This article was based on episode 213 of The Modern Manager podcast. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Modern Manager Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, iHeart Radio, Amazon, and Stitcher. Members of The Modern Manager are eligible to win one of 20 Free Copies of Winning the Week (Kindle version). Become a member at www.themodernmanager.com/join. Never miss a worksheet, episode or article: subscribe to Mamie’s newsletter.
Ask almost anyone and they’ll tell you the one productivity tip that you must do is plan your week. And yet, very few of us do that consistently, and even those of us who do often do it poorly.
This is where Demir Bentley comes in. As a productivity clinician, instead of adding to the productivity cannon, he and his wife Carey focus on integrating existing productivity research and practices from the best thinkers and making them easily applicable by anyone. Together they started Life Hack, where they teach hard-hitting efficiency techniques and proven accountability strategies that have helped clients generate millions in revenue while saving thousands of hours.
I spoke with Demir about his newest book, Winning The Week: How To Plan A Successful Week, Every Week. He shared a simple, five-step process to help you boost productivity and achieve greater success through his proven weekly planning process.
HOW TO PLAN YOUR WEEK
Many people have conscious or unconscious resistance to planning, otherwise more folks would do it! So before you commit to adopting a weekly planning process, it’s important to remove resistance or increase motivation. Each Saturday morning, Demir and Carey enjoy a luxurious brunch as a reward for investing the 30 minutes it takes to effectively plan their week. Demir encourages you to create the context necessary for you to stick with a weekly planning process before diving in.
Once you’re ready to give it a go, here are the five steps for a truly powerful weekly planning routine:
STEP 1: Reflect on one thing you learned last week.
It’s easy to keep looking forward given the amount of work ahead, but Demir encourages us to start by looking back. Demir compares this reflection time to a musician trying to improve their technique. If you don’t reflect on what parts of a song are sounding great and which are in need of improvement, it’s hard to know what to keep doing and what to give greater attention to. The more attuned you are to your habits, the better you can get at refining them to serve you.
Ask yourself: How did you behave that served you well? Where did you struggle? What might you do differently to get even better?
STEP 2: Find one leveraged priority.
Imagine doing one thing each week for 10-60 minutes that, over the course of a year, could transform you, your business, or your life. While a small step taken on its own might seem minor, when we take small steps consistently, they add up over time to the point where we can feel their compounding benefits. This is a leveraged priority.
Ask yourself: What is one thing to focus on this coming week that will have exponential impact?
STEP 3: Interrogate your calendar.
For many of us, the calendar is king. And yet, despite how many times a day we may look to our calendar, meetings and deadlines can still catch us by surprise. You realize you’re doubled booked, forgot to hold time for traveling between meetings, or didn’t realize a big client meeting had gotten moved forward by two days.
These kinds of misses create unnecessary urgency and chaos for us and our team members. Instead of reviewing your calendar each day, Demir pushes us to really interrogate it on a 14 day basis.
Ask yourself: What’s coming up that you need to be prepared for? What needs to be adjusted to accommodate other priorities or fix mistakes?
STEP 4: Triage your to-do list.
Unfortunately, we often find ourselves with more things to do than there is time in the day. This is why triaging is so important. If you can’t do everything, it’s essential to prioritize the things that are most important. By making conscious decisions about what needs to get done and what you’ll hold off on, you’re able to better follow through on your commitments, even if it means letting someone know that you need to push a deadline or delegate a task to someone else.
Ask yourself: What is most important for me to attend to this week? What can I delegate or delay?
STEP 5: Marry your calendar and your tasks.
Most of us look at the calendar for our availability and plan to get work done during those unscheduled times. We have grand ideas for how much we’ll complete during those open time blocks, but inevitably, the time disappears and unfinished items remain on our task list.
To avoid this disappointing and unproductive phenomenon, it’s critical to marry your calendar and your triaged tasks. Demir suggests scheduling every one of your prioritized tasks on your calendar for the time you estimate it will take to complete. This will give you a clear picture of whether you’ve selected too many tasks given your available time, and it will help you know exactly what to do when. This reduces the time wasted figuring out what to do, saving you minutes if not hours each week.
You can always change your plans, shifting tasks or meetings around, but at least you’ve got a plan you know can work, if you stick with it. And that is core to the value of weekly planning.
Between highly structured morning routines to meditation to specific apps, there are dozens if not hundreds of productivity tools, methods, habits, and approaches designed to supercharge your effectiveness. It can sometimes be overwhelming trying to figure out which ones will actually make a difference for you. Instead of sifting through it all, start with the basics: Plan your week.
KEEP UP WITH DEMIR
Members of The Modern Manager are eligible to win one of 20 Free Copies of Winning the Week (Kindle version). Become a member at www.themodernmanager.com/join.
This article was based on episode 213 of The Modern Manager podcast. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Modern Manager Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, iHeart Radio, Amazon, and Stitcher. Never miss a worksheet, episode or article: subscribe to Mamie’s newsletter.