Focus On This Podcast

112. Defeat the Sunday Scaries by Designing Your Weeks

Overview

It’s Sunday, and you realize the weekend is over and the week is about to come at you full force. You’re anticipating all the things waiting for you on Monday morning. You’re stressing about what needs to be accomplished. You’re anxious about what you might have forgotten. Is there a way for the start of the week to feel less like a potential house of horrors? 

In this episode, Blake and Courtney discuss how to overcome the Sunday Scaries by considering four key categories as you plan for the upcoming week. They show you how various parts of the Weekly Preview can help you prevent that feeling of dread, so you can start and end your week at ease.

In this episode, you’ll discover—

  • What to do when your task list feels impossible to complete
  • How to avoid getting caught by surprise with important meetings 
  • Why being proactive to schedule connection is vital for self-care
  • The value of reviewing your goals every week

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Episode Transcript

Blake: Hello, Courtney.

Courtney: We’re supposed to be scary right now, and I start laughing right off the bat. I just can’t.

Blake: Oh my gosh. It’s a scary week. It is Halloween season, and I decided to let my hair down today, quite literally. For those who are listening in the auditory manner in this moment, just imagine your worst nightmare with sunglasses, and that’s basically what I look like right now. I have a little bit of a Slash vibe, a little bit of that hair rock vibe. Fortunately, you can really just see my head (for those viewing, you can testify to this), which is helpful, because the Spandex are really, really tight right now…uncomfortably so. So, I have the scaries, if I do say so myself.

Courtney: You’re joking about the Spandex, but I also have my scary outfit on, which is not scary at all.

Blake: Oh gosh! Thank you so much for saying that. I really didn’t want to say anything. I was like, “Listen. I’ve learned my lesson. Don’t talk about how a lady chooses to dress. Express yourself.” I thought this was just a new chapter. You know, we’re closing in on another year. You’re chief marketing officer. You’re really trying to own “lady boss.” You just have that energy.

Courtney: Well, for those of you listening, I have on my very best 80s attire. Listen. I have to say, Blake, I never had to put makeup on in the 80s. I was a child in the 80s. But for those of you women out there who did put makeup on in the 80s…I put on 80s makeup this morning…bless you. Hats off to you, because that is a chore, and I’m sure it was your Daily Big 3 every day. Hands down. The hair, the makeup…it was a chore. So I commend all of you.

Blake: Boy, the more I look at myself here in the reflection of my monitor, I’m like, “You know what? This kind of works.” It may affect my sales numbers. We’ll see. But I think it could affect it in a positive way. You know, people go, “Hey, listen.”

Courtney: Yeah. Up and to the right.

Blake: Especially if I bring my keytar to my Zoom calls. I think that would be helpful. So, here’s the deal, everyone. It’s a scary time, not because it’s Halloween, but sometimes you get what we call the ol’ Sunday scaries. It’s not because there’s a ghoul under your bed or because you accidentally saw a photo of me wearing what I’m wearing right now. It’s because tomorrow is Monday morning.

Courtney: I think, a lot of times, we don’t necessarily have those scaries during the workweek because we’re usually making progress toward something. We’re action-oriented, usually, for our work on those days. I think what happens on the weekend is we have this little bit of rest, and our bodies start to anticipate all of the things that could potentially be looming for us on Monday morning.

Maybe they were the things that… We didn’t document the task that all of a sudden we remember we forgot. It’s just the anticipation of what has to be accomplished next week. Our bodies are almost gearing up for the week, but we’re trying to tell it, “Hey, hold on, hold on, hold on. We’re still on the weekend. It’s not quite time yet.” I think, a lot of times, it’s just that disjointed nature that causes us to have a lot of anxiety about Monday.

Blake: You can do something to prevent or assuage the Sunday scaries, and that’s what we want to help you with so that this Halloween you only have to be worried about this face knocking on your door, this face right here bringing a keytar to your door and asking for candy as an adult man. Let that be your greatest fear this Halloween season.

