One of the most important parts of achieving your goals is to ensure you have set time aside to work on them. There’s no better way to do that than to plan appropriately so you have time available for your goals. This can include weekly planning as well as some longer range planning. Below are some ideas that I have personally found to be helpful when it comes to both weekly and long range planning.
- Set a side a small portion of time one day a week to plan out the week ahead. Morning or evening. Whichever day of the week makes the most sense for you and your schedule. Taking the time to do it is super important if you want to fully attain your goals.
- Consistency is key. Set reminders or appointments on your calendar to ensure you take the time to do your weekly planning. If you do a little work each week on your goals, you will achieve them in no time!
- Find a system that works for you. Play around with different ones until you find what works. Electronic, paper planner or calendar, To Do lists, sticky notes…whatever resonates with your organization style, your life, and your needs. Ask other people what they do. Check out ideas online. Create a system that is a hybrid of others. As long as it makes sense to you and works for you.
- Take time to reflect on how your system is working (or not) for you. Make adjustments where and when needed. It is a process that will change over time.
- Keep your weekly plan in front of you. Post it some place prominent. Have it with you (electronically or on paper). Keep it in the forefront of your mind throughout the week. Look at it often. Tweak it as the week goes on.
- Things to potentially include in your weekly planning:
- Make note of any birthdays, anniversaries, other special occasions in order to remember to send a card or an email, buy a gift, etc.
- Upcoming events or appointments you may need to do some prep work for in advance – this could be something as simple as making a reminder to pack your gym or yoga bag the night before or remembering to grab a check from your checkbook for an appointment one day that week, or it could be something a bit more involved like making sure a report is completed before an important meeting. Whether it is a reminder to call to schedule an oil change or to cancel a subscription… anything that could easily be overlooked, forgotten, etc. in the midst of a busy day/week, put that down somewhere in your weekly planning system.
- Meal planning – it helps manage your grocery list and your money better (by making you notice how often you eat out, etc.) as well as solves the never-ending dilemma of “What’s for dinner?” each night.
- Schedule time in your week for the important things in your life – family time, a specific loved one, friends, exercise, essential chores, necessary appointments, paying bills, shopping, running errands, special events, etc. Every week might look different in this regard.
- Be sure to include at least one thing that is just for you. Make sure you take care of you!
- And most importantly, be sure to schedule some time to work on your goals. Chances are your goals tie into other aspects of your life, so planning time to work on them may be easier than you think.
- Be creative in how you plan your week…just don’t over do it. Keep it manageable, modify when needed, and learn from what didn’t work this week when planning for next week.
Long Range Planning:
- Break your project or goal down into smaller, more manageable pieces.
- Estimate approximately how long it might take to accomplish each piece. (Try not to be too overly aggressive or conservative when you do this step.)
- Decide when you’d like to complete the project or reach your goal.
- Work backwards from your desired end date to determine deadlines for each of the individual pieces (using the time frames you came up with in step #2).
- As a part of your weekly planning system, check your progress against your long range plan. Make adjustments as needed in order to stay focused and to keep the project or goal manageable.
- Be kind to yourself through the process…negative self-talk won’t help you finish the project or reach your goal.
- Depending on the project or goal, an accountability partner can be helpful in terms of keeping you focused, on track and positive.