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Productivity tips, calendar hacks, & product updates from the Reclaim team.

7 Steps to a Productive Weekly Work Plan - Free Template Included
March 17, 2022

Mondays come around fast, and you can always count on those open tasks you didn't get to last week to be eagerly awaiting your return - on top of this week's agenda of course. 

Heading into the week without a game plan can leave you feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and lead to workplace burnout – especially when you can’t seem to make a real dent in your to-do list no matter how hard you work. Taking the time to create an effective weekly work plan can increase your productivity and performance. While 70% of people use a to-do list to ensure they get their most important tasks done, most tasks take twice as long as we think they do, making it almost impossible to get through all of your work without some realistic planning. Let’s walk through the benefits of a weekly work plan, the 7 steps to create, and how to get started with a free work plan template to help you optimize your time and get more done every week.

What is a weekly work plan?

So, you want to get organized, save time, and get more done. A weekly work plan is a task management process that helps you organize and plan all the tasks you want to accomplish in a week. 

Developing a work plan is an important, yet far too often overlooked, part of an effective task management strategy. You’re probably already planning out all of your to-dos every week, but without a strong work plan with actionable steps, it’s hard to determine what to prioritize next and find time to get everything done. Surprisingly (or not), only 53.5% of planned tasks get completed every week. And if you’re reading this, that’s probably not the statistic you want to contribute to!

Benefits of planning out your workweek 

Did you know that for every minute you spend planning for a goal, you’ll save 10 minutes in executing your plan? Mapping out your workweek in advance allows you to work decisively throughout your day and maximize the task time you have - without having to wonder what the heck you should do next.

Here are the top benefits of building a weekly work plan:

  • Reduce decision paralysis during task work
  • Stay on track with your goals
  • Predict obstacles & challenges
  • Reduce context switching & time waste
  • Say no to more meetings and requests for your time
  • Reduce stress & improve confidence

By taking the time to plan ahead, you can build more structure into your workweek and create the focus time you need for your task work. And creating a productive weekly work plan doesn’t have to be complicated! 

How to create a successful weekly work plan

So are you ready to step up your time management game and build a more productive structure into your workweek? Here’s how to create a productive weekly work plan in just 7 steps that will help you save hundreds of hours this year:

1. Schedule time to plan

It takes only 10-12 minutes to effectively plan an entire day. By dedicating just one hour to plan your whole workweek, you can save 2 hours a day and start every Monday feeling relaxed knowing your goals and expectations for the week – and have a clear plan of what you’re going to work every day. 

The best time to schedule your weekly planning time block is usually between Friday afternoon and Monday morning so you can go into the new week fresh with your plan of attack. The most important thing is just getting it onto your calendar so you can defend this time and make it a habit every week.

2. Organize your to-dos

What better place to start organizing your to-dos than with a list? We know you’ve probably got a few floating around, but it’s time to consolidate these into a master list of everything you need to do. For all you busy professionals, this is probably already pretty well started in your project management app’s task list, but try to dig a little deeper. What tasks have you been putting off over the past few weeks? Are there any to-dos that you discussed but didn’t record? Any long-term projects that need foundational tasks done sooner? Now that you’ve collected all of your to-dos, let’s update this master list in your favorite project management app for easy automation, organization, and better collaboration with your team. 

And of course, this is not a one-time project. Add to this list as new tasks and projects come up, and review your master list every week in your planning session to analyze what you accomplished and what’s on deck for the next week.

3. Prioritize & estimate your goals

So you’ve created your to-do list, now where to start? Before diving into the work, take the time to prioritize what’s most urgent and important, and how long each task will take to complete. And while you might feel a strong pull to just prioritize the most urgent, make sure to also consider what’s most important for your short and long-term goals. You might find the Eisenhower Matrix helpful in balancing your time management across big picture projects and everyday tasks, and deprioritizing distractions that don’t bring you any value. 

