A couple of months ago, on a rainy afternoon, I was stood in the middle of a supermarket car park. I couldn’t remember where I’d parked my car and the more I looked, the more I realised that I couldn’t remember what my car looked like. The more I tried to recall what my car looked like, I more I struggled to remember if I had a car at all. My mind went into overdrive to the point where I couldn’t figure out where I was. I knew I was in a car park but I couldn’t figure out where it was in context to where I lived. The panic was overwhelming to the point where I totally forgot who I was and what I was doing. It was only the fact that my friend who had been waiting for me called me over that roused me from my confusion.
It was a scary experience but also an a bit of a wake-up call.
Up until that point, I’d been working 18 hours days for about three weeks. As a self-employed publisher, I alone was responsible for my workload and it had gotten out of control.
I got some rest and the next day, I sat down to take stock of what I was trying to achieve. I grabbed myself a cup of tea and a pen and paper. For the next hour, I emptied my brain of all the things I was trying to achieve and put it into some kind of order. Looking at it in black and white helped. It’s something I had to do before my head exploded.
To cut a long story short, I now sit down at the end of the week and spend 20 minutes planning the forthcoming week. It helps me sleep at night, it helps me focus and it helps me get things done. I wake up each day knowing what’s on my to-do list instead of scratching round each morning figuring out what I need to achieve.
So here’s a quick fix that will help you regain control of your week in just 20 minutes.
- Allocate 20 minutes where you won’t be disturbed and plot what you’d like to achieve during the forthcoming week. Consider all the roles that you have – parent, worker, friend etc – just get down all the tasks that you think you’ll need to complete in the week ahead.
- Allocate these tasks to days of the week. Prioritise what needs to be done and complete these earlier in the week rather than later. There will be things that you don’t want to do but have to be done so just get them done out of the way. This is YOUR week so make sure that it revolves around what YOU need to achieve and don’t let others hijack it.
- Set goals. As you complete each one, you can tick them off your list and reward yourself for achieving them.
- Allocate time for catching up on emails throughout your week. Discipline yourself to check emails at your allocated times. Emails are one of the main culprits when it comes to distraction.
- Post your calendar somewhere where you can easily see it and refer to it.
That’s it! All you need to do now is follow your plan!
Planning your time is one of the best things you can do to help improve productivity, lessen stress and make you feel more in control. All it takes is just 20 minutes once a week. Try it and see what happens!