Courtney: Today, to help you overcome the Sunday scaries, we have four key categories to look at as you plan for your upcoming week. This is one of my favorite topics. Blake, I’m speaking for you, but I think this is one of your favorite topics as well.

Blake: What, Halloween?

Courtney: No. Well, I don’t want to give it away, but we’re going to be talking about the Weekly Preview.

Blake: Oh! That is one of my favorite topics.

Courtney: So, you can all join us as we enter our most haunted version of the Focus on This podcast to defeat the Sunday scaries.

Blake: Okay, Courtney. Are you ready to talk about the first scare? Do you have a flashlight? I can shine it under my face.

Courtney: Sure.

Blake: Hand it to me virtually. There we go. Okay. Imagine the drafted content you wrote has been designed. The proofs are sitting in your inbox for final approval. You’re now deep into your next writing project, and you realize at the end of the day that the proofs were supposed to be reviewed and sent off two days ago. Now they’re overdue, and the delay means you’ll have to pay extra to rush the job. That’s right. Dropped tasks are scary. That’s why you need to capture everything you’re accountable for in a single location. Right, Courtney?

Courtney: I mean, I don’t know that we ever say, okay, tasks and deadlines being dropped is scary. I don’t know that we would ever frame it that way, but I do think it is part of what makes the Sunday scaries a real thing. A lot of times, we feel like we don’t have a way to process these well, and when we don’t have a way to do that, they kind of find ways of creeping up at the wrong time. You know, in the middle of the night when you remember that thing or when you’re out playing with your kids, and you’re like, “Oh, gosh! Do I walk back to the house to find somewhere to document? What do I do here?”

So, it’s understandable, and I think we’ve all had moments where this is scary for us. Again, I don’t know that we would say it that way. The way we’ve built this into the Full Focus Planner is to help you… Whenever you do your Weekly Preview, there’s a process to do your list sweep…checking your email, your meeting notes, Slack, and anywhere else that you have tasks delegated to you. That is a way to try to help you consolidate and have a net for making sure you account for all of the tasks that are needed. Basically, a way to help so that moment where you’re like, “Oh my gosh! That thing!” doesn’t actually happen.

Blake: The scary part of dropped tasks is the sinking feeling. You’re going down the stairs at night, and it’s totally dark, and you’re like, “Oh, gosh! Is something going to jump out and get me?” It’s like that but with a task you forgot. Sometimes it’s not even the dropped tasks. It’s the fear that, “Oh, is there something I’m supposed to be doing right now?” That’s why this part of the Weekly Preview is so helpful. Rather than just going from reactive scary moment to reactive scary moment, you take an extended period of time to do that whole flyover, to look at everything, and then to write all of those things down.

For me, if I’m capturing tasks throughout the week, usually I’m capturing them digitally. I use a digital task manager, just because it’s fast and convenient and I can talk to Siri about it and all that. But during my Weekly Preview, it’s important to go, “What’s important? What’s happening this week?” Write those things down, and then you can make a choice about them ahead of time. Write down the important deadlines.

If we’re talking about the Weekly Preview, if you have a Full Focus Planner, after that task list section, you can actually write down in the little calendar breakdown section… At least this is how I use it, Courtney. I’ll write down the major deadlines and events and things that are there. That way, I’m headed into my week, and I’m not afraid of those forgotten tasks sneaking around the corner, scaring me with their 80s wig.

Courtney: I will say, for me, I’m always putting tasks in my planner. We also have a project management tool called Asana that we use as a company. It’s kind of a hybrid system, but for me, part of my Weekly Preview is doing that list sweep and making sure all of those things I’ve written in my planner get accounted for. What I do is actually move those into the next week when I want to have those accomplished, and that works really well for me.

So, as part of your Weekly Preview process, you may get through your list sweep and looking at your task list and have this moment of, “Okay, this is impossible. This is too much. I could work constantly and never get this list done.” Really, what we want to do with the Weekly Preview is to set up a week you can win. It’s not to overwhelm you. It’s to do the opposite. So, if you get to that moment where you’re like, “Oh my gosh! This is impossible,” that should be a red flag for you to get ruthless with your task list.