To protect yourself from being spread too thin (especially on weeks where everything feels important and urgent), be critical of your task list. This will ultimately allow you to prioritize and accomplish your most meaningful work, and stay clear on which goals matter most. And as always, communicate and ask questions with your team. The most productive teams are the ones who are working together toward a shared goal. 

4. Analyze your availability

Now that you have a prioritized task list to work from, let’s take a look at how much time you actually have available. And what better place to analyze your time than your calendar! Take a look at your week to see which meetings and appointments you’re obligated to, how much time you need for your regular routines, and finally, what time you have left over for your tasks. Is this enough time to get through all of the work you want to accomplish? Do your most productive hours overlap with your time available for task work? Is there anything on your schedule you should deprioritize under the work you really need to get done this week?

The average person is really only productive for 3 hours a day, which is why it’s so important to critically analyze and optimize your time around your priorities. The key is to plan in a way that fits around your availability so you can avoid work overload from trying to fit in more than you can manage.

5. Schedule time blocks for your to-dos

If you’re new to time blocking, it’s the incredibly productive habit of scheduling your day on your calendar in dedicated time blocks for the individual tasks you want to accomplish. A lack of time for focused work is actually the number one contributing cause to burnout, reported by 63.4% of professionals. The simple act of time blocking can increase productivity 80% by helping you reduce context switching between tasks, decision paralysis on where to start, and defend time on your calendar to work on your to-dos. 

When blocking time for your weekly work, it’s also helpful to group together your shallow work tasks – those non-cognitively demanding tasks like email, Slack, or pruning your to-do list. By blocking out 30 minutes to get through your shallow work in the morning, and again at the end of the day, you can keep those small to-dos from bleeding into your cognitively demanding deep work task time. The average person maxes out at 4 hours of deep work a day, so scheduling long, dedicated time blocks to focus on just one or two priority tasks can help you enter a flow state where you’re up to 500% more productive in that limited time.

6. Stay flexible for change

Even with the best laid plans, you can always expect a few curve balls thrown into your week. New high-priority projects, business opportunities, bug fixes, etc. are always going to arise, and for you, that means more meetings and tasks to fit into your jam-packed schedule. Your weekly work plan needs to be flexible to unexpected changes, and capable of shifting your priorities around to accommodate what's best for your team. But how do you stay flexible with your entire week already blocked out across tasks and meetings?

Instead of spending hours playing calendar tetris to manually reschedule all the work you have to deprioritize for your new to-dos, you can automate this process with the help of smart time blocking tools like Reclaim.ai. Reclaim automatically blocks time for your tasks directly from your project management apps, but keeps these time blocks flexible for new changes and allows you to reprioritize your entire schedule in one click. 

7. Analyze your weekly productivity

By the end of the week, you’ll certainly feel like you got more done, but how much did your productivity actually improve? How many hours were you able to defend for task work? What percentage of your planned tasks were you able to accomplish? Were you able to say 'no' to more non-priority requests for your time? 

If you’re using an awesome free productivity tool like Reclaim.ai, you can automate a calendar time audit every week to track time across tasks, meetings, free time, even how much time you’re defending for your personal priorities. By monitoring how many tasks you were able to complete, which ones are still open, or left overdue for next week, you can keep improving your weekly work plan and also celebrate the awesome week you just pulled off!

Free weekly work plan template for max productivity 💪

So, what does a super productive weekly work plan look like? While every professional has their own unique work requirements and commitments, we built this free weekly work plan template for you to get started and customize to build your perfect week:

  • 8:00 - 8:30am: Morning catch-up - Check in on emails, Slack messages, and new tasks assigned to you.
  • 8:30 - 12:00pm: Deep work focus time - Time to work on priority tasks that require intense concentration (this is the time of day when the average person is most productive!)
  • 12:00 - 1:00pm: Lunch - Refuel and take a break from work!
  • 1:00 - 1:15pm: Afternoon catch-up - Review your inbox, update your task list, check in with colleagues on collaborative tasks. 
  • 1:15 - 4:30pm: Flexible time for meetings - Since the average person is most productive in the morning, try to keep your meetings to the afternoon! If you luck out with no meetings, use this time for your tasks.
  • 4:30 - 5:00pm: End-of-day catch-up - Submit any deliverables, follow up on requests, and catch up on email one last time. 
  • 5pm - morning: Personal time - If you haven’t already, set your working hours in your schedule so you can defend your personal time from being overrun by work and prioritize time with your family, on your health, and of course, on some fun! 
  • Wednesday: Schedule a weekly no-meeting day to focus on independent, distraction-free task work. No-meeting Wednesday is a great way to break up the week, but any day will do!

