A weekly planner is more than just a calendar, it’s a versatile productivity tool.
If you’ve been struggling with procrastination or time management, a weekly planner can help you organize your work, streamline your priorities, and be more efficient with your time.
It’s also a great resource for helping you reach your goals. Big goals usually take long stretches of time to achieve. It’s easy to lose sight of goals when we don’t see results right away. But a weekly planner can help us stay motivated. By looking at your progress from week to week, you can take stock of all the micro wins along the way, and adjust your process as necessary.
Here are ways that you can use your weekly planner to enhance your productivity, meet your goals, and make each week better than the last.
Use a weekly planner to overcome procrastination
We all have those tasks that we keep dragging our heels on. A weekly planner can help you take that first step towards accomplishing those tasks.
At first glance, they seem like relatively simple, straightforward tasks: dropping off clothes at the dry cleaners, returning a package, cleaning out the fridge, replacing batteries in a smoke alarm, responding to a text, etc.
But something about the task rouses dread or anxiety. Maybe returning a package means dealing with forms and finding a receipt. Or replacing the batteries means having to search through a cluttered hall closet. This creates a little obstacle in our mind and we don’t want to confront it.
A good trick is to write everything down on paper. We’ve all heard about the benefits of a to-do list. How writing something down makes you more likely to achieve it and commit the task to memory.
But a to-do list can also help you negotiate the fear and uncertainty that accompany the task. Many people find relief in the simple act of writing things down. There’s something very cathartic and comforting about putting pen to paper.
Plus, to-do lists create action steps. And action creates momentum. You can use this momentum to tackle these tasks once and for all.
How to create a to-do list with your weekly planner
A popular to-do list strategy is to maintain two lists: a master to-do list and a daily to-do list.
A master to-do list is a weekly or monthly list that captures all the things that you have to do. These can be related to your goals, career, and personal life: Meetings, deadlines, appointments, tasks, etc. With a master list, you have an overall view of all the things you have to tackle.
However, it would be impossible to get through all those tasks in one sitting. Not to mention, completely overwhelming.
That’s where a daily to-do list comes in.
A daily to-do list captures your top 3-5 priorities for the day. By referring to your master to-do list and your calendar, identify the tasks/errands that you want to do.
Things to keep in mind when creating a weekly/monthly to-do list and a daily to-do list:
Deadlines. What are things that I need to do so that I meet my deadline?
Time sensitivity. In addition to work deadlines, what are other time sensitive issues to be aware of? Examples include: returning a phone call, picking up kids from school, going to a doctor’s appointment, etc.
Tasks/errands. Ask yourself: What tasks/ errands can I do today or this week that will make my life so much easier? Maybe it’s going to the grocery store so that you have nutritious meals for the rest of the week. Or dropping off books at the library on Friday so you can relax on the weekend.
Goals. Oftentimes, when we do a task that’s urgent or time sensitive, we’re meeting someone else’s needs. It’s important that we also prioritize what’s important to us and our well-being. One important task you can achieve is something that is related to your goal.
What’s a small step you can take today to get you closer to your goal? Take a look at your master list and see if there’s a goal-related task you can knock off.
Conduct a planning session with your weekly planner
If your week got off to a rocky start, you can turn things around with a weekly planning session.
A weekly planning session involves taking stock of your week and using that intel to fine-tune your strategy for the upcoming week.
A planning session is like doing forensics on your process, systems, and habits. You get to see what worked, what went wrong, and then use those lessons to make sure your next week gets off to a successful start.
Here’s how to conduct your own planning session.
With your weekly planner in tow, review your previous week.
Take note of your wins, big and small. What tasks did you accomplish? What errands did you run? What steps did you take to chip away at your goal?
Take note of things that didn’t go your way. Maybe it was an errand that you didn’t get around to doing. Or a project that didn’t go well. During this exercise, it’s important to be compassionate with yourself and hold back on judgment.
See if there are steps you can take the following week to make the tasks easier. If you skipped your workout, make a point to place your gym bag by the door so that you have a visual reminder. If you didn’t get around to working on your goal, put it on your calendar or think of a reward as added motivation.
Take note of self-care/well-being. You can also use your weekly planning session to do a wellness check and review any stress or anxiety that you may have experienced. Take note of the stress inducers. Maybe your week had too many back-to-back meetings without any breaks. For the upcoming week, you can try to give yourself a buffer between meetings. Or maybe you noticed that you were going to bed later than usual, or skipping out on long walks and exercise. You can use this intel to prioritize your sleep and wellness routine the following week.
A successful week is a work in progress. Your weekly planner can help you find those small, but impactful changes to ensure that your week is a great one.