How to Maximize Your Weekly Planner

A planner open to the weekly planner pages sits on a marble countertop next to a wool planner sleeve, a pen, and a notepad.

“A year from now you may wish you had started today.” - Karen Lamb

This quote really puts things in perspective. It is not only motivational, reminding you how important today is (not tomorrow or next week or next month), but it also sheds light on how impactful procrastination and delay can be. 

Both lead to regret and disappointment that time passed and you never did get around to tackling that goal. 

Setting big goals for yourself or establishing better habits means that you need to get serious about being productive and prioritizing your most important tasks. Because the better you are at that, the less likely you are to let a week go by wishing you had made time to work on your goals.

A year is made up of 52 weeks. That’s 52 opportunities to make progress on the things that matter most to you.

It’s a new week: what will you do with it?

Be strategic about your week

Your weeks shouldn’t be about getting by or simply crossing things off of your to do list. Your weeks matter and they can really move you forward toward your goals, ideas, and the things that are the most important to you. 

So what strategies can you employ to use your week more effectively and productively?

Get weekly planner tools that will make you successful

Your goals are only as good as your ability to plan for them. 

A physical planner, like the Ink+Volt 2020 Planner, can help you plan more productive weeks by giving you a structure for weekly planning. At the start of the planner, you lay out your bigger picture annual goals, and then each week, you reflect on those goals and create the tasks you need to complete in order to achieve them.

This sets you up for making steady progress on your big goals every single week, even as outside obligations get added along the way.

You can also work on an even more granular weekly level by using something like the Ink+Volt Weekly Deskpad, which is designed specifically for weekly planning at-a-glance. You can write down all of the things you need to do this week, while simultaneously tracking your bigger goals and habits, and prioritizing the things you’ll need to do next week and beyond.

Look at your week as a whole

I love a detailed, hour-by-hour schedule, but that level of detail isn’t the most effective for making progress on your goals. It’s too detailed, and keeps you in a constant “busy” state as opposed to one where you are focused and in control.

Instead, planning my week forces me to not narrowly focus on the individual days and the hour-by-hour periods within each of those days. 

Looking at the entire week as a whole allows you to plan your days based on overall desired weekly progress rather than what you did or did not accomplish the day before, or how many meetings you’ve been invited to.

Consequently, you can make better decisions about the importance or urgency of certain tasks. How does each task fit into the bigger picture? Are there things being asked of you that you should delegate or put off until later? 

Interruptions and unexpected deadlines pop up all the time requiring fluidity in your days, but having an overarching plan and vision for your week allows you to make the best in-the-moment judgment calls when you need to, in order to preserve your time for the work that matters.

Do a weekly planner session

“I start every week with a planning session. I block out a full hour on my calendar to devote to planning and thinking—I call it my Ninja Planning Session.” – Ink+Volt founder, Kate Matsudaira

Priorities and progress on your goals are in constant flux, but with a ninja planning session, you can regroup and refocus every week. Here’s how to get started:

Pick a day and time that you can commit to weekly. It could be Friday afternoon, Sunday night, or Monday morning, for example. The day should reflect a good starting point for your week, whatever day that starts on for you and your schedule. On that day, block out time for this planning session and hold it firm, just like you would any other appointment. 

Set an agenda or routine. When you’re sitting down to strategize for the week, what should you do? 

  • Review your yearly and monthly goals. Did you make progress on them last week? Are there important steps that need to be taken this week?
  • Identify appointments or meetings that are time-bound and mandatory; mark these on your weekly planner. Now identify appointments or meetings that are flexible or not mandatory. Don’t add these to your calendar yet. Instead, return to them at the end of your session after you’ve blocked off time for your important work.
  • Next, identify any deadlines that you have. Again, mark the firm ones on your weekly planner. Hold the rest for later.
  • Then fill in the remaining blocks of time in your days and identify what you will work on during these times. Any long chunks of a few hours that you have should go towards deep work, where you need focus in order to make lots of progress. This is where you should be working on your biggest goals.
  • Now circle back and see if you have time for any of the flexible meetings or deadlines you noted earlier. Do you have extra time to make progress on those projects this week? If so, add them to your to-do list or planner; if not, put them in a “parking lot” for next week or beyond.

Time block for success

Time blocking is a great way to get away from the trap of scheduling every minute of your day. It’s frustrating when interruptions force you to fall behind on a too-tight schedule. Time blocking allows for flexibility and focus in your day instead.

Time blocking is a productivity strategy wherein you block off chunks of time to accomplish specific tasks that require your focus and attention, preferably 2-3 of them each day. This helps you:

  • Be realistic about what you can accomplish (we can’t actually do a million things every day, at least not well)
  • Group similar items with each other, allowing you to focus and streamline
  • Avoid falling behind when the unexpected inevitably occurs

A smart weekly planner strategy can help you have happier, easier weeks where you get more done towards your most important goals. Still need an amazing 2020 weekly planner? Stop by the Ink+Volt Store and get your 2020 Ink+Volt Planner!

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