I’ve found that a week is the right time frame to manage myself and others.
Every Sunday night I sit down and go over the week ahead. I got this idea from The Economist‘s website. The premise is straight forward.
- Look at the previous week and comment on all previous items. Were they finished? How’d they go? Was there anything not accomplished?
- Write out all the required tasks for the week. Things like follow ups, tasks asked of you by colleagues, etc.
- Look at all the projects you are involved in, and write out the ones you plan to address during the week.
- Break those projects down into subset tasks and comments. Explore what’s needed; write to help you fully understand the scope.
Evernote works really well as an organization tool. I have a notebook which houses every week’s composition. Each week is a new note.
So why by the week? A month is too long. I find that things change so much week-to-week that to tactically plan a month in advance is futile. (Note: This does not mean strategic planning can’t be scoped to a month or longer.) And a day is way too short. I found myself asking far too often “Is this exactly what I should be working on today?”
Instead, the week gives you the perfect encapsulation of time. It’s short enough to predict within reason how the week will go. It’s long enough to give you a full picture.
A fun analogy is the paragraph. The paragraph is the best tool to communicate a complete idea. A sentence is often too short. A full page is too long. Instead, a paragraph gives you the right amount of time and space to succinctly illustrate a thought.