Planning is essential for a productive week
For achieving more with the habit of shipping something every day you need planning. I have created a simple A4 which you can download and use to plan a week ahead. It's optimised for both productivity and being proactive about what to work on.
How planning helps you to be proactive and productive
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act but a habit."
This Christmas holiday I was re-reading "7 habits of highly effective people" by Stephen Covey, the first habit he talks in the book is being proactive. I couldn't find anything that would suit me, so decided to do a printable A4 which is basically a weekly planner.
By planning the week ahead and allocating the time periods for work you can actually do this work and cut the distractions. There are a lot of other items involved in removing the distractions, but I found planning was the best tool.
Without adequate planning, you simply jump between tasks, check emails every 10 minutes and try to multi-task as much as possible. Multi-tasking doesn't work long-term and for me, it was one of the biggest sources of anxiety.
How to use the productive week planner
- On Sunday evening download and print out the A4 version.
- Plan at least 20-30 minutes in the evening, and also preferable if no-one distracts you.
- Reflect the current week, check any distractions, long-term goals and priorities.
- On a draft paper, make a list of your priorities, they aren't likely to change week per week, but still.
- Select 1 priority for the following categories: Work, Family / Social, Health, Self-development. Write them down to the list of priorities on the left.
- Write down any planned meetings for the week that you know about.
- While checking your priorities, allocate enough time each day to work on these priorities. For your health, it could be a gym session, for the family it can be a date time with your spouse or visit your parents.
- Make sure you don't plan all available time in advance, keep some slack time too, which you can fill with the items from your priorities list. If you don't leave free time you'd be frustrated when some important meeting you forgot about ruins all your planned timetable.
- It's an extra point but for each day list at least 1 thing that you can ship (publish). It's one of my NY resolutions, it's simple and challenging, but very powerful. More on this below.
- Every evening check the plan for tomorrow and see if it makes sense.
Why shipping something every day
There are few reasons for this. As I've mentioned in another blog post, it's both simple and challenging, but very powerful.
You can keep your momentum on whatever you've planned. Every day you need to work on the product. It can be anything: release the new feature, or bug fix, or blog post, or whatever it is you want to do.
Also, it has a positive psychological cycle. For me, the most depressing times are when I reflect my week and don't see anything or only a few small things were released. It destroys all motivation. But, by using this powerful habit I can turn it around and see that every single day I have made more and more progress towards my goals.
It doesn't have to be something huge. A few days ago I shipped a new favicon to this blog. But the other day I shipped the feature I was delaying for 4 months! The funny thing is that it only took me more than 1 hour to code and ship it.
It keeps your focus. I'm a huge procrastinator, but the habit of shipping every day makes me think about everything I do every day. Before starting the activity I ask myself - will it contribute to something I can ship either today or in the future. By using this habit I've started to spend less time on sites such as HackerNews and other forums. The focus changed to creating more.