Do You Know Where Your Time Goes?
You’ve created your goals for the year, have a list of tasks or To Dos that you’d like to get done and a weekly calendar full of blank pages. Are you feeling a little lost as to how to move forward? Not quite sure how to convert your lists into actions?
Just like a blank canvas, empty pages can elicit the same feelings of doubt or hesitation on taking the next step. For perfectionist like me, the pages are so clean and neat...I don’t want to mess them up. And, that’s why I use Pilot’s FriXion erasable pens. Make a mistake, change my mind...just erase it and start over.
I’m sharing how I schedule and plan my time using the weekly planner. Of course you don’t have to use my method, but I’m guessing your at least curious if your reading this. Hopefully you’ll pick up a few tips that’ll help you make the most of the year ahead.
Before the Week Starts
Usually sometime on the weekend, I’ll sit at the kitchen table, watch the birds at the feeder and plan the week(s) ahead. I start by reviewing the Monthly Action Plan worksheet and goals for the year, this helps me reconnect with my long term vision of how I’d like my year to go.
Section A – Goals
I start by writing in the tasks for the week that are directly related to my goals for the year. They are often the same each week of the month but may change from month to month. I keep these separate from the To Dos because they are the most important things for me to get done to stay on track with my overall goals for the year.
Section B – To Dos
These are more like a traditional list of items to do for the week. Some of these task will have come from the Monthly Action Plan worksheet, others from the editorial calendar. They may be deadlines, reminders, or just shit that needs to get done during the week. Often this process prompts me to think of things that need be be done, but NOT this week. If I know when they need to be done, I’ll write it on that week’s page or jot it down on a piece of paper I keep to the side..
At the end of the week, any uncompleted tasks are added to the next week’s To Dos section. If you find you keep transferring the same task from week to week, ask yourself questions such as why am I not getting this done? Is it important? Do I need help? Sometimes finding out what the hang-up is with a task, will help in deciding to either get it done or it’s not really important and let it go.
Section C – schedule commitments
The first thing I do to plan my week is to write in any hard commitments. These are usually appointments, webinars, scheduled phone calls, travel, workshops, meetings...I think you get the idea.
I bracket in the approximate duration of time for each using a PaperMate Flair marker. Each year I pick a dedicated color, last year was light blue, this year is yellow. I use a color because at a glance of the week or looking through past weeks/months, I can tell how much of my time was spoken for. Last year I discovered I was over scheduling myself with volunteer work for the building my studio is located in.
It’s also helps me realize some weeks I won’t be able to get much done because three days are committed to a workshop for example. Being able to make adjustments to my Goals and/or To Dos, helps me both be realistic with my time, and to NOT feel like I didn’t get anything done for the week.
Section D – schedule goals
Second thing is to block in the time for Goals. Remember I said these are the most important and get me towards my long term, year end goals. To give them more of a visual priority this year, I’m using a second color (gray) to bracket in dedicated time. These times are sacred, no phone calls, no checking email, looking through social media, no scheduling of other activities.
If there is a lot of scheduled commitments for the week, I may need to look at the goals for the week and make an adjustment. I know that I’m not going to get much painting done the week my sister is in town, I’ll need to schedule more painting time the week before and after her visit.
DURING THE WEEK:
Section E – Record what you do
I leave unscheduled blocks of time in the week to work on items from the To Dos list...or follow where the mood takes me. Oh come on, who hasn’t said “I feel like doing. . . . .”
I record what I did and draw a vertical line, blocking off the time spent. This is important for two reasons, the first is I start to get an idea how long something might take to do. How long it takes to write blog posts for example.
The second reason is it creates a written record of how I spent my time and what I worked on when. For example in a block of time for painting, I’ll make a couple of notes with either location of plein air painting or the painting I worked on. And that brings me to the last section, F.
Section F – Special Notes
(Refer to first image.) I use the gray area at the bottom of the page to record when a painting is completed, or to make a special note for/or about the day.
In the image at the beginning of the post, I’ve made a reminder note to schedule time with Rachael, who I’ll be seeing at the meeting that night. Other examples are having received a special phone call or shipped a painting. Since I don’t write in this area all the time, it’s easy to look back through to find important dates.
That’s how I use the weekly planner to schedule and plan my weeks. It’s an evolving system, and honestly some weeks I do better than others. Life happens, and that’s why I use the erasable pen. :)
So pick two markers in your favorite colors, erasable pen and find a comfy spot to plan your schedule for the week or weeks ahead. Stop being reactionary to what happens each week, take control and get done what you want. I say this as much for myself as you. :)
I’ll have one more post for you about wrapping up at the end of the month so check back then.
Always open to suggestions so if you’d like to share what works for you, I’d love to read about it.
Pilot’s FriXion erasable pens are available on Amazon and come in lots of different colors. Replaceable ink cartridges are also available.
PaperMate Flair marker can be found at drug, grocery, craft, and art stores. Other markers that work well (don’t bleed through the paper) are also available at most craft stores in the scrapbooking section and art stores.
2019 Weekly Planner designed for creatives, is available in the online shop.