I know a lot of times people feel like they can’t talk to their bosses about these instances. If they’re having a week that’s like, “Okay, this is absolutely not going to happen,” they just let things drop because they have to or they just work an enormous amount of hours trying to accomplish these things. For me and the people I lead, I want them to come to me and say, “Hey, can you help me prioritize what’s most important? Are there things I could push out?”

A lot of times, I find that there are things they feel are really critical that when they bring it to me I’m like, “Oh, no. Let’s move that to this date. It’s not a huge deal.” So, that’s one thing if you find this on a repeating process, that over and over again you’re getting to that point where you’re like, “I cannot win this week because of what I have to do coming up.”

Blake: The other advantage of taking time to look at all of the tasks and obligations you have in the upcoming week is not just to schedule them, but if you need to, you can get rid of some. Courtney, you just covered potentially pushing back certain meetings, but you could also just eliminate some tasks if you realize those aren’t really important anymore or you could delegate them. Maybe you feel like, “Hey, I’m going to be overwhelmed. Let me ask a teammate if they can handle that this week.”

Or you may take the time in this moment to ask yourself the question, “How could I make these tasks easier or faster?” Maybe you put in some kind of automation or some kind of batching. Maybe you put that in your calendar and say, “Listen. I have to do this 12 times this week. Maybe I could just crunch all that in. I have a window on Monday of three hours. Let me just knock it all out then.” But consolidating, automating, eliminating, delegating… All of that has a chance to happen only if you take some time before your week begins to take a hard look at those things. Courtney, may I scare you again?

Courtney: Yes.

Blake: Okay. Get ready. Hold on tight. You can grab a blanket if you need to.

Courtney: I’ll make sure it’s my weighted blanket.

Blake: Imagine it was a dark and stormy workday. Your boss is presenting an update to the executive team and asks you to cover a few slides. You agree. It’ll be easy. Or so you think. On the day of, you’re sipping coffee when you realize the meeting has already started. It’s on the other side of the building, and you have missed three calls from your boss.

Courtney: That one is… I mean, obviously it’s not that kind of scary, but that’s a terrible feeling right there, when you are supposed to be contributing, especially if you’re doing something for your supervisor, probably in front of other people who are in leadership at your company. I mean, that is a scary, for sure.

When you’re doing your Weekly Preview, all meetings are probably not going to… You’re not going to write those all down. You may, but for most people, there are a lot of meetings that are repetitive, things like your team meetings, or they’re just little check-ins that maybe don’t rise to the importance. But for a meeting like the one you just described, Blake, that would be really important to outline on part of your Weekly Preview process. Really, that’s mainly about visibility and not getting caught by surprise.

Blake: This is scary for a couple of reasons. First, because you don’t want to have a poor performance, but to me, personally, I’ve been in this place just in personal appointments, where it’s like, “Oh my gosh! I totally forgot I was supposed to go to this health-care appointment,” or whatever it is, and guess what: I missed it or I’m 15 minutes late or whatever. I still have to pay even though I missed my appointment.

It can be costly for your reputation, which is scary. It can be costly for your work results, which is scary. Or it could just be costly from a financial perspective or a relational perspective. Right? I have checked all of those boxes quite thoroughly. If that’s you or if you’ve had that fear of that happening, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Again, the Weekly Preview, similar to tasks… When we do that list sweep, Courtney, I always make sure I look at last week’s calendar and the upcoming week’s calendar, sometimes the next two weeks’ calendar, potentially, because I’ll inevitably always see something I forgot about that if I hadn’t looked ahead, I either would show up unprepared or it would have caught me by surprise and been stressful.

Courtney: Totally. If we haven’t sold y’all on the Weekly Preview… Again, maybe you’ve done the Weekly Preview in the past. Maybe you’ve never tried it. This is kind of reconvincing you the power of this tool. Now, I will add, if you have a partner or spouse or you have kids, this is also the time to check their big appointments as well. Even if you’re doing the Weekly Preview, but you’re not seeing other people’s appointments that impact your appointments, that can kind of be another scary issue if you don’t account for it, and I really love doing that as part of my Weekly Preview process as well.

