The penny finally dropped in Rome. The sun was shining down on to our terrace, and I had a bottle of wine sitting in the middle of the table, untouched. Instead of enjoying my well-deserved vacation, I was trying, but failing, to use the super slow WiFi and catch up on work. I was frustrated, and I couldn’t think why I was behind when I’d been working so hard during the day. That’s when I had my lightbulb moment. I had been keeping to small daily deadlines and forgetting to think long term. I needed to create an exceptional plan and execute it if I wanted to start thinking of my time in weeks instead of minutes, seconds, and hours.
You may think I’m preaching a lot about time management at the moment, but this has really been a game-changer for me. It started with challenging how I started the day at work (which you can read about here) and ended with a revelation. Don’t manage your time, own it.
Don’t get me wrong, this kind of forward-thinking can be challenging to execute. And my previous way of doing things made it a nightmare when I would need to be out of the office or on vacation. Luckily, I’ve turned it all around – so if you want to hear about how I create a great week in just a few steps.
WRITE OUT YOUR INTENTIONS
In a 2014 study, researchers found that writing notes long-hand was much more effective than typing them out when it came to retaining the information. They found that typing out notes word for word is easy, but it doesn’t help you absorb the information like writing notes does. I used to rely on lots of different productivity apps and documents to try and stay on top of my life, but now I know the only way to spur my brain into action is to use a good old-fashioned day planner.
My Getting Things Done planner goes with me everywhere because it’s the perfect combination of my work life and my home life. I tend to use 20 minutes every day to plan out and structure every single day, but what’s most important for me is flipping ahead. You can read about how I plan my days with my planner here.
As each spread is daily, I will flip through enough daily pages to cover a week and add in any important to-dos or deadlines to remember; this keeps me on top of everything and helps me think ahead and stop getting caught in the details.
FIND THAT WORK/LIFE BALANCE
I used to think that in order to outperform at work, I needed to sacrifice time at home. I couldn’t find a balance, if I spent too much time on social elements of my life, I’d find my head wasn’t in the right space at work. And if I tried to correct that by spending a lot of time planning my work, my social life would dwindle.
My planner helps me massively with this because I write down all the nitty gritty from my personal life on the right-hand side. Exercise to water intake is covered, meaning that I can finally find a balance between my health and my success. Working out has really helped me too. I find that my mind is clearer and I feel more able to divide my social life and work life.
What made a massive difference to me was taking some extra time to prepare things for work, and looking ahead instead of trying to stay ahead of the daily to-dos.
REPETITION IS THE KEY TO A SUCCESSFUL WEEK
A quote in The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey caught my eye recently, it is attributed to Aristotle: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Most great thinkers agree that their successes come from the habits they build. Anything you want to achieve in life can happen as long as you do it repeatedly.
So I tend to do the same things every day. On a Sunday I will prepare reports, research, and progress updates. This saves me time in the mornings on Monday, and as it only takes 10-20 minutes to compile these documents, I don’t feel like I’m losing my weekend.
I will also work on my week and plan outfits and meals. I tend to make more dinner than I need and take the leftovers for lunch, which helps me stick to a budget and be organized. The bonus of this is that since I’ve taken care of those areas of my life if anything unexpected happens I’m prepared.
In order to find out if I’m performing well in every area, I created a small chart for myself, and I recommend that you try this if you want every week to build towards a larger goal. Take your planner, or a sheet of paper, and draw a large circle. Around the outside of the circle, draw some dots and label them things you want to make time for.
Mine, for example, reads; ‘Exercise’, ‘Healthy eating’, ‘Social time’, ‘Family’, ‘Work’, ‘Writing’, and anything else that pops into my head that I need to make time for in my week. Draw a dot in the middle of the circle, and work around, giving yourself a score for each one by plotting a dot. The closer your dot is to the edge of the circle, the better you’re doing. Once you’ve done that, join your dots up so you get a ‘web’. This is your weekly web and will show you where you’re performing and where you need to dedicate more time. Building on this web every week for a month will make sure you’re progressing in the right areas and creating productive weeks, it’s a life changer!
If you’re ready to get started on building your perfect life, look into the Getting Things Done planner now and start planning out your perfect week.
Photo: Pandora Sykes
…come to those who sign up for our emails