Most perfectionists find it challenging to plan out their week when they don’t know what will come up or how much energy they’ll have. Whether you’re working an exhausting day job, doing shift work or raising young children alongside building your business – there are certain things that can feel hard to plan around. Especially when no one has taught you how to plan properly…
Some perfectionists plan their week as if everything will go smoothly, hoping for the best and then abandoning their plans when the inevitable happens. Others feel like they can’t make plans at all and wing it day-by-day, praying they’ll be able to find the motivation to do what matters most. But neither of these approaches work.
That’s why I interviewed Michelle Weeks on how to plan properly amidst uncertainty. Michelle is a PGSD Coach as well as being a life coach who helps mums resiliently and joyfully navigate the ups and downs of motherhood.
Michelle and I are mothers of 6 month old babies (Freddie and Lydia). And we’re both using Power Planning to get out of our own way and shit done in our businesses.
Tune into this episode to discover all of the practical things we do to make Power Planning work for us when life is throwing constant curveballs.
In This Episode You’ll Learn:
- Power Planning versus to-do lists
- The importance of ‘buffer time’ and where to add it in your calendar
- Why Michelle has been committed to Power Planning for more than 2 years
- How Power Planning stops you from feeling bad about changing your plans mid-week
- When it makes sense to only Power Plan a couple of days at a time
- What Power Planning actually looks like in practice (it’s not perfect)
Featured In The Episode:
- Join the waitlist for Perfectionists Getting Shit Done (PGSD) – samlaurabrown.com/pgsd
- Michelle’s Instagram: @michelle.c.weeks
- Michelle’s Website: michelleweeks.com.au
- Sign up for daily Perfectionist Power-Ups – samlaurabrown.com/power
- Follow me on Instagram @perfectionismproject
Listen To The Episode
Listen to the episode on the player above, click here to download the episode and take it with you or listen anywhere you normally listen to podcasts – just find Episode 309 of The Perfectionism Project Podcast!
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FULL EPISODE TRANSCRIPT
Sam Laura Brown
This episode is part three in the five-part Planning series that is coming out here for you on the podcast on how to plan properly as a perfectionist. In this episode, I’m interviewing Michelle Weeks, she is a PGSD coach. So when you join PGSD, you’re gonna meet her. And she is also a life coach for moms, she helps moms to do the mindset work they need to do in order to show up fully for themselves and for their children. And she also helps moms transition into motherhood and doing that in a really beautiful, intentional way. So I will link up Michelle’s Instagram and her website in the show notes. And I really want to encourage you, if you enjoy this podcast, and you resonate with the way that I teach, and the principles that I teach, you are going to love Michelle. So go and take a look at her Instagram. And if you are a mom reach out to her and find out more about what she does.
So in this episode, we talk about how to power plan amidst uncertainty. So how to power plan when you don’t know what your week is going to look like. Maybe you are a shift worker, and you’re not sure when you’re gonna work, or there’s just so much change in the time of day that you work, that you aren’t able to really get into routines, because everyday is so different. Maybe like Michelle and I, you have a child or you have children. And there’s the uncertainty that comes with, will my child be well, will they be napping when they’re meant to be napping? Or what will that look like? Will they be going to sleep at the same time? Or will they be when will they be waking up? And when will they need to be fed? And what if I’m exhausted and all those things that can come with having children, or what if you are working a full time job, for example, and you are working on your business alongside that. And you don’t know how exhausted you’re gonna be after you get home from work or you have family commitments, maybe you are caring for another member of your family, or you just have things that are happening, a lot of plates in the air, maybe like me, you are doing a renovation, you have those things going on that you feel like I don’t even know what’s going to come up this week. So how am I meant to actually plan my week out, the best I can do is just have this to-do list and pick off items on the day if I do have time to be productive.
In this episode, we talk about how you can power plan, even when there is uncertainty in your week. And that includes as well when you have uncertainty as to how you’re going to feel how productive you’re going to be. We tend to plan for our ideal self. And we talk about how to really plan for your real life and what’s going on and how that really is the most effective way to be productive whilst also taking care of yourself and your health and fitness goals and everything that you have going on in your life besides your business.
So I really hope that you enjoy this one. And that it answers some questions for you about how to plan when there is uncertainty as well as give you some insight into practically speaking what power planning looks like for both Michelle and I, we share a lot of real life examples of what power planning looks like for us and the changes that happen week to week and how we use journaling and self-coaching to help us and different things like that.
So I know you’re going to get a lot from this one. If you enjoy it, please take a screenshot and tag both Michelle and I on Instagram, we would love to see that. And just as a reminder, the doors to PGSD are opening again at 6 am New York time on the 10th of January. And they’re closing at 11:59 pm New York time on the 16th of January. So if you are wanting to join us, make sure you do that at the time it is going out the doors aren’t open yet, but you’ll be able to join the waitlist and be the first to be notified when the doors do open. And if you are listening to this, during the time that the doors are open, make sure you go and sign up and join us and really start using power planning and the whole PGSD process to help you get out of your own way in your business and in the rest of your life today. Okay, so with that said, let’s get into the interview with Michelle.