Blake: Let’s move on. Let’s do another scary, Courtney. I’m having fun with this. I’ll just do a little head shake every time, just so you can really…

Courtney: Can you do this one as, like, a British scary?

Blake: A British scary. Hmm.

Courtney: Can you do a British accent?

Blake: I was about to make some jokes that were offensive. We have some British listeners, and I won’t. Maybe I could do it like Michael Caine. Your friend texts and asks you if you want to go out for coffee. You’re excited, and you agree, but it never finds its way into your planner. On the morning of, you get the text. “Are you on your way? [Confused emoji]”

Courtney: Blake, I don’t know if there are awards for podcasts, but I feel like that one deserves one.

Blake: Okay, yeah. That was my Michael Caine does the Focus on This podcast Halloween episode. That was that character.

Courtney: That was amazing. That was really good. Okay. This one is kind of a connected scary, but it’s more about our connections with people and our relationships with other people. Obviously, those relationships are really what make life worth living. The people closest to us, our most important relationships, are really the driving force of why we do all of the things we do. So, when we let those fall through the cracks, it’s really hard.

I have to admit, Blake, I did this big time recently. I have a group of some friends I worked with. It was like my first job out of college. We get together periodically for lunch or something, maybe two times a year. So, we had been going back and forth pitching dates. You know it’s hard when you have a group of people and you’re trying to coordinate all this.

Blake: And the one person doesn’t have an iPhone, so it makes the whole text thread green.

Courtney: Exactly!

Blake: Ooh! My iMessage doesn’t work.

Courtney: So, I had thrown out a date that worked for me, and they had replied back, but I never put it on my calendar. Then the day before the thing, they were like, “Okay. Is everybody good for tomorrow?” and I was like, “Oh my gosh. Guys, I’m so sorry.” Obviously, my calendar gets filled up. I felt terrible. These are people I love and care for and really want to prioritize connecting with them.

The problem was it was in an informal channel in a text message, and it didn’t get put into my planner. It didn’t get onto my Weekly Preview. So, it’s like a snowball effect. Again, this happens to all of us, but the way to not let that happen is to capture them. You know, move it from that informal channel into a formal channel, like your planner. It’s just really funny that these things still happen to me even though we have this really great tool.

Blake: I mean, that’s one side of the coin, Courtney. I’ve definitely been there, just forgetting, and that has been a theme a little bit, like, things you don’t realize are happening are happening, and then you have to react. The other side of this coin with relationships is that things in your heart you would love to make happen don’t happen because you’re always living in reaction.

I’m actually hanging out tonight with a friend, and I was trying to do the math. This is a guy that I feel like is one of… You know, we really love hanging out. We were in each other’s weddings and stuff. I was like, “It has been over a year since we’ve hung out,” which is bananas. And it’s not for any negative reason. It’s simply because, hey, we’re both busy. Things happen. You’re just going to roll through your life, and you’re busy.

The Weekly Preview is really helpful in this instance. First, to account for those appointments, like you said, Courtney, that you do have with people and to keep those and to honor those commitments, but the other side is… The last step in the self-care section… I’ll use that portion of the Weekly Preview to think about, “Who would I want to connect with this week? What relationships do I want to invest in?” and actually be proactive about putting something on your calendar.

If I’m ever sending texts to friends about hanging out, it almost always happens on Sunday afternoon, because that’s when I’m doing my Weekly Preview. I think, “Oh yeah! I want to hang out with them this week. Let’s see if anybody is free on Friday.” So, if that’s you… Especially in the last couple of years, in a pandemic season, it has been easy to let some relational rhythms slide. You can leverage the Weekly Preview to proactively invest and reengage in relationships.

