In late April 2018 Helen Blunden wrote a blog post ‘Create Your Own Personal learning Plan.’ She included a downloadable template. I wanted to try using her template, but was travelling at the time without ready access to a printer. I hand-drew up her template in a notebook and started using it (I love starting fresh notebooks so this action gave me a burst of enthusiasm). Each weekend I fill in the template in my notebook with the things that I feel are most important to accomplish in the coming week.
My first weekly template:
Of course, this template is incomplete as a planning tool for it does not include any scheduling or capacity management. However, I’ve found it a useful part of my planning process. It helps me to make conscious choices about what aspects of my work and learning to progress each week. I supplement it with my calendar and to do list (for which I use the 2Do app).
I’ve evolved the template over the four months I’ve been using it to cover both work and learning. It made sense to do this as the two are closely integrated for me (and many others, although not everyone recognises this). I am constantly learning through my work, and find it important to have a project to apply new knowledge and skills to as part of my learning process. In some instances that project is to create a piece of content (a blog, a video) that forces me to ‘sense-make’ and synthesise new knowledge with my experience and prior knowledge.
My current weekly template:
I tend to get very consumed by my work. For balance I’ve included some categories specifically for personal, non-work activities. Now that I’ve stopped travelling and am settling into a new city I will probably add a category for a hobby or relaxation.
I’ve had a couple of challenges using the template. The first is that I put more on my list each week than I can complete. At times I’ve simply extended the completion period to two weeks. I may try to reduce the template to a single A4 page to force me to reduce the number of activities listed each week.
The second challenge is that having the weekly plan in a notebook reduces visibility. Often I did not look at the completed template until late in the week, when I would realise that I had missed opportunities to focus on the items I’d listed. In the past month I’ve started an informal ‘Mastermind’ check-in with a friend. This session helps hold me accountable for the key actions I’d committed to in the previous Mastermind session, and to clarify what is most important in the coming week. I now complete my template immediately after the Mastermind session, and am conscious of referring to it more frequently during the week as I feel a stronger sense of accountability to my Mastermind buddy.
New location for my weekly template:
Today I copied this week’s completed template and pinned it on a noticeboard that sits on my newly set up desk. It’s definitely more visible, and I expect this will improve progress on the activities I list each week.