Sam Laura Brown
Hi, Michelle, welcome to the podcast. I’m so excited to be talking to you about how to use power planning and plan out your week. Even when you don’t know exactly how your week is gonna look. You don’t know what might change. Maybe you have a child you’re doing shift work. You have some form of uncertainty that makes it really challenging to figure out what to put in your plans? So let’s start by talking about for you, what did power planning look like? Before? Sorry? I don’t mean that what I mean is, what did your planning process look like before power planning?
Well, thank you, thank you for having me, I’m really, really excited to be on the podcast. For me, before power planning, I was a list girl I had, which I actually was very happy with at the time, because it was all that I’d known. And I used to have a list of must do’s and a list of want to’s. But what I didn’t realize at the time was just how much of an impact having a list like that had on my brain being able to switch off. Because the list was always there, it was always sitting there, it was never going anywhere. And so I never kind of got to a place where I felt like I had completed something enough to be able to then switch off and rest.
And so the lists for me while I while at the time, they were working really well, it wasn’t until I then discovered a new way of doing it and a much more, I guess, holistic way of doing it, because my lists were only ever the tasks that I had to do. And they never had things on them that I actually like wanted to do. For me, it was just like the things that I had to do. And so it wasn’t until I discovered power planning that then I was like, Oh, actually, this still allows me to do all the things that I need and want to do. But it also has that added element of my brain being able to see something be complete and be able to switch off. But also, the holistic side of what was important to me was like balancing my rest, and my, you know, my exercise and my social events and those sorts of things, which the to-do list just never ever, like facilitated that ability for me.
Sam Laura Brown
Yeah, when you had your to-do lists, you were saying that it was kind of like the shoulds. And all these expectations you had for yourself and not really the things that you wanted to do. Can you think of any examples of that specifically, like things that you had on your to-do list that you didn’t really want to do, but you thought you should? Or things that you would have liked to have there, but you hadn’t really thought to put on your to do list?
Yeah, so I think, for me, the shoulds were a lot of the like, nitty gritty things. So things that and I guess as a perfectionist, I would think about all the tiny little things and the booby tasks that would be on my list, but not necessarily the tasks that were going to be really impactful for me actually moving forward. And so my list would be like 30, 40 bits long, but none of them were actually things that were impactful. All they did was sort of clutter in my brain and make me feel like I had so many things that I had to do.
And that might be things like, you know, like paying the bills, which obviously need to happen, but paying the bills or, you know, getting in touch with this person or whatever it may be, I felt like there were so many of those, that by the time I would work my way through those if I was just doing it in a linear way, I then would get to the ones that were actually really important. And I’d be like, oh, you know what, I’ve done quite a few things today, and I’m pretty exhausted. So I might just, you know, have a break here. So it really allowed me to, like, not necessarily take action on things that are really important, but keep myself really busy and really overwhelmed on those smaller tasks that weren’t necessarily that important. But I still feel like I should be doing them.
Sam Laura Brown
Yeah, did it feel I was gonna ask that it feel like everything on that list was important. Like at the time you I’m sure were aware of like prioritizing and that kind of thing. So what do you think made it so that you still did those tasks that wasn’t as important for us because I think that’s so common, and that we can really intellectually understand prioritization and that kind of thing. And yet we’re like, but these things are really important. They do need to get done. And because they have to get done things like paying the bills, I’m going to do them first. And then I’ll do my nice to have’s later and we kind of just end up in this maintenance mode. Did you feel like that like everything on that list was important?
Yeah, I did. I definitely did. But I guess, the distinction that I was able to then in on reflection, the distinction that I was able to see. Whereas at the time when they just all felt important, once I’d known more, I was able to then say, Okay, well hang on, I can prioritize these things in, I can almost like group them and categorize them so that they still will get done, or they still have a place. But it’s not at a time where I could be really utilizing that chunk of time for something that’s really important. So for me, it was like, you know, if I’ve got a big chunk of time that I really want to use to be effective and move myself and my business forward. I was using that time for those little to do’s that felt really important at the time, but actually, were not things that were helping to push myself and my business forward. So it was about distinguishing between, yes, those are important, but there’s a time and a place for them. And these are the tasks that are important within this, you know, wearing this hat in this chunk of time that I’m going to plan out.
Sam Laura Brown
Yeah, that makes total sense. So tell me, what was your experience? Like when you started power planning? Do you remember when that was?
I’ve been planning… I’ve been power planning now for just under two years. And yeah, the experience was, I guess, obviously, I’ve been in PGSD since the date started. And there was definitely a little bit of resistance there for me at the beginning. You know, I, I wanted perfectionist, I wanted it to like be color-coded perfectly and fluff around and have it all like I couldn’t have any gaps. Because how outrageous if my calendar had gaps in it, and all these things. So for me, it was definitely something that I needed to change my mindset around it. And I needed to start seeing it as something that was really like, a liberating thing for me. And in order to do that, I needed to commit to trying it.
