FranklinCovey Weekly CompassI’m a fan of Steven Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. One of the most powerful concepts, in a book chock full of powerful concepts, is the idea of weekly planning.

Daily planning is important, but that often amounts to no more than prioritizing emergencies. If you’re like most people, you get into your office, listen to voice mail while your computer is booting up and then check your email. After checking your voice mail and email, you’ve got more fires to put out then you have hours in a day!

By just focusing on emergencies, the truly important things never get done at work…to say nothing of the important things in your personal life.

Weekly planning can help you escape this trap.

Here’s a simple process for weekly planning:

  1. Before looking over your week, figure out what you want to do in the important areas of your life. Covey calls these the “big rocks.” He suggests these categories:
    • Sharpen the Saw” goals which consists of four personal categories:
      1. Social/Emotional
      2. Physical
      3. Mental/Intellectual
      4. Spiritual

      Set a goal for each of these. They could be anything. For social/emotional perhaps it’s going to a concert or doing something to treat yourself. For physical, perhaps it’s changing eating habits, or exercising, or getting a new mattress. For mental/intellectual, it could be reading from a certain book or attending a webinar. For spiritual, perhaps it’s attending a worship service, serving at the soup kitchen, or practicing yoga.

      These can be anything but the important thing is that they serve to nourish you and keep you sharp. These aren’t optional.

    • The rest of the big rocks revolve around the relationships in your life. List them from your perspective. It can help if you start them with “I am a…” :
      • Spouse/Partner
      • Parent
      • Child
      • Employee
      • Business owner
      • Grandparent
      • Citizen of my city/region/country
      • Philanthropist
      • Anything

      It’s best to limit these to the top six. That way you have seven total roles, the first being your sharpen the saw activities, the rest being your relationships with others.

  2. Once you’ve identified these key relationships, figure out what you want to do in the upcoming week in each role.
    • Do you want to read a particular book with your kid?
    • Do you want to work on a project in your community?
    • Do you want to find out more about the organizations working on a cause you’re interested in?
    • If you’re an employee, what would be the most important thing you could do this week to further your goals or that would be over-and-above?
    • If you’re an employer, what could you do this week to increase income or knock the socks off your employees? Write it down.

    Write them down so you can refer to this list every day. FranklinCovey sells a form created for this but you can use something as simple as an index card. This becomes your “weekly compass.” A way to know if you’re heading in the right direction or not. Don’t feel obligated to share your weekly compass goals with others. Just do them.

  3. After you’ve determined your the big rocks that are on your weekly compass, take a look at your upcoming week with an eye to see where to schedule these big rocks in. As you schedule the big rocks, you can do a normal weekly review by checking to see what meetings you have planned and what projects should be moving forward (both those with imminent deadlines and those that should be worked on to prevent a crisis later).

Remember, some of the goals on your weekly compass can’t be able to be scheduled. It would be challenging, although not impossible, to set schedule “Eat more vegetables.” But schedule the ones that can.

I used to do my weekly scheduling on Sunday evenings and found it to be very effective. But I’ve had enough mentors that recommend doing it on Friday before you leave the office. I’ve found that works even better.

On Friday afternoons, the work projects are still very fresh and the tasks I need to schedule are easy to identify. Doing this on Fridays allows me to go home and really be with my family, mentally and physically. I know the important things are scheduled so I can relax. I still look over the week on Sunday evenings but at that point it’s just quick review.

Do this each week, and you’ll find all the things you need to do at work get done. But you’ll be even more surprised by how much better you feel about yourself, knowing you’re making deposits in the most important relationships in your life.

[This post is a part of the Fundraising Secrets posts that are being compiled for my next fundraising book. To read some of the others, go to:]

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