This week's post is based on Laura Vanderkam's book 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think. Vanderkam, a time management expert and author of several books on time management and productivity, advocates planning a whole week instead of one day at a time. There are 168 hours in a week, time enough to do everything that matters to you -as long as you plan them efficiently.
I love this concept of planning the full week because it allows me to see the bigger picture. Sometimes we have a long to-do list that we try to cram into 24 hours and end up frustrated and disappointed because, in spite of our best efforts, it's just impossible to cross every single item off that list by the end of the day. By planning a full week -weekends included- we can spread our to-do list in seven days. Prioritizing high-value tasks is the core of this strategy.
All of us have 168 hours every week. To plan a productive full week, begin by opening your planner where you can see the full week. Then, write down all activities that you must do that week, all the non-negotiables, such as sleep, personal care (this includes time to eat, shower, etc.), and work. Sleeping eight hours nightly (56 hours total,) taking three hours every day (21 hours) for meals and personal care, and working 50 hours a week, totals 127 hours out of your 168 weekly hours; hence, you still have 41 hours open to allocate to personal projects.
Now that you have jotted down your primary activities in your planner, it's time to see how you want to fill the other 41 hours you have free. Next, add your high-value actionable tasks -those with the most significant positive or negative consequences if done or left undone. These tasks include family time, time with friends, self-care, volunteering, and other personal projects. Once these high-value activities find a spot in your planner, write down your lower-value tasks, just be selective here. I suggest not to fill every single hour of your 168. Life happens, and we have to expect the unexpected. Unexpected situations will pop-up every day, and you'll need time to deal with them. I usually plan light Friday afternoons to make time for unfinished tasks.
By following this strategy, you'll make sure that you tackle all your weekly priorities by the end of the week. I would suggest working on this weekly plan either the Fridays before, on Sunday nights, or -if necessary- Monday mornings. I prefer to plan each week the Friday before with a quick overview on Monday morning. Every morning, I review my daily tasks and make any necessary adjustments. This strategy gives me control over my time and prevents me from being stressed about not having time to do what I need to do.
Vanderkam adds: "...if you want to use your 168 hours efficiently, once you make a commitment to yourself to spend a certain number of hours on a task, keep it. Never miss a deadline. Follow through on anything
you say you'll do as a matter of personal integrity." Commitment is the backbone of this strategy. Keeping a well-organized planner is worthless if you're not committed to following it. Some people are good at keeping the commitments they make to themselves; yet, some of us require external accountability to help us stay on track. If this is your case, find the external accountability that works best for you.
Another important takeaway from 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think is that you should focus your time on the things you do best while getting rid of those tasks you dislike doing, take up a lot of time, or somebody else can do better than you. Invest your time on your core competencies; everything else can be delegated or deleted. You don't want to waste your time on activities that are irrelevant or that can be done by someone else.
Do you agree with this approach to planning your week? Were you familiar with it? Would you be open to trying this approach? I'm always curious to know what works for you and what doesn't in terms of planning your time. I invite you to share your thoughts below! If you liked what you read, like it and share it now!