And for me, probably, I can’t really remember, but I think it was between, it was around three months for me, which I know is sort of what you suggest anyway. But I think it truly was around that three-month mark that I started to say, oh, okay, I, I can see like how liberating this is for me to have this as a tool and as a practice, and be able to use it to plan out my week effectively. And once I had been in that growth mindset around it instead of just being like, Oh, well, it doesn’t work. It’s like, okay, why isn’t it working? Why can I What can I do? Or how can I change or adapt this practice so that it can work. And that was, you know, a journey of discovery? For sure. For sure, for me. And, and but the benefits that I saw through that persistence were so so so beneficial for me as a person, but as a business owner, as well. And…
Sam Laura Brown
What were some of those benefits? Like what did because you are productive before? What did it really look like once you power planning and you’d done those first few months where it can be a bit of a rocky road? We’re trying to figure out how that works. And then you can get into a groove with it. What did that look like for you in comparison? Like how do you know? Yes, this is working for me. And you then obviously decided to keep doing it?
Yeah, good question. For me, it was the ability to switch off. I had really never switched off before. Probably ever, but certainly, you know, I was a teacher for many years before that. And it was the ability to look at it and say, in front of me a visual learner in front of me, I can see that everything on my list has a place and is going to get done. And on top of that, I can get rest I can do you know I can commit to my exercise. I can see my friends I can do the social side of things. And I never got that with a list.
With a list, it was just an ongoing, something that was always like little sandbags in my brain. But when I started to power plan, it really got to the point that I was like, I can see, I can release all of those sandbags from my brain. And I can see in front of me where everything fits, everything has a home, everything you know is going to get done. And there’s space for it to be something that I can change and iterate as I go. So for me, that was the big change in recognizing that I could switch on for whatever the tasks were. But I could also switch off and not feel like those sandbags were just constantly in my brain weighing me down all the time.
Sam Laura Brown
Yeah, I think we’re all familiar with that feeling of like, even though you’ve had a productive day or productive week, you still never feel like you’re on top of everything, when you’re just talking from that long to-do list, especially when we’re adding more items to that to-do list as the week goes on. Yeah, but when you can have it all laid out and just say, Cool, this is what I need to do, and then get to the end of that and actually feel accomplished. And obviously, when you’re planning, you’re doing it in a way you can actually follow through one. So I think a lot of perfectionists have hesitations around working from a calendar. Because of that tendency, we have to over plan, and then feel like this is when I first started working from a calendar. I think I first tried it maybe about five years ago now. And it was a horrible experience. Because of the way that I did it. I hadn’t yet figured out how to not over plan. And so I just felt like I had this like cruel ruler, who was trying to do these things without ever having a break and thinking that all the tasks take half the time. And it wasn’t fun. And then figuring that out. It’s just so liberating, as you said, like to not have that mental baggage of all those tasks that we should do.
I really wanted to chat about how to plan and use power planning when there is uncertainty. So we both have at the time this will be released six-month-old babies who are born about a week apart. Yeah, and when you have a child, it brings a lot of uncertainty. And it brings a lot of potential for change, especially when you don’t know if they’re going to be well or not when they’re going to sleep or when they’re going to need to be fed. Like at the moment, I’m breastfeeding Lydia on demand. So that’s literally anytime that she wants it. So those can prevent challenges to planning unless we know how to plan effectively when there is uncertainty.
And so I’d love to hear from you what changes you made to your weekly power planning or what bits were especially important after Freddy was born and you began power planning again. Like how did you make sure that if he didn’t nap when he was meant to or things like that happened, that you were still able to just keep your plans workable and keep going instead of what we tend to do is just ditch the whole plan and say, Oh, I can’t even plan at all. Because I don’t know, when he’s gonna sleep or for someone who’s just I can’t I don’t know where my shifts will be or I don’t know if I’ll be too tired after my full time job to work on my business. So for you, what has that looked like? Like how have you really made sure your plans are workable, and you can still commit to planning with all that uncertainty that they presents?
Yeah, and it’s so true there. I mean, my life is very uncertain, not only from obviously a baby. I also have my husband’s schedule is very, very uncertain, he does a lot of travel, we move very regularly. So I have a lot of practice in power planning with uncertainty and the benefits of that which has been something that has truly supported me through the uncertainty that we have been through recently, particularly.
Now, in terms of how my planning has changed. There’s a couple of things that I definitely have made, or have put more emphasis on. The first one is planning, or being extra kind to myself when I’m planning. Now, I can like I sit and I recognize just how much is going on in life at the moment as everyone has. And prior to having Freddie it was probably a little bit more of like a Oh, I know. Like I know that things are going to go the way and or the way that I’m hoping them to go. But it was probably more an internal choice as to whether or not I was going to follow through and that would be the things that were uncertain. Whereas now that uncertainty is sort of out of my hands so I plan being extra extra kind to myself that on a practical sense, looks like having heaps of space is like space in my calendar. So lots of extra buffer time, I also have what I call like a fire extinguisher zone, which for me is like, this is a added bonus working, working chunking my week, if I need it. And if I don’t, then that always turns into clean rest for me.