Courtney: That’s such a great tip, and I feel like we get a lot of questions in the Full Focus Community… By the way, guys, if you’re not there with us on Facebook, join us. It’s such a great community. People ask, “Hey, I kind of feel like I do the same thing over and over again in the self-care section of my Weekly Preview.” I think that’s a great tip for how that might evolve each week. Okay. Are you ready for our last scary?

Blake: Yep, I am. Imagine this, Courtney. You get to the end of a Weekly Preview, and you realize your next week will feel like moving 180 miles per hour. You’re not sure how you’re even going to survive this week. Did you feel scared?

Courtney: I’m speechless. So scared.

Blake: I can tell. You feel very scared, but it has nothing to do with the content of what I said. It’s mostly my gyrations as I was doing that.

Courtney: Yes. This episode needs to be…

Blake: Deleted instantly from everyone’s phones. Thank you. So, picking up off that last tip or instruction point about the Weekly Preview, this one is about some self-care. That’s the category we’re talking about: the too-often overlooked portion, perhaps, of your Weekly Preview, the part where you think about yourself, how you’re doing, and what you might need to take care of yourself.

Courtney: Well, I will add that I think a lot of people think of this as ancillary, like, “Oh, that’s nice,” but really, we include this because… First, you’re a whole person, but, again, most of you… In your profession, you have to perform. I see it as a recipe for success. If you want to design success in your profession, you’re going to have to take care of yourself. It’s not even an option.

So, if you need to reframe this and say, “Okay. This is actually what’s going to take me to the next level…” If that helps you to actually think about this self-care section differently, as less like, “Oh, yeah, that would be nice if it happens,” and more of “No, this is my unfair advantage. This is the thing that’s really going to catapult me to the next level…” I think that mindset shift might help you a little bit.

Blake: For anyone listening who hasn’t done a Weekly Preview or doesn’t have a Full Focus Planner, all we’re talking about is taking time each week to consider a few categories of self-care and being intentional about planning for those and installing those things in your week. So, things like sleep, eating (nutritionally, what you want to do eating-wise), move (that’s what we call it…exercise, that sort of stuff), connect (I touched on that in the last tip about relational connections), and relax (what you’re going to do to simply turn off and just chill and allow yourself to rejuvenate).

One bonus tip with this one… If you find yourself struggling to fill out that section of your planner or to even think through what self-care would be, I think the biggest challenge is something you touched on, Courtney: just the decision that this is important for my success. If you’re struggling with that, what I do in the Weekly Preview… Even before you get to the self-care section, look back at your annual goals.

Here’s how those are connected. If you’re looking ahead at your appointments and the to-do list during the week, it can feel like your whole world. It’s just so important that all of these million things happen, and what success looks like is just barreling through no matter what it costs. But if you first look at your goals, you can see this week in proper perspective in terms of importance.

There will be some weeks, perhaps, that really do require extra energy and time to do all the things. It happens. But if that’s every single week, that’s an indication that you’ve fallen out of that alignment. When I look at my goals, it reminds me, “Oh, gosh! That goal is actually pretty big, so I can’t afford to burn out this week, because guess what: another week is coming around the corner, and another week is coming around the corner. This is just one iterative step toward a big goal, so it’s important for me to take care of myself so I can actually reach the finish line.”

It’s why a marathon runner doesn’t run like a sprinter, like Usain Bolt, for the first four miles of the marathon. Otherwise, you’ll run out of gas. You’ll never even finish. So, look at your goals, as well, when you’re thinking about prioritizing self-care in your week, and I think it will help.

Courtney: Hopefully today you learned you don’t have to stay stuck in the haunted mansion with the Sunday scaries. You can start and end your week at ease when you plan your week around your tasks, deadlines, meetings and appointments, connections and obligations, and self-care. Obviously, the Weekly Preview is the secret sauce that we want to encourage you, if you’re not using, to start using right now. Go ahead. Blake, any other final thoughts you want to add?

Blake: Gosh. My final thought. A scary final thought. Let’s see…

Courtney: Well, the scary final thought is if you don’t take steps, you will live Sunday scaries for the rest of your life.

