This month we’re doing a deep dive into time management. I started off this series with my favourite time-saving hacks. This post will be short and sweet–I will show you exactly how I schedule my work week. I have a hectic (unrelated to surface pattern design) day job, a toddler, an infant, and three dogs. I often get asked how I manage so many things together. Well, here’s my secret that isn’t really that much of a deal. Using this method, I make time for most of what’s on my to-do list, without suffering from overwhelm.
Disclaimer: The one thing I do struggle with is getting enough sleep and the occasional brain fog or burnout moments, but I have chronic insomnia and other mental health conditions, so that’s a story for another day.
Let’s jump right in:
Step 1: Review the week before
I keep harping about scheduling things onto your calendar. So, keep aside a considerable block of time (say 30 to 45 minutes) on a Saturday night for this exercise.
Here are some prompts that can help you when reviewing the week:
List down your priorities for the previous week
How much progress did you make? In case you aren’t tracking progress, you totally should.
What went well last week?
What were your wins?
What didn’t go well?
What do you want to do differently next week?
Step 2: Take stock of outstanding tasks
As you work through the weekly review prompts, you’ll be able to identify things on your to-do list that didn’t get done. Instead of beating yourself up, use these tasks as a starting point for planning the week ahead.
Step 3: Check in on your goals to choose your priorities
Just because a certain task was a priority the week before, doesn’t mean that it will remain so the week ahead. Some tasks are time-sensitive, and if you didn’t get around to completing them, that’s absolutely fine. Here’s where I say, “Move on, friend”.
Identify what’s important at the present moment and weed out unnecessary pending tasks. Here’s an example to show you what I mean. If last week I was supposed to send out an email to my newsletter subscribers but I didn’t do it, this week I will not be publishing two newsletters just because I didn’t check that one thing off my to-do list.
Step 4: Note down new tasks for the week
Once you’ve removed time-sensitive tasks from your to-do list, it’s time to add new tasks for the week. Need to submit art to a company? Add that in. Time to write a new blog post, add that in.
Step 5: Use your calendar
See how we’ve come a full circle? All those tasks you jotted down in the previous step will NOT get done if you let them stay in your notebook. Use a calendar to schedule time to actually do those things. When you allot yourself time to complete a certain task, and when that’s on something as visual as a calendar (digital or physical), there are higher chances of you getting it done. If it’s not on your calendar, you’re bound to procrastinate and then blame it on lack of time. So, reiterating this: SCHEDULE it out.
Once you’ve scheduled your to-dos on your calendar, it’s time to finally get some rest for whatever remains of the weekend, and start the following week with a bang. To stay on track, wash, rinse, repeat!