To help you figure out what kind of information to place into a weekly layout, if you're considering that route, I put together this post. Do note that this guide can also be applied to any weekly layout, not just custom ones designed in a Bullet Journal. I also included a crash course on habits. First we'll go over the virtues of the weekly layout, then we'll cover how to set it up for your best week yet!
When is it used?
First off, the weekly layout is a great view to use when you have a lot to do over the week and you'd like a bird's eye view of everything that is going on. This way you are able to figure out what you can accomplish each day. There are a medley of ways to lay it out to make it work best for you. It is also
used when you would prefer to see everything that you have to do over the week.
Why is it useful?
The weekly view is a great way to see what events you have coming up over the week. Knowing this information allows you to figure out the optimal time slots to accomplish tasks. It lets you figure out when you can go grocery shopping, when you'll have time to do that project around the house, and helps you carve out time for yourself. It also empowers you to be prepared for the week ahead.
Who is it best suited for?
will find it useful as they will get to see when their work time, meetings, and appointments are. It will also help them create a better work-life balance because they will get to see how much time they are spending on work and when they are free to socialize and work on hobbies.
Freelancers, writers, etc. will find the weekly view indispensable. Planning ahead for what to get done during the week will give them control over what they accomplish and keep a record of milestones in their careers. It will also help them establish a schedule so as to not let work overrule their lives and spill over to personal time.
will find this useful because they will get to see when their child is at school, when meetings for school are, practices, etc. It will give them the ability to plan out family outings, see when certain appointments are, and have a better overall grasp on their lives. Setting it up at the beginning of the week will allow them to dive in each day without setting the day up again. It will afford them more time with their kids and with other hobbies and pursuits. They will be on top of things and feel awesome for having their Bullet Journal be their main resource for managing their lives.
will find this key in their school survival. Here are some examples of how it may be useful for all levels of education.
It is helpful for young kids to help them learn to manage their time and not spend all of their free time on video games;instead, it will help them learn early on how to manage their time and space things out to work on little bits every day, encouraging healthy habits and not falling prey to procrastination.
It can help high school/secondary school students get a better grasp of their coursework, social time, and extracurricular activities.
College students will have a better way to keep on top of their major requirements and it will allow them to break down heavy courses into manageable steps, allowing them to get studies done and maintain a healthy life balance.
Graduate students will have a better grasp on where their time is going, what they need to accomplish, and juggling various aspects of their life while keeping the week in view.
All students will be able to manage their schoolwork on a weekly basis and know what they need to work on each day. They will know all the events going on in their lives and where they should direct their efforts. It will help them have more time for hobbies and socializing and feel less overwhelmed. It can help promote a healthy lifestyle and make coursework manageable. A key factor I would like to address right now is to keep any extra tasks that are not absolutely necessary to a minimum and make them as realistic as possible.
Will week view work for me?
If you are someone who would like to see what events their week entails ahead, then yes. If you have a lot to keep track of and want a way to help you manage it, the week view can help you. If you feel overwhelmed with all the projects, assignments and tasks you have going on, a week layout can help you break down those tasks into manageable chunks. It's at least worth trying in a few different ways to see if it will work for you. Each individual has different needs and needs to tweak a system to suit their lifestyle. For example, back when I used traditional horizontal week planners I could never fit in everything I wanted to, now I use vertical week layouts divided into rows and it's incredibly helpful.
My lifestyle is pretty easy-going, will this work for me?
You will probably appreciate knowing when you have a lot of free time to pursue your goals. Your day will probably be more purposeful once you have a few things written down that will help you get your day started. Even if you don't have a lot going on, having things to look forward to builds anticipation and makes us happier.
My lifestyle is super hectic, will this work for me?
You will probably appreciate the control that the week view gives you while you get key tasks done while also working on personal goals and aspirations. If you find that you have a lot of tasks to account for with projects, then consider creating collections for your projects and writing down everything that needs to get done there. Then, write the next thing you need to accomplish for some point during the week. This small step will help you reach your goals. Make sure to review your project collections weekly to stay on top of them.
What should be included in the weekly view?
