Weekly Planning Process

Why You Should Create A Weekly Planning Process

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Executive coaching clients who have worked with me have heard me encourage them – time and again – to begin their week with a well-thought-out weekly planning process. A process that I first embedded into my weekly routine after reading David Allen’s best seller on time management and planning, Getting Things Done, years ago.

Related: Time Management: 4 Keys To Avoiding Work-Related Stress

My weekly planning process allows me to enter each week feeling “in control.” Not only that, but it also gives me confidence that I am focusing on the most important things in my life – my work life and my personal life – THAT week.

My weekly planning process includes review of a number of lists and tools, my calendar, my goals, my Inboxes, messages, written notes, and so on – a whole host of items that allow me to scan across my entire horizon of open loops, action-centric matters, and goals.

Two lists that I ALWAYS include in my weekly review and planning process are: 1.) my “Never” or “Absolute No” List, and 2.) my “Always” or “100% Commitment” List. These are two lists of promises I’ve made to myself that are in total alignment with my beliefs, personal vision, work, personal goals and objectives. Reviewing these two lists on a weekly basis flexes my awareness muscle and helps keep me conscious of these important promises.

Never

I borrowed the idea for my “Never” list from one of my favorite authors and speakers, Cheryl Richardson, who offers the idea of “The Absolute No List” in her wonderful book (which I highly recommend), The Art of Extreme Self-Care.

The idea of creating a “Never” list serves as a powerful reminder of those things you want to remove from your life because they no longer (or never did) align with who you are, who you want to be, and what’s important to you.

I find sharing examples helpful in explaining the concept of a “Never” list. In that regard, some of the items on my list and some that I’ve heard others express include the following:

I will never…

  • Participate in or be a party to gossip.
  • Throw away anything that can be recycled.
  • Hang around with people who consistently bring me down or drain me emotionally.
  • Multitask when I’m on the phone with a client, friend, or family member.
  • Feel like I need to finish any book in which I’ve lost interest.

Always

In addition to my “Never” list, I also have an “Always” list, a list of things that I am 100% committed to doing… always. My “Always” list serves as a potent reminder of habits, actions and behaviors that I fully embrace and that are in complete alignment with who I am, who I want to be, and with those things that I cherish in my life.

As examples, I’ve seen the following on various “Always” lists:

I will always…

  • Spend the first part of my day, every day, in quiet time – reading, meditating, journaling, and so on.
  • Perform a thorough weekly review and planning process first thing Monday morning (I’ve also seen this commitment on Fridays or the weekend).
  • Exercise AT LEAST three days each week.
  • Take a full two week vacation period each year, spending quality time with my family and leaving all work behind.
  • Send a thank you note daily, seeking an opportunity every day to express gratitude and appreciation.

How about you?

What would be on your “Never” list?

…or your “Always” list?

Tip: Begin with a short list… don’t go overboard with too many things. Something in the range of 10 +/- items on each list is what I tend to see in reviewing clients’ lists.

Next step: Formulate your lists, and then, most importantly, review them often – certainly during your weekly review time. Some of my clients also keep their lists in their field of vision – as a constant reminder, particularly when they’re initially beginning the process of abiding by the items on their lists.

Become the person you can be and want to be. Try these two powerful tools and watch the magic begin to happen in your life.

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Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Andy Robinson

Andy Robinson, founder of Career Success Partners, is a leading authority on career success and a 15-year career coaching veteran.

16 comments

  1. Very good article. I am going to start an Always and Never list and see how I can develop my life and career with it. Thanks again

  2. This is just amazing. I have found myself having lots to do but no time to do it. Now with the always/never list I can prioritise and plan my week accordingly.

    This is much appreciated.

  3. Thank-you for these simple recommendations! Your guidance has prompted me to change! I’ve begun building my Weekly Planner with Never/Always lists, Review Items, and Goals.

    I have struggled with effective planning throughout my career and personal life. Ironically, in my younger “Franklin Planner” days, I feel I did a much better (but never good enough) job of planning my days and staying on top of the important things. With electronics (i.e. the things that were supposed to help me be better) I got overwhelmed and lazy at planning. Through committed effort I’ve gotten better, and I expect your tips to carry me even further.

    • I couldn’t agree more about being overwhelmed by technology when it comes to planning. Andy- do you use a paper based system? Do you have any suggestions for a template? Thank you!

  4. Thank you.

    Every time I think I’ve learned all the free stuff and everything else will cost me something – someone with a huge Heart (like you) shows me something more. Something so simple I can do it and share it for free.

    You are a Blessing in my life and I Thank YOU.

  5. I have always struggle with just simple planning i always tell myself i can achieve whatever i intend doing but i end up haphazardly approaching the tasks at hand without prioritizing then putting unnecessary stress and pressure to myself , this post just came at right time for me many thanks, what a very simple way to put to begin to put structured approach to planning in my life.

  6. Very interesting article.
    Prompted me to sit down and write list/plan rather than think about it with subject to change option.

  7. Very thoughtful post. I think the weekly planning exercise is a great idea, to harness the deep power of the mind to make good things happen. I think it is particularly important to consciously design your life in this age of constant temptation to spend time attending to electronic devices rather than your “A”priorities–those things that will allow you to achieve the important goals in life. The “never” and “always” lists idea is a simple, doable and very worthwhile tool to support life in accord with one’s highest, most enlightened self. Great post!

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