How to Plan Your Work Week in a Few Easy Steps

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Planning. It’s not for everyone. I get that.

But, take a moment to think about your typical work week. Are you usually relaxed and organized? Or, are you stressed, constantly running around, and frazzled with overwhelm?

If you’re anything but relaxed, my friend, planning is something you need to do.

While we can’t avoid Monday’s and the blues that come with it, we can prepare for Monday’s and every day that follows.

I know that for me if I don’t plan, my entire week is off. Right now, I am working two (great) jobs on top of running my side hustles. Proper planning helps me to stay on top of all the things I have to do each week. And trust me, I have to do all. the. things!

There is no need to fear planning or to groan at the thought of getting organized.

Planning your week helps you to make sure nothing is forgotten and it gives you a realistic look at everything you can and should accomplish.

This post will help you to plan your work week in a few easy steps.

Make a dump list

We have a ton of things to do all the time. Literally, there is never a moment where we don’t have something to work on. That’s why a successful work week starts with a giant lsit.

I’m a list person.

With that said, my favorite type of list to make is a dump list. I swear by them!

If you aren’t sure what a dump list is, let me explain it to you. A dump list is literally a list of every single thing that you need to do. And, oftentimes this list is ongoing.

I am constantly adding to my dump list. I can easily wake up at 3:00am, remember something, and add it to my dump list. It helps that I keep my list in my notes app in my cell-phone.

My dump list ranges from simple and quick tasks like ‘buy more paper towels’, too big and long term projects like ‘gather 10 more resources for graduate thesis paper’. There are seriously no limits to the things I will put on my dump list.

What I love about having a dump list is that everything that I need to do is all listed out in one place. This helps when I sit down to plan my entire week (see the next main point for more info on how I do that).

If you don’t like lists, or never considered yourself a list person, give dump lists a shot. I really think that you will like it!

Plan for the entire week in one sitting

Start by picking a day that makes sense for you. For me, that day is Sunday. More specifically, Sunday evenings.

I love to sit down for about 30 minutes on Sunday evenings to plan my entire work week. The reason I choose to do this on Sunday is because there is a certain calmness that I don’t get on the other days. It’s like the calm before the work week storm.

Also, Monday’s are basically the start of each week for me. It just makes sense that I use Sunday to wrap up my previous week and prep for the week ahead.

During my 30-minute planning session, I get my dump list, I get my planner (I have a basic planner from Target), and I start filling it in for the entire week. If I have appointments, due dates, hangouts, birthdays, or anything coming up for that week, it goes into the planner.

If my planner starts to get too full, or if I have a tasks that I know will take up most of my time, I will reorganize my schedule so that I am not overwhelming myself with activities I can’t accomplish.

The entire purpose of planning the entire week is to set yourself up for success. A successful week looks different each and every week, which is why this must be done frequently.

While this usually takes only about 30 minutes, sometimes it can take up to an hour depending on how busy you are and how crazy your week looks.

Prioritorize and postpone

Listen to me. Are you listening?

Be realistic about what you can and cannot finish in a single week. 

Let me repeat that.

Be realistic about what you can and cannot finish in a single week. 

The easiest and fastest way to fail is to unrealistically set too many goals and expectations for your week and then fall short.

We are all guilty of this. I am guilty of this! Sometimes I think I will have more time and energy than possible and I end up only accomplishing less than have of my assignments.

It’s such a disappointment and I’m really hard on myself when I do this. So, I try really, really hard to make sure that I am prioritizing my main goals and postponing anything I know I won’t get too.

When you’re prioritizing your work week, make sure of the following:

  • Only plan to do the things you can accomplish in one weeks time
  • If you have big tasks, break them down into smaller tasks
  • Prioritize the most important things first, everything else should wait
  • If it can wait, postpone it for a week

Know your most important goal for the week

Figure out your one clear goal and accomplish it. Sometimes our goals are big. Sometimes they are small. The point is, we should all have at least one goal each week.

