4 tips to create the best weekly work plan

Sarah Laoyan contributor headshotSarah LaoyanJanuary 5th, 20226 min read
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Summary

A weekly work plan is a task management tool that can help you break down the tasks you need to complete based on your upcoming week. Learn how this strategy can help you stay organized and hit your deadlines.

Oh, the dreaded Mondays. The bane of existence for many working professionals and lasagna-eating tabby cats. One of the reasons why people dread heading into work on Mondays is because they’re overwhelmed with the unknown amount of work awaiting them. This ambiguity can cause additional stress and can lead to burnout.

A weekly work plan can help relieve some of the stress you feel upon coming into work on a Monday. Using a weekly work plan can help you organize everything you need to do during the week, plus prevent the dreaded Sunday scaries from cropping up. 

What is a weekly work plan?

A weekly work plan is a task management tool that helps you break down and organize the tasks you need to complete for the upcoming week. Creating a weekly schedule improves your time management skills by helping you proactively organize your time. That way, you can get important tasks completed on schedule.

[Old Product UI] To-do list example in My Tasks (Lists)

This technique not only helps you create a daily schedule, but also gives you a weekly overview of what you’ll be working on. When you create your weekly work plan, it’s important to consider the meetings you need to attend. This can help you balance your workload with the amount of meetings you have so you don’t accidentally have too much work on a meeting-heavy day.

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How to create a weekly work plan

Creating a weekly work plan is a simple process that can get your work week started on the right track. Here are four easy steps you can take.

Step 1: Track your to-dos in one place

The most common way to start your weekly work plan is to put everything down in an old-fashioned to-do list. Digital to-do lists work best because they make it easy to sort and prioritize work—plus they’re impossible to lose. With a tool like Asana, you can also attach contextual information to tasks so you have the information you need without it cluttering up your list. The most important part of this step is that everything you need is in one space so that it becomes your source of truth for the week. If you’re unsure of what needs to happen next, you can just go back to your to-dos.

If you have a hard time tracking all of your tasks, try using the Getting Things Done (GTD) method. This technique focuses on organizing all your thoughts in one place, so you can offload the information in your brain instead of trying to mentally juggle everything.  

Step 2: Assign deadlines for the tasks on your list

Every action item on your to-do list should have a corresponding due date. This is an extremely important step for weekly work plans, as due dates will help you dictate when you should be working on each task. 

If you know you need a task completed by a certain day, figure out approximately how long that individual task will take you to complete. Take that estimated time, and work backwards from the due date. This is at minimum when you should start working on that task. 

For example, a manager might want next month’s social media content calendar by Friday morning. The calendar usually takes about three days to complete, so you would start working on this task at least by Tuesday during your work week.

Read: Are you time blocking your calendar? Here’s why you should start now

Step 3: Prioritize your tasks effectively

How you prioritize your tasks for the week is extremely important. Balancing timelines with priority is a tricky skill to manage. When you have long-term projects with farther out due dates, you can break these projects up into smaller pieces and complete a portion of the task every day until the due date. This can help prevent you from procrastinating and having to scramble at the last minute to get bigger projects done. 

If you use a work management tool, try adding a priority label to each task. Not only will this help you keep your priorities in line, but it also shows your team members what you’re focusing on for the day. If things change and you have to shift priorities, you can easily relabel your tasks accordingly.

Step 4: Dedicate time every week for task organization

A weekly work plan works best when you use it consistently as a weekly planner. Carve out some time in your schedule every week to stop and reflect on the tasks you need to complete for the upcoming week. 

Some people spend some time on Friday afternoon organizing their tasks, while others use Monday morning as their weekly planning time. Both days have their benefits. Compiling your tasks on Friday allows you to come in on Monday with tasks clearly organized so you can hit the ground running. This is a good strategy for people who have trouble disconnecting from work on the weekends, because they’ll have clear insight into what their day looks like on Monday before heading into the weekend. 

Organizing your weekly tasks on Monday gives you a clear overview of what you're going to work on during the week. This method is good for team members who depend on others for their tasks, such as a sales team or a customer success team. If you’re more likely to get correspondence over the weekend, creating your weekly work plan on a Monday allows you to prioritize the work that came in while you were out.

4 best practices for creating a weekly work plan

The above steps are the simple actions you need to take to create your weekly work plan. To supplement those steps, here are some tips to help you get the most out of your work plan.

1. Reflect on your work plan every week

While you organize your tasks for the next week, take the time to reflect on the past week and the tasks you’ve completed. Take this into consideration when planning the upcoming week. Do you have any tasks left over that you have to roll over into the next week? 

When you’re looking at your tasks left over from the previous week, take the time to consider your workload for next week. If you have too many tasks left over, this may be an indicator that you have too much on your plate. If you need to offload some work from your plate, here are a few strategies:

  • Talk to your manager about feeling overworked.

  • Delegate some of your tasks to other team members.

  • Use an Eisenhower matrix to better prioritize your tasks.

  • Start saying “no” to more projects.

2. Balance your weekly workload

Some tasks may require more mental capacity than others. For example, doing big-picture planning can take more mental energy than answering a quick email. If you have a meeting-heavy work day, try to balance it out by putting tasks that require less mental energy on those days. Balancing your workload in this way can help prevent you from getting mentally exhausted too early in the work week. This can also prevent you from procrastinating too much and leaving most of your work until the end of the week. 

3. Plan breaks throughout your work day

When you're working through your task list, don't forget to take some time out of your day for breaks. Use the weekly work plan method in addition to another productivity method like the Pomodoro method or time blocking method. Regularly building in breaks throughout the day is important. Remember, your brain is a muscle and should be treated as such. 

4. Use automation to your advantage

If you use a work management tool to organize your weekly schedule, save time by automating your tasks. For example, Asana can help you automatically pull all of the tasks you need to complete into one section of your task list. That way, you don't have to spend time manually choosing the tasks you need to work on.

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Benefits of using a weekly work plan

Using a weekly work plan doesn't just help you, it helps your coworkers and stakeholders as well. Here's how using a weekly work plan can help everybody on your team get things done. 

Stay organized

This is the most obvious benefit to using a weekly work plan. You don't have to worry about everything all at once and you can see your week at a glance. This helps break big project plans down into smaller, actionable steps. Plus, the more on top of your deadlines you are, the more likely it is that your team members can get to their part of the project smoothly.

Prioritize dependent tasks

When you’re organizing your weekly tasks, prioritize dependent tasks so you can unblock your coworkers. When you prioritize dependent work, this can reduce bottlenecks and keep your project running smoothly. This can also limit the amount of status updates, so you can focus more on important work instead of catching up with correspondence.

Increase visibility

When you organize your tasks using a digital work management tool like Asana, your entire team can take a look at what you're working on—and when you’re working on it. This minimizes the back-and-forth communication you need to do. Plus, it helps your teammates coordinate their individual weekly work plans to match yours, or vice versa.

Create your weekly digital work plan using Asana

Simplify your weekly planning process by using a digital planning tool like Asana. Easily create project templates, automate tasks, and view your work week at a glance. Learn more about how Asana can help your team.

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