Every week I look forward to Sunday: the day of planning. I create this time for myself to reflect on the week that has passed, and set all of my tasks and priorities for the week ahead.
Here’s a little behind-the-scenes recipe for Planner Date success, modeled off of my Passion Planning ritual, but can be modified to your planner preferences:
Set the scene at a lovely café.
Since Edinburgh has The Best Cafés in the world, I try to visit a new one each weekend. Table space is a must, but I prefer no wifi, as that is my usual café-ing criteria during the week. This is my chance to branch out and see what the less digitally accommodating cafés have to offer. I often feel like treating myself to a slice of planning cake, but I’ve found tea or coffee less distracting, paired with the occasional macaron.
This time is for you, your planner, and your most focused attention. Meet a friend before or after, but not during the sacred planning hour.
Start with a reflection.
The Passion Planner provides a Monthly Reflection section, which I like to chip away at on a weekly basis (in different coloured ink). Alternatively, you could bring a journal and free write. Reflect on what has been memorable, what you learned, and how you want to move forward. I refer to my “Good Things that Happened” section, my day ratings, and my scibbled-in “What I Learned” section for inspiration.
Choose a Focus for next week.
I focus on one habit each month, and a secondary habit each week. I choose this habit by asking what needs the most care and attention (I keep a sticky note of usual suspects here as a reminder). This habit becomes “This Week’s Focus”.
Review your Monthly Intentions.
During my Planner Date, I treat myself to a glimpse at my monthly layout. While I use this space to plan appointments farther than one week in advance, I try not to look at the milestones and goals I set out until my Planner Date. The idea is that I carry the necessary tasks required for those projects into my weekly layout, and at the weekend I get to celebrate the progress I’ve made.
Fill in your Weekly Appointments.
To transition from reflecting to planning, start with the easy tasks of moving appointments into the weekly spread. It’s simple work, perfect for gaining momentum in the planning process.
Decide whether to focus on Personal or Work tasks this week.
Before you fill in your to-do lists, decide whether work or personal tasks will take priority this week. There must always be a balance of the two, and deciding that tasks on one side will be more taxing will allow the other side to compensate accordingly.
Set your tasks for the week.
Fill in your to-do’s, in rough order of priority. I refer to my Ideal Week Template and the past few weeks for ideas on what tasks to set. For errands, my Personal to-do’s tend to involve going somewhere or booking something. I don’t tend to have Work errands, so I keep those tasks simple and quick, for feeling productive at the end of the week without exhausting myself by tackling major projects. (Take a look at what the finished product looks like, on a weekly basis here!)
Fill in time estimates for each task.
Estimate how long each task will take. I stick to 60 minutes as a maximum; any longer and it has to get broken down into multiple tasks. By estimating how long a task will take, you can slot tasks into your day more systematically. It will also get you thinking about how long tasks do take – I tend to overestimate and underestimate in my head.
Set up extra space for to-do’s, lessons, and budget.
I use my Passion Planner’s Space of Infinite Possibility for my running to-do list for future weeks, a list where I can jot down “What I Learned” each day, and a balance of my weekly pocket money.
At the end of each day, assign your tasks.
Rather than plan out when I’ll do what from my to-do lists, I take it one day at a time. I go more into my daily process here!). So for now, take a look over the freshly filled in pages, smile, and close the planner until next time.
For more on turning tasks into Mini Adventures, join me in Everyday Wonderland, my weekly one-minute programme for finding magic in your daily life, away from screens.
The gates open from time to time. Register your interest here and I’ll email you when we’re ready for you to have a look around!