How To Plan Your Work Day (And Week)

As a self-proclaimed time management strategy junkie, I've talked about how one of the ways I handle a stressful work day is by using the Productivity Planner.

A large part of my job is project management, so not only am I managing my own time, but also the time of my creative teams and often my external clients too.

The Productivity Planner, like it’s predecessor, the Five Minute Journal, has a super simple layout and beautiful design aesthetic, as well as plenty of inspirational quotes from well-known productive people. So how does it work?

Forward plan your week

Every Monday morning, I sit down with my coffee and start to fill out my tasks for the week - the planner asks you to pick your top 5 tasks, then your secondary 5 and then the 5 tasks you can complete only if you get the top 10 tasks done.

I also fill out the one action that will make my week more productive, which is good to pin down with a clear (and hopeful - ha!) mind on a Monday morning.

Ideas might be turn off email for periods of time, take regular breaks or batch tasks.

Prepare for each day

Once you have those 15 tasks nailed down, you move to the daily workday planner and continue to fill out a fresh plan each morning.

Not only do you choose your number 1 most important task to complete that day (and again the subsequent secondary tasks you can complete if that gets done), but the planner also encourages the Pomodoro technique.

The idea is that you work for 25 minute intervals, then take 5 minute breaks in between. So you estimate how many 25 minute blocks you need to get your task/s done, then being the race against time.

Look back on Fridays

Finally on a Friday afternoon, I complete the weekly review - no coffee this time, but a glass of wine about an hour away...

I note down what went well, what I learnt and (the most important part I think) what didn’t get done on my list and what will flow over into the next week.

That part of the review is particularly insightful as it reveals where I’ve procrastinated, where people haven’t gotten back to me on time or where I am or the team are letting projects slip.

What do you think of the Productivity Planner principles? I’ve been following them fairly consistently throughout 2016.

Would you like a follow up post with my learnings (and failings) around the process so far this year? Let me know in the comments below. 

How to Make Weekends Work for You

Even when we enjoy our work and weekdays immensely, nothing really beats a weekend.

Friday has that special energy about it and two days of possibility stretch out before us. I personally used to be the victim of Sunday blues (find out how I beat them here).

Although I don’t suffer the Sunday sads anymore, I do often find myself working through a long list of errands and feeling like I’m spending more time preparing for the week ahead than enjoying my time off. So, I’ve come up with a new strategy to try:

Friday nights are for relaxation

This isn’t really a shift for me (ha!) but I’m making a conscious effort to either enjoy dinner out with friends, go to happy hour with coworkers or hit the couch at home at the end of the week.

The real aim is to relax but to also make sure I rest up for Saturday.

Saturdays are for errands and prep

Sounds fun right?! I actually looked at what errands and preparation I would like to do and, to be honest, it’s not going to fill my whole Saturday.

I think the real mental shift is batching all these tasks together so they’re out of the way and don’t seep into the entire weekend.

So in no particular order, I’ll be aiming to nail a combination of the following each Saturday (and I’ve included a time estimate to prove my point):

  • A gym visit (1 hour)
  • Supermarket shopping (30 mins)
  • Meal preparation (see my best meal prepping tips here) (1-2 hours)
  • Housework (1-2 hours)
  • Study (more to come on this in the future...) (1-2 hours)

So even if we go with the maximum time estimates here, I’m looking at 7.5 hours of activities on a Saturday.

Luckily I’ll be awake for at least 14 hours, so half of Saturday is still mine for relaxing, catching up with people or doing whatever else I fancy.

What do you think? Am I crazy to cram all this in to one day?

Sundays are for fun

Ah, Sundays. I’m now looking forward to a mix of the following:

  • Brunch
  • Shopping
  • Binge watching TV shows (or more specifically, cooking shows)
  • Bike riding with the husband
  • Yoga
  • Museums / Art galleries
  • Whatever else I come up with!

I’m not going to pack my Sundays full, but I am going to make sure I enjoy myself.

Rigidity is not the aim here - I know some Saturdays I will have catch ups with friends and won’t turn them down to spend time at the supermarket, but I’m going to try this framework over the next month and see how it leaves me feeling once Monday rolls around.

Do you have any tips on how you balance chores and fun on the weekends? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.