Do you find each week you intend to get a lot done, but mournfully realize that when Friday hits you’ve barely touched your own to do list? Instead, you accomplished a lot of things that other people added to your to-do list. In the process of reacting to everyone else’s demands you didn’t get the assignments done, you wanted to. Miserably, you note that some of the unfinished items on your list were crucial tasks to move important projects forward that were truly important to you and your team.
Trust me, you are not the only one who feels like this at the end of your week.
Too much reacting rather than responding
Leaders spend more time acting on requests from others than completing their own priority tasks. The sense of urgency to solve everyone else's problems leaves a manager feeling as though they spend their days chasing fires and never getting anywhere. If you want to get off that hamster wheel and do more of your essential work, then you will need to be more intentional about what you are doing with your time rather than reactionary.
Critical to begin with planning
It is critical that you start each week by planning your week. Before you get caught up in chasing everybody else’s plans and agenda for you, you must reorient yourself to what are priorities for you. By setting aside time each week to lay out what you want your week to look like, you will have better control of what actually happens.
Get your head out of the sand
Weekly planning sessions allow you to pull your head out of the sand. While it is important to put your head down and get work done at times, a leader's critical function is to lift their head (and their organization’s head) up and get a bigger picture view repeatedly. Weekly planning time is this head up, expansive view of the bigger picture. This time allows the leader to put things into perspective for them and their organization.
Weekly planning allows you to get projects, plans, and tasks into focus again. From this outlook, you can choose how to respond to your week rather than frantically reacting to whatever shows up in your inbox, at your door or on your desk. Creating a habit of weekly planning puts you back in control and moving forward, rather than running around and around.
3 Steps to creating a weekly planning habit
1) Schedule a weekly time slot into your agenda
First set aside time each week to do your planning. Schedule it into your agenda and stick to it. Depending on your level of responsibilities and your style, you will need 20 minutes to an hour.
Dealing with the big list of items
You should now have a list of things you want to tackle in the upcoming week. For some of you, this might feel a bit overwhelming. For others, it might be refreshing. One way to look at it is that you now have everything out of your brain and in one place. There will be less of a chance of forgetting things or having things lost in the shuffle.
Dumping everything onto this list, from this big picture perspective is in itself, helpful. It creates a roadmap for your week. This plan also you to set boundaries with others when they are trying to take your time. You can align their request up, with what remains on your to-do list for the week. From there that you can make an informed choice rather of what to do than react to what’s thrown at you.
3) Creating your plan
From this list of action items, create your plan for the week.
Make weekly planning your priority
Setting aside time to plan your week puts you on track to having a more productive week. Choose when you want to do this, then schedule planning time weekly into your agenda. During the identified time review your annual goals, quarterly projects, the previous week appointments and upcoming week’s schedule. From this analysis create a list of tasks you want to accomplish. Stay tuned next week, for how to then, prioritize that list.
QUESTION: While this all sounds great, I'd love to hear your objections to doing this each week. What might get in the way? How would you work around that? Make a comment below.
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Women leaders often hit a point where they find themselves in over their heads and wondering if they have what it takes to lead.