Before a pilot jumps in the cockpit, he or she will always conduct pre-flight planning. It takes between one and ten hours to plan a single mission in the fighter pilot world, depending on its complexity. Pre-flight planning includes researching the target or destination, route of flight, weather, aircraft maintenance records, fuel, and so on.
Imagine what would happen if a pilot said, “We don’t need to do our pre-flight planning; we’re just going to wing it today!” In the fighter pilot world, that would result in chaos, misalignment, confusion, and botched goals – not good!
How many times do people go into their week without a plan and expect a different result than pilots would get without doing their pre-flight planning? Just as pre-flight planning is critical for a pilot, pre-week planning is just as essential when people want to take control of their lives and make sure that they do what matters most.
Pre-week planning is far more than just penciling in your important to-do items throughout the week. This focused planning activity is the key to proactively scheduling your priorities rather than prioritizing your schedule.
In the spirit of good-better-best, take whatever planning approach you are using today and see how pre-week planning can enhance it and lead to better results.
Here are the four key steps to effectively do pre-week planning.
Step 1 – Review your vision and long-range goals
Take a few minutes to review your overall vision and goals, then ask yourself what you can do this week towards accomplishing your goals. By first reviewing your vision and goals, you are looking at them and taking in the 30,000-foot view of where things stand at least one time each week. This puts you in an elite statistical number of people — only 1 percent of people regularly revisit their vision and goals.
Step 2 – List your roles
Identify the five to seven roles that matter most to you (personal, manager, parent, spouse, etc.). This approach helps you plan your week through the lens of what matters most in each role, rather than just thinking about your professional role. It also empowers a person to have a balance of success stories across each area of their lives.
“By Failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin
Step 3 – Set action items for each role
Whether you call them action items or weekly goals, the bottom line is that you have a personal brainstorm with yourself to determine what actions matter most in the coming week for each role. Imagine how powerful that is to sit down each weekend for a few minutes and identify specific actions that matter most in each of your important roles! Completing step three of pre-week planning can enhance almost anything you might already be doing when planning. It could be as simple as planning a date night, sending a note to your son or daughter, scheduling an important client interaction, and so on.
Step 4 – Schedule a time for each action item
Whether you use a weekly planner or an electronic calendar, this step is when you assign a time on your calendar for the coming week for each action item.
These four simple steps allow you to schedule your priorities rather than prioritize your schedule. That is what differentiates it from every other planning process out there.
What’s the impact?
A person who does pre-week planning accomplishes an average of 20 to 30 more activities/tasks during the week (with less stress) than someone who doesn’t. Over a month, that equates to an additional 80–120 activities. In a year, that equates to an additional 900–1,200 items that are important to you!
On paper, those are numbers. Yet, every one of those numbers represents a meaningful activity that you’ve accomplished in your life. It could represent exercise, a gesture of kindness to your spouse, an important activity related to your job, taking care of a client or team member, or spending quality time with a son or daughter.
Imagine the cumulative impact of maintaining the habit of pre-week planning for the rest of your life. By making pre-week planning a habit, you empower yourself to consistently do the things that matter most in your life while finding time that you didn’t know you had.