In Three Principles of Time Management, I wrote that one of the keys to managing your time and making sure that your life is headed in the direction you want it to go, it is helpful to plan your week in advance. Sunday is my day to do this, and it goes something like this.
First, I review my calendar for the week to see what is already on there. This coming week is a perfect example of why I go through this routine. Until I looked over my calendar, I had forgotten that I have a dentist appointment scheduled. So right off the bat, I know that one afternoon is spoken for—at least part of it. Now that I know that, it would also be a good time to pick up my little granddaughter and take her out for an hour or so since I am going to be in town anyway. So I plug that in the calendar.
I also note that I have agreed to spend half a day doing some volunteer work on Tuesday, so again, I will be in town. That makes an opportune time to schedule a coffee date with one of my sons after I’m through volunteering. I call him up and get that time confirmed, and I write that in the calendar.
I also see a couple of friends have a birthday and/or anniversary this week, so I’ll definitely want to remember to send my love via Facebook on the appropriate day.
I share these trivial details of my life to illustrate how much more effective it is to take charge of your schedule rather than letting your schedule run you. Here are a couple of obvious examples. By getting an overview of my week in advance, I am able to insert some relational activities in the most time-efficient and gas-efficient way by “batching” (that is, by doing similar activities at the same time; in the cases that I have mentioned, I am batching activities that require me to drive to town [as I live in the boondocks]).
The second—and more important—advantage to previewing my week and inserting these relational activities is that it helps me make sure that I do not let my life inadvertently become centered around me and my list of to-do’s. I have written before that I have a list of MITs (most important things) that I use as a “measuring stick” to keep my life focused on the things that really matter. However, that list is made up of actions that only include me. These are important, but I must never get so absorbed in my lists that I forget about relationships.
Previewing my week in advance is like looking at a map prior to taking a long trip. You may have to consult the map again sometime during the trip, but you have a general idea of the direction you should go to stay on course. It saves time, it saves money, and if you do this on a consistent basis, someday twenty, thirty, or forty years from now, you’ll be able to say, “I’ve lived a good and fruitful life. I kept the main thing the main thing.”
Do you plan your week in advance? Are you conscious of building relational activities into your week?