Sadly, we can’t all be poker pros or spend all day playing casino table games. Our weeks need structure, discipline and (for many of us) lots of coffee. We all know the feeling, that sudden turning of the stomach followed by a double shot of anxiety as you stare at your phone, attempting to make out the time while your brain tries to process what’s going on. It’s Monday. And it’s a Monday for which you weren’t prepared. All of a sudden, any plans you may have had go straight out of the window, and any memory of a to-do list evaporates into thin air. To plan your week ahead may seem a mundane task while you’re doing it, but your future self will thank you for putting in the time to make sure you’ve got it mapped out.
There are several ways to stay on top of everything and ensure that your week runs stress-free while making time to do what you enjoy, whether it’s going out with friends or staying in for some online casino games. Just stumbling your way through to your next break can have a significant psychological effect on you. But once you learn how to use a diary planner effectively, there will be no stopping you, and the Sunday scaries will become a thing of the past. Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can start grabbing your days by the horns.
Dump the contents of your brain
First, you’re going to want to clear your headspace. This is a new beginning and should be treated as such. Right now, you probably have thousands of things rattling away inside your head, and you need to give yourself a blank canvas from which to plan your week ahead. Grab a pen and paper or your notes app and get comfy, because you’re going to write down every single thing you need to do in the next seven days. Personally, professionally, everything. You might find it helpful to group actions together, such as “call X, Y and Z,” “do A, B and C” and “sort” this and that, and so on, if it’s helpful – whatever works for you.
Start putting dates to things
Now that you have everything on paper (real or virtual,) you can start going down your list, ranking the importance of each task and ordering them by when you need to do them. Be realistic about the time it’ll take you to finish them, and mark the date and time clearly next to them on the list. This includes “me time” activities like going out for drinks, or playing online slots or games.
Conversely, don’t leave things to the last minute and put even more unnecessary pressure on yourself. Try to operate somewhere in the middle to give yourself a little slack either way. Don’t forget to plan your planning, either. You’ll need to set some time aside to do this every week to stay on track. For many, Sundays offer the promise of a fresh start the next day, and are usually when you’ll have that extra bit of time to sit down and get your head around “next week”.
Diarize your list
Creating a calendar around your list allows you to see things from a distance and get a sense of your key tasks and what’s happening over the coming days. Don’t fall into the trap of looking too far ahead, and always keep your focus on what’s important now or imminently. When you get to grips with how to use a diary planner effectively, you’ll consistently do the small things, and as a result, all the big things will fall effortlessly into place.
Put the task on a specific day and make it big and colorful. Treat everything on the calendar with a degree of respect. Think of it as going to a meeting or keeping a promise. It’s also essential to give yourself space for things that may pop up during the day, so don’t pack them too tightly into your schedule.
Choose your dates and times wisely
Don’t assign dates and times to important things on your list on a whim; remember things can change very quickly, and you need to be sure that you can fulfill your commitments on that specific day. But you already have some of the most useful tools to plan your week ahead. You can set alarms and reminders on your phone and other devices around the days you’ve chosen so you’re always up to speed.
If you have certain lulls in your day, take advantage of them! Every minute of free time you have right now is another you can use to make your whole schedule more manageable. So in the longer term, you’ll have plenty of spare time to do the things you enjoy. Only you will know when these times are, so it’s on you to make sure that you use them effectively and efficiently. Use the same approach to busier days and avoid them when you’re planning time-sensitive tasks. An excellent example of this is implementing meal planning tips. How much preparation do you need? Can you afford the extra 10 minutes to cook pasta? Is it a smoothie day or salad day? Every minute matters.
Reap the rewards of effective time management
Regardless of whether you’re an old hand at this week-planning game or a first-timer, there are so many benefits to staying on top of things. When you know how to plan for the week ahead, you remove stress from the equation, allowing you to make better decisions. With a clear mind and lowered anxiety about the things you need to do, you’ll be able to carve out more time for yourself.
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