Blake: Until the end of time! In this instance, fear doesn’t have to get the best of you, but you can… Like your kiddos are probably going to be leveraging fear to score some candy in their pillowcase, or whatever they bring… I always just used a pillowcase. Was that lame?

Courtney: That’s old school, man. Now you get a cute little bucket with your name monogrammed on it.

Blake: What? Okay.

Courtney: That’s how they roll now.

Blake: I used a pillowcase. Literally, slept on that pillowcase the same night. Probably pretty gross. Filled with candy, just Reese’s wrappers crinkling around my ear. But you can leverage the fear that maybe you have felt this Sunday or you’re feeling next Sunday and be like, “You know what?” As soon as you feel that fear creeping in on Sunday morning or Sunday afternoon or Sunday night, just say, “Hey, I’m going to give myself 30 minutes.”

Just start there…not to try to not feel scared about the week and not try to plan everything in your head, but just to go through a process and see how you feel afterward. Just go through the process, take 30 minutes, and take those iterative steps until you build that habit, and eventually, you won’t have to use fear anymore to try to get stuff done. You can use excitement and vision and purpose to feel motivated for your upcoming week and finally start loving Mondays. Isn’t that what we’re about, Courtney?

Courtney: That’s right! That’s our whole promise. Okay. Thanks, everybody, for joining us. Hopefully you had fun today on this episode of Focus on This.

Blake: This is the most scary productive podcast on the Internet, so don’t be a stranger. Join us in the Full Focus Planner Community. And you know what? Share your own scaries in there, and we can help you out. We’ll be here again next week with another great episode. Hopefully less scary for my sake, personally, and for all of you listening. But we’ll be here next week.

Courtney: Until then…

Both: Stay focused!

Blake: Hello, Courtney.

Courtney: We’re supposed to be scary right now, and I start laughing right off the bat. I just can’t.

Blake: Oh my gosh. It’s a scary week. It is Halloween season, and I decided to let my hair down today, quite literally. For those who are listening in the auditory manner in this moment, just imagine your worst nightmare with sunglasses, and that’s basically what I look like right now. I have a little bit of a Slash vibe, a little bit of that hair rock vibe. Fortunately, you can really just see my head (for those viewing, you can testify to this), which is helpful, because the Spandex are really, really tight right now…uncomfortably so. So, I have the scaries, if I do say so myself.

Courtney: You’re joking about the Spandex, but I also have my scary outfit on, which is not scary at all.

Blake: Oh gosh! Thank you so much for saying that. I really didn’t want to say anything. I was like, “Listen. I’ve learned my lesson. Don’t talk about how a lady chooses to dress. Express yourself.” I thought this was just a new chapter. You know, we’re closing in on another year. You’re chief marketing officer. You’re really trying to own “lady boss.” You just have that energy.

Courtney: Well, for those of you listening, I have on my very best 80s attire. Listen. I have to say, Blake, I never had to put makeup on in the 80s. I was a child in the 80s. But for those of you women out there who did put makeup on in the 80s…I put on 80s makeup this morning…bless you. Hats off to you, because that is a chore, and I’m sure it was your Daily Big 3 every day. Hands down. The hair, the makeup…it was a chore. So I commend all of you.

Blake: Boy, the more I look at myself here in the reflection of my monitor, I’m like, “You know what? This kind of works.” It may affect my sales numbers. We’ll see. But I think it could affect it in a positive way. You know, people go, “Hey, listen.”

Courtney: Yeah. Up and to the right.

Blake: Especially if I bring my keytar to my Zoom calls. I think that would be helpful. So, here’s the deal, everyone. It’s a scary time, not because it’s Halloween, but sometimes you get what we call the ol’ Sunday scaries. It’s not because there’s a ghoul under your bed or because you accidentally saw a photo of me wearing what I’m wearing right now. It’s because tomorrow is Monday morning.

