Personal Time-management System 4: How to Make a Plan? (3/3)

(By Elisi Studio)

Why do we recommend a weekly plan?

Let’s use a road trip as an analogy:

  • The annual plan is like determining a destination
  • The monthly plan can be seen as a GPS, helping us to choose the best route
  • The weekly plan is like a steering wheel; only by constantly adjusting it can we avoid going off track
  • And the daily plan is the gas pedal; a good one can speed us to our destination.

Instead of focusing on completing a daily plan, we recommend you look beyond to the weekly plan to see the big picture, which is also within your control.

Let’s start with the weekly plan—not because the monthly plan and the annual plan are not good; it’s just that when our planning ability is still rudimentary, it’s less frustrating to start from the weekly plan and proceed step by step, instead of overstretching.

How to make a weekly plan?

Prepare a sheet of A4 paper or just Excel. Of course, we recommend that you try the Elisi Web version or the Elisi Mac App to plan ahead.

Our weekly planning is divided into three steps:

  1. List all this week’s to-do task
  2. Put these tasks into your planner, according to the rules of Importance and Urgency
  3. Self-motivate, assess, and summarize.

Let’s use the Elisi Web/Elisi Mac App as a template to explain how to make a weekly plan.

1. List all this week’s to-do tasks: use the Notes section on the left.  

First, take a few minutes to recall and write down everything you want or need to do next week. Be sure that you don’t resist these things. When your motivation is low, forcing yourself to persist makes it easy to fail, thus increasing your frustration.

Then, follow the Importance Rule from the Four-Quadrant Working Method (find it in Elisi Inspiration Week 3) to delete irrelevant tasks before you begin.

After deleting, allocate time to the remaining tasks. For example, this week you plan to read a 300-page novel and read 50 pages per day, which usually takes 1-2 hours, or just dozens of minutes if you read fast. At this point, we need to use the self-time record (find it in Elisi Inspiration Week 1) to get a basic understanding of how you are spending your time, and then estimate a time for each task you plan to do.

Check how much time is needed in total to complete all the tasks that remain after the first deletion. If the time required exceeds your available weekly time, you will need to do a second round of deleting. For example, if the planned tasks need 50 hours, but you have only 30 hours per week apart from work, you have to delete 20 hours’ worth of tasks.

2. Put tasks into the planner according to the Rules of Importance and Urgency. 

After two deletions, now let’s list all remaining tasks on different days in the upcoming week according to the Urgency Rule from the Four-Quadrant Working Method (find it in Elisi Inspiration Week 3):

  • Single tasks and urgent tasks can be listed on the first few days in the “Planner”
  • Long-term tasks (such as reading or learning a foreign language) can be added to the “Habit” and an average time assigned to them each day
  • Related tasks can be classified into a “Project” and then scheduled to be completed on a different day.

In this way, your mission this week will be scientifically arranged for every day.

3. Self-motivation, assessment and summarization. 

When you add tasks to Elisi’s daily Planner, you will see a round gray badge on Elisi’s daily Planner Bar; and on Elisi’s bottom tab bar, you will see a Weekly Achievement Trophy. Each day, when you complete 3 tasks (no matter whether it’s a single task or multiple tasks under Project and Habit), you will get that day’s badge, and a segment of the Weekly Achievement Trophy will be lit as well.

Every time you harvest a daily badge, reward yourself by doing something relaxing and entertaining. That means that when you are working on other tasks, you know that there will be fun rewards waiting for you.

In addition, you can select different stickers in front of each task to record the quality of the outcome; that is, whether you are happy enough with your results. If you are not satisfied, write some retrospective comments in the “To-do Details” to help you make progress next time. Of course, when you enjoy completing a task very well, you can also write down insights to help yourself sustain a good trend.

At the beginning, we all miscalculate the time spent on doing things due to lack of expertise: overestimating ourselves or arranging to do too few things are all normal behaviors, and you will improve as long as you don’t blame yourself excessively and dent your enthusiasm.

Now the plan is ready. How can it be carried out? Let’s talk about Concentration Management in our Time Management Series in future Elisi Inspiration.