This sample work plan is a great starting point to optimizing your week around your priorities, and you can find more weekly schedule templates online to personalize for your needs.

It gives you a minimum of 3.5 hours of productive task time on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, and a full 7 hours on Wednesday! That’s 21 hours of productive task work a week, while still defending an hour a day for catching up on your non-cognitively demanding shallow work tasks. You’re also defending this time without annoying your colleagues with a schedule that blocks your availability, while still keeping those meeting hours flexible for additional task work when possible. A perfectly balanced workweek!

Have a better workweek

Investing as little as an hour of your time in planning can get you big results, creating a less stressful and more productive week focused around your true priorities. Use the free work plan example above as a foundation to start applying the benefits of a weekly work plan, and personalize it based on what you need for your role.

By organizing your task list and making real time for your to-dos in your calendar, you can create a more effective plan for your most important work priorities. Goodbye Sunday scaries, and welcome to the confidence of knowing you’ve got an awesome game plan for the workweek!

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October 13, 2021

What is Focus Time? How to Prioritize Productivity

Focus time is a dedicated session for uninterrupted productive work. But with each meeting, Slack message, email and social media distraction, it takes 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back on track.
Calendar Heroes: Philippe Mesritz, VP Customer Experience & Customer Operations at Khoros
October 6, 2021

Calendar Heroes: Philippe Mesritz, VP Customer Experience & Customer Operations at Khoros

VP of customer experience & customer operations at Khoros, Philippe Mesritz shares how he optimizes his time to get things done. Check it out!
Calendar Heroes: Megan Killion, Founder of Coven Cloud & MK Consulting
September 29, 2021

Calendar Heroes: Megan Killion, Founder of Coven Cloud & MK Consulting

Megan is a full-time working mother of four who runs three successful companies, Megan Killion Consulting, newly launched startup Coven Cloud, and a property rental business. See how she makes time!
More Calendar Control for Meetings! Reclaim Free & Busy
September 28, 2021

More Calendar Control for Meetings! Reclaim Free & Busy

Add more productivity and control to your smart calendar with advanced Reclaim free and busy event hashtags. Block time for no-meeting days, focus time, meeting times, and clock-out of task scheduling
Top 7 Time Management Tools (for Busy People)
September 23, 2021

Top 7 Time Management Tools (for Busy People)

82% of people don’t have a time management system, but there are hundreds of apps available to improve productivity for every working style. Find your best fit in the top 7 time management tools list.
Job Burnout: How to Fix at Your Workplace
September 21, 2021

Job Burnout: How to Fix at Your Workplace

Over two-thirds of employees have experienced job burnout recently, and more than 50% of all annual turnover results from burnout. See which signs to look for and how to prevent them at your company.
Top 5 Work Habits to Boost Productivity
September 14, 2021

Top 5 Work Habits to Boost Productivity

See the top 5 work habits to try to boost your productivity. If you’re seeking a promotion, trying to pivot your career, or just simply looking to step your game up in the workplace, this is for you.
Calendar Heroes: Chris Hunt, Staff Site Reliability Engineer at Stack Overflow
September 10, 2021

Calendar Heroes: Chris Hunt, Staff Site Reliability Engineer at Stack Overflow

Working on a team that is spread across 10 different time zones and our Calendar Hero, Chris Hunt lets us in on how he is able to do it. Check it out!
Durable Identity: Employee-Friendly SaaS for Life Changes
September 7, 2021

