You arrive at work Monday morning eager to write that report your boss has been waiting for but, by 10:15 a.m., you’ve already wasted 30 minutes tracking down a hard-to-find fact for a colleague and now your boss wants you to return a call for her. Suddenly the two hours you hoped to spend writing are gone and, instead of accomplishing your goals, you are doing what other people are telling you do to. As common as they may occur at work, such situations are not unavoidable.
Tracey Gritz, productivity expert and owner of The Efficient Office, recommends spending 30 minutes every Friday afternoon to reflect on your achievements for the week and plan for the upcoming:
1. Review your current week
Every Friday afternoon, look back at the current week to make sure nothing has fallen through the cracks. Look for tasks that weren’t completed, meetings that were canceled or phone calls you never made, Gritz says. Move anything you didn’t complete to a new date and time in the week ahead. However, Gritz warns, “if you move something more than three weeks in a row, delegate it or delete it.”
2. Review your goals and projects, and add those tasks to your calendar
Review your goals each week. “You can’t plan your workweek if you don’t know what your goals are,” Gritz says. Decide what you need to accomplish next week to meet those goals and block off time on your calendar to do the work. “We schedule meetings but we don’t schedule our most important work,” Gritz says.
Be sure you are scheduling time to complete a task, not a project, Gritz warns. For instance, updating the website is a project, not a task that can be completed in two hours. Break projects down into smaller tasks such as “rewriting the homepage” or “finding new photos and artwork” and then schedule blocks of time to do each.
3. Review and prepare for your next week
Instead of sitting in your next meeting hoping that no one notices you forgot to prepare, Gritz recommends you look at your meetings and appointments for the following week and block off time to do any necessary prep work, such as reading reports, reviewing files or pulling client paperwork. You might even consider blocking off a few minutes after each meeting to allow time to put upcoming deadlines or assignments on your calendar.
4. Review your task list
Most people will review their task list first but Gritz recommends making this the last step because you should review your goals and projects first to make sure you are working on your most important tasks. Before adding any additional tasks to your calendar, make sure the task will further your most meaningful work and that it aligns with your goals, she says.
Be careful not to over schedule your time. Gritz recommends leaving at least 30% of your calendar open for unexpected meetings and activities as well as time to reflect and think.
This post was originally published here on Forbes.com in January 2017. TheYoungProfessionalGroup.com takes no credit for the work of the author.