If your goal is big, break it down into a handful of minigoals and set deadlines for yourself.

The reason why it’s important to know your most important goal is because not all tasks are created equally.

When you are working, you want to make sure that you are accomplishing something that is important and needs your attention that week.

Otherwise, we tend to put off important tasks that might be more difficult. Not good.

To avoid that, set your most important goal for the week and get. it. done!

Keep an updated and detailed calendar

Calendars are so easy to keep these days because we have high tech calendars built into our phones.

The calendar in my phone is color coordinated, gives me reminders, and is shared with my husband. It’s nearly impossible for me to forget a meeting or a birthday.

Clearly I believe in the power of calendars.

Calendars and the work week go hand and hand. They are like peas in a pod, peanut butter and jelly, Jon Snow and Queen Daenerys (okay, maybe not Jon and Dany, but you get the point!).

Your work week is jammed packed with things to do every single day. It’s so easy to have one of your meetings slip your mind. That’s why you need to have a calendar.

While I recommend having a digital calendar that you can check on your phone, a paper calendar works as well. I actually have both a calendar in my planner and on my phone.

What can I say, I love calendars.

Know your most important goal for the week

Figure out your one clear goal and accomplish it. Sometimes our goals are big. Sometimes they are small. The point is, we should all have at least one goal each week.

If your goal is big, break it down into a handful of mini goals and set deadlines for yourself.

The reason why it’s important to know your most important goal is because not all tasks are created equally.

When you are working, you want to make sure that you are accomplishing something that is important and needs your attention that week.

Otherwise, we tend to put off important tasks that might be more difficult. Not good.

To avoid that, set your most important goal for the week and get. it. done!

Meal Prep

Meal prep changed my life. Seriously.

Before I started meal prepping, I was throwing together a gross ham sandwich for lunch everyday. By the time 11am rolled around at work, I was chowing down on my nasty sandwich because I was starving. Oh, did I mention that I used to always skip breakfast also?

Not good. Seriously.

Eating like that caused me to get migraines during work, and I gained almost 20 pounds.

Enter meal prepping.

It started simple for me. Salmon and broccoli. I would buy an entire salmon and make 5 filets for the week. Then I would steam a pot of broccoli and pack a serving of salmon and broccoli in separate Tupperware containers.

Don’t forget breakfast! I started making a green smoothie every night so that I could drink it on the way to work. I swear by my green smoothies. It’s been almost 4 years since I started drinking green smoothies for breakfast and I love them each and every day. Here are some reciepes I frequently make: 5 Green Smoothies for the Work Week

With my new breakfast and lunch meal prep, I no longer had headaches, and I wasn’t ripping into my lunch before noon.

Now, I make all sorts of things for meal prep. Just this week, I made a delicious lasagna. Technically, it’s called “Ryan and Alyssa’s Five Layer Lasagna Extravaganza.” And it was extremeously delicious and filling.

Clearly, meal prep is important to a successful work week. If your work week begins on Monday, meal prep on Sunday and enjoy your delicious food for an entire week.

Reflect on everything

I’m a sucker for a good reflection session. I love to reflect as a way to reenergize and motivate myself for the upcoming week.

But, I’ll be honest. Sometimes reflecting turns into a pity party session or a ‘you didn’t do enough last week’ session. Try to stay away from your reflection turning into something like that.

Instead, here is what you should focus on when you are reflecting on your previous week:

  • Your health
  • The amount of stress you have
  • Your happiness
  • Your accomplishments
  • Shortcomings
  • Epiphany’s

By focusing on these areas, you are giving yourself a realistic look on how YOU are doing, as well as what you need to do to have a successful week.

I love to reflect either on Fridays or Sundays. My favorite place to reflect is in the bath, or in a quiet room with some candles lit.

Find what works best for you and have an awesome reflection session.

Planning your work week doesn’t need to be scary and overwhelming. Once your week is planned, you’ll be more calm, organized, and you’re guaranteed to have a better week!

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