One seemingly small change I made to my routines over the last year was to start using my Sundays differently. Previously, I’d use Sundays to just relax. It was my last weekend day, so I didn’t want to get up to too much.

This felt like it was best for relaxing, but in reality, because I wasn’t preparing for the week ahead, I ended up being more calm on Sundays and less relaxed throughout the week. I was unprepared as my workload increased, I sometimes had overlapping meetings, and I wasn’t focused on the right projects for my priorities and goals. I was just getting caught up in the chaos.

Now, I’m trying to optimize for feeling more calm consistently, and that looks a little different. Here’s why taking a few moments to plan has helped me better achieve my goals and balance my workload, and exactly what I do on Sundays to help myself reset and go into a fresh week with intention.

Why I take time to plan for the week ahead

I started doing a weekly review every Sunday in 2023 as a part of my year of becoming a planner (not just a doer). In addition to the weekly review, I spend a small chunk of time planning for the week ahead. It’s not a huge investment — usually about 30 minutes total, including my weekly review.

This small routine has been so powerful for me. As my work has changed and shifted and I’ve taken more on (managing others, bigger projects, joining leadership discussions), it’s been important to keep on top of my projects and priorities and not get caught up and sucked into a flurry of action when the week starts and kick off my week without any intention.

Weekly planning helps me get a bird’s eye view of what I need to move forward every week, both at work and in my life more broadly. I take a few minutes to outline priorities, look at my calendar, make sure it all supports my priorities, and plan out my to-do list. This last step is helpful for workload planning (making sure I only keep a reasonable number of things on my to-do list for any given day) because otherwise, I would default to scheduling most of my tasks for Mondays, and that didn’t always lead to me feeling like I could start the week strong.

Some people say this planning should happen on Monday when you’re back at work, but Sundays just work better for me. I don’t want to spend Mondays easing into the week and deciding what I’ll work on; I want to be ready to hit the ground running.

What I do on Sundays to plan

Here’s exactly how I spend my planning time on Sundays.

Review my projects, priorities, and goals

I start out by taking a look at my goals for the year. How are they going? Which ones will I need to move forward for the week? I also take a look at my priorities for work and the projects I have on the go. Which of those needs to move forward to keep on track?

All of these things are kept in various Notion databases that I can easily access to check. This step would take a lot longer if I hadn’t already taken the time to outline work priorities and set my goals for the year.

→ Here’s more about how I set goals

Set priorities for the week

After taking stock of what is going to need to get done this week in terms of work priorities but also personal goals, I can take a moment to set my priorities for the week. I currently do this all in Notion with a new database item for the week, and then each section (work, personal, side-projects) gets one to two priorities for the week. However, I’ve also done this in a notebook that I’ve left on my desk in the past. Digital systems are better suited to my habits and personality, but either could work.

Review my calendar

Knowing my priorities, I take a moment to review my calendar. Do I have enough focus time blocked off on my work calendar if I’m going to be writing that week? Is there anything I need to get done to get closer to my goals that has to happen on a specific day? I’m essentially just playing Tetris with my calendar and all of the things I want to get done to make sure they fit in, and I can still do basic human things like sleep and eat.

Review my to-do list

Finally, I review my to-do list. I tend to have absolutely everything I need to get done on my to-do list on any given day. Everything from my habits and reminders to actual tasks for work. I’ve fallen into the trap before where I’ll schedule all of my work tasks for Mondays, and that isn’t always the nicest start to the week. Now, I take a few minutes to move things around based on my calendar and priorities so that I have the correct tasks showing up on the days they truly need to be done.

This process got easier with time as I got faster at reviewing my to-do list, not scheduling all of my tasks for Mondays, and was in a solid routine with my calendar. This is also only possible because I have clarity on my goals for the year as well as my work projects and priorities listed clearly in one place I can reference.

This one change in choosing to use Sunday as a time when I’ll fill out my weekly agenda has turned Sundays into a time I cherish when I am intentionally planning for the upcoming week and reflecting on the last week. This has been so helpful in me feeling calmer on any given week, but also in making sure I’m truly moving towards what I want to be achieving in life and at work.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.