How to get organised and effective in under 2 hours a week

I like being organised. It’s probably part OCD, but disorganisation stresses me out. I also like being effective. Unfortunately, being organised does not always equal being effective. In this post I’d like to outline how I try to achieve both every week.


Image courtesy of Flickr

Every Friday afternoon from 2-4pm I have a reoccurring appointment with myself. In my opinion, my overall effectiveness from one week to the next is directly proportional to how well I use this time. If I keep the appointment, I get truckloads of the right stuff done. If I ignore it, I may still get stuff done… but it’s unlikely to be the right stuff.

So what do I do in those two hours? There are four basic steps:

1. Review the week ahead- each week I set myself a general vision for the week and a few goals that will help me achieve it. A vision for the week helps remind me of the purpose behind what can sometimes feel like rather menial day-to-day tasks. For example, below are my vision and goals for a random week last year. Admittedly I’ve chosen one that isn’t too personal and definitely reflects a little too well on me, but I haven’t edited them. This is actually what I wrote:

What is your vision?

  • My vision for next week is to grow as a theological ethicist, to see some youth freed from legalism to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to pursue and romance my wife.

What are your goals?

  • Submit the ethics essay no later than Friday at 12pm.
  • Refine and preach a sermon on Friday night from Romans 7 that frees youth from their bondage to legalism and opens them up to the glory of the Gospel.
  • Give Emma a small gift on Monday afternoon and flowers on Wednesday.

2. Review the week gone by– in truth, I actually do this step first, but for the purposes of this blog I’ve reversed steps 1 and 2. Each week I edit a document called “weekly review” in Evernote. This way I can access it wherever I am. Since my vision and goals are there from the week before, I then write some short notes assessing how effectively I achieved them. Below is the following week’s review from my vision and goals above:

Did you have the right vision?

  • Yes, although I probably didn’t pursue it as well as I had hoped.

Did you accomplish your goals?

  • Yes. I submitted the ethics essay at 11:55 on Friday morning, so I was very pleased with that.
  • Sort of. I found preaching the Romans 7 sermon pretty hard. In hind sight, I don’t think that this passage was all that great for the context of the night. [you can watch the sermon i preached here.]
  • No. I didn’t give Emma any flowers or presents, though she was gracious and didn’t seem to hold it against me. I would like to make up for that this week.

3. Brain dump- I use a program called Things to do this, but the program’s not essential. In this step you try to get everything that’s flying around your head out of your head and written down. This includes errands, ideas, tasks, projects and a whole lot more. By getting these things out of your head you should free up a lot of mental energy so that you can focus on things that actually matter.

4. Do, defer, delegate, delete- I’ve written about this more extensively in a post called the Four D’s of getting things done, but here’s the basic idea: Now that you’ve done your brain dump, sort all of it into four categories. If it takes less than 2 minutes to complete, do it. Otherwise, defer it by scheduling it in your calendar, delegate it to someone else, or delete it if you don’t think it’s important.

These four simple steps have helped me incredibly. As I said above, the examples that I’ve used are not very personal and reflect far too well on me. Nevertheless, they serve well as an illustration of the kinds of things I try to write down on a weekly basis.

This whole process usually takes me about 2 hours if I do it properly. Most of that is spent on step 4. That may sound like a lot of time, but the outcome far outweighs the input. At the end of the day, I’d rather do fewer of the right things than lots of the wrong things.

Question: how do you seek to get organised and effective each week? Leave a comment by clicking here.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *