Do you struggle with Monday’s? Are you thinking about and/or planning for your week ahead? If you are like more people, you can find that start of the week can make feel a little overwhelmed and anxious about the week ahead.
As a leadership coach, one of the main things I work on with leaders is their productivity and mindset particularly as we head into the middle of the year in maintaining focus and positivity.
The challenges we have faced over the past few years have impacted many of us and pace of change leave many executives and leaders struggling to stay organised and focused, which results in lack-lustre personal results.
The key to any productivity system is to focus on value, not effort. Leaders who focus on checking as many things off their to-do lists as they can each day without thinking about what they put on those lists will get a lot done, but often fail to deliver significant results. Leaders who consider what is most important during these times, highest-impact actions are will create long-term value and be exceptionally successful. In turn, it is imperative you review your own mindset and thoughts and I add techniques on this as well as how to keep your people productive and positive.
One of the best habits that will help you in this pursuit is to develop a personal weekly planning and mindset process. By taking the time to plan your week, you can identify the best use of your time and energy and organise yourself for success.
Here’s how I plan my week on Sunday night so that I can hit the ground running Monday morning with confidence and motivation.
1. Do a mindset map.
The first thing I do anytime I’m thinking about the bigger picture and trying to plan is I do a mindset map. This process walks through a list of prompts in different categories, looking for things I’m trying to remember and commitments I’ve made (what scientists call cognitive load), and gets them out onto paper. This gets the distractions out of my head so I can focus better on the work at hand. In turn, I also do a mindset map on things that are disempowering – do I have any ANTs (Automatic Negative Thoughts) that are not serving me? I write them down and delete them from my mind. Then I write positive and powerful affirmations for instance at present it is – “I have got this!”. It’s vital to have a great mindset.
2. Review the week to come.
My next step is to review the coming week’s schedule and look at what I have scheduled and where I can block time to do my own work which is important for my long-term goals. In turn, I make sure I have scheduled daily meetings and time to check on my team and team members each day to make sure I am there for them. It is important during this time to schedule more time in my diary for calls and Zoom meetings (I put my camera on!) to make sure we are all energised and focused on our priorities and goals as well as sharing something funny or inspirational.
If my plan is not well organised, I request changes to free up continuous time in my calendar to create focused time and to optimise. I also set up habits into my diary, so I have time for self-development and exercise. I also use my Leadership Planner to help me set up my week and month.
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3. Schedule Time for the Team and Yourself.
I mentioned above that it is important to schedule more time with your team and for yourself during this time. It is important that you are looking after your team and yourself. An engaged team during these challenging times is a high-performance team!
Every day, I schedule a morning and afternoon call with my team (this depends on the team numbers so empower your direct reports to do the same).
I ask them these questions –
Morning – How are you feeling? What are you focusing on today? How can I help you? What do you need from me today?
Afternoon – How are you feeling? How did you go today? Any learnings, successes and lessons? What are you focusing on tomorrow? How can I help? Thank you for your great work.
I also send my team emails, messages and thank you cards to tell them how much they mean to me too.
I have now scheduled new and better habits into my day and diary with a real focus on affirmations, visualising, journaling, reading, creative time and exercise. As leaders we need to put the oxygen masks on ourselves more today than ever. This will only serve us for the future.
Still working on new habits on wine o’clock but give me a few weeks!
4. Reflect on the last week/s.
Once I have a good grasp on the week/s, I look back at the last week or two and see if there are any open items or actions from previous events that I may have missed. This often happens. I always look for opportunities to write quick thank-you notes and to confirm any actions or plans coming out of previous meetings. I’ll also take this time to reflect on what went well and what didn’t, and how I can improve my schedule, mindset and planning going forward.
5. Check your longer-term goals.
One thing to help me move forward is to check and review my long-term goals and objectives. Recently due to the complexities of work and life since COVID, things have shifted slightly and for many have shifted a lot. Based on where I want to be at the end of each month or even each quarter which is ideal, I check to see where I need to make progress and set tasks for the coming week/s. One of my long-terms goals for instance is to write another book which is important to my work. In turn, I’ll also reach out to people with whom I need to coordinate or collaborate to schedule time or set up meetings. Don’t let these challenging times stop you from achieving or checking your long-term goals – use it for fuel to achieve them!
6. Sort by urgency and impact.
Once I have my tasks, goals and reminders written down, I begin to sort and organise. I’ll make notes on them and then sort them by two major criteria. First is urgency, which is how critical the task is to this week. Basically, if I push it off to next week, will it cause problems for me or others? The second criteria is impact, which is how much value this task creates for me in the short and long term. At present I am doing better on being vigilant on what is important such as my well-being, family, work focus and team and what is not such as social media and being worried about what is not in my control.
If I’ve done things correctly, my schedule and mindset will be where it needs to be to be the best person I can be, and I will have a plan for how the week will unfold.
I will also have several time blocks for focused work, grouping similar tasks so that I can stay in the same mindset and minimise task-switching which is vital for the brain.
Of course, life happens, and on Monday morning something unexpected could come up and I’ll need to replan everything. And that’s fine. I will also be prepared and resilient for things that might not be part of my week or plan.
The value of planning is not that a plan will execute perfectly. It’s that when it doesn’t, you’ll understand what’s on your plate, what your priorities are, and how you want to re-organise things to stay on plan.
Always remember you are doing the best you can, work is only work and we don’t define ourselves from our work. What defines us is our values, leadership and character. Always be and do your best and stay true to yourself.
We are only human.
What are your tips for Starting Off Your Week Brilliantly?!
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Learn more at https://soniamcdonald.com.au/ and https://leadershiphq.com.au/