In a recent post, I shared how time management consistently shows up on Americans’ list of priorities when they launch into a new year.

Considering the over 35,000 book titles on the topic, many of which deliver the same rinse-and-repeat advice on managing to-do lists and cramming more activities into our already busy lives, I also shared my praise for the recently-published Tranquility by Tuesday: 9 Rules to Calm the Chaos and Make Room for What Matters by Laura Vanderkam.

I described the book as a creative field guide to extracting maximum meaning and purpose from our daily lives, regardless of how hectic and overscheduled they are. After sharing my first key takeaway on the benefits of giving yourself a consistent bedtime, I promised to share more.

Here’s my second takeaway: It is a habit I started over 20 years ago that has become indispensable to me in pursuing the important versus merely reacting to the urgent.

Take-Away #2: Plan Your Week on Friday

Planning on Fridays encompasses two points: First, the value of a weekly planning session, and second, the value of choosing Friday as the ideal time.

The first is by far the most important: If you’re currently not planning your week in advance, then the day you’re most likely to start and stick with is the best day for you.

I’ve been a disciple of weekly planning ever since I read Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, the #1 personal development book of all time.

In an interview back when the book was released more than 30 years ago, Covey said:

If you were to ask me, what single practice would do more to balance your life and increase your productivity more than any other, it would be to plan your week, each week, before the week begins. Most people live in the day-to-day, hour-by-hour, which creates a focus only on the immediate threat or passing impulse, living from crisis to crisis, dealing only with urgent things, mistaking them for the important things. This sets us up for stress, disillusionment, and dissatisfaction because we never gain the perspective we need to live purposefully.

What’s the significance of planning weekly?

As Covey points out:

The week represents the complete patch in the fabric of life; there are weekdays, evenings, the weekend. It’s close enough to be highly relevant but distant enough to provide context and perspective.

In other words, a week is long enough to encompass actions beyond the urgent, but also short enough for you to have a good sense of the rhythms of your life, thereby enabling you to make time commitments and pursue meaningful, purpose-driven opportunities with reasonable certainty.

Here’s my approach to weekly planning:
• I review my annual and monthly goals and priorities.
• I review my calendar, listing every scheduled appointment. This one activity will give you a good view of the “landscape” of your upcoming week.
• I list the top 3-5 accomplishments for the week–my “must do” list–followed by a bulleted list of every other task or accomplishment I want to achieve for the week.
• Until accomplished, I carry the entire task list forward from week to week.

Creating a weekly plan like this makes it easy for me to identify intermediate steps toward larger goals, along with helping me anticipate bigger challenges or opportunities, creating space to address them before I lose sight of them.

Why plan on Fridays?

Simply because it’s typically not a time to start anything new as we are, by Friday afternoon, generally sliding toward the weekend.

Since I started planning on Fridays, my Monday mornings are more productive, and I tend to make better use of my weekends.

Do you have a system for short-term planning? If so, how is it working for you? What would it mean to your effectiveness to adopt a weekly planning habit? What day would you choose and why? I’d love to know your thoughts.