At the start of every week, you’re likely going over everything you have on your plate.
Whether it’s thinking about what to cook for your family, how many days you’d like to go to the gym, or what you have ahead of you at work, it’s common to go over how to plan your week effectively before it begins.
You may be unaware that you’re doing it, but you’re creating a weekly plan for yourself. If you want to remain productive, organized, and successful at work, I bet you create a weekly work plan, too.
If not, now is the time to start! And Fellow is here to break down how.
What is a weekly work plan?
A weekly work plan is a visual map, list, or agenda you create for yourself that consists of your do-to list for the week. The goal in creating this plan is to help you stay organized as you work on tasks, projects, or various items on the list.
Creating this before the week begins encourages you to think ahead of what you’d like to achieve each day and once the week has come to a close. It’s also easy to break the week down into smaller parts.
For example, when I create a weekly work plan, I like to front-load my week with as much as I can. So, Monday – Wednesday is always jam-packed with items on my to-do list, while Thursday and Friday, I like to leave with time for things that may arise that I don’t know about yet, just in case.
Set yourself up for a productive week all in one place using Fellow to organize your calendar, action items, and notes so nothing gets forgotten.
How to write a weekly work plan
Creating a successful work plan over the course of a week is always a good idea. Plus, it’s easier than you may think. Follow these eight steps to plan your week out from start to finish, so you’re ready for anything.
- Review your main objectives
- Make sure your schedule reflects your top priorities
- Prepare for all your meetings in advance
- Write a list of action items
- Time block everything
- Be aware of your energy levels
- Plan buffer and break times
- Consider a deep work day
1 Review your main objectives
Before you roll up your sleeves and get started, first consider what your main objectives are. These are the items that must get done before the week comes to a close.
Depending on what you think your weekly work plan may look like, main objectives can be anything from closing a deal with a customer that’s been in the works for a while, finishing a slidedeck, wrapping up a blog, or even onboarding a new hire.
Whatever the case may be, knowing your main objectives of what you want to accomplish for the week sets you up for success.
2 Make sure your schedule reflects your top priorities
I mentioned previously that I like to front-load my week, so it gives me some availability later in the week to tackle items that pop up unexpectedly. While this works for me and my top priorities, make sure your schedule reflects yours.
For instance, in the first step, I reference finishing a slidedeck as a main priority. If the slidedeck is for a meeting taking place on Thursday, you’ll want to schedule this item on your week for Monday or Tuesday. On Wednesday, this leaves you time to give it a final review to ensure nothing falls through the cracks.
The same can be said for wrapping up a blog. If the due date to send to your editor is Wednesday, get this on your weekly work plan for the first thing Monday. Remember that no one knows your schedule better than you and which tasks are of the utmost importance. Give yourself enough time within your schedule to accomplish these tasks — set yourself up for success!
3 Prepare for all your meetings in advance
As you look at the coming week, pay close attention to the meetings you have on your schedule and factor in time within the week to prepare ahead of time. This includes organizing necessary documentation, creating slides, jotting down questions or talking points, or figuring out how to word a challenge or roadblock you’re experiencing.
For example, let’s say you have a one-on-one meeting with your direct report every Tuesday at 2:00 pm. As you make a weekly work plan for yourself, schedule time Tuesday at 9:00 am to send them an agenda of items you’d like to discuss. Not only does this give your direct report a heads up and time to prepare, but it also lets them know you take this meeting seriously and you’re not just winging the time you have together.
4 Write a list of action items
Once you have your main objectives planned out and scheduled your meetings into the weekly work plan, don’t forget about action items. For instance, maybe you’ve given a coworker a deadline to send you specific information by end-of-day Wednesday. You may want to pencil into your Thursday morning an action item that looks like “follow up with coworker”.
Just like other details within your weekly plan, action items and when they’re scheduled will depend on what you have ahead of you.
5 Time block everything
It’s in your best interest to time block everything, and yes, we mean everything. From scheduling an hour to clear out your inbox to a quick 15-minute slot to send that follow-up email you keep forgetting about, everything within your weekly work plan should have a scheduled time slot.
Remember that time blocking shouldn’t make you feel rushed or lead to stress. If a task or two takes longer than you thought it would, it’s okay to move things around. Plus, you can keep this in mind for the next time a similar task or to-do list item is on your plate for the week, so you can better time block it in the future.
Tip: Unsure how long a specific task will take? Whatever you have in mind, schedule yourself an extra 30 minutes, just in case.
6 Be aware of your energy levels
It’s nice to think that you’ll wake up every day next week feeling refreshed and ready to conquer the day. But sometimes this just isn’t the case. As you go about creating your work plan, take note of your energy levels.
For me, this is why I like to front-load my week — I always have more energy at the start of the week, meaning I’m more productive and can get more accomplished on a Monday than a Thursday (usually).
In addition to the energy levels that may vary from day to day, take a look at your week as a whole, even outside of work. If you’ve got a fun dinner date planned on Thursday night, maybe put less on your docket for Friday, as you may feel a little more tired than usual from a fun night out.
7 Plan buffer and break times
One element that may feel daunting about developing a weekly work plan for yourself is there’s always something that comes out of nowhere. But the good thing about creating this plan is that you can, quite literally, plan for it.
By building a buffer into your week, if something unexpected needs your attention, you’re ready. And, if you have one of those lucky weeks where everything goes as planned, you can use this extra buffer time to handle a less pressing task.
In addition to factoring in buffer times, schedule in break times, too. These can be short breaks, like 15 minutes to walk your dog or get another cup of coffee, or longer breaks, like taking your hour lunch at an appropriate time.
Doing so makes it easy for you to stay on schedule and prepare for each coming day.
8 Consider a deep work day (no meetings or interruptions)
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a day entirely your own, without meetings and interruptions?
Well, when you’re in charge of your own weekly work plan, it’s possible. As you assess how your week looks and what’s awaiting around the corner, see if you can schedule a “deep work day”, where you can hunker down and achieve maximum productivity levels without any meetings.
As you consider a deep work day, remember to be aware of your energy levels — if you frequently find yourself overworked by Friday, don’t schedule a deep workday on a Friday. If you’re like me and are at your most productive early in the week, consider a deep work day on Monday or Tuesday.
You may not have time for a meeting-free day every week, and that’s okay! But as you start planning, check if it’s possible, and if it is, don’t be afraid to put a “No Meetings!” block on your calendar, so people scheduling time with you know to avoid that day.
Weekly work plan template
If you’re interested in creating a weekly work plan for yourself but aren’t sure how to lay it all out, use Fellow to get yourself started!
Banish the Sunday Scaries with a weekly work plan
If you find yourself with the Sunday Scaries at the start of every week, it’s time to kick that feeling to the curb with a weekly work plan. Whatever lies ahead for you, creating this plan in advance allows you to feel as productive as possible as you cross main objectives, action items, and more off your to-do list.