Whether you are working on your first side business or already created more freedom in your life with your own business, planning is the part that will set you up for success. Over time I’ve tried different scheduling techniques and practices but my current one is so simple and flexible I had to share it with you.
There is an official side on the topic of Bullet Journals (from now only BuJo) and that system can act as a base for your own thoughts and needs. I’m not strictly following those rules but apply what works best for me – because I want my planning to be exactly how I need it, and there are no excuses and tradeoffs for me anymore with this system.
Therefore pick what you like out of this article but use your own mind to understand your current situation and what works best for you in terms of planning your week!
Why Planning at all?
A regular employee doesn’t really need a weekly plan. Perhaps you are keeping a little todo list for your personal tasks and at work you might have a dedicated system inside your company.
But if you want to start your side business you have to be more conscious about your time. You want to stay accountable with all the different tasks and also make sure that you make progress every week.
Event though you might have little time available each day for your special activities you should plan ahead what you gonna do with it to get more done. This makes it easier to start your tasks while you are caught up with all the tasks of a week and ensures you take the important steps you’ve planned out earlier.
How you get started is completely up to you, some simple recommendations would be:
- Using an App like Todoist or more project oriented Asana
- Simple add events to your Google or Apple Calendar with information on the task
- Use Post-its to write down your important tasks
- Get a dedicated book like the Freedom Journal
All of those are legit options and there is no right or wrong when it comes to your personal planning. We’re all different.
Although I’m a very tech focused person I finally came back to a super simple writing system. The process of writing and planning without technical support somehow gives my brain more freedom to think and plan. Plus you won’t get distracted in that time!
So what’s a BuJo?
Basically, you could grab any notebook, draw some lines and boxes and call it a day. I just wanted to give credit to the original BuJo and the various posts around that topic that inspired me to try different layouts for my weekly plan.
The bullet journal general system consists of (guess what) bullet points!
Additional you can follow some simple rules to represent activities, tasks, achievements or events and mark them or cross them out to easily track the status of those tasks.
Also, a BuJo is much more than your regular weekly calendar you can shop around the corner. This journal can contain various elements of your life, here are some examples from people with a lot more creativity than I have. You can really become creative with whatever you put into this book and make it truely yours, however the focus for now will be on planning.
Planning your next week
Whether you plan your blog, writing different pieces of content want to research topics, scheduling to specific days or even a time helps to make sure you make progress.
Every Sunday I sit down to plan my next week, based on the current situation, upcoming fixed events and a general backlog of tasks I either also keep in the BuJo (good start of a month!) or have planned for a quarter of the year (most of my content).
I’ve settled on this super simple design which spreads a week over 2 pages of the journal allowing enough space for each day plus a bigger section at the bottom of both pages for additional tracking information or notes. So my first page would look like this:
So try to start with your already scheduled appointments like doctor or dinner with friends. You can either keep the columns sorted by time or just add the events to the bottom of the column to have enough space for the tasks at top.
Next, think about the tasks and projects you have and break them down into smaller blocks and tasks.
Don’t schedule too much.
Although I’m working full-time on my business I tend to schedule too much for myself. This can work for some weeks, but in general try to not stress yourself too much.
There are more important tasks in life than tasks!
Currently, I try to have a maximum of 3 important tasks each day. On weekends I mostly don’t schedule bigger work, only if I know I’ll be alone at home I would use some time slots as well. Otherwise the weekend is reserved for giving the mind some space and time to rest.
For the tasks I stick to a simple syntax: A simple dot for the initial scheduled task, an X through the dot if the task is done, and an arrow -> through the dot to show it will be done later (and make sure to really re-schedule it!) or a complete strike through the line to show it’s not relevant and closed.
That’s basically my system, and the second page of your book could like the one below if you also know that for weekends not much will be scheduled at all:
You might have also noticed the bigger areas at the bottom of both pages. I like to leave enough space for those 2, and also I’m experimenting from time to time by adding stuff like a habit tracker in those areas. Perhaps you have a good idea what else could be on the weekly pages?
On the left side, I set my bigger goals to which my daily tasks hopefully contribute. I just proceed those goals with an open box and check them off when it’s done – a great feeling to see your progress along the week!
Also, this helps in the retrospective to see more easily what was achieved in the previous week.
Finally, the Notes section at the right bottom is open for all kinds of ideas or notes that piles up over the week.
Whenever I find something interesting but don’t really have the time to dig in in that moment I’ll add a note which I can then review later to craft it into a new task for the next week. By doing this you can have a good feeling about interesting new ideas as you are sure they will get your attention later!
So now you can work through the week, shift tasks or reschedule stuff, track your progress and store ideas and notes for later review.
When the next Sunday comes, it’s now not only planning time but also review time!
Reviewing the last week
Before I start my Sunday planning for the next week, I take time to see how I’ve done in the previous week.
What were my achievements?
This would be another page in the BuJo, and mine has a super simplistic layout again:
Those are the important blocks I want to focus on, and here’s what they mean:
- Wins: All things you accomplished, small and big wins! This is the time to celebrate and congratulate on everything you’ve done in the previous week
- Learned: We become better through our experience, so take the time to think about what perhaps didn’t work out last week and what you can draw from those things. Of course also stuff you learned that was a success!
- Rating: I recently added this category to more or less track my overall feeling and impression of a week. Some weeks are super productive but lack social elements, while others are full of junk food. It’s good to keep a general balance between those different elements, so think about how you did in all categories of your life!
- Next Week: Based on wins, learnings and the rating come to a conclusion what areas need more focus on the next week, which projects need time and what you plan to achieve in the next 7 days
There are countless variations of a weekly review, but those blocks wrap up my week pretty good and give me agood feeling for the upcoming planning!
The whole process of review and planning doesn’t have to take long, especially if you are not yet working full-time on your own business. Mine never takes more than an hour, most of the time it’s faster.
As an employee you have very limited time for those precious side projects, so just do the best you can with the time you have left!
So what’s your current way of planning, or don’t you plan anything at all?
Let me know what works the best for you and how you are planning your week!