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2020 Reflections: Part 2—Planning My Weeks Ahead of Time

gsuite workflow Jan 11, 2021

Back for more of “what worked in 2020.” This one I admittedly didn’t have nailed down until later in the year, but it helped SO MUCH. And when I look back, I definitely made baby steps of progress toward getting a system in place for this, but I hope I can save you some time and give you the short cut. Just do this—implement it now—if you don’t already do something similar.  

But first, I need to be transparent and let you know that some links are affiliate links which means if you buy, I may receive a small commission from the sale. This does not cost you anything. I only recommend products I 100% believe in.

2020 Reflections: Part 2 

My Sunday Evening Planning Ritual

A couple of months ago I actually sent out an email about my Sunday evening planning ritual. And full disclosure, I call it a "ritual" because it makes me feel fancy and helps me view it as a privilege and something enjoyable. A form of self-care. Which… it is. You are totally caring for yourself and setting your week up for success by implementing something like this. But you can call it whatever you want.

I say I made baby step progress toward it because I was half-ass doing this most of the year, but some weeks I’d skip it, or not really make it a priority, and man, I paid for it during those weeks. So did my family. Which is not cool. So I decided near the 4th quarter that I was going to make this a thing. And that’s when I started calling it a ritual, and treating it like something sacred. A sacred weekly habit. 

Side note on habits for a sec...

I learned about 5 years ago the power that habits can have on your happiness, and I owe it all to Gretchen Rubin, from her books The Happiness Project and Better Than Before. In both of her books and on her podcast, Happier, she talks a lot about habit pairing. I pair this habit with writing this ol' here blog. Every Sunday, I plan out my week & then I get to writing this blog. In the near future, I'll be switching over to recording podcasts... stay tuned.

Alright.. back to the weekly planning ritual.

If you're like me and you don't like being blindsided by the week, something like my weekly planning ritual might be just what you need. 

This process helps me be super intentional and sit down to really look at what's coming up in the week and get real with myself about how much a can actually accomplish.

I open up my 3 main tools:

  • Passion Planneryes, writing things down helps me be intentional, and I love paper. So...using the weekly pages, I open up a new blank week and fill in the dates 
  • Google CalendarI open up my google calendar (I have actually shared my personal Gmail calendar with my work Gsuite calendar so all of my appointments are on one calendar. But I also sometimes have to check my iPhone for the calendar I share with my partner, because that's where I put my personal appointments he needs to know about so he knows he's on Dad-duty.
  • Asana—I open My Tasks in Asana and look at the calendar view so I can see what's coming up in the next couple of weeks. Shout out to The Workflow Queen's Kickoff With Asana Course for helping me master using Asana.

And then I get to work looking at the appointments and CPE scheduled on my calendar (this time of year is a CPE crunch for me... my goal is to do an hour a day on average until December 31.) 

...this really helps prioritize things when something extra pops up. I can decide if it fits with my focus for the week or if it should be pushed out.

  1. I write in everything that is set in stone on my calendar and color code personal vs. biz related vs. CPE
  2. I write in a main focus for the week. Sometimes it's two—the week that I wrote this email it was Client Month End & CPE. This week is the second week of January, so... Same! Except Year End. This is a feature in the weekly passion planner. And this really helps prioritize things when something extra pops up. I can decide if it fits with my focus for the week or if it should be pushed out.
  3. I have a personal To-Do list and a work To-Do list, where I list just a couple key tasks that I don't want to forget about, even if they are in Asana. These would be major priorities like "schedule meeting with x client" or "mail Grammy's birthday present"
  4. I have a small habit tracker for my top 3 daily habits I'm working on:
    • Workout
    • Journal
    • CPE
  5. I fill in some random ideas in the blank space that I've been thinking about, and don't want to forget.
  6. Then I look at last week's spread and see if there's anything I need to carry over that didn't get done. (usually, yes.)
  7. Pull up Asana—My Tasks, check off stuff that I've already done & forgot to check off, and then shift things around for the days that my calendar is less full on.
    • For instance, this week is crazy full—Friday is theoretically "open" but it's a due date for Tax Estimates so I'm keeping it that way in case last minute stuff creeps up.
    • Tuesday is the only day other than Friday that I don't have client or team meetings, but I do have a personal appointment. Then I'll be prepping later in the day for a client onboarding meeting on Wednesday morning (yay for new clients!)
  8. Then I take a step back, look at everything and tally up how much time I have booked on the calendar. Looks like this week I have about 4 hours of client meetings, which usually means another 1-2 hours of prep time associated with those... I currently have a team performing most of the bookkeeping, but I still have to review and analyze prior to meeting with our clients, plus some other things to manage and coordinate. We have a weekly huddle every Monday morning to go over what we all have going on that week and our plan of action to get it done, troubleshoot anything people are stuck on and so on. It's actually my favorite part of the week, and has been a huge help in keeping us all accountable and less stressed, because we all have each others' backs.

All in all, I plan to work about 10 hours next week on my firm. Deciding how many hours I will work is a new practice—in an effort to keep myself focused and less distracted when I do sit down to get ish done.

When you reduce the amount of time you give yourself to get stuff done, you tend to be more productive with the time you have. Or, you can look at it from the other perspective (Parkinson's Law): work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.

Having the week planned out also helps with this, so that when I do get to sit down at my desk, I know exactly what I need to focus on.

This planning ritual takes me about 15-20 minutes, depending on how many times the kids (or partner) interrupt me. 

So this Sunday planning ritual and the Monday team huddles are sacred. They are weekly habits that can’t be broken. We even kept the meetings on the calendar during the two weeks of holidays, in case anyone needed something from me or wanted to hop into the zoom, though it wasn’t required.

So now I'd love for you to come join the convo on Instagram. Let me know if you'll be implementing the Sunday Planning Ritual or if you already have something similar going on. I've actually just updated my handle to @ambitiousbookkeeper (previously @serenashoupcpa). Lots of fun changes happening around here!

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