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How To Plan Your Week When You Have Tons To Do

How to Plan Your WeekHave you ever been told you should just focus on one thing at a time? It’s way easier said than done, and if you enjoy having multiple projects on the go you are certainly not alone. I’m the same way, and today I’m going to share how to plan your week.

I have tried to focus on one thing at a time in the past, and it just doesn’t work for me. I thrive on juggling a few different projects at a time, and I think that’s perfectly okay as long as you’re finishing what you’re starting.

That’s where my basket system comes in handy.

My basket system is how I plan my week, and bring a bit of balance to the multiple projects I work on at any given time.

In today’s episode of She Takes on the World TV I’m walking you through this basket system so it can help you better plan your week too.

Watch the episode below (or click here):

Now I want to hear from you!

In a comment below, I want to hear from you! What’s your strategy for planning your week and how do you juggle multiple projects at once?

32 thoughts on How To Plan Your Week When You Have Tons To Do Leave a reply

  1. Chivon John

    I love this system Natalie! I’m part of the ‘project juggling club’ and use post it notes as well to plan out my work, but I’ve never tried grouping them in this way. I like the concept of visually showing which areas are getting more focus week over week so I’ll definitely try that out. Thanks for the tip!

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  2. Laura Martin Freeman

    I can see this being very helpful with my job as a social worker. I usually write out a to do list every Friday for the following week, but then the focus is on crossing off items. Your way would give me permission to work on more than one thing at a time and see my accomplishments before they’re actually complete. Might be more motivating. Thanks.

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    1. Laura G. Jones

      I’ve definitely found to-do lists to be very demotivating. I stop feeling like a creative powerhouse and start feeling like a mouse running on a never-ending wheel. It’s exhausting.

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      1. Natalie MacNeil

        You got it Laura Martin Freeman, I feel this is more fulfilling for me than crossing things off a to-do list which is how most people plan their days and their weeks. I’m reading your book right now, by the way! Trying to get it done before the end of the month :)

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  3. Libby

    Hi Natalie, this week has been crazy busy for me and I have been putting my feelers out for any advice I can get on managing time. I’m great at planning, love planning. I feel excited with each new day and I am fabulous at starting stuff, but I get distracted so easily. i find I have heaps HEAPS of resistance to some of my uni work lately and prefer to spend all my time on my new business, but I know finally achieving my degree in six months will be so incredibly valuable to the rest of my life and my biz. I sit here now at 1:03am after just finishing a huge research assignment, I’ve handed it in late.I have an inspiration board that is currently mostly ignored so i might put that to use for a visual project planner like you suggest. You’re such a sweetheart.

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    1. Laura G. Jones

      Aw Libby I know exactly what you feel like. When I used to go through that, I realized that it was really all tied to my desire to “decide” what I would be working on. I naturally hate being told what to do, and doing work for school just felt like I was being pushed into doing something I really didn’t want to do.

      I finally did something about it when I started having the same problem in my business – when I started just doing things because they “had to get done”, I lost enthusiasm and procrastinated by doing other things instead.

      I fixed this issue by asking myself “why do I want to do this?” and “do I really want this?” for everything I do. In the end, when I think about the pros and cons, I usually decide that yes, I do want to do this. That makes it look less like “imposed work” in my eyes and more like a personal choice that I’m willing to follow through with. It’s a trick that worked for me, along with some good old-fashioned mindfulness 😉 hope this helps you too!

      Reply
      1. Natalie MacNeil

        I can relate too Libby! I started my business when I was still finishing university and I had no passion for the school work I was doing. To keep my enthusiasm up for my business, I always made sure I got to spend a few hours a day working on it and sometimes that meant putting less effort into some school stuff. I’m not saying to slack on your education because earning a degree is obviously important to you! I was just always one of those people who wanted marks in the 90s, so when I realized I didn’t NEED to get marks that high I allowed my grades to drop a little so I had more time for my business which is what I knew I really wanted to do post-school. Sending you lots of love and positive vibes xo

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  4. Laura G. Jones

    Great video, Natalie! I am actually going to release a video and system on how to deal with the overwhelming feelings that come along when tackling a big project tomorrow. I love your basket system, and the general idea of keeping track of your time. I think it can give great perspective on what you really need to be doing and what you should consider letting go of.

