Four Questions at the Heart of Powerful Weekly Planning

Honest reflection precedes high performance.

by Colter Reed
2:07 read (647 words)
Reviewing the past and previewing the future creates the heart of planning.
by Colter Reed
2:07 read (647 words)
Reviewing the past and previewing the future creates the heart of planning.

Janus was the Roman god of transition, of beginnings and endings. From his name, we get January—the beginning of the new year.

He’s commonly depicted as having two faces, ever looking back at the past, ever looking forward to the future.

Could he be the role model for weekly planning? His unique perspective holds the key to a highly productive week.

The first step in weekly planning is to review the week beind you. Make sure there are no open loops. What important commitments do you need to act on? What do you need to remember? What do you need to celebrate?

It’s a chance to reflect and make sure you’ve dotted your i’s and crossed your t’s before shifting to the weekly preview section of your weekly planning.

We don’t stop there, of course. What’s past is prologue. We use what’s happened to inform the decisions we make about the week ahead of us.

Last week, you had a plan. Maybe you wanted to write a certain number of words or spend time developing a hobby. Maybe you just wanted to survive the week. Whether it was intricately detailed or “wing it”, you had a plan.

How well did your plan for the week translate into the results you wanted for the week?

Specifically, there are four questions you want to ask yourself:

  • What will you keep doing? If you got the results you were after, keep it up! You’ve found something that works.
  • What will you improve? There are two kinds of improvements to think about: bad to good and good to better. A simple tweak can redeem a failed strategy or help a successful strategy really take off.
  • What will you stop doing? You’re doing something that’s holding you back. It’s time to stop that activity to make room for something better. Don’t worry about the sunk costs: you made the best decision you could at the time. What decision will you make now that you know more?
  • What will you start doing? If you want to achieve something you’ve never achieved before, you need to start doing something you’ve never done before. With the time, energy, and resources you just freed up, what will you add?

(Note the K.I.S.S. acronym in there. Keep/Improve/Stop/Start is just as useful as Keep It Stupidly Simple.)

Side note: If you didn’t work your plan, you can’t evaluate your plan. A good plan poorly executed is a different problem to solve than a terrible plan perfectly done.

Now look at the goals you’re working on this quarter. How are you going to make progress on them this week? Draft a plan for the coming week.

Weekly planning is part review and part preview. We are the sum of the actions we’ve taken in the past. Those steps have lead us here. We learn from the past, but we don’t live in it.

Everything we’ve done up until this point is preparation for what we do next. You started your weekly planning by connecting with the past. Now look to the future.

Question: How do you set your vision for where you want to be this time next week? Share your thoughts in the comments, on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook.