Monday mornings used to panic me. Like you, I’m juggling a LOT of balls! Kids, work, plus a business plus the ridiculously long list of chores and errands that are associated with having a life and a home!
It wasn’t a good feeling 🙂
Sometimes I used to feel that the week had beaten me before I’d even got started. I was always playing catch-up. I’d often work too many hours and my work-life balance was shot. My health took a back seat, I didn’t have enough time for my kids, and at times, my husband and I were like passing ships!
Something had to change.
It’s one of the things that got me hooked on all things productivity 🙌.
When I learned how to work smarter [not harder] and I mastered tricks and tips to help me get more done in less time, I started to lose that Monday morning panic.
Instead, I took back control.
And one tool that changed everything for me was the Weekly Action Pad from BestSelf.co. It’s a tool I’ve been using routinely for the best part of a year.
This tool is deceivingly simple, but don’t be fooled! Packed in this ‘one-page success tool’ is a process that will help you win the week and move closer to your goals.
Let me tell you what it is and how you can use it too to help you plan your week for more success, productivity, and happiness.
The Weekly Action Pad is like a to-do list – on steroids!
But rather than making a l-o-n-g list of tasks, the Weekly Action Pad guides you to structure your to-dos using the following categories:
- Due dates
- Time estimates
- Checkbox [woohoo!]
Trust me, this system is a revelation!
I’ve always been a list-maker. I think it’s the task master in me! I enjoy having a list of things to do – and then checking them off when they’re done. The accomplishment gives me a weird boost of achievement that makes me feel good!
[I know, the simple things!!]
But there was a problem…
My to-do list used to scare me. It was always so long and it was rare that I’d ever get everything checked off. As a result, I always felt behind. I didn’t feel that I was doing enough and that knocked my confidence and self-esteem.
Worse still, this task backlog and overwhelm caused my relationships to suffer. I never had ‘time’ for other people or myself. Even when I was taking time with my family, my mind would be preoccupied or distracted by all the things I hadn’t done.
In short, my to-do list didn’t get me organized.
It just piled on the stress!
Which is why I fell in love with the Weekly Action Pad [or WAP – as I affectionately call it!]
The WAP forces you to view your to-do lists tasks through an entirely different lens.
Instead of juggling a massive, unachievable list, the WAP helps you organize and prioritize. More importantly, it only holds tasks you commit to doing in the next 7 days.
^ that right there was a game-changer for me!
Suddenly my to-do list shrank – simply because everything that could wait was parked somewhere else. As a result, I felt less overwhelmed and more motivated to get to it… because my week felt achievable.
And my productivity soared.
1. Create your master to-do list
The first step to making the WAP work for you is to create your master to-do list. You can do this on pen and paper, in your bullet journal, or even in a Google doc – whatever works for you.
To be clear, your master to-do list is a list of EVERYTHING you have to get done (or you don’t want to forget). Importantly, don’t restrict your list to work tasks alone. In addition, include all your personal stuff. For example, I’ll write down things such as doctor appointments, food prep time, as well as errands, time with kids, and anything else that’s going to take my time.
The goal here is twofold. Firstly, this step will clear your head – so you can free up maximum bandwidth.
It’s crazy how much I used to rely on my memory to remember stuff. I had no clue how much mental energy this stole from me. And when you have a lot to do, you want maximum headspace to tackle it, right?
Secondly, by writing down everything, you can make sure you plan everything. It’s a step in the right direction for work-life balance and self-care. Since using the WAP, my work-life balance has improved by a mile.
2. Identify the tasks you’ll complete this week
Next, look through your master list and identify ALL the tasks you want to complete in the next seven days – and write them onto your Weekly Action Plan.
A good tip is to organize your tasks by PROJECT. For example, I have:
- A collection for different clients
- A collection for OTHER (generally one-off work projects)
- A collection for home
- You get the picture 🙂
Instead of a disorganized list of unrelated tasks, you now have a sense of what you have to do for each of your projects/areas of focus. It’s a simple way to create a calmer, more organized mind.