Durable Identity: Employee-Friendly SaaS for Life Changes

The average person changes jobs every 4.1 years, but you shouldn't have to re-sign up for every SaaS app that often. The future of work will be more durable - your identity will survive life changes.
Weekly Status Reports: 3 Steps to Reduce Meetings & Boost Productivity
August 31, 2021

Weekly Status Reports: 3 Steps to Reduce Meetings & Boost Productivity

"This meeting could’ve been an email.” We're all thinking it. Even 71% of senior managers feel their meetings are unproductive. Reduce meetings and boost productivity with weekly status reports.
The Best Time to Meditate? Prioritize Self-Care
August 26, 2021

The Best Time to Meditate? Prioritize Self-Care

The best time to meditate depends on your intention and your schedule. But no matter when you meditate, you can reap the benefits. The important thing is that you make time for this healthy habit.
Top 6 ADHD Organization Tools
August 24, 2021

Top 6 ADHD Organization Tools

Staying organized can feel like a constant battle for people with ADHD before you find your ideal rhythm and workflow. Here are the top ADHD organization tools to help you become more productive.
No-Meeting Days: Top 4 Advantages & How to Start at Your Company
August 19, 2021

No-Meeting Days: Top 4 Advantages & How to Start at Your Company

Are meetings consuming your workweek? 78% of people feel their meeting schedule is out of control - see how one no-meeting day a week can improve your productivity, team morale and prevent burnout.
Calendar Heroes: Ben Hutton, JSON Schema Specification Lead at Postman
August 17, 2021

Calendar Heroes: Ben Hutton, JSON Schema Specification Lead at Postman

Working as JSON Schema Specification Lead at Postman, Ben shares how he balances priorities while developing the JSON Schema strategy and it's tooling, and supports the open-source community.
Calendar Heroes: Shay Kingsbury, Program Manager | Go To Market at Hootsuite
August 11, 2021

Calendar Heroes: Shay Kingsbury, Program Manager | Go To Market at Hootsuite

Shay Kingsbury at Hootsuite shares how she balances priorities while leading merger and acquisition integration and Go To Market for Sparkcentral at the social media marketing and management platform.
Using Slack ‘Scheduled Send’ + Reclaim.ai to Schedule Messages
August 10, 2021

Using Slack ‘Scheduled Send’ + Reclaim.ai to Schedule Messages

Slack released a much-anticipated feature in June of 2021: scheduled sends for Slack messages. This, paired with some awesome Status syncing capabilities from Reclaim, can help you become a rockstar Slack communicator and role model for your team.
Calendar Heroes: Michele Wiedemer, Manager of Customer Education at Snyk
August 9, 2021

Calendar Heroes: Michele Wiedemer, Manager of Customer Education at Snyk

Michele Wiedemer at Synk shares how she balances priorities while developing the education training program for security champions and developers at the open source security platform.
Best Time to Exercise? Morning, Afternoon or Whenever
August 4, 2021

Best Time to Exercise? Morning, Afternoon or Whenever

Exercising for as little as 15 minutes a day can increase your lifespan by as much as 3 years, and you’ll sleep better and feel less stressed too. Here's how to optimize your workouts for the best time of day.
Make Time to Read: 5 Practical Tips for Busy People
July 28, 2021

Make Time to Read: 5 Practical Tips for Busy People

Reading has amazing benefits, and 35% of people want to do it more. It increases verbal intelligence, makes you a better leader, reduces stress, and fends off Alzheimer’s. Here are 5 tips to try out.
Calendar Heroes: Rohini Pandhi, Product @ Square
July 26, 2021

Calendar Heroes: Rohini Pandhi, Product @ Square

Rohini Pandhi, a Product Lead at Square, shares her style, tools and methodologies for balancing priorities while leading the product efforts for one of the top digital payment companies in the world.
15 Best Slack Apps for the Future of Work
July 22, 2021

15 Best Slack Apps for the Future of Work

Check out the top 15 Slack apps productive teams are using today to build and support the future of work at their organization across calendar management, project management, status updates, HR and team building.
Calendar Heroes: Q&A with Connor MacDonald, CMO at The Ridge
July 19, 2021