- Events and appointments that are coming up. The difference between events and appointments: events are all day occurrences such as giving your pet flea medication, a movie that is coming on a particular day, or occurrences that span over several days such as a vacation; appointments are time-based. Appointments include doctor visits, meetings, work-time, school time, show times, meet-ups with friends, exercise, wake up time, sleep time, etc. Write down any events and appointments that you would like to keep track of such as work time for you and your family, kids, etc, events that you would like to attend if you have time, exercise routines, etc. Make it a point to schedule important activities as well that you struggle to honor, such as exercise or going to sleep.
- Tasks that are due this week and must get done, otherwise known as deadlines. For example, school work, or signing a paper for your kid for school, or getting a Halloween costume, or getting refreshments for the company picnic, or finishing a draft of chapter for a book you're writing, etc. Say that a paper is due on Friday, then break it down into a few different days such as Monday research, Tuesday outline, Wednesday draft, Thursday edit and polish, Friday turn in.
- Tasks that are not due this week but must still get worked on over the week. These are absolutely essential tasks that you have to get done no matter what this week, because if you don't you could fall behind in a larger task. For example: studying for a test that's coming up in two weeks, signing an important paper that you need to read through carefully first, finishing a report for work, finding research for a dissertation, finding recipes for a birthday party, prepping for guests. These don't necessarily have a due date for this week, but they do need to get done this week.
- Steps of larger projects that need to be accomplished. You can keep collections for projects (we will go into further detail of what collections are in a later installment of this series, but they're basically lists) with objectives and steps that need to be taken to accomplish various milestones. You can make sure to actually accomplish steps for these projects by writing them down in your weekly view.
-Tasks that you'd like to get done over the week. These are "maybes," otherwise known as tasks that are not vital to getting done, but you'd like to do. These can be relaxing hobbies. For example, going on a romantic date, drawing, painting, going for ice cream with an old friend, or hanging out with a buddy you haven't seen in a while. A trick to getting these tasks that you are procrastinating on accomplished is by scheduling a certain amount of time to get them done (such as with the Pomodoro technique), this way the question is no longer whether you want to do it or not; instead, the decision has been made for you by scheduling.
Goals are specific statements of what you'd like to accomplish. These require being broken down into smaller steps in the way of routines, appointments or tasks to accomplish (or even all three). For example: A goal could be writing every day. Writing every day at 5 am is now an appointment; Writing as soon as you wake up becomes a routine; Jotting down each day to write (no specified time) is a task. It is important to write down and break down goals to make them actionable in order to accomplish them.
Routines are specific tasks that you commit to doing at a certain time, in a certain order. Order is a key component of a routine in order to ingrain it and make it a habit so that you no longer have to think about what to do next. It is automatic.
For example, a daily cleaning routine could be: every morning after you wake up you put away the dishes, clean the kitchen counters, wash the dishes, and sweep the floor; every night after dinner you clean up the table, clean the stove, and take the trash out.
An example of a morning routine could be: wake up and do a crossword/Sudoku/word-search puzzle, stretch, drink 2 cups of water, meditate for 2 minutes, and write. You can make a little routine tracker to help you form these routines and check them off.
- Habits. Habits are different from routines because habits are those nitpicky actions that you want to get better at. Routines don't have to be physically difficult (even if they feel that way sometimes); habits tend to require a fair amount of gumption. Habits are composed of triggers, the actual habit itself and the reward. A trigger is the start point of habit formation, it can be anything from day, time, after a certain occurrence, etc. The habit is the action you want to do, or stop doing (ex. smoking cigarettes). The reward is what you get from doing the habit. (Note: this understanding of habit formation comes from Charles Duhigg's book The Power of Habit. It's an excellent read, highly recommend to get a better grasp of habit formation. Check out this article that goes in more depth than I did in this crash course).
A habit also does not have to be daily. An example of a habit that you're trying to create is running three times a week. The specified days are Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 6am. The trigger is the day and time, the habit is the act of running, and the reward can be anything you want it to be. Rewards can be the feeling of accomplishment, the fact that you're slimming down and fitting better into your clothes, the sense of awesomeness for having completed a day of your habit, or a checkmark for the habit. It just needs be meaningful to you.