Courtney: I think, a lot of times, we don’t necessarily have those scaries during the workweek because we’re usually making progress toward something. We’re action-oriented, usually, for our work on those days. I think what happens on the weekend is we have this little bit of rest, and our bodies start to anticipate all of the things that could potentially be looming for us on Monday morning.

Maybe they were the things that… We didn’t document the task that all of a sudden we remember we forgot. It’s just the anticipation of what has to be accomplished next week. Our bodies are almost gearing up for the week, but we’re trying to tell it, “Hey, hold on, hold on, hold on. We’re still on the weekend. It’s not quite time yet.” I think, a lot of times, it’s just that disjointed nature that causes us to have a lot of anxiety about Monday.

Blake: You can do something to prevent or assuage the Sunday scaries, and that’s what we want to help you with so that this Halloween you only have to be worried about this face knocking on your door, this face right here bringing a keytar to your door and asking for candy as an adult man. Let that be your greatest fear this Halloween season.

Courtney: Today, to help you overcome the Sunday scaries, we have four key categories to look at as you plan for your upcoming week. This is one of my favorite topics. Blake, I’m speaking for you, but I think this is one of your favorite topics as well.

Blake: What, Halloween?

Courtney: No. Well, I don’t want to give it away, but we’re going to be talking about the Weekly Preview.

Blake: Oh! That is one of my favorite topics.

Courtney: So, you can all join us as we enter our most haunted version of the Focus on This podcast to defeat the Sunday scaries.

Blake: Okay, Courtney. Are you ready to talk about the first scare? Do you have a flashlight? I can shine it under my face.

Courtney: Sure.

Blake: Hand it to me virtually. There we go. Okay. Imagine the drafted content you wrote has been designed. The proofs are sitting in your inbox for final approval. You’re now deep into your next writing project, and you realize at the end of the day that the proofs were supposed to be reviewed and sent off two days ago. Now they’re overdue, and the delay means you’ll have to pay extra to rush the job. That’s right. Dropped tasks are scary. That’s why you need to capture everything you’re accountable for in a single location. Right, Courtney?

Courtney: I mean, I don’t know that we ever say, okay, tasks and deadlines being dropped is scary. I don’t know that we would ever frame it that way, but I do think it is part of what makes the Sunday scaries a real thing. A lot of times, we feel like we don’t have a way to process these well, and when we don’t have a way to do that, they kind of find ways of creeping up at the wrong time. You know, in the middle of the night when you remember that thing or when you’re out playing with your kids, and you’re like, “Oh, gosh! Do I walk back to the house to find somewhere to document? What do I do here?”

So, it’s understandable, and I think we’ve all had moments where this is scary for us. Again, I don’t know that we would say it that way. The way we’ve built this into the Full Focus Planner is to help you… Whenever you do your Weekly Preview, there’s a process to do your list sweep…checking your email, your meeting notes, Slack, and anywhere else that you have tasks delegated to you. That is a way to try to help you consolidate and have a net for making sure you account for all of the tasks that are needed. Basically, a way to help so that moment where you’re like, “Oh my gosh! That thing!” doesn’t actually happen.

Blake: The scary part of dropped tasks is the sinking feeling. You’re going down the stairs at night, and it’s totally dark, and you’re like, “Oh, gosh! Is something going to jump out and get me?” It’s like that but with a task you forgot. Sometimes it’s not even the dropped tasks. It’s the fear that, “Oh, is there something I’m supposed to be doing right now?” That’s why this part of the Weekly Preview is so helpful. Rather than just going from reactive scary moment to reactive scary moment, you take an extended period of time to do that whole flyover, to look at everything, and then to write all of those things down.

For me, if I’m capturing tasks throughout the week, usually I’m capturing them digitally. I use a digital task manager, just because it’s fast and convenient and I can talk to Siri about it and all that. But during my Weekly Preview, it’s important to go, “What’s important? What’s happening this week?” Write those things down, and then you can make a choice about them ahead of time. Write down the important deadlines.

