When I think of what it means to have a great week, three words come to mind: productive, present, and in control.
In recent years, I’ve been able to create a routine that allows me to feel these things every week, with the help of 8 simple tools.
A TIDY SPACE
Everyone’s tolerance for physical clutter is different. That said, the fact still remains that too much stuff — especially unorganized and scattered stuff — in one’s space has negative effects on the ability to concentrate and focus on the task at hand. When organizing a space, start by storing or getting rid of the various items that may have accumulated from the previous week, so that you can start over with a fresh slate. This means everything from piles of clothing and shoes in your personal space to piles of paper in my work space.
A TO-DO LIST
At the start of each week, list your top 3-5 goals for that week. These are meant to be medium-size goals that are manageable, yet not too small, like finishing two new blog posts or launching a work-related project. Every week, the list starts fresh, even if there are items from the previous week’s list that were left unfinished. By starting a new list each time, you get to reassess your priorities. For example, there may be things that were important to you last week, but that no longer are. There may also be goals that were in your previous list, but that are no longer in your top 5. Every week is an opportunity to make a new decision about what’s working and what’s not.
THE TRASH BIN
This includes your computer trash bin and your actual trash bin. Use this opportunity to get rid of the stuff that is not moving you closer to the goals that you’ve set for yourself that week. Whether that’s done using a trash bin, a delete button, or anything else is for you to decide. If that means cancelling plans that were made because you now need that time back, then that’s a choice you can feel okay making. Keep in mind that the purpose of this tool is not to tie everything you do to a goal. However, in order to see any real progress, adequate time needs to be devoted to making that progress.
Here is where you can put your weekly to-do list into action. Use an hour at the beginning of every week to list the specific tasks that are needed to complete each of your goals. Transfer those tasks to your whiteboard, categorized either by goal or by the stage of completion that the task is in. This visual representation of your goals and their associated tasks will keep you constantly informed about what you’ve done and what you still need to do. That way, you have all the information that you need to plan my time most effectively.
A well-setup calendar plays a large part in ensuring that you have a great week. Go back to your to-do list and the specific tasks that you’ve outlined for the week. Then use your calendar to block out as much time as is needed to get them done. That way, in addition to keeping the time commitments that you have with other people, you can also be sure to keep the time commitments that you have with yourself — which is just as important.
The best part of having a smartphone is that it holds all of the apps you’ll need to keep your life in order. Try a digital notebook, like Evernote, to record journal entries, blog posts, recipes or weekly to-do lists. Then consider a task management app, like Any.do, to help keep track of daily and recurring tasks.
As the week goes by, all of the things that you planned for and didn’t plan for can start to weigh down on you. That feeling of not knowing how you can possibly fit it all in can leave you feeling stressed and overwhelmed. That’s where meditation comes in. Take 20 minutes every night to slow down, calm down, and return to your original intentions for the week. Once you’re done, what results are two mental lists: the list of things that turn out to be not that important after deeper thought — and the list of things that make you feel eager, excited, inspired, and energized. It’s always that second list that you should move forward with.
THAT EXTRA PUSH
Mondays are hard. It’s on Mondays, more than any other day, that we need that extra dose of motivation to remind us that it’ll be just fine. It also helps to have a few sources that you can rely on consistently each week for that support, whether its Truthbombs from Danielle LaPorte, or texts from Shine.