Tips to keep a habit going:
- Figure out the reason(s) to create this habit. Knowing your why is so important. Write it down somewhere and reference it often, ESPECIALLY on the days that you're not 'feeling' like working on your habit. Once you take the first step and get some momentum going, you'll find that you enjoy working on your habit.
- Understand that willpower is a finite resource, we only have so much each day. Once it's depleted for the day, that's it. Don't dwell or feel bad about it, it happens to all of us. Just get up and try again next time.
- Small wins are crucial in building habits. Make sure you experiment with different rewards to find the one that works for you.
- Have a plan. Anticipate possible factors that may lead you astray from doing your habit. Think about how you are going to handle these ahead of time. Being prepared will help your resolve.
- Believe that you can accomplish your habit. Belief is the single strongest tool I believe that we have. ba dum tss, see what I did there?
- Update: Keep track of your habits visually by checking it off each instance you successfully work on that habit. One way you could do this is by keeping track with a calendar with a big X marked, as mentioned by a lovely reader. Alternative to a wall calendar, you could try one of these handy calendars that you can stick in your planner to mark your habits.
- The hardest part after creating an action plan for your habits is following through on them with the first step. Take that first step and you'll be unstoppable! Just keep going, you've got this!
- To read more about habit formation, I highly recommend reading The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, it's chockful of insight and examples to help you get a better understanding of how to set and achieve your habits.
Tips to help you create your best week yet.
1. Write down all non-negotiable appointments you have such as work obligations and deadlines.
2. Write down the tasks that must get done.
3. If you have a routine that you'd like to keep track of, include that as well (examples of what routine trackers may look like in week layouts below).
4. Write out your plan of attack for your habits if you're working on any.
5. Break down larger projects into smaller steps. Include these steps throughout your week.
6. List the 3 most important tasks you need to get done each day ahead of time in the week view.
7. If you have any tasks that don't need to get done this week, but you would like to and think that you would realistically be able to this week, add those as well. The key here is not to overload your spread and make it look unruly, which is easier said than done, but keep trying. I believe in you!
8. Just for fun, include a quote that will support you on your goal to getting things accomplished this week. Perhaps something like, "Do less with more focus."
9. As for a design tip: think about what you want to keep track of on a weekly basis and create a week set-up to reflect those values.
How can I make sure that I stay on top of things once I have set it up?
Make sure that you word your tasks in a specific way. This means that each task has a verb attached to it. Such verbs include: read, research, go to, pick up, buy, visit, contact, email, call, message, run. Take it a step further and attach these tasks to days. Go even further and figure out at what point during the day you will accomplish this task.
For example, if you need to grocery shop for apples and turkey meat, you might want to write it out as “Buy apples, turkey meat at (store name) on Thursday after work at 2 pm.” Now you know that come Thursday, you need to go buy these groceries once you get off work.
I find it's easiest to jot down everything (otherwise known as brain dumping) you need and want to get done on a separate sheet of paper (or page in your Bullet Journal) and then place these tasks on days and time slots or landmark times. To me, landmark times are when you attach a task to a surrounding event, such as: after work, once you wake up, before a meeting, every Saturday night, etc.
-Make it specific, tie it to a day and get it done. You've done all the thinking and heavy-lifting beforehand, now it's just time to take action.
-Remember to keep this as realistic as possible and try not to plan every minute of your day; otherwise, you will pull your hair out and spit my name out in disgust. Hey, I warned ya, I've been there...it's not a good place to be. Also, be flexible, life tends to be known for throwing us hurdles.
What kinds of weekly layouts are there?
Here's where the fun begins! Now that you've been primed on the virtues of the weekly view, we will delve into some of the variations. Check out my article here for tons of weekly layout ideas if you're going the DIY route. Otherwise, good luck and I hope that this post helped you understand how to use the weekly layout better and feel prepared to tackle it yourself! I can't speak too much for weekly planners, but towards the end of this article I mentioned a few that might be of interest.
Please let me know if this was helpful and I'll do more posts like these :)
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