We are constantly on the go. Every day seems like an endless list of things to do and places to go and it's hard to feel like you have a grasp on everything. Sometimes it pays to slow down a little so you can speed up later.
Before we can do weekly preparation we need to have a good grasp on our activities and priorities. The first thing you need to know is what is most important to you. If you were to look down at your day to day activities from 30,000 feet in the air what major categories or areas of responsibility stand out?
These could be things like being a parent, your job, a hobby, or volunteering activities. Typically our activities can be boiled down to a few larger categories. Stop right now and think about your daily/weekly activities and see what categories they fit in. List your categories and try to keep it to less than 4.
Looking at those categories, ask yourself how important those things are to you. When trying to live a life of purpose and excellence we need to be somewhat choosy about the things we spend our time on. Our time is finite. Do you find yourself spending an inordinate amount of time doing things that aren't fulfilling or energizing? Maybe you should figure out how to eliminate some of those activities or entire categories altogether.
You probably don't need to review these areas of responsibility weekly but it's good to do from time to time to ensure you are focused on the things most important to you.
Now that you have a good idea of what areas of responsibility you have, you can make a list of all the projects you have in each area. For the sake of this exercise, we'll think of a project as any outcome that requires 2 or more actions to complete.
We're not too concerned about the individual tasks at this point. We only need a list of the projects. This list is going to be the basis for your weekly prep.
Every week set aside 10 minutes to go through this list and make sure this is updated and accurate for the coming week. Make this an appointment with yourself that can't be moved. For this to be helpful it has to become a habit or at least a hard date and time that happens each week.
The other part of prepping for your week is to review your calendar. It's a good idea to put events and appointments on a calendar rather than on a list. A good rule of thumb is if it is going to happen at a certain time, put that on a calendar.
This may not seem like much but this will give you some context and appreciation for everything you have to do for the coming week.
Make a plan
Now that you have a good overview of what is going to be required of you for the next week and when some of those things need to happen (events) you can make a plan on when to do the other things.
Not everyone is a project/task list person and that's fine, but even making a tentative plan of what you're going to do will help you see if you're over-booked. This will also bring some clarity to your week and give your brain a little rest.
If you are over-booked then this is a great time to renegotiate those responsibilities with yourself and others to ensure you can actually do what needs to be done and not run yourself into the ground. Maybe you can get away with not doing that thing, postponing it until later or having someone else do it. Delegation is awesome.
What does this have to do with fitness?
It's important to us that you have a high quality of life. This means doing more of the things you love and less of the things you don't. It also means keeping your stress levels low. Elevated stress increases the levels of Cortisol, a stress hormone, in your body.
Elevated Cortisol can lead to
- prolonged healing times
- heightened vulnerability to viral infection
- impared cognition
- decreased thryroid function
- accumulation of body fat
So take a few minutes each week to give yourself some context for the week and make a plan. By taking 10 minutes once a week to review your weekly obligations you can save yourself time, energy and reduce overall stress.
Many of the ideas in this post are based on the David Allen book "Getting Things Done." I highly recommend it, not to follow his system exactly but to use it to develop some good habits on making the most of your time and life.