    I personally also love being involved in multiple projects, but at the same time I do best when I “rotate my obsessions”. I will work on something specific for a day or a couple of days so that it’s constantly on my mind. Once I’m tired of working on that, I switch to the next project or part of the project that I’m tackling. This ensures that I get to go deep into every task and also never get too bored of something, but would give a lop-sided view of what I’m really spending my time on in your basket system.

    I’m curious if anyone else operates like me?

    Reply
    1. Natalie MacNeil

      Usually, that’s how my week goes too Laura. I usually don’t bounce from one project to another throughout the day. I usually do deep dives on something for a day and then switch. There are days when that doesn’t work because I’ll have to put out fires with client or something will come up, but when I’m on a roll with something I like to keep going. I look forward to seeing your video!

      Reply
  5. Claire Kerslake

    Loved this video Natalie! Can’t wait to try out your system. It looks like it would bring a real clarity to where you are on different projects as well as highlighting what is not getting done so I can look at why.

    Reply
    1. Natalie MacNeil

      Thank you Claire! I’m curious to see how other people shape it into their own system, and put their own little touches so give it a try and let me know what you come up with.

      Reply
  6. Ebonie Townsend

    This has been a major challenge in my career and personal life. In college I’d find myself struggling with my classes not because of the actual course work but because it was difficult appropriately distributing my time and effort to each course. I’d kill in one class and totally forget I was enrolled in another! Fast forward to my job, aside from the daily administrative tasks, of which I manage with an old fashioned hard copy to-do list, I also manage our company’s social media platforms and compose a bi-weekly newsletter. I’m finding myself faced with old challenges of not most effectively distributing my time and efforts. I’m a tech girl, and so I may try out Mind Map, but I do find some old school techniques to work for me. I’m going to try this out and keep you updated, Natalie. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    1. Natalie MacNeil

      Let me know how it works for you Ebonie. Put your own twist on it too and then let me know about it :) You’re definitely not alone in figuring out how to distribute your time and efforts!

      Reply
  7. Natasha Vorompiova

    Post-its ARE the best!! :) I use a reverse system, where I break my projects into manageable bites that I post on a board divided in a similar way. Once something gets done, the post-it gets peeled off. This helps me keep track of the areas, that need more work or where I fall behind.

    How do you keep track of your reoccurring tasks, Natalie? I use tasks in Google calendar, but find myself snoozing the reminders before I get it done. Keeping a notebook works much better for me. But maybe there are other approaches I should try?

    Reply
    1. Natalie MacNeil

      Thanks for sharing Natasha. I couldn’t live without my Google Calendar and Google Tasks because it syncs to my iPad and BlackBerry too so that helps a ton. I just love to use Post-Its and white boards and actually write things down for the week too because I’m such a visual person. My Post-Its are always bright, fun colors too!

      Reply
  8. Courtney Johnston

    This is great, Natalie!

    We must be in sync because I just wrote a post about this, too! I love your basket system. I use a similar, but digital version with a Google Spreadsheet (travelling and working in coffee shops makes it difficult for me to keep up with my home office).

    I especially loved the point you made in the beginning about how in a perfect world, you’d work on one project at a time but rather than wishing for that, it’s best to find a system that works for you!

    My post on this is here: http://www.rulebreakersclub.com/home/10-tips-for-juggling-multiple-projects-priorities.html

    Reply
  9. Sylvia

    Hey Natalie,
    I too have juggle multiple projects daily. I never thought about categorizing as you have done but I like the idea. I also like the fact that you pre plan on a Friday so you can be ready for action beginning Monday. Great idea! I am going to implement your system using a white board in my office and will keep you posted of the progress. Efficiency is so important and I am always looking for ways to improve. Love it!

