4 ways to improve your weekly planning and reduce overtime

Weekly Planning

Does your weekly planning set you up for success, or does it feel like a waste of time?

Most workers spend 4 – 10 hours weekly in meetings and receive over 100 emails daily, and the volume of messages sent through tools like MS Team and Slack continues to rise.

With so much time spent on communication and collaboration, are you ever left struggling to find a few hours for focus work?

More often than not, this work gets pushed out day after day until it becomes urgent – and very stressful.

The alternative is to do your focus work in the evenings and weekends. And with 53% of people regularly working overtime, this is a popular choice.

But there is a third option. Plan your week to maximise the time spent on high-value work.

That’s not to say that all of your work isn’t somewhat valuable; it’s just that there will be some things you do that will create a more significant impact and more progress than others.

If you’re unsure how to plan your week or if your current way of planning is creating the results you like, read on. I will share the top ways to make your best weekly plan.

Get a head start on your weekly plan.

Most people plan their week on a Monday morning or the end of the previous week.

This timeline is fine if most of your work is solo and you don’t have much interaction with other colleagues, customers or suppliers as part of your role.

However, many of us open the calendar to plan our week and see meetings and tasks assigned by others.

Planning at the start of the week or the very end of the previous week leaves little or no opportunity to change these commitments because they are due within the coming days.

The result is that we try to fill the open gaps with our work and hope that everything fits.

A better option is to draft your plan on Wednesday for the following week. This approach allows you to block out time on your calendar for priority work before it gets filled by others.

Follow the 70:30 rule of planning.

It can be tempting when planning your week to try and clear your to-do list. But while this may look great on paper, it’s not always realistic.

 Packing your plan with known activities and meetings leaves no room for unplanned time spent working with others and dealing with new things that come up during the week. Not to mention, you have no wiggle room if a task takes longer than expected.

Instead, aim to plan 70% of your week and ensure the most important stuff is covered. You can tackle other items on your list when you have free time throughout the week.

Learn from your planning mistakes

One of the benefits of planning is that it captures your expectations at a point in time.

Whether you plan your week on paper, your calendar, or another way, save a copy of the plan once you have finished creating it.

At the end of the week, compare this to what actually happened. Did everything go as planned?


 This exercise allows you to identify when moving away from the plan was the right thing to do and when sticking to it would have been better. Use this learning to improve your weekly planning a little bit every time.

Set a time and avoid procrasti-planning

Some people avoid planning at all costs – while others use it as a procrastination method to avoid doing other work.

Whichever camp you fall into it, setting a timer can help. Commit to spending 30 minutes weekly on planning, which is plenty of time for a good enough plan to be created while allowing you to get on with the rest of your work relatively quickly.

The final step is to get started! You now have more information on planning your week, so it’s time to put it into practice. Get planning and set yourself up for a better workday.