Before we start:
You’ll need a simple weekly spread and a piece of paper. If you already have your favorite planner/journal/diary/calendar and it has a weekly spread then use that.
For the purpose of demonstrating I am using example pages from my planner – The Maker’s Roadmap.
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“Disclaimer”: this is what I do and I know it works for many other people too – but in the end, you have to find a system that works for you. I am just giving you an option here. If it’s this one – great!
1 – Pick a day to plan the week
The first step is actually quite easy and it is to pick a day when you will plan for the week ahead. It can be Friday, Sunday, or whatever day you choose. Mine is Friday or if I don’t have the time for whatever reason – Sunday. It’s actually better when it’s Friday as I’m not thinking about ALL THE THINGS over the weekend.
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2 – Weekly Review
Next step is a weekly review. I actually hate reviews – they take so long! I don’t have time to write several pages. They are still important though, so I had to make it quick. I’m using a system of 4 boxes:
- What worked
- What didn’t work
- Next week go
- Next week stop
I’m using the weekly review pages of The Maker’s Roadmap Planner, but you can use a piece of paper or a “notes” section in your planner to do that.
I always start with what worked and what didn’t work. It’s very easy to just look at your to-do list, see what you haven’t done yet and just move it to the new week, but that doesn’t really help you. You should be asking yourself why you got to do some tasks and not the others.
What worked might be anything that helped you do the tasks and made you more productive. On the reverse, you want to also list what didn’t work. It might be that you underestimated how long a task would take. Write it down because you’re learning from it and next time you’ll know to for example book 4 hours instead of 1 to photograph your products.
The next boxes are all about what you want to be focusing on next week and what you want to stop doing next week. It might be a project that you know is distracting you, or something that you started learning that you shouldn’t be learning right now (like an Instagram webinar but your focus now should be on Pinterest).
It’s super quick, and you really don’t have to write a few pages (unless you want to!).
3 – Projects I am working on
What we’re doing here is to try to remind ourselves where our focus is and where it should be. I’m not going to go into much detail about it as I will make a separate blog post about how I plan yearly and monthly and how those projects fit in all this. In short, it’s all about thinking what are your big projects for this quarter for example, and how are you going to focus on completing them next week.
I’m using The Maker’s Roadmap Planner, there’s a section for it (“I’m working on”) in the weekly spread:
Again, you can use any planner that you already own or even put a sticky note with your projects on your weekly spread – make it work for you.
4 – Non-negotiables
Non-negotiables is the stuff you can’t move. There are things you can get away with not doing or rescheduling, but some things you just can’t negotiate. Everyone will have a different set of things we have to work around, depending on the specific circumstances – it might be your job, driving kids to school, appointments etc. Let’s put those in your planner and block this time off before you even look at your to-do list.
5 – Nothing else matters time slot
I really want you to pay attention to this step because it’s very important. There are some tasks that you can interrupt, come back later and pick up where you left off easily – social media, emails, Etsy conversations etc. There are also some tasks that require more focus from you for a few hours – like batching product photography, creating a marketing plan etc. Those are things that you can’t really do in 10 minutes slots of time. That’s where the “nothing else matters” time slot comes in. It’s time to work on those tasks and it becomes a non-negotiable.
What I’d like you to do is to think of a time during the week where ‘nothing else matters’ and you’re just going to work on your business. Routine is very important so I’d recommend the same time every week. This should be at least a two-hour block – longer is better, but two hours is minimum. This may mean you will have to fit it in during the weekends if you can’t do it during your week. Write this time down in your calendar and stick to it. Share it with your family and even friends so they know that at this time you’re going to be working on your business.
6 – Daily Focus
It’s made a big difference in my work. It’s all about making a daily focus – a theme for the day. I’m looking at my week and I’m trying for each day to have a theme – for example, this Wednesday is for planning a new line of products. When you’re filling your planner with the items from your to do list, keep that in mind, and assign any tasks related to the new line to that day.
For the main project you’re focusing on, assign it to the day when you have your “nothing else matters” time slot. You can work on it on other days/hours outside the “nothing else matters” time slots, but scheduling it this way helps you really make sure you’re working on it and making it a priority.
7 – Time blocking
The next step is all about filling in the rest of your week with your to-do list items. I have a whole blog post about mastering your to-do list here so I’m not going to dive in a lot of details now, but the idea is to break your to do list into as many small tasks and subtasks as possible and to guesstimate how long each of them would take. It’s not always a perfect hit – sometimes we guesstimate wrong, but it really helps. That way you know that you have 30 minutes to work right now and you can pick a task that will fit into that time slot. That’s a great way to beat the overwhelm because you know exactly what to do and you don’t lose 20 minutes out of 30 wondering what to do and where to start. It really helps to fit work in those tiny gaps you have in your day.
That’s my system. I hope it helps. As I said, I’m using my The Maker’s Roadmap planner to plan my week, but you can use anything that works for you. My last tip is that if you have a job, a family and other commitments, just give yourself a break. Stop looking at people that are not in the same situation as you and comparing them to yourself. It’s fine to go slower if it’s all you can do at that time. Be nice to yourself!
Time management is one of those topics where we can all learn from each other, so if you have any tips, please let us know in the comments!
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