But it kind of allows me to have that thought process of I’ve got extra time, I’ve got extra buffer, but I also have my fire extinguisher time as well. So that’s been really handy. The two things that I have probably changed the most or have focused on the most since then, is the two things that a lot of people I guess, don’t necessarily get to in power planning, when they are still learning and that is the contingency plans.
For me, contingency plans are absolutely key. So as I plan throughout the week, I’m always thinking, Okay, what’s the contingency plan going to be if, you know, Freddie’s care falls through or if I’m, like, exhausted, or I haven’t slept at all the night before, or whatever it may be. So I spent a lot of time now thinking of the contingencies that I can put in place. And then following on from that, I really look at the workability of my calendar. And for me, a lot of what I do is I don’t dwell on if something has worked, or sorry, if I’ve had to change plans. I don’t dwell on that, which has actually shown me so much growth in myself, which I’m really excited about, because instead of it being like, oh, but you know, it means so much more about me. Now, I’m like, Okay, I don’t dwell on it. That didn’t work. How can I reshuffle, what can I do to make it workable from now on, instead of like you were saying, letting it be something that I hold on to, and then it drags for the rest of that day, and the rest of the week, etc, etc. It’s like, okay, I’m gonna keep this within, you know, I’m going to not make this mean more about myself than it does, I’m gonna recognize that this is the reality of the situation. And now I’m going to change my plans and make them workable from here on. So it doesn’t kind of compound and have a compound effect throughout the week. It’s just cool. And we move on, and we figure it out as we go.
Sam Laura Brown
Yeah, that’s such a great point. Because we can really feel a lot of shame around needing to change plans, when we have this idea that how we plan at the beginning of the week, we should be able to follow that to a tee and not have to make any changes. And we think, Well, I’m having to make a change. That means I’m not following through. That means like, maybe I’m self-sabotaging. And then we can go into that whole span of like, is this self-sabotage? Or do I need to actually rest and spend all this time trying to figure that out? But to just what I love about power planning is that part of it is making plans that your plans will change, which is contingency planning and seeing like, Okay, well, what if childcare falls through? Or what if I have to wake up every hour, that night, and then I can’t do anything the next day, because I’m so exhausted. And so when that’s baked into the plans, and when part of Power Plan is checking in on the calendar and adjusting it, it then becomes just part of what should happen. Like, as perfectionists, we always have this imaginary, like how things should be happening, and then what we’re doing, and then we despair about the difference between those two. But if it’s part of the planning method to change your plans, then it just becomes like a non-issue.
Like before recording this. We had an email come in from our builder, our renovation, and the time this is released will hopefully be completed in like the final week, and we’re hopefully moving in next week. And there’s something outstanding with all the electrical stuff. And it took us two hours. I mean, Steve to go through this email and compare all these invoices and quotes and draft up this reply. And so I was able to just shuffle around what was on my plans, it wasn’t an issue. And Steve was like, I don’t want to disrupt your day, like you’ve got shit to do. And I was like, Yeah, but I’ve planned for this kind of thing to happen, because I know we’re in the final week of a renovation, and that we’re probably gonna have to have a few emails, have meetings with the builders, so I haven’t planned my week. As if I am not in the middle of a renovation as if I don’t have a baby as if I have limitless energy. I’ve planned it as if all of those things are going on. And I have like I love how you talked about the fire extinguisher type you may have like Sunday the whole time I have blocked off his buffer time. So that like the thing that happened today with the emails, I could take that two-hour chunk that I had, and just slide it over to Sunday. And then it’s not an issue I’m not behind. And it’s so important to keep the plans workable as you go. So that that feeling of being behind doesn’t happen, like what does that look like for you? Are you looking at your calendar throughout the day? Or do you look at the end? Like, practically speaking? Yeah, how do you make those adjustments in your calendar?
So practically speaking, for me, I have two screens that I work from every day, one screen will always have my calendar on it, and the other one will be where I’m working from. And so I constantly have my calendar in front of me, and I can recognize what it is that I meant to be doing in this time and where my day is going, and then I and I got this from you. At the end of each day I go through and I put little, like ticks or crosses next to what did happen or what didn’t happen. And then I review and have a look at if those things that are have across next to it, do they need to be shuffled or is that something that I just need to learn for next week is not necessarily something that needs to be put into my power planning, maybe that’s something that I need to eliminate in one of the steps. So that is how I do it, I do I look at it daily, and I move around daily. And then I do my weekly review at the end of the week. And that’s kind of my time where I then say, okay, you know, what actually needs to change what worked, what didn’t, etc, etc. And that then helps me plan with things in mind for the next week, or it helps me to kind of move the things over that need to be moved. If I can see that they are still things that really need to get done. Otherwise, I can eliminate them. And yeah, don’t make it mean too much about myself in the process.
