Do more with less: Pre-Week Planning technique
Published in Leadership and Soft Skills.
Do more with less is a common trend in the business world. It requires filtering out low-priority everyday tasks in favor of long-term goals. Thus, Time management is one of the most useful skills for a specialist.
One tool to systematize your efforts in business and personal life is Pre-Week Planning. It empowers people to schedule their time and do what matters most.
Steve Shallenberger and Rob Shallenberger described this technique in the book “Do What Matters Most”.
What is Pre-Week Planning?
Pre-Week Planning is a 20–45 minutes-long session to find what matters most and schedule your priorities. Its goal is to take big goals into your schedule to make them a reality.
Here are the four key steps to do Pre-Week Planning:
Step 1. Review personal vision and long-range goals. Your vision orients and drives your actions towards what matters most. Ask yourself what you can do this week towards accomplishing your goals. Examine where things stand each week.
If you don’t yet have a written personal vision, take 5-30 minutes to get one started. Write your purpose, actions, and motivations. Jot down some thoughts and let it take shape over time. Personal vision is your “why” behind daily and weekly schedules.
Step 2. Break down big goals by role. It should be the five to seven roles that matter most to you (personal/self, manager, specialist, parent, spouse, etc.). For each role, assign 1-3 SMART goals for the year. Subsequently, you’ll plan your weeks through the lens of goals in each role. It allows you to have a balance of success stories across each area of your life.
Step 3. Set tasks for each role. Decide what actions matter most in the coming week for each role. For example, to practice a language or update an old knowledge entry. A seasoned time manager will schedule time for activities taking place a couple of months away.
Step 4. Assign a time on your calendar for the coming week for each task. Use a calendar instead of a To-Do list. In a calendar, you assign a specific time slot for task execution and the calendar takes the limited time we have into account. To-Do lists incline us to amass tasks over time, as we tend to plan more than we execute.
With this approach, you schedule your priorities rather than prioritize your schedule.
Notably, Pre-Week Planning doesn’t crush you with the impossible task of developing detailed plans and schedules for annual goals. Such an approach requires a lot of discipline. Instead, with Pre-Week planning, you perform incremental developments “one step at a time”.
Finally, once you have done the pre-week planning, you need to sit back in a quiet place and ask yourself: What have I forgotten? What can I do to be at peace and my greatest effectiveness and efficiency? Is this week in harmony with my vision and goals? This last question is powerful. If your activities and priorities are not in harmony with your vision and goals, you will not have the energy to do them.
What’s the impact of Pre-Week Planning?
A recent study showed that after four weeks of Pre-Week Planning, a group of managers and executives accomplished 30-50 percent more while all reporting less stress. Pre-Week Planning helps advance your career, take care of your team members, spend quality time with family or get regular exercise.
Pre-Week Planning reduces task saturation, increases productivity, and helps you take control of your life. Getting into the habit of planning will empower you to prioritize your time and do what matters most week in and week out.