3. Mark up your due dates
Not all tasks are completed equally. It’s the 80/20 rule where 20% of your effort will deliver 80% of your results.
I’ve found you’ll always be most productive and effective when you focus on the highest leverage tasks. The first step to identifying these is to mark on your DUE DATES.
With your deadlines listed on your WAP, you can get a feel for when you must complete each task. This is such a smart move! In the past, I used to forget tasks – then have to rush them at the last minute. This created so much stress and pressure. But with my WAP, I can organize my week and plan my time so I’m never rushing at the last-minute [unless I want to.]
4. Prioritize your tasks
Next, use the PRIORITY column to identify how important each task is. I like to use:
- TOP priority – I MUST do these tasks urgently (without fail, zero excuses!)
- IMPORTANT – Still important, but I have more leeway
- DELEGATE – these are tasks I want to get done, but someone else can do them for me.
- DUMP – on reflection, these tasks don’t move the needle and I can scratch them off my list
This simple exercise helps you get clear on what tasks will make the most impact on your goals and your life.
In the past, I used to work through my list from top to bottom or I’d focus on the low hanging fruit because I wanted my list to look shorter! The problem with this approach is the most important tasks just didn’t get done.
But figure out your priorities and you can end each day feeling in control and accomplished – even if you only achieved a handful of items.
5. Estimate timeframes
Have you ever completely over-estimated how much you can get done in a day?
In the past, rather than making a list that felt achievable, I’d make a list that would make me feel accomplished. The only trouble was, by lunchtime it was clear there wasn’t a chance I’d work through everything – and so my motivation and enthusiasm plummeted.
Time estimates ensure you don’t set yourself up to fail.
Simply write down how many minutes you think each task will take (don’t worry if you’re wildly wrong in the beginning, this is a skill you will sharpen the more you do it.)
Then when it comes to planning your day [Step 6] you’ll be able to take better decisions about when you do each task. You wont overbook yourself and you will get more done.
6. E/N/D Formula
Have you noticed how some tasks energize you, other tasks drain you, and some tasks have no impact at all?
This awareness is at the heart of the E/N/D formula. When you know which tasks:
- E – energize
- D – drain
- N – neutral
Use these categories and you can make better decisions about when you plan to do each task.
For example, if you know that writing a blog post energizes you, you can schedule this task for the post-lunch slump. Similarly, if you know calling your accountant will drain you, schedule this task for when you have high energy.
It’s a simple categorization that boosts your productivity – significantly.
7. Plan your day
Here’s where your WAP gets really interesting.
With your tasks categorized into due dates, priorities, time estimates, and energizing capabilities, you can plan each day far more intentionally.
Forget picking a task at random!
Instead, you’ll find it easy to pinpoint the task you need to do now, next, and later.
- Priorities keep the needle moving
- Due dates ensure nothing is late or forgotten
- Time estimates help you maximize your time and squander fewer minutes
- The E/N/D formula helps use your energy wisely for maximum impact
^ how amazing is that!
Use with your bullet journal or SELF Journal
Use your WAP to take care of your weeks so you can make more robust plans in your daily spreads.
Simply transfer tasks onto your daily timelines – and make awesome happen 🙂
It’s a powerful way to be more productive – without losing your sanity!
If you want to be more productive and take back control of your week, I recommend the Weekly Action Pad from BestSelf.co.
Each pack contains 52 weekly templates – so you have enough to last an entire year. Each template tears off so you can file old plans and stick new ones on your wall. Sure, you could draw up the template yourself, but it isn’t the same. What’s more, the time and money spent on designing and printing can be better spent elsewhere (in my opinion!)
My pad lives on my desk, it looks ace, and makes me feel productive just by looking at it!
The paper is of great quality too, which – if you’re stationery obsessed [like me] matters a lot!
The Weekly Action Pad retails at just $19.99, but as a Productive & Pretty fan, you can save 15%.
Simply use WAP 15 at checkout.
It’s a small price to pay for such a powerful and impactful tool.
Of all the productivity tools I have in my toolbox, this is one of my absolute favorites 🙂
I hope you love it as much as I do. Remember to let me know your thoughts if you grab a pad too.