Sam Laura Brown
Yeah, and I do the same as well, that it’s really having those two screens, I find helpful, but you don’t need to have two screens, but I love to see my calendar there. So I’m constantly reminded of it. And there are some days that I’m working. And then I just kind of go down a rabbit hole, and I’m not looking at my calendar. And then the next work day, it’s just a habit now to look at my calendar, and I’ll go and update roughly speaking, what I did the day before and make those changes. So that I’m never feeling behind, I can look at my calendar at any point, it only takes a couple of minutes to update it. Yeah. And sometimes I’m like, I like, I just need to get this, like today’s stuff workable. So I can do it. And then I need to figure out when I can do the rest. So I don’t focus on getting everything into its perfect spot. Sometimes I’ll just be like, cool, those tasks didn’t happen yesterday, they’re not going to be able to happen today, I have this other stuff I need to do. I’m just gonna like, drag them to a future day and they might be overlapping. And then when that day comes, I will make those adjustments so that it’s all workable.
I think we can get caught up on like, Okay, well, but when am I going to do those tasks and then trying to figure that out. But it’s just so important in the moment in the week to just be focused on okay, we’re at today, what do I need to do today, I’m still thinking of like how we do the power hour and the order, we do things with clean rest and not being a priority over the work tasks. And it’s very easy to just drag things out when we get behind. And then we’re in that over planning. And a contingency planning might be that if we haven’t done something that we decide, actually, in this clean rest time, like this thing needs to get done this week. If I don’t do it, then, then I’m going to get it in, get it done in that time. But I recommend against that because then we just end up not really having any motivation to get it done in the time that we have allowed. What has your experience been like with that in terms of, actually having an end to your day? And how to know when to go past that? And then how to know when to just call it and if you’ve procrastinated or if something hasn’t happened to just bear the consequence of that and keep going.
And I think so just I will answer that in a sec. But I wanted to just touch on what you said as well is that idea of like there are some weeks that I pretty confidently planning out a whole week and then keep it workable. But there are also many weeks that I look at it and like do you know what I’m going to plan the first two days of that week, and that’s okay. I don’t necessarily plan the whole week, every single week I can recognize, and again, it probably comes with the fact that I have practiced it a lot and it’s now become something that I’m much more comfortable with but I don’t necessarily always plan the whole week I can I definitely plan two or three days at a time and be like, Okay, that’s the limit of my books this week. And then at that point in time already, I’ll reassess and figure out what’s going on.
In terms of, like having completion in the day, I’m not perfect at it, that’s for sure. But it’s definitely something that I can recognize in myself these days. And being able to have that time where I do, my weekly review, is really beneficial for me to see what the trends are. And certainly, in the beginning, when I was over planning a lot, and having, you know, probably planning for my idealistic self, rather than planning for my realistic self, I would get probably to like four or five o’clock and then say, Oh, if I just and if I just and if I just, and, you know, the calendar would kind of disappear further and further across my screen. But what I can recognize now is, I think, in the process of persisting with it and being curious about it, it’s helped me to identify when I do overplan, what, like, what’s making me feel like I need to continue on today. What’s making me feel like if it says that I’m starting my clean rest at five o’clock, what are the thoughts? And what are the actual tasks that I’m having that is making me feel like I need to go further than that?
And then in that moment, almost taking a step back and saying, is this something that is that I really need to do? Or is this me kind of just breaking the self-trust that I, that I’m building with myself constantly? By trying to get ahead or by feeling like I haven’t done enough or all of those, like scarcity thoughts that might come into it? And I find usually when I go past, or when I’m trying to my brains trying to convince me to go past when I’ve scheduled, usually, it’s something that comes up for me that is in that scarcity thought process, and then I can be curious about what that is. Oftentimes, you know, there are definitely some times that I’m like, No, I need to get this task done. And this is the time that I’m going to get it done. And I’m going to go for it. And yes, I’ll make everything else workable. But there are these two sides. It’s like being curious about the underlying stuff and going a bit deeper into that. And then other days that I’m like, No, this is a get shit done day, I need to get this done by X, Y, Z, and I’m going to keep going today. So…
Sam Laura Brown
Yeah, I love how you said about, it really helps you to get curious and also to like see those scarcity thoughts and that kind of thing. Because it really is such a great personal development tool like it will show you where you need to still do work. And that can be confronting at times. That’s why in PGSD, we offer so much support, because it’s like, all that stuff’s already there. But it’s going to make it more obvious when you aren’t able to just work off this vague to-do list anymore. And totally, you know, keep indulging in those like, Okay, just one more thing, just one more thing. But you’re able to see like, Okay, I had planned to end today. Now I have to make a decision about, will I keep doing these things and changing my plans? or won’t I? And even if you decide, actually, I’m just going to keep working, I’m going to kind of not look at the calendar, then when you do the weekly review, and you’re looking back at the week, it’s such a great time to see like, Okay, well, I went way past when I plan to what’s going on there? Why do I think I’m doing that? And not like, I shouldn’t have done that. We don’t want to be in that mentality. It’s really focused on what worked, what didn’t work. And next week, yeah, what will I do?
