The single most important thing I do at the start of each week is create my list of "Weekly Outcomes." It's my approach for a simple weekly planner. It helps me focus on the most important outcomes, and take the balcony view for my week. It works through thick and thin. It's a practice I've used for years, leading distributed teams around the world.
To use it, it’s simple. Just follow three rules:
- Create the list on Mondays.
- Write the list down.
- List three wins at the top, and then your A-Z list of goals or tasks.
It’s a simple format. That’s why it works. In the worst case scenario, I’ve taken at least five minutes to map out the wins for the upcoming week. This helps me set a target for success. Writing it down is important. This frees my mind to focus on where my attention is needed most. Whenever I need a fast reminder of what my week is about, I can look back to my list.
It’s a great leadership tool as well, especially if you have a distributed team. It’s easy to send out the email that maps out what a great week looks like. In the thick of things, it might take me 15 minutes to do the exercise, but those 15 minutes can save me 15 hours of wasted work or off path. It helps create clarity and common goals across the team. It also gives the team a chance to plug in things that are on the radar so everybody gets a good look at what’s on our plates.
You can do it on a whiteboard, or on a piece of paper, or in any tool of your choice. I prefer anything that I can type in that lets me very quickly move things around and adjust the list without worrying about formatting. To split up the list, I simply use whitespace. I like whitespace and breathing room, especially when my lists are outrageous.
The key, as always, is to focus on outcomes, not tasks. By having a list of your outcomes, you make it easier to drive results versus getting lost in the weeds. It really is a simple weekly planner.