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Applying Covey’s Weekly Planning Method to Supercharge Your Success

Inspire Software

February 23, 2024

Applying Covey’s Weekly Planning Method to Supercharge Your Success
How to use technology to integrate weekly planning into your workflow.

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by your to-do list, only to realize you have barely made progress on your real priorities? When focused on others, we often forget how important it is to manage our own performance effectively and set ourselves up for success. That's why we recommend resetting around a solid weekly plan. Weekly planning is an activity that can have a significant impact on your life and career.  

 In This Article You Will Discover...
  • Best practices for planning in a business environment. 
  • Insights from Stephen Covey on effective time management. 
  • The role of planning and prioritizing tasks. 
  • Why we believe businesses need to create a culture of planning. 
Although this article is primarily about planning in the business world, we recommend that you consider planning around all the roles and goals in your life to maximize your overall effectiveness. People bring their best talents and productivity to work when they succeed in all areas of their lives. Tools like Inspire Software allow you to define your mission and work contribution statements, and stay aligned with personal (private) and work values, roles, and goals. 

 The Timeless Truths of Covey 
Stephen Covey's book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, offers one of the best methods for successful weekly planning. Habit #3, Put First Things First, is rich in planning best practices. It is important to note that effective planning habits build upon the first two habits: Habit #1, Be Proactive, which involves defining your highest priorities, and Habit #2, Begin with the End in Mind, which helps you define the outcomes you want to achieve. Covey also published a book called First Things First to dive deep into the best planning and performance practices. 

 Covey’s method for weekly planning is composed of 3 simple steps: 
  • Connect with your highest priorities (Mission, Values, Roles, and Goals) 
  • Schedule the big rocks (the 1 or 2 key activities that will help you move your goals forward this week) 
  • Organize the rest - plan the other tasks, appointments, projects, and activities you feel you should accomplish in the next 5-7 days. 

Connect with Your Highest Priorities 

Many people jump straight to Step Two of Covey’s First Things First model because they are anxious to list their tasks and update their calendars. But like Covey recommends, Inspire Software enables users to connect with their highest priorities by defining and reflecting on their mission, values, roles, and goals. Before getting into the hustle and bustle of your week, it is essential to take some time to discover the many books and tools available and inspirations you need to get your mindset on effective performance management throughout the week. If you do not connect with your highest priorities, it is easy to lose focus and get caught up in the busy world of lower-quality tasks and activities.  

Inspire enables individual employees to align their weekly tasks with the core values and goals they are pursuing. We bring what matters most to individuals through our Slideshow feature, making it easy to reflect on your priorities before planning your big rock tasks. Apps like Calm and Mindspace are also excellent ways to start the weekly planning process by relaxing the mind and allowing you to connect and reflect on your highest priorities. 
Schedule the Big Rocks First 
When scheduling the big rocks, consider at least 1 or 2 tasks for each of your top priority goals and roles in your work and personal life. Consider roles you may have neglected in the past few weeks to reengage and reconnect with. When planning against goals or OKRs, consider checking in on what you accomplished in the previous week to bring context to your plan or to reach out for help from a manager or coach. 

Organize the Rest 
Organizing the rest of your week after your top priorities may sound easy, but many people try to tackle too much here and can quickly get frustrated when the planning process is incomplete. The key is to start simple and plan things you know you can accomplish in the scheduled time. Inspire allows individuals to drag and drop critical tasks onto their calendars, which are integrated with MS Office 365 and Google Calendar. The Weekly Planning feature also allows you to create space for gaps in your calendar for unexpected activities. This helps you end your week on a high note vs. the frustration that sets in when you realize you did not accomplish everything. 

Daily Planning 
Daily planning is still the best business practice to ensure that you hold yourself accountable and have an opportunity to adjust with course corrections. Do not start your day with email because this may drive you in the wrong direction from what you planned earlier in the week. It is OK to adjust and move things around in your schedule, but starting the day by executing tasks in your plan before reading email keeps you in the driver’s seat and will give you the satisfaction of completing what you want to do. Inspire enables individuals to make and review daily plans to ensure they stay on course with their weekly plans. Having a business culture around planning and norms around expectations for executing plans vs. emails can significantly impact the entire organization.   

Applying Planning Best Practices through Technology – A Case Study 
Sarah is a project manager juggling work and personal life. When her company invested in Inspire's performance management system to help across the organization, Sarah discovered some robust planning tools to help her make progress on her goals. Leveraging Inspire’s planning tools transformed her productivity, work-life balance, and career.  

Sarah started the company with an onboarding course. She learned how effective weekly planning through Inspire helped clarify her values and mission. Then she added compelling role statements for her work role as a project manager and her most critical personal roles as spouse, mother, and outdoor adventurer. She wrote a few goals through Inspire’s OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) tools to help her align her role with the company's core strategies to increase revenue. She also wrote some OKRs around her personal life such as spending more 1-1 time with her family outdoors. 

With the help of her manager, Sarah began developing the habit of planning big rocks against her OKRs and quickly became a key contributor to her new team, who can be counted on to follow through. Sarah was soon promoted to director of project management within her organization. More importantly, the 1-1 time that she scheduled with her spouse and kids to enjoy their favorite outdoor activities together strengthened her relationships with the people that matter most in her life. 

Some Unique Benefits of Inspire...

  • Dedicated modules for Values, Roles, Objectives, and Planning. 
  • Public and Private settings for all data types. 
  • Slideshow of priorities for weekly reflection with personalized imagery. 
  • Weekly and Daily planning tools that simulate the best planning approaches in the industry. 
  • Expert guidance from leadership experts is built into the flow of work. 
High performance requires personal and collective effort, with daily tasks anchored in our values. Inspire Software combines time management practices with innovative technology to structure your ambitions and clarify your purpose. Request a demo to experience its meticulous design and elevate your company's performance. Turn your weekly planning into a beacon of success with Inspire Software.