So it would be in that situation next week, I am going to decide if that happens, again, to do the work after I planned, or I’m actually gonna check in with myself. And I’m gonna say, hey, no actually say for example, if you’ve someone’s procrastinated during the day, like, oh, shit, now it’s 5 pm. And I need to start really working. In that context. It’s so helpful to just be like, actually, I’m just going to let myself experience the consequence of the procrastination because with the to-do list, we don’t really give ourselves that we’re like, oh, I’m always meant to be working all the time. And when you experience the consequence, it not only creates motivation not to do it, but it really helps you to determine what’s important and what isn’t.
And I found myself like there are days and I’m not perfect about planning either. There are days where I just feel like there’s so much to do and I just need to get it all done. There’s not enough time, and whenever I find myself in that, especially when it feels really intense, I’m like, I’m just going to take the whole day off tomorrow. And what will happen is I will realize that, like, I would just get that bigger picture perspective and be like, Oh, okay, like, here, I was just being like, really so, so involved in things and thinking everything’s so important. And then if I force myself to have more clean rest, yeah, it really then helps me prioritize. Actually, there’s only one thing I had planned that day that I need to move to another day. And the rest, I can just leave.
So I’m glad you mentioned that it’s gonna look different each week that you’re doing power planning. And that’s regardless of whether you have children or a job that you have alongside your business or anything else is going to be some weeks like at the moment, I power planned for five weeks, and I’m working from that power plan and adjusting as I went, because the renovation and moving house and Christmas and like there’s so many things going on, I was like, I need to decide what I have time for. If I write this big, long to-do list of what I need to do for the business, I’m going to be like, cool, I have heaps of time, this five weeks, I can do a lot in that time. And I’m probably going to get halfway through it and feel so overwhelmed. But when I can power plan, I put heaps of buffer time in there, lots of days off, Steve’s working lots of shifts, so he won’t be able to help with childcare on those days, I’ll be looking after Lydia. And I’ve just planned, I’m not going to do anything on those days. And I’ve kind of plan based on the bare minimum of what I’ll be able to do. And now I don’t feel any stress about it. Because I know, every task even though I have this long to-do list, every task has its place. And I know how to keep my plans workable. I’ve been practicing that for a few years now. So and I’ve accounted for that. And I’ve accounted for stuff to come up. And for me to be tired and for me to want to be moving into the house and focused on that.
So there are some weeks as well where I’ll plan a couple of days. And that’s the best I can do. And then I’ll check in again and plan the next few days. So I’m really glad you mentioned that, like, it’s not about having this perfect hour, you sit down, you make these perfect plans, and you follow through perfectly. And then you do this review and pat yourself on the back, it’s not gonna look like that. And that’s not even what we’re aiming for. It’s really just having a way of planning that actually works for you and your lifestyle. And I love before how you mentioned to about the uncertainty you have with Ruby, and I totally forgot all of that. when we’re pregnant and you’re like, I don’t even know which city I’m gonna be in when I give birth and all those different things. And I was like, oh my God, like, that’s so much that there were so many different things going on.
And yet, you’ve still been able to make plans and do the things that you needed to do. And all while being kind to yourself and looking after your health and being with your family and all those things. So I think you really are really the perfect person to think about it because you have really had a lot of changing plans and be like, actually, I just found out today that I’m moving next week to a totally different city and all those things. Yes. So I want to quickly talk if we can about internal uncertainty that you mentioned, in terms of rather than it being something external that might disrupt us that it might be us procrastinating or feeling overwhelmed or being tired or that we’re not sure how we’re going to feel throughout the week. Yeah. So that can make it challenging to plan as well. How do you approach that with your own power planning?
So I do, I do a lot of journaling. Journaling is like the key in every aspect that I do. But I, I journal before I power plan, I also journal at the beginning of every workday that I have. The reason that I do that is so that I can see what’s going on firstly, in my brain see what’s going on. But also from there, I can actually I find it sets myself up so much better to be able to take on board what is actually on my calendar. And often, you know, often I’m coming into a work session or I’m coming into my power planning. And I’m like, my brain is going in 10,000 different directions. You know, I’m still thinking about, you know, Freddie and what he did this morning, or how I wanna go and play with him or you know, all these different things that are going on in my mind. And I find that when I sit down and journal first I’m almost able to like, flush all of those out. Work out what I’m actually feeling right now and how I’m actually going to take on these tasks and from that point, then I’m like right, now I’m ready. Now I can take this on or now I can adapt or adjust or figure out how I’m going to approach this work session, working with where I’m at right now, instead of just thinking about, like, what I should be thinking or, or how I wanted to be thinking, etc, etc.
The other part of it for me is, when I’m power planning, I really, like transport myself to each day. And for me, that was part of part of the process of learning how to power plan was going through the process of looking at that weekly view, seeing the trends, etc, etc. So I kind of know, like, by the time it gets to Thursday, yeah, like, I can see I’m pretty exhausted, because I’ve got a lot of history that shows me that that might be the case. So while I don’t use that to, you know, catastrophize, the latter part of my week, what I do do is realistically look at it and say, okay, if I’m going to think that way off, that’s how I’m going to affect how I can predict how I might feel that way. What can I do now to support myself? Before it gets to that point? Or on that day? What can I do to support myself before I get into the things that I need to get into?