Calendar Heroes: Q&A with Connor MacDonald, CMO at The Ridge

Connor MacDonald at The Ridge shares his style, tools and methodologies for balancing priorities while leading the marketing vision for the brand that brought the world the first RFID-blocking wallet.
Clockwise vs. Reclaim.ai: 8 Key Differences in these Smart Calendar Tools
July 7, 2021

Clockwise vs. Reclaim.ai: 8 Key Differences in these Smart Calendar Tools

We get asked almost every day: what's the difference between Reclaim.ai and Clockwise? While we're both in the smart calendar space, there are some key differences to consider.
Naming Calendar Events: 5 Calendar Etiquette Tips
July 2, 2021

Naming Calendar Events: 5 Calendar Etiquette Tips

Need to create better calendar event titles to communicate context to your invitees, colleagues and incoming schedulers? Calendar communication starts with the first thing people see: the event title.
Lunch Breaks: 5 Ways to Improve Your Productivity
June 22, 2021

Lunch Breaks: 5 Ways to Improve Your Productivity

Want to improve your quality of work, energy level, and creativity? In this article, learn 5 ways in which taking a lunch will actually boost your productivity.
Effective Meetings vs. Pointless Meetings: How to Tell the Difference & Prioritize Your Own Time
June 17, 2021

Effective Meetings vs. Pointless Meetings: How to Tell the Difference & Prioritize Your Own Time

Learn the 5 key differences between effective vs. pointless meetings, and 3 tips to avoid unnecessary meetings getting booked on your calendar.
3 Ways to Find Work-Life Balance in the New Normal
June 10, 2021

3 Ways to Find Work-Life Balance in the New Normal

You want work-life balance, but work and life can't separate into equal halves. Forget balance, here are three ways to make work-life harmony a reality.
Reclaim just raised $4.8M in seed funding! 🎉
May 26, 2021

Reclaim just raised $4.8M in seed funding! 🎉

We're excited to announce that Reclaim has raised $4.8M in seed funding led by Index Ventures. Here's what comes next.
Pareto Principle: Using the 80/20 Rule for Priority Management
May 25, 2021

Pareto Principle: Using the 80/20 Rule for Priority Management

How to use the Pareto Principle 80/20 rule to block time for your priorities.
3 Single-Tasking Tips to Improve Your Focus
April 28, 2021

3 Single-Tasking Tips to Improve Your Focus

While you may think multitasking is a skill you can master, only 2.5% of people can do it effectively. Your brain performs best when “single-tasking”, focusing on only one thing at a time.
How to Create a Smart Calendar
April 22, 2021

How to Create a Smart Calendar

A smart calendar can help you simplify calendar management and boost productivity. Here's how to create a smart calendar so you can take control of your busy schedule.
Time Management Advice - Top 3 Problems & How to Solve Them
April 9, 2021

Time Management Advice - Top 3 Problems & How to Solve Them

Most time management advice is out of touch with reality. Here are the top 3 problems with it and how to solve them.
Announcing the Planner Beta: a New Way to Manage Your Workweek
April 5, 2021

Announcing the Planner Beta: a New Way to Manage Your Workweek

We're excited to announce that Planner is now available in public beta for all Reclaim users. Planner lets you prioritize and schedule all your Tasks and Habits exactly the way you want, every week.
4 Time Blocking Planner Approaches to Squeeze More From Busy Schedules
March 25, 2021

4 Time Blocking Planner Approaches to Squeeze More From Busy Schedules

Time blocking is the habit of mindfully scheduling daily and weekly tasks to get everything done as efficiently as possible. A time blocking planner is used to organize your new, efficient schedule.
Context Switching Is Destroying Your Workday: Here's How to Fix It
March 16, 2021

Context Switching Is Destroying Your Workday: Here's How to Fix It

How do you stop context switching from eating into your productive time? We look at tactics to help you reduce task switching and improve your concentration at work.
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