How to Organize Your Week in 20 Minutes
Are you feeling a little overwhelmed by all the stuff you’ve got to get done each week? Do you wish you could get your stuff done with time to spare?
This is the number one challenge that my coaching clients and students face. If you’re someone whose got a ton of things to do in a limited amount of time with no end in sight this strategy will change your life in about 20 minutes a week.
The goal is not to just tick off boxes, but to create a system that allows you to also earn higher grades, boost productivity, and lower stress.
There are a lot of ways to manage time. This strategy is a great place to start if you are feeling totally underwater by everything you’ve got to do. In time, you will make this your own and adapt it to your personality, but I recommend following the formula until you get the hang of it.
The secret sauce when it comes to time management is not the to-do list, the notification, or the planner, but the act of entering your tasks and commitments into a schedule. If you’ve been listening for a while, you’ve heard me say this before because it works.
Taking all those disparate things you’ve got on your list and plugging them into a schedule can transform you from chaos to clarity. The simple extra step of scheduling specific tasks into specific time slots allows you to truly understand if you’re overcommitted, inefficiently using time, or saying yes when you should be saying no. You too can get a handle on your week in less than 20 minutes.
How to Organize Your Week in 20 Minutes
STEP 1: Choose Your Planner
First collect your materials. This strategy uses a really trusty hourly planner, blank journal, or online calendar and any markers, gel pens, or writing utensil that will inspire you to actually create a schedule you will use. The key here is to find a planner that will provide enough space for you to actually block out time chunks for each for every task on your list. I use a blank journal and online calendar combo to manage my weekly schedule. You can check out my version over on instagram stories @collegehoodadvice.
STEP 2: Set a Weekly Scheduling Party
Select a dedicated 15-20 minutes a week to sit down and create your schedule. Select a day and time that will work for you each and every week. You want your scheduling party to become part of your weekly routine. (This helps make it a habit.) I have my scheduling party on Sunday evenings because it helps me get prepared before I have to hit the ground running on Monday morning. The key is to choose a time that can be consistent and sets you up for success each week.
STEP 3: Make Your Task List
List out all of your commitments, appointments, events, assignments, projects, meetings, exercise, meals, dates, errands, follow-ups, tasks, chores, etc… List anything and everything you need to get done or take care of that week. Make sure you keep your list reasonable. You will need to play with this. Everyone has a different work style and speed. Make sure to make a list that matches your work style. A good rule of thumb is to only have 2-3 big task items a week.
STEP 4: Prioritize Your List
Prioritizing your list will allow you to organize tasks in order of importance in a given week. This step helps you to make space for critical tasks and easily identify those tasks you should say no to in a particular week. I like to use the very popular rock, pebble, sand analogy which was originated by Dr. Stephen Covey. It’s the prioritization darling of bloggers and First Year Seminar instructors around the country.
In this analogy a jar represents your time. Rocks represent the most important things like big projects, commitments, and relationships and should be place in your jar first. Pebbles represent mid-level tasks that should be placed next. Those things that are part of your weekly routine or would be nice to get done. Sand represents low-level tasks. Those things that could really wait or aren’t that important. These items should be placed last and really just fill in the remaining spaces.
We usually reverse the order. Placing easy low-level “sand” items first and avoiding overwhelming “rock” items until the last minute when pressure forces us to get to work. This creates stress because we are trying to cram rocks into a jar already filled with sand. Instead, placing rocks first allows you to have plenty of energy, space, and time to truly address the scale of the task.
STEP 5: Create a Schedule
Now it’s time to enter your prioritized list into an actual schedule. This will take some practice. At first, it might be difficult for you to estimate how much time each task will need. It’s important to just get started and adjust as you gain more experience making your weekly schedule. I recommend starting by overestimating the time you need to complete tasks than adjusting to a more accurate time allotment as you get better at scheduling.
It’s also incredibly helpful to set “work” hours when creating a schedule. This means creating routine around when you work and when you rest, relax, and have fun. Try to enter school commitments into the traditional work day and personal commitments into evenings and weekends where possible. Be sure to leave lots of unstructured weekend/evening time where you can. This will protect time for you to unwind and relax free of homework guilt. It also allows you time and space to address unexpected obstacles and set backs you might encounter.
STEP 6: Stick to Your Schedule
This is the most important step! You’ve got to follow through and stick to your schedule. Of course, you’ll need to adjust and adapt where necessary, but a schedule is only as good as you make it. Sticking to a plan will help you keep your promise to yourself and establish healthy boundaries with others. It’s okay to say no once in a while. It’s also okay to do nothing once in a while.
Have compassion with yourself. It will take a little time to establish a new habit. If you stick with it you’ll soon get faster and more efficient. Before you know it, you’ll find that you are ahead of you school work, more productive, and more motivated.
Remember you have the power to create a better college experience. There are a lot of ways to get it done. I want to hear from you! Share your favorite strategies for getting your week organize in the comments below.
Your homework this week...
Observe how you are using time. Are you wasting time through out the day on your phone? Is it taking a longer time to get your homework done because you have a show on in the background? Are you taking really long naps? Pay attention to where your time is going and see if you can make adjustments that allow you to use your time more wisely. Share your findings in the comments below or over on our Instagram using the #collegehoodadvicepodcast @collegehoodadvice