Sam Laura Brown
Yeah, and also, I’m sure you do this, as well, like having more tasks on Sunday. So maybe it’s like more in the first half of the week, yes, later. And like the later half been more buffer time, and that kind of thing, in the first half been more like getting shit done. Yeah, it’s so helpful to have that approach, and to really just be so kind to ourselves, like how power planning is really a tool for being self-compassionate, but not in a way that we’re just letting ourselves off the hook and pretending that we don’t want to do big things and that don’t want to grow as a person, because it can be easy to be in this place we’ve been over planning and so frustrated at how behind you are and then we’re like, fuck it, I’m not gonna make any plans, I’m just gonna learn to be happy with what I have. And be, grateful with what I have and, and that can sound great. But a lot of times the energy with which we’re saying that it’s really us just kind of putting our hands up and surrendering and not in the powerful way that we can surrender really in a apathetic kind of surrendering over like going well, it doesn’t matter, it’s not going to make a difference.
And so when we power plan and do that weekly review, and really get to learn more about ourselves, when we’re doing that, it helps us to actually be kind to ourselves. And sometimes that means getting shit done. And sometimes, that means not putting anything on our plate that day at all. And being able to distinguish the difference.
And I love how you mentioned about journaling, because I don’t think I’ve talked about this very much. But I that is such an important part of it for me is that like I sit with my notebook next to me throughout the entire day. And there’s often times that before I do a task, I need to coach myself on being able to get it done in that time. Or after I do a task, I need to coach myself on that being okay, and just keeping on going. And like the last week I’ve had both of those things happen quite a lot. Like for example, with PGSD with the sales page. I am like I was working on that. And like I love writing and all of that. So it’s like, oh, but there’s, I really want to get this just right. And like, say it in the best way I possibly can and have it be as helpful as possible for people to decide whether they’ll join PGSD or not.
And so I was like, Okay, well, I want to do all of this thing and put all these things together and like, made it this whole thing. And then I was looking at my power planning. And I know like, as I said, I’ve got weeks worth planned out. I know that if this drags out, that’s gonna have a big knock-on effect. And I don’t want that to happen. So I’ve got an hour and a half to finish it. So then I went into journaling, and I spent like 10 minutes journaling about if this was easy, what would I do? Yeah, what is the real goal that I’m trying to achieve here?
How can I achieve that in this time, I set a timer. Like I already have my calendar, but I set a timer on my phone that I could see. And I just worked as if I was in an exam, you have a lot of practices of like, the pens are going to be down in an hour and a half. Yeah. And so if that was a situation, what could I create in that time, and trusting that it doesn’t have to be perfect. And it’s not the only piece of the puzzle and all of that. But really, instead of being like, well, because there’s this whole thing that we could talk about, which is knowing how long a task will take. And yes, often it’s a matter of deciding sometimes that just you know you need to keep things workable and give extra time and you didn’t realize things would come up.
But sometimes it’s just a matter of deciding. I’m going to make it take this long, because I could spend a whole All week worth of work, yeah, keeping things and like putting that all together and get to the end be like, That’s pretty great. But really, I didn’t need to be perfect. And I already knew what to say if I really tapped into that. So I could just sit down and focus on that and let it be okay and keep going. And then I talked about on Instagram, when I recorded the other podcast episodes that are part of this series, two of them, I was like this Oh, shit, and I should completely redo them. And then I had to coach myself after the fact, on that. And so that’s part of keeping the plans workable is like coaching yourself. And also in PGSD, we have coaching, you can listen to the coaching, call replays, and other PGSD’s get coached on it. We have the forum, all those things to help you because that coaching in the moment is such an important part of it.
And without a to-do list, like I could just spend all that time doing the sales page and be self-sabotaging but not realizing it, but because I knew I had decided how long I would give myself. So I’d already spent some time on it before that, I think maybe an hour and a half. And I was like a half an hour and a half more. That’s what I decided, yeah, I’ve written sales pages before as well. But that aside, I was like, I’ve done this before. I know what to do. And the only reason it would take more time is that I’m overthinking it. So how am I going to do this without overthinking it? So yeah, they can really be a lot of great opportunities for self-coaching. And it’s such a great personal development tool because all of that stuff I wouldn’t have to face I wouldn’t be uncovering if I was just doing what I used to do as well, which was working from that epic To-Do List constantly feeling behind. And just like them, when we’re doing that we think how work is like, how do I be more motivated? And we’re kind of asking the wrong personal development questions when we’re doing that.
So I love what you said about journaling. And would you say like for someone who is thinking about power planning, but they feel like, well, I’ve got a lot of uncertainty. And you know, I have been procrastinating, I get overwhelmed and the stuff going on outside like that I can’t control you. And I just don’t feel like I can work from a calendar. Or maybe they’ve done it before they did what I didn’t just completely overplanned. And then it felt so strict and rigid. What would you say to someone who is thinking like, this sounds like it could be really helpful for me. But I still don’t think there’s enough certainty for me to be able to plan my time.
