The Daily Challenge: Plan the week ahead.


Focusing on things you can’t control results is whining. Focusing on things under your control results in proactive career growth.


Proactively plan the week ahead.

Read Time: 3 Minutes

Planning out your week in advance can make a difference between working proactively and reactively.

Some people are proactive by nature. They pack their suitcase weeks before their vacation (those people know who they are).

The rest of us are maybe a bit less proactive by nature. It’s not that we’re procrastinating, per se. It’s that we haven’t slowed down to plan ahead.

But being reactive is a bit like having a messy desk. You might think it’s fine and “just the way you are,” but the behavior also isn’t doing you any favors.

Being proactive is the first principle Stephen Covey highlights in his time-tested book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. He says that “if you’re proactive, you don’t have to wait for circumstances or other people to create perspective expanding experiences. You can consciously create your own."

Creating perspective expanding experiences is just one example of what you can control. Another example would be your daily tasks at work.

When you work in a proactive manner, it means you have a goal and create opportunities to reach that goal. In turn, working reactively means taking on work ad hoc — as it pops up during the day.

Of course, you can’t plan it all. The nature of your work defines how much time you have to allocate to unscheduled meetings and tasks. But you schedule a time to attend to those unexpected tasks, as well as to the long-term projects you already have on your radar.

Take 15 minutes today to proactively plan your next week.

Step 1: Look back at your to-do list and calendar from this week. What tasks have you planned to complete but haven’t yet? What tasks have you just completely forgotten about? What tasks have been postponed? What project ideas have been mentioned during the meetings this week? Move these uncompleted and new tasks to the next week to-do list.

Step 2. Review your projects and priorities, looking at long-term goals, future ideas, monthly or yearly objectives in order to get a headstart on turning them into reality. Are there any projects you would benefit from starting now? Can you identify the small steps you could move to your next week to-do list?

Step 3: Combine all your tasks in one list, including this week’s uncompleted tasks, steps towards long-term goals and projects, and the new assignments. Identify which tasks you will focus on next week and identify which tasks you will intentionally delay. In this way, you’ll gain a better understanding of your bandwidth and, despite an endless to-do list, you’ll know you have accomplished everything you need to accomplish in the amount of time you have available.

Pro-tip: Set specific goals for all the tasks. As usually, keep them SMART and remember another Stephen Covey’s principle: Begin with the end in mind.

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