    Reply
  10. Chocolate Therapy for Women

    Hi Natalie,

    By the way, I loved reading your She Takes on The World book. It was very helpful. I too struggle with how to manage my life and all of the projects I work on. I have tried many different approaches. The one that works best for me is to make a list of each role that I play and place what I need to do in the role for the week. Then I can go back and it gives me a sense of accomplishment when I can mark things off.

    Reply
  11. Liz at Human Nature

    I love to categorise my projects too! I usually have a bunch of things on the go at any one time, and I’ve found that a good way to avoid overwhelm is to keep my notes and lists for each project separate. That way I avoid having to see everything all in one place! This is a really interesting idea – I like that it allows you see what you’ve actually accomplished from your list of things to do. Feeling a sense of accomplishment is such an important thing for helping you to feel positive.

    Reply
  12. Rhonda

    I love this idea, Natalie. Thank you! I’m a visual organizer, and I could see using this to help plan out the activities as needed in groups on the chart, as well as after to see how I spent my time. Even though tech has been a tool for my planning and productivity, I’m still a paper user at times. Love me my Post-Its!

    Reply
  13. Monika Mundell

    Love this simple system Natalie. I’ve been using a Moleskine diary for many years and simply dump all my tasks into the weekly planner. I also use Google Calendar and reminders to remember appointments and stuff.

    I’m a very visual person. And I DIG colours. So I’ll definitely be using your system moving forward. Thanks so much for sharing. xx

    Reply
  14. Emma Weise

    Hey Natalie… I like the concept of planning my week out this way…
    A system that has helped me focus on the key things… is to have a little notebook (A6 size) that goes everywhere with me – and each day I write all the things I’m grateful for on the Left page and my “things” (things to do) on the right hand side… but if I adopt your system… I could capture the tasks for the week visually in my office – and then just note the KEY/Critical things I’ll do each day (vs writing similar items day after day – which can get a little frustrating)! I’m going to give it a shot and see what happens!

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  15. Christine

    I like this system. I’m not very organised myself and I get into a panic as deadlines near and I’ve accomplished very little or nothing on a project but knowing payment will not be made until whatever I have to do is completed. I used to use outlook at my old job–the task manager–but I tended to ignore them because they made me feel too overwhelmed. I usually just put my appointments in my iPhone and/or iPad now but in terms of making progress on my own on writing projects without an anxiety inducing deadline, I find I have little motivation. Perhaps that’s just my personality (working under extreme pressure) or I simply haven’t found the right system… I’d like to try your basket system. Are the tasks organised into “important and urgent”, “urgent but not important”, “not urgent but important” and “not urgent, not important” on your white board or do you sort them: “done”, “in progress”, and “not started” or something like that?

    Thanks for your awesome videos!

    Reply
  16. Laurali

    Oops, a little confused . You started the Video w saying the baskets were for planning your next week . So I’m thinking they were posted on the board as goals . but you ended it saying they were things you accomplished that week and you placed them in a ” basket ” so you could see what ares you focused on , and need to focus on … Which is it ??

    Reply
  17. Michelle Elizabeth

    I operate by a to do list and a planner that never leaves my side!!! Investing in a pretty planner has been life changing for me. I juggle so much with going to school, working full time, maintaining a business and trying to spend time with my family as well, and deal with some chronic health issues. Ugh!! It’s a lot but this system may help. I am very visual so this would be great for that!!!

    Reply
  18. Karen

    Interesting system, Natalie! (I’m a new subscriber to you.) I am a planner junkie, and in my work in corporate business and IT planning, I need to keep track of projects, goals, tasks and meetings; basically a lot of moving parts. For years, I used probably about a 100 different planning systems (Franklin, Filofax, you name it)… enjoyed most of them but always wound up customizing them somehow. Now, I am preparing to launch my own consulting business and, for organization and tracking, have gotten off the commercial planner systems by CREATING MY OWN. :) I am still refining the design (combining professional and personal management) but it works for me. Eventually I will make it available for purchase. :) Thanks for all the information you share!

    Reply

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