It struck me this past weekend how having options can be a hindrance to getting things done. I was doing something where a window of “free” time was coming up in the next two hours. As I was about to start reading a book, I thought, “well, what if I did some programming instead?” And of course a debate followed in my head which one to do next. “Couple hours, not a lot of time to do programming, maybe I can respond to emails instead, so I don’t have to do it later? But then reading would be good too. Which one should I do?”
I ended up reading, but this made me think how planning ahead helps to avoid mental debates on what to do next. I usually plan my day a night before but had skipped it for that day and voila. Couple hours might not seem much, but if you are a top performer and keep yourself very busy, couple hours are quite precious.
This situation brought back the memories of times when I was a kid and there usually was only one thing to do. It allowed me to buckle down, and do it. Even if the task was boring, you just kind of did it because there was nothing else to do. It is an extreme in an opposite direction, but something that made me remember how a lack of choice got one moving without too much mental effort in deciding what to do next.
Every week, mostly Sundays, I sit down and go over what happened during the last 7 days and what I am planning on doing next. I have been following this weekly planning process for several years now. It helps in several areas. First, I am more prepared and can get done more. Second, taking time to reflect and look ahead keeps me aligned with my goals and challenges I have set for myself. It is another way to take a step back and have an overview of what is going on.
The planning session process has changed over the years, and it continues to change as I learn new things about myself. Its most recent version has these questions:
- which habits am I working on and how did I do on them in the last week
- what were the top 3 most important things I did last week
- what things did I fail to accomplish
- did I do what I said are my top 3 things from the last week?
- what are my top 3 things for the next week
And now I have added on more, “What are you most thankful for?”. I have read that it is a good idea to practice gratitude. So I am trying it out and so far I do indeed like it. I actually love it, especially when I take a moment to be thankful for my family and how lucky I am to have them.
So yeah, if you hear people do more planning but not sure where to start, weekly planning sessions might be a good start. Usually you will need an hour, at least to start with. You can get more detail and intense once you get into planning habit and get a better sense of what you can get done in a week. Until then, start small and improve as you go.