It's Saturday and I'm sitting here with my second cup of coffee, ready to organize my week. I'm no time management expert like fellow blogger Peggy Duncan, but here are the 6 questions I ask myself.
1. What is already scheduled? I take a sip of coffee and look at the calendar. I find two meetings on Thursday, one that requires preparation. I block out time on Wednesday to get ready. And I've committed to do a podcast in early October, which requires at least a day of work. I make that my main project for Monday. Also, on that day I schedule the review blog posts I've drafted for this week. When I notice that Wednesday is October 1st, I add the task of reviewing my October followup folder to that day. Again, my first step is to review what I have already scheduled for the week and block out time to prepare.
2. What's left over from last week? Second sip of coffee as I page back through my calendar. I didn't get as far as I wanted with revisions to policies on email targeting for SCORE Chicago. I plan to review best practices, develop recommendations, and run them by SCORE Chicago marketing experts. OK, that's Tuesday's big project. The second step, then, is to integrate carry-over projects from last week into this week.
3. What are my family commitments? We've just moved the in laws from Tucson and promised them weekly outings. I think through the possibilities and put a "senior bus pass for Mary and lunch" on my calendar for Wednesday. Note to self: discuss weekend plans with the man in my life. Step three is to block out family time.
4. What do I have on my priority list? I'm sure Peggy has this all automated, but my priorities are in Excel, with columns for category, task, priority and detail. That way I can sort by priority or by category. (I'm SCORE Chicago's marketing chair, and work on many marketing and administrative projects with numerous people. ) The email revision project is already scheduled, but the list reminds me about website conversion tracking and a nonprofit TV listing. I put those on Friday, along with regular client followups. The fourth step involves a thoughtful review of the priority list and assignment of new projects to a specific day.
5. What should I do with the loose ends on my desk? Yep, that's my real desk in the pic above. Peggy would never have any loose ends on her desk, but I do. I move the materials I have pulled together for the podcast into a folder. (Don't tell Peggy -- who lives paperless -- but I sometimes spread out project piles by day, with PostIts marked "Tuesday" and "Friday".) I add an email followup note for Thursday and payroll tax returns for Friday to the calendar. Other dribs and drabs get scheduled on Friday, too. Today, I take a moment to transfer all those blog post ideas on scraps of paper to my master post list. Step five is to prioritize and process paper on my desk.
6. What do I WANT to do next week? I savor that last sip of coffee and reflect. I really want to work more on my online marketing techniques series-- OK Friday. I want to read more -- all the good stuff gathered from my favorite blogs in my Google Reader account and those books on my nightstand. I find if I write "Google Reader" on my calendar for Sundays, I will log in and read. And I resolve to spend that hour before bed on those novels as often as possible. Workouts are listed Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Step six, then, is to find time in the week for what you want to do. P.S. I admit that this post was totally unscheduled for Saturday, but I just couldn't resist.
OK, Peggy, how do you organize your week?
Fellow Blogger Peggy Duncan's Response: Peg, it's so important that you wake up in the morning knowing what you're going to do, where you're going, and how to get there. You work a lot like I do, always planning and scheduling ahead. I mostly live and work inside of Microsoft Outlook, using Calendar to schedule work that will require chunks of time, and using Tasks to keep up with quick things I need to do. Reminders are set on all this. In a previous post, I discussed my Talking Alarm Clock that I use to remind me of my most critical work. I also use a spiral notebook for all of my miscellaneous to do's and voicemail messages. I highlight the work I didn't get done so I know at a glance what I still need to work on. In your #5, I'm not completely paperless...though I rarely print anything. But my projects are in folders in a desktop organizer which comes with 25 clear, plastic folders that are staggered so I can see each tab. I have folders labeled TODAY for things I want to do immediately; TO DO I is for items I need to do within a few days; and TO DO II is work I can procrastinate on...I need to do it, but it doesn't matter when. Other work folders include TO RESPOND (things I need to write). Depending on a work situation, others might have folders labeled TO COPY, TO FAX, and so on. I also have folders labeled for each ongoing project I have, one for each of my books I've authored, and others for my major clients that hire me to train regularly. I keep everything in folders so I won't get distracted by one thing while working on another.