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How’s your week looking so far? Do you feel like you are having a productive week? Are you getting things done? Ticking things off?
We all strive to be productive. To capture that feeling of time well spent. But what does a productive week look like?
And what does productive actually mean? I like the Cambridge Dictionary’s definition of productive as “having positive results”.
To me, having a productive week means getting things done that have a positive impact on your life. Not only the things you have to do every week but the things that you want to do. The actions and activities that move you closer to your goals.
So being productive doesn’t mean getting ALL the things done. It means getting the IMPORTANT things done.
It’s not the same as being busy. Ticking things off a long list may sometimes feel productive but if it’s not having positive results, or moving you closer to where you want to be it’s really just treading water.
The key to being productive is knowing what you want to achieve and planning ahead. Time spent planning is never wasted.
Before anything else, preparation is the key to success ― Alexander Graham Bell
Here are 6 simple ways to set yourself up for a productive week
1. Check and update your planner for the week
Whether you have an electronic planner or a paper one, make sure it’s up to date with all your commitments, activities and appointments for the week.
I have a paper planner, and also use a shared family electronic calendar, which combines all our family appointments, such as dentist, doctor, haircuts, playdates and after-school activities. At the beginning of each week, I fill in my paper planner for the upcoming week being sure to cross-check against the family electronic calendar.
Remember to look at your planner every day. Make it a part of your evening routine to check the next day, and then part of your morning routine for the day ahead. Don’t let anything on your planner take you by surprise!
Once you have all your commitments, appointments, and activities scheduled in your planner you’ll get a good indication of how much time have available for other tasks. Which is crucial for the next point, writing and prioritizing your to-do list.
2. Write and Prioritize your To-Do List.
The most important thing to remember about your to-do list is to get it out of your head and onto paper (or an online document).
Not only will writing a list make you feel more confident, as you won’t need to rely on your memory to remember everything, you’ll also get the satisfaction that comes from crossing things off as tasks are completed.
Your to-do list will vary week-to-week. Some weeks you’ll have a lot more going on than other weeks.
Include all the life admin tasks you need to do during your week as well as the tasks that will get you closer to your goals. For example, if one of your goals is to declutter your house, what task can you add this week that will get you closer to that goal? It can be as simple as decluttering a kitchen drawer. Or dropping off outgrown clothes to a local charity. A small step in the right direction to achieving your goal.
Prioritize your tasks
Once you’ve listed all your tasks, prioritize them.
First, think about what YOU actually want to achieve this week. Think about your goals. What tasks are you going to tackle this week that will get you closer to your goal? Give these tasks a high priority.
Then prioritize the other tasks you need to complete this week. For example, tasks that have defined deadlines such as submitting a job application or purchasing a birthday gift.
3. Schedule your tasks
Next, allocate time in your planner to complete your most important tasks.
Be realistic about what can be achieved in the time available to you. There’s nothing worse than getting to the end of the week and feeling defeated because you weren’t able to achieve everything you wanted to.
Set yourself up for feelings of accomplishment by scheduling the most important things first and focusing on them.
Read more: How to make more time in your day
Remember to schedule self-care
Self-care should be an essential part of your week. Make sure you have allocated some downtime in your schedule for relaxing and unwinding.
Read more: Why you should prioritize self-care
In a nutshell, you can’t be productive if you are feeling stressed or not looking after yourself. Make sure you have allocated time in your schedule for your hobbies and interests. And white space for just being. Self-care doesn’t need to take a lot of time, and some days it may be only a quiet 10 minutes with a cup of tea.
The important thing is to be intentional. Do something for you, because you are a priority too.
4. Organize your outfits for the week
The fewer decisions you need to make during the week, the more you can concentrate on getting things done (the right things of course!).
Eliminating daily decisions such as what to wear each day, not only saves time but also combats decision fatigue (the deterioration of our ability to make good decisions).
The more choices you have to make during a day, the more fatigued your brain becomes. When you suffer from decision fatigue you are less likely to make well-informed, rational decisions, and more likely to make impulsive choices. Or you won’t make any decision at all.
So, by eliminating decision making early in the day, you’re freeing up space in your brain for more important matters. Allowing you to concentrate on your priorities, and be productive!
Plan what you are going to wear for the week, and make sure everything you need is laundered and ready and waiting for you in your closest or drawers.
Your mornings will be calmer, you’ll prevent decision fatigue, and you’ll save time previously spent staring into your closet, or scrambling through the laundry basket looking for a matching pair of socks.
Whether you work at home, or out in the world, make life even easier for yourself by having a go-to outfit (or outfits) for every occasion. You could also try having your own version of a uniform, or perhaps a capsule wardrobe.
Creating a simple capsule wardrobe is one of my goals for 2019. Watch this space!
5. Plan your meals for the week
I have to admit, meal planning is not one of my favourite things to do, but I do try to do it every week, and then I’m always so glad that I did.
By planning your meals for the week in advance you’ll save time, energy and money.
Once you have a meal plan you can create a shopping list for everything you need for the week and shop in advance.
No more last-minute, stress-filled dashes to the store, whilst trying to decide what to buy, and then having to rush home and cook it.
If you’re super-organized you can also prep your meals by pre-chopping vegetables or batch cook freezer meals.
6. Be Kind to Yourself
Give up any ideas of perfection. There will never be a perfect week where everything goes to plan and everything gets done.
Remember, a week has 7 days. Some days will go more smoothly than other days. If things don’t go to plan on one day, don’t write the whole week off. Try again tomorrow. Keep moving forward with an eye upon your goal. You can turn a week around.
Through planning ahead, and staying focused you’ll give yourself the best chance of moving towards your goal, and ending your week feeling satisfied and accomplished.
It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan ― Eleanor Roosevelt
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