Executive coaching clients who have worked with me have heard me encourage them - time and again - to begin their week with a well-thought-out weekly planning process. A process that I first embedded into my weekly routine after reading David Allen's best seller on time management and planning, Getting Things Done, years ago. Related: Time Management: 4 Keys To Avoiding Work-Related Stress My weekly planning process allows me to enter each week feeling "in control." Not only that, but it also gives me confidence that I am focusing on the most important things in my life - my work life and my personal life - THAT week. My weekly planning process includes review of a number of lists and tools, my calendar, my goals, my Inboxes, messages, written notes, and so on - a whole host of items that allow me to scan across my entire horizon of open loops, action-centric matters, and goals. Two lists that I ALWAYS include in my weekly review and planning process are: 1.) my "Never" or "Absolute No" List, and 2.) my "Always" or "100% Commitment" List. These are two lists of promises I've made to myself that are in total alignment with my beliefs, personal vision, work, personal goals and objectives. Reviewing these two lists on a weekly basis flexes my awareness muscle and helps keep me conscious of these important promises.
NeverI borrowed the idea for my "Never" list from one of my favorite authors and speakers, Cheryl Richardson, who offers the idea of "The Absolute No List" in her wonderful book (which I highly recommend), The Art of Extreme Self-Care. The idea of creating a "Never" list serves as a powerful reminder of those things you want to remove from your life because they no longer (or never did) align with who you are, who you want to be, and what's important to you. I find sharing examples helpful in explaining the concept of a "Never" list. In that regard, some of the items on my list and some that I've heard others express include the following: I will never...
- Participate in or be a party to gossip.
- Throw away anything that can be recycled.
- Hang around with people who consistently bring me down or drain me emotionally.
- Multitask when I'm on the phone with a client, friend, or family member.
- Feel like I need to finish any book in which I've lost interest.
AlwaysIn addition to my "Never" list, I also have an "Always" list, a list of things that I am 100% committed to doing... always. My "Always" list serves as a potent reminder of habits, actions and behaviors that I fully embrace and that are in complete alignment with who I am, who I want to be, and with those things that I cherish in my life. As examples, I've seen the following on various "Always" lists: I will always...
- Spend the first part of my day, every day, in quiet time - reading, meditating, journaling, and so on.
- Perform a thorough weekly review and planning process first thing Monday morning (I've also seen this commitment on Fridays or the weekend).
- Exercise AT LEAST three days each week.
- Take a full two week vacation period each year, spending quality time with my family and leaving all work behind.
- Send a thank you note daily, seeking an opportunity every day to express gratitude and appreciation.