Make Friday Afternoon Your Planning Time
For most of my career both in corporate and as a business owner, Sunday night was always tough. It didn’t matter if it was a busy weekend or a quiet one, around 8 pm the Sunday night stress set in. I could feel myself getting wound up with the knowledge that Monday morning was just a few hours away. As I thought about the week ahead, I could see the countless emails, innumerable voice mail messages, new requests from clients, changing deadlines, and unexpected crisis.
It was easy to feel completely overwhelmed. So my solution was to work all weekend but that didn’t help. The more I did, the more I felt I had to do. It was a vicious cycle, until I adjusted my Friday afternoons making that “my time”. I stopped planning any meetings after 1:00 carving out the time to wind down and plan.
Use Friday Afternoon Planning Time to Reduce Your Stress
Organize: I have long been a devotee of the inbox zero strategy. So I use the time to answer the last lingering emails in my inbox. I respond, delegate, and move emails to my action required folder, so before I close my email there are no stray emails in my inbox. It won’t stay that way for long, but I don’t spend the weekend dreading a stack of unanswered emails waiting for me Monday morning.
I organize my desk, filing loose documents including business cards, receipts, and notes. Friday afternoon is also my time to balance my checkbook, log mileage, and do miscellaneous bookkeeping. This gives me a chance to clean out my pockets and purse as well.
Skim and Summarize: Once I moved to a Rocket notebook so there is significantly less paper floating around. On Friday’s I consolidate my notes, erase some pages and scan others, transfer information to project folders and teams, or send them to my cloud-based to do file. Then I can head into the new week with a really clean slate.
Review and Plan: Before I close the week I look over my action items. This is when I have to make tough choices. There are always too many items on my list, so I consider why something didn’t get done. Maybe there wasn’t time, or maybe I didn’t make time. If I am not making time, maybe that task just isn’t worth doing. If that is the case, I cross it off my list.
If it is important and worth doing, I put an appointment on my calendar to work on it the following week or delegate it to someone else. Sometimes I have a great idea, but the timing just isn’t right, so I will accept the fact that it isn’t going to get done in the near future. I keep a notebook of ideas and plans and things I might get to someday. Writing it in my “someday notebook” gives me permission to take it off my to do list, allowing me to focus my immediate attention on a smaller list. And when things slow down, I will browse my notebook and move things back on to my to do list.
Plan My Weekend: I am a business owner, so there are always things to be done, but the Friday afternoon drill lets me divide the week. I still log on to my computer on the weekends, but it is for the more fun, creative projects such as writing or editing podcasts. And to make sure I don’t sit at that computer all weekend, I use Friday afternoon to schedule walking time with friends and outings with family.
The Result: I am able to manage my Sunday night stress and I can look forward to the week ahead. I have had a number of MTFW conversations about planning time and stress relief. Here are some of my favorites. If my planning style doesn’t work for you, maybe one of theirs will.
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