Every Sunday, I plan my upcoming week. I use Google Calendar for this so I can refer to it on any device and get notifications.
Planning my week might take lots of time, but the time spent has a high return on investment considering how much you get done. It allows you to have a bird's eye view of your week.
By planning your week, you can:
- spread out your work, ensuring you get something done everyday
- batch similar tasks together. Batching is when you lump similar tasks together and do them at one time. Notice how it's convenient it is to do your laundry every week instead of every day?
- prioritise your most important work
All of this contributes to increasing your productivity without sacrificing your mental and physical health.
While I use Google Calendar to do this, it's important to do it in a way that suits you - that might be writing it down on paper, using a planner, whatever gives. Choose what works for you, or the habit won't stick.
My method is simple: For every weekday, I set goals I want to achieve. Then, I take note of the hours where I have commitments, such as classes and meetings. This also includes time for food, leisure and exercise. I use whichever hours I have left to achieve these goals.
It's important to be proactive with your time - you need to be in control of your time and decide in advance what you want to do with it. If you don't plan your time, someone else will plan it for you.
Everyone says they don't have time, yet research has shown that the average person has four hours of leisure per day. Lack of time is not the problem - distractions are.
However, you can't call something a distraction unless you know what it is distracting you from. Netflix is not a distraction if you've set time to watch it with your family. It's a distraction when you've set time to work but end up bingeing another season of The Office.
This is why planning your time and having a schedule is more important than a to-do list. In fact, a to-do list can be malicious to your mental health. Seeing an endless list that you don't complete at the end of the day is torture. When you have a realistic schedule instead of a to-do list, you can sleep well at night knowing that you've done your best for the day.
Planning your time requires a lot of experimentation. Don't give up if you can't stick to the plan. Try your best to catch up and get back. Things you don't account for will happen. This is life, after all.
If you get distracted, jot down what happened and learn from it to avoid making a similar mistake.
I can't guarantee that you'll stick to your plan and be 10 times more productive. However, it's better to plan and be in control rather than have someone else plan your life for you.
There's an old Arab saying that goes: "Tie your camel and place your trust in Allah." It means that you need to trust in God that someone won't steal your camel, but you still need to tie it. You need to trust that you'll follow your plan, but "tie your camel" and be ready to shift plans if things happen instead of sulking.
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