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How to Plan Ahead for the Week & Destress for the Weekend

Mid-week slump has been hitting hard since noon, but I still have to start a 10-minute presentation that’s due at midnight. I find myself sitting at my desk, just staring into space and putting off my responsibilities as per usual. I already know I’ll regret doing nothing for hours. I shrug everything off for now and tell myself it’s a problem for later.

That, my friends, is not the best way to cope with a packed week. From a serial procrastinator, trust me when I say to be ready for the week ahead. You’ve got to plan ahead instead of leaving your tasks for the very last minute. A step-by-step planning process is coming your way — and I hope this saves you from future craziness.

Designate a day for planning

Planning starts with a day dedicated for it. I mean, have you tried to plan on the day of? It’s pretty hard, except when it involves hanging out with your friends or doing Christmas shopping (of course!). I’ve found that the best way to plan for the week is by doing it every Sunday night, which also helps me mentally prepare myself for a busy week. 

You want to avoid procrastination at all costs. It can stem from being unprepared and giving yourself too much downtime. You might already be looking at a hectic week, so why add more stress, right?

Check deadlines and other important dates

Seriously, double-check your dates! There’s nothing worse than missing a deadline because you thought it was at a later date — we’ve all been there. Whether you’re marking them on a calendar or writing them down, make sure they’re right. Also, it’s great to know what you need to plan for immediately and how you will execute it. It’s better to be ready than rushing to meet due dates or being unprepared for a meeting.

Make a rough to-do list of tasks, assignments, and projects

YouTuber Erin on Demand demonstrates how she creates a weekly landscape when planning for the week and sets the limit to 15 to-do items. You won’t have a specific date for everything that you need to do, but there’s always laundry or cleaning to do throughout the week. Having a rough copy of your weekly to-do list will help with splitting the items between Monday and Friday, or even Thursday if you’re feeling a little ambitious.

Prioritize by importance and workload

Ask yourself the following question: What tasks will involve the most effort and time? Setting your priorities straight is vital to divide your work. You shouldn’t spend too much time on one task when another one requires more. Get a headstart on a 10-page report before completing a short homework assignment that needs to be turned in at the end of the week. In high school, I was taught to do the harder homework first to get it out of the way and then to do the easier one. 

According to Business Insider, you will feel more productive if you accomplish harder duties first. It’s totally common to lean towards doing the easier tasks first, but it’s not always the best game plan. When you leave more workload for a later time, you’re not letting yourself learn more and develop your skills.

Use a planner or digital calendar — whatever works best for you!

You have a schedule and to-do list, so now what? It’s time to put everything together. If you’re a planner person like me, you’ve probably figured out how to use yours effectively. Planners come in so many styles and layouts, which is the best part.

Are you in need of a new one? Papier has a daily planner ($29)  that allows you to make weekly overviews and priority lists. For a planner that does it all, Ivory Paper Co has an all-in-one planner ($47) with three different views: daily, weekly, and monthly.

I have friends that do better with digital planners and calendars. Google Calendar is an awesome option. You’re able to color coordinate your schedule, set reminders, make tasks, and sync it with your Apple calendar if you have an iPhone.

Understand things may not always go as planned

This is the hardest pill to swallow. Don’t be hard on yourself when you slip and forget about your schedule for the week. Things happen. I promise you that it’s no biggie! Take a deep breath first. Then, get yourself back on track. 

While it’s important to maintain a structure, you should never be too strict with yourself. Be able to adjust if something does come up. Adaptability is a good trait to have, anyway.

Find motivations to get you through the week

As unpredictable as life can get, it’s also hard to stay on track sometimes. That’s why you’ve got to create incentives for yourself. For example, I was struggling to type a seven-page paper. I told myself that I could only do some online shopping if, and only if, I finished this paper and turned it in at 7 p.m. I stayed focused and typed it all day because I started looking forward to something fun. It doesn’t even have to be a big reward; it can be a small one that you know makes you happy.

Set aside a little bit of me-time in the middle of the week

Burnout is a real thing. Sure, you’ll have all weekend to rest and recharge, but you know exhaustion will hit any time when you’re reached your point. Treat yourself to an early night filled with skincare, favorite food, a Netflix show, and anything else that helps you feel better. You don’t need to use a whole day for self-care.

Do not, I repeat, do not overwork yourself. Long-term stress can lead to anxiety, depression, heart disease, and sleep problems. Know your limits and be kind to yourself.

Planning in advance is the key to success. Procrastinating may give you an adrenaline rush, but you really don’t want to keep doing that to yourself.

Celina Aquino

Illinois State '21

Celina Aquino is a senior studying finance and accounting at Illinois State University. She's a campus correspondent for the university's chapter as well as a national writer. Things that make her the happiest include groutfits and matcha. Check out "Style on the Move" on @hercampusstyle.
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