Step 1: Pray and Review
- Pray. We have an amazing privilege as Christians to integrate our planning with prayer. Prayer is essential for our planning, because God is the one who ultimately makes our plans effective. (See Proverbs 16:3).
Begin your weekly planning as a time of prayer, asking God to help you identify what’s most important, and as you make your plans, ask God to work for his glory on your behalf in those things.
- Review your mission and vision. Weekly review is the perfect time to revisit these items. This helps you keep your weekly plans in line with the governing principles and overall objectives for your life.
Step 2: Define Your Priorities for the Week
You don’t have to go into a lot of detail. All you need to do is reflect on two questions:
1. What do I need to do this week?
2. What do I want to do this week?
Step 3: Organize Your Priorities in a Way that Makes Them Easy to Do
Even if you’ve been focusing on the most important things, you now probably have a list of more things than you can do. Now it’s time to organize them and cut what you won’t be able to do.
- Separate the large items from the small items. Before you can prune, you need to separate the large items and small items into categories. This will allow you to have a more realistic picture of your load for the week. For example, having twenty actions may not be unrealistic if they are mostly five-minute items.
- Prune and prioritize. You probably have a list of maybe seven to thirteen big things and maybe twenty or more smaller things. Now you need to ask yourself whether it is realistic to accomplish these things this week. If your list is not doable, you will lose much of the flexibility that you need to have.
Look at the large items and reflect on what the time commitment might be for these items. If it seems like too big a load, you are going to need to eliminate some. When this is necessary, our intuition is usually pretty good at knowing what needs to stay. Identify the top three to five items that are most important and that you will actually be able to do, and keep those. The rest you can delete (or put somewhere else if you want to reconsider them next week). Then rank the remaining items in order of importance.
- Schedule anything that needs to be scheduled. Some of the large items might be fuzzy, such as “spend time with my family” or “remember to eat less.”
It’s okay to have fuzzy things on your list, because that is a great way to keep them on your radar. By simply having them on your list, throughout the week you will be more likely to seize opportunities for acting on them.
Some of these fuzzy things can also be translated more concretely. For example, if one of your aims is to spend time with your family, you might want to put playing catch with your son on your schedule for Tuesday after work.
Among the concrete things, if you have a good sense of the basic structure of your week and the time they will take, some of them you may be able to schedule right into your week. Go ahead and do this now. Also take the tasks that involve people (meetings, events with others, etc.), and schedule them into your week.
Schedule the concrete items that you can, but for the rest, simply having them on the list will keep them before you so that you can seek the best opportunities for doing them during the week.
- Do the small actions right away. Knock out as many of the small actions as you can so that the number of small items that remains on your weekly list is very small or nothing. I want my weekly list to be almost entirely my large priorities for the week. This allows me to keep my days most flexible.
You have now created your priority list for the week. Simply having done this prepares you for the week. Now, keep this list before you through the week and review it in your daily planning to keep these priorities top of mind and make sure they happen.
Two Other Tips
- Don’t skip planning, even when you are super busy. Even spending a few minutes planning your week will bear fruit far beyond the time you invested.
- Seize unplanned opportunities throughout the week. If you plan in too much detail, your plans will fall apart and you will be frustrated. We simply don’t have enough knowledge or control to create highly detailed plans. Acknowledge this and submit to it, and you will get more done, not less.
—by Matt Perman, adapted from What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done
How to Use This Book
You’ll find many more tips to help you get more done and increase your effectiveness in ministry in What’s Best Next by Matt Perman.
Best-selling author and CEO of Intentional Leadership, Michael Hyatt writes, “This amazing volume offers a wealth of practical, real-world productivity tips, all framed within the context of the gospel.”
What’s Best Next
How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done