I guess my thought process around this is that I, I committed to it. And then I recognize that the planning, so the thing that I thought was going to be restricting in terms of like the planning side of it was actually the thing that liberated me. And then I found so interesting, because it almost feels like by having a plan, you feel restricted, you feel like you’re in a box, you’ve got all these things, but actually, in the way that power planning is designed, it helps you to, to recognize what you can actually do and the flexibility that you can actually have.
And that in itself is if you’re working from a calendar, you can actually physically see in front of you the benefits that it’s going to have in your week. Right. So for me, it was it’s about kind of allowing people who are thinking that way. Allowing people who are in that thought process, saying to them, like just stick with it, give it a good shot, see it as a tool that can help you but also see it as a practice that you can iterate and change and make fit you as you go.
And recognizing that planning like you’re constantly planning anyway, right? You’re always planning but this is in a way that you can plan that actually helps you to feel like you can switch on and switch off to feel like you can have a degree of control within the uncertainty around you. And it’s almost like you don’t necessarily have to be a victim of the externals. It’s like this is a process that you can then figure out how it works for you and control the things that you are able to control and then allow you to go with the flow on the things that you can’t necessarily control as well.
Sam Laura Brown
Yeah, that’s so accurate that we’re planning anyway, even if you have that long to-do list and you’re saying, Well, I have to work from this to-do list because there’s too much uncertainty for me to plan. So I’ll just kind of wait to the day see what’s happening. Yeah, highlight a few tasks and do them. That’s still a method of planning. And it’s one that it doesn’t really help even when there is uncertainty, as I said like you can power plan on the day off sometimes if you need to do that. But the more you practice it, and the more you learn about yourself and how you work best, and you make those contingency plans, then you can plan when there is a lot of uncertainty.
But regardless, like we have the uncertainty anyway, so it’ choosing to actually plan effectively with there being uncertainty or just kind of pretend that everyone else has certainty. And you’re the only one who doesn’t. So you need to have this different way of doing it. I think totally, we all like to think well, like, it’s different for me. Yeah. And it’s Yeah. They don’t have and that kind of thing, but recognizing everyone has that external uncertainty and that internal uncertainty as to how the week will play out. And what are we going to do about that are we going to actually plan effectively and properly in the face of that, or are we just going to try and, you know, put our head on the cover and pretend that isn’t going on, and just see what we feel like in the moment, because I don’t know about you. But for me, when I see how I feel, I rarely feel like doing the things that really matter. And I just do the things that are comfortable I’ve done before, they don’t really involve me, putting myself out there or doing anything bold, it’s just kind of like cool, I feel like doing this behind the scenes stuff that I’m tinkering away at. And so that never worked.
For me, I don’t think it works for many people, you have to really have a lot of courage and be very growth-minded already, to be able to in the moment, pick out those tasks that really are the needle movers and really require a lot of courage. Thank you so much for sharing all that you have you. So I really appreciate it. And we love having you as a PGSD Coach, and have a you help our PGSD is with power planning and applying it to their lives and making it work for them. And as we’ve discussed in this, that, it’s gonna look a bit different, like every week and for everyone, but it’s not about it being a structured like you have to wake up at this time, and then do this kind of task first, like some people warm up and do like, life admin staff or Business Admin first and then do the hard stuff. And other people like I prefer to start the day with doing the challenging things. But the last few weeks when Lydia’s been waking up, I’m like, actually, I just need to kind of ease into the day and I’m just gonna like check in with everyone first, and then I’ll do myself later. So it’s not about having to work in a certain way. It’s really about working in a way that works best for you and figuring that out. I think we know that. But we don’t really know that until we have power planning, we can look at that.
I think on that, sorry. I think on that point. It’s like, I think the benefit of it is not only do you start to actually get lots more high impact, needle moving tasks done, but you actually learn so much more about yourself. And that’s what you were saying, you know, you actually learn how you work and what, what works for you so that you don’t have to necessarily go into that, oh, I’ll just do what I want in the moment. Because you know yourself so much better. It is such a great personal development tool that you get to learn more about yourself, so that you can then apply that to your planning instead of planning being separate to something that you can learn about yourself as well.
Sam Laura Brown
Yeah, and then PGSD we’re just a big bunch of…
Sam Laura Brown
Thank you so much, Michelle.
So welcome. Thank you for having me.
Sam Laura Brown
My pleasure. I will link in the show notes where you can find Michelle on Instagram. Do you want to say your Instagram handle?
Yeah, it’s @Michelle.C.weeks.
Sam Laura Brown
And you have a website doing?
Sam Laura Brown
Awesome. Thank you so much, Michelle.
Sam Laura Brown
If you’re ready to start planning properly as a perfectionist, then I invite you to join us inside Perfectionist Getting Shit Done. So you can find out more about the program at samlaurabrown.com/pgsd. That’s also where you can sign up. The doors will be open from the 10th of Jan to the 16th of Jan 2022.