can use all of Monday. If you plan on Monday morning, you won’t start executing on these things until later on Monday. If you’re drifting toward the weekend on Friday, well, we’ve really shortened the workweek! Plan on Friday and you can use that Monday morning start-of-the-week energy for making progress (It’s also a great time to work on speculative or long term projects…before everyone else sorts themselves out for the week).
  • You can enjoy your weekend more. If you work a M-F week and don’t plan until Sunday or Monday morning, you might spend part of the weekend wondering about what’s coming your way. If you leave Friday with a plan, you can relax.

If you’re a Friday planner, I’d love to hear about it: when you do it, if it works for you, etc.

I don’t have favorite rules, but alongside giving yourself a bedtime, I really think this one can be life-changing. When people ask me how I manage my life, I always give a shout out to a holistic weekly planning process. It’s not all of it, but it is a big part of making the juggle possible.

Doing the “Plan on Friday” rule once will be helpful for sorting out the next week. But when you observe a weekly planning time, week after week, life starts to feel a lot more tranquil. You start getting potential crises under control before they happen. You think about long term goals, and start putting more steps toward long term goals on your calendar, so that when you get to upcoming weeks, many good things are already there. This makes planning swifter — and more fun.

In other news: If you’re doing the official TBT Challenge, you got a link today in your email to my Zoom “office hours” next week. Hope to see a few folks there!


19 thoughts on “Tranquility by Tuesday Challenge, Rule #2: Plan on Fridays

  1. I used to be a Sunday planner, but I’ve switched to Fridays (well, except on the weeks where I’m insanely busy and don’t get to it until the weekend, which thankfully doesn’t happen too often!), and I swear by it. Of all the TBT rules, I find this one the easiest to follow and the most impactful as a result. I do my weekly planning on Friday (aiming for about an hour, usually not needing more than 1.5 hours; my life is complicated) and then I just need about 15 minutes to plan my day each morning (which pretty much boils down to deciding when to allocate time for each task I assigned to that day the previous Friday and moving things around as needed as the week goes on). I’m about to sit down and do this week’s session, which is a highlight of my week because I LOVE planning! 🙂

    1. @Kaelyn – it definitely makes life feel more under control. And yes, with a good Friday planning session, any daily planning just takes a few minutes for me.

  2. Initially skeptical about Friday planning as I used to plan on Sunday. What convinced me is I can still start fast on Monday and better yet not worry about planning over the weekend.

    I still do some review functions on Sunday as I can’t convince myself they would be a good fit on Fridays.

    And part of the review on Sunday is my calendar ends on Sunday so I like to review and then I have planned for the beginning of the new week on Friday.

    1. @Isaac – I can see that the reviewing schedule would make sense. I often briefly review my weeks as I archive my time log (at some point during the day on Mondays) but I tend to see that as separate from planning (which would be more forward looking).

      1. I always did work planning on Friday. But following your work over the years taught me to also think about personal and relationship planning at the same time and and this has been a game changer. Planning the next weekend and finding down time during the week has helped me spend my free time on fun things instead of letting errands expand to fill entire Saturdays. As I have no kids, planning is simple, but my life is now more fulfilling and I get to more things on that elusive “someday maybe” list.

        1. @Melanie – so glad you are finding it helpful to plan personal priorities alongside work priorities! I really do think it helps to see the week holistically. You are one person with one life – so why not account for all of it? Here’s to working through more stuff on the someday/maybe list.

  3. I love doing meal-planning and grocery pick-up on Friday for this same reason. As for work, I have tried to plan on Fridays, but because others don’t, things often come up on Monday morning that change any plan that I had. I also tend to do a lot of reactive planning when I do it on Friday and can’t always “see the forest through the trees.” The space of the weekend somehow helps me focus on what’s really necessary. Although, I often wish I wasn’t thinking about work in that way, so it would be nice to change it!

  4. I was resistant to Friday planning for a long time, favoring a less hectic Saturday time slot for schedule review and planning. However, I finally got humble and tried Friday afternoon planning (about 4 pm). I realized it works fine and I actually want to allot a bit more time (1 hr. instead of 30 min.) so I can include some further out reflecting and planning (into the upcoming month … or two.) Thanks, Laura, for your helpful suggestions and patience with this “slow adopter.”😉

    1. @Julie – glad you are finding it helpful! I think like any habit it just takes time. And yes, looking forward a little ways can help make sure that whatever needs to have time devoted to it has time devoted to it.

  5. I’m pretty good at Friday planning – and grateful for it today as I woke up to a message that the place I stay whilst in my work city is covid ridden, necessitating a change in plans. I’m immunocompromised so staying in a house with an active covid case feels like a bad idea bear.

    I’ve got my list for the week though, and once I find myself an Airbnb, I’m going to get cracking. I feel like if I hadn’t had that list, I’d have struggled to settle into work.

    1. @Coree- yep, plans help when life doesn’t go as planned! We know what has to happen, so we do that first, and know what can have some more flexibility. It reduces the flailing.

  6. I plan work things on Friday – usually a combo of “Is there anything else that absolutely needs to get done this week?” and “What are my priorities for next week?”. I also do a week-end plan for activities and meals with the kids and then we do another round of family stuff on Sundays for the upcoming week. Maybe not the most efficient to do two rounds of thinking about planning family things, but it works for us!

  7. This is a hard one for me (I’ve resisted developing a consistent planning habit in the past) but it feels all the more important as I transition to retired life. There are obvious benefits from regular planning when you have a million things to do, but I realize that regular planning is just as important when you have the luxury of doing almost anything – or nothing. At first I thought I didn’t need to do any planning because my schedule is so open. But it’s precisely because I have open time that I need to plan. Otherwise small tasks will expand, I’ll do things sort of randomly, and I won’t make progress on meeting meaningful goals for this next phase of my life. I will just wonder where the time went…

    As I sat down to plan on Friday afternoon it was straightforward to schedule the handful of tasks and appointments coming up, but then I had to face the challenge of planning what else to do. No clients making demands, no children with schedules of their own, no parents to look after. So it was actually a bit unnerving and showed me I needed to take my vague ideas for projects and activities and make them more specific and actionable.

    I will definitely keep working on this habit. After my moment of angst last Friday, I now have a couple of specific projects. I’m looking forward to using Friday planning to track what I’ve accomplished and to make specific plans for further progress.

    1. @Cynthia – thanks for this insight. I definitely think that planning in retirement is critical precisely because time is so open. People are used to planning all the things they have to do, and for a while it’s exciting to not have to plan anything…but then one comes to realize that it’s good to plan the things you *want* to do or otherwise time just disappears into nothing particularly enjoyable.

  8. I have been planning on Sundays, but I think planning on Fridays can work better for me if I get into the habit of doing it. I need to build it into my Friday schedule.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *