How Do I Get Things Done?
It’s a common question I get asked by my clients, peers, and community members. People want to know tips and tricks of how to take their brilliant ideas from conception into completion, while managing a busy schedule and being fully present in the moment, where they are. Learning the key principles of Priorities & Productivity can make or break the difference between feeling like you’re putting out fires and feeling like you’re actually in control of what you’re doing.
Let’s see, would you rather?
Do a lot of things poorly or a few things well?
Feel like you’re running your life or other people are running it for you?
Be scattered-brained and forgetful or focused and intentional?
It’s time to learn a better way to get things done. Since this is a HUGE topic that I could write an entire series on, I just wanted to share with you in this blog post my weekly planning process to set myself up for success. Because really, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” If you take some time up front to strategically plan out how you spend your time, you’re way more likely to execute on the things that matter.
I first learned this weekly review process from a seminar, “Dreams Into Goals” that taught me ways to take action on your most important ideas. Since then, I’ve adapted this practice into my routine and tweaked a few things, so my hope is that you can take what resonates with you and implement it into your own routine. The result? Getting Things Done in a personal and practical way.
I want to stress the importance of making this weekly process a habit. It may take 20-40 mins to complete the whole process, depending on how much you’re doing and how familiar you are with the process. Choose a time/day and block out that 30 min. chunk to dedicate to doing this process. You can make it fun, like Monday morning as your drink your coffee, or Friday afternoon after your work load is done with your favorite radio station playing in the background. Just like you may have weekly meetings with your team, or strategic planning periods with your coach, this is your time to plan, process, and prepare for your upcoming week. Let’s get started!
Step 1: Brain Dump
Get out of those thoughts floating around in your head out and onto paper or an app. Write down ALL of your to-dos, upcoming project ideas, things that pop into your brain. You can categorize them into something like a mind map, or journal out your thoughts in a long form. The point of this is, to capture all of your ideas in one place that you can go back and refer to.
Step 2: Connect with what’s important:
Out of all of those thoughts and ideas, take a step back and look at what’s important. This could be a project that needs to be a priority, or making sure you’re taking care of your health. The great thing about doing a brain dump is that you can actually visually see all of the things you’re thinking about, and start to notice what you need to now and what you can save for later.
Step 3: Celebrate
This is a fun step that most people skip. Before you move on to take on the next week, take a few moments to reflect on the previous week and celebrate your wins and accomplishments. What worked? What went well? What’s something new you tried? What’s an effort you need to acknowledge? By celebrating those moments, you’ll get an amazing sense of accomplishment that’ll fuel you to keep going and make progress. For those perfectionists out there, this also helps to find ways you’re “enough” right where you are by noting the things that went well.
Step 4. Schedule out ideal week:
Now that you know what’s important, and have celebrated your progress, it’s time to schedule out your ideal week. Marie Forleo says, “If it’s not scheduled, it’s not real”, meaning your schedule can powerfully dictate what you do and the things you get done.
To schedule your ideal week:
- Go into your calendar and block off times for things you considered to be “important” (from step 2). Ex. Block out Priority Projects times, Going to the Gym times, and family fun nights. Treat these like important meetings and appointments that you’ll hold yourself accountable to doing.
- Consider implementing Themed Days of the Week.
If there’s a repeatable process or group of tasks that you need to do on a weekly basis, assign it to a specific day of the week and time to do it so it becomes a habit and apart of your weekly routine. For example, I have “Marketing Fridays” where I write my blog posts, newsletter, and social media content for the week. I do “Admin Mondays” where I do my bookkeeping tasks, record gas mileage, update coaching hours, and maintain my web site. Of course, laundry, house cleaning chores, and meal planning are reserved for Sundays. This way, I know when I’m doing what and don’t have to worry about if my maintenance tasks are falling through the cracks.
- Review your Brain Dump and Choose the tasks you’ll work on this week.
Make sure those tasks can be done in bite-sized chunks (like 30-45 mins.) and move them over to your preferred to-do list method.
- Assign a due date to those bigger projects, and also schedule in the day/time of when you’re doing what. This may seem a little type-A, but trust me, people see better results when they know WHEN and WHERE they’re doing WHAT.
Ex. I will write an outline for my blog post on Wednesday at 11:00am. OR Re-order my products from Susie’s for upcoming launch on Thursday at 2:00pm.
- Leave room for “margin.”
Try not to over schedule yourself to the point where it causes more stress than ease. Urgent matters may come up or tasks may take longer, so I like to keep a buffer zone in between appointments and deadlines to give myself enough space to complete things. If things get done ahead of time, great! If things are behind schedule, I’ve given myself that room to accommodate unexpected changes.
5. Radar Sweep:
Take a moment to look at what’s coming up in the future. Planning on launching a new offering? Holidays/vacations/birthdays coming up that you want to remember? This part is to take a peek in the future to consider what you may need to work on now to prepare for what’s next. If more tasks, or thoughts come to mind, capture them in your brain dump process and assign with a deadline. Schedule, if necessary.
6. What’s in Focus:
Reflect on this process and pick your priority for the week. What’s in focus? By the end of the week, what do you want to accomplish? How do you know it was successful? I like to create simple mantras I can use to refer to what’s in focus as a filter for the week to what I do and what I don’t do. Something like, “This week I’m working on my morning routine.” or “Connecting with industry leaders.” or “Market research” or “Creating a Mindset of Abundance.” That way, if new things pop up, I know whether or not to do it now or wait until later.
As a bonus,
So that’s my weekly process for getting things done. I intentionally keep all my ideas in one place, sort out what’s important to focus on, and schedule everything like it’s my job (because it is!) Here are some further tips I do to make this process work for me.
Tools I Use:
This free app is like a visual ping board that is super flexible and comprehensive. I create a “Big List Brain Dump” board where I keep all of my ideas for projects, programs, and offerings. Each board has different “lists”, which hold categories for my ideas like “blog post ideas” or “group coaching program.” Then, each list has a “card” that has my tasks as to-dos.
I also have my “Weekly Purpose Planner” board which is my to-do list/planner. I have a card with the week’s focus, and a card for every day of the week. The tasks I add to a specific day’s card and that becomes the day’s to-do list. When I’m done with the task, I move it to the “Done” card, and archived them at the end of the day. Any tasks I don’t complete for the day, I move it to the next day’s card. I love the flexibility and ease of use of this app!
2. Google Cal/Sunrise App & Acuity Scheduling
I use the Sunrise App for Mac as my calendar because it incorporates Google gal, iCal, and other calendar all in a beautiful interface. I’ll use this is schedule my personal events, days off, and block off office hours when I’m working on Priority Projects.
I use Acuity Scheduling for my client meetings and appointments that allows people to book coaching sessions with me based on my availability.
3. Old school Journal
Even though I’ve moved to digital apps, I’m still a paper and pen kind of girl. I love writing in a journal during my daily morning routine and “brain dumping” my thoughts (good and bad) and reflections on life and business as a whole. I’ve incorporated a gratitude practice in my journal by jotting down opportunities and experiences I’m grateful for. This has been a healthy practice for me to take time to personally reflect on lessons I’m learning, so when I’m working, I can just focus on doing the work.
There you have it! My weekly process of planning and preparing for the upcoming week, so I can actually get what I need to get done, while leaving room for margin. By taking the time up front to know WHAT you’re doing, your productivity will begin to increase and change for the better. What’s your planning process like?