If we’re talking about the Weekly Preview, if you have a Full Focus Planner, after that task list section, you can actually write down in the little calendar breakdown section… At least this is how I use it, Courtney. I’ll write down the major deadlines and events and things that are there. That way, I’m headed into my week, and I’m not afraid of those forgotten tasks sneaking around the corner, scaring me with their 80s wig.

Courtney: I will say, for me, I’m always putting tasks in my planner. We also have a project management tool called Asana that we use as a company. It’s kind of a hybrid system, but for me, part of my Weekly Preview is doing that list sweep and making sure all of those things I’ve written in my planner get accounted for. What I do is actually move those into the next week when I want to have those accomplished, and that works really well for me.

So, as part of your Weekly Preview process, you may get through your list sweep and looking at your task list and have this moment of, “Okay, this is impossible. This is too much. I could work constantly and never get this list done.” Really, what we want to do with the Weekly Preview is to set up a week you can win. It’s not to overwhelm you. It’s to do the opposite. So, if you get to that moment where you’re like, “Oh my gosh! This is impossible,” that should be a red flag for you to get ruthless with your task list.

I know a lot of times people feel like they can’t talk to their bosses about these instances. If they’re having a week that’s like, “Okay, this is absolutely not going to happen,” they just let things drop because they have to or they just work an enormous amount of hours trying to accomplish these things. For me and the people I lead, I want them to come to me and say, “Hey, can you help me prioritize what’s most important? Are there things I could push out?”

A lot of times, I find that there are things they feel are really critical that when they bring it to me I’m like, “Oh, no. Let’s move that to this date. It’s not a huge deal.” So, that’s one thing if you find this on a repeating process, that over and over again you’re getting to that point where you’re like, “I cannot win this week because of what I have to do coming up.”

Blake: The other advantage of taking time to look at all of the tasks and obligations you have in the upcoming week is not just to schedule them, but if you need to, you can get rid of some. Courtney, you just covered potentially pushing back certain meetings, but you could also just eliminate some tasks if you realize those aren’t really important anymore or you could delegate them. Maybe you feel like, “Hey, I’m going to be overwhelmed. Let me ask a teammate if they can handle that this week.”

Or you may take the time in this moment to ask yourself the question, “How could I make these tasks easier or faster?” Maybe you put in some kind of automation or some kind of batching. Maybe you put that in your calendar and say, “Listen. I have to do this 12 times this week. Maybe I could just crunch all that in. I have a window on Monday of three hours. Let me just knock it all out then.” But consolidating, automating, eliminating, delegating… All of that has a chance to happen only if you take some time before your week begins to take a hard look at those things. Courtney, may I scare you again?

Courtney: Yes.

Blake: Okay. Get ready. Hold on tight. You can grab a blanket if you need to.

Courtney: I’ll make sure it’s my weighted blanket.

Blake: Imagine it was a dark and stormy workday. Your boss is presenting an update to the executive team and asks you to cover a few slides. You agree. It’ll be easy. Or so you think. On the day of, you’re sipping coffee when you realize the meeting has already started. It’s on the other side of the building, and you have missed three calls from your boss.

Courtney: That one is… I mean, obviously it’s not that kind of scary, but that’s a terrible feeling right there, when you are supposed to be contributing, especially if you’re doing something for your supervisor, probably in front of other people who are in leadership at your company. I mean, that is a scary, for sure.

When you’re doing your Weekly Preview, all meetings are probably not going to… You’re not going to write those all down. You may, but for most people, there are a lot of meetings that are repetitive, things like your team meetings, or they’re just little check-ins that maybe don’t rise to the importance. But for a meeting like the one you just described, Blake, that would be really important to outline on part of your Weekly Preview process. Really, that’s mainly about visibility and not getting caught by surprise.

Blake: This is scary for a couple of reasons. First, because you don’t want to have a poor performance, but to me, personally, I’ve been in this place just in personal appointments, where it’s like, “Oh my gosh! I totally forgot I was supposed to go to this health-care appointment,” or whatever it is, and guess what: I missed it or I’m 15 minutes late or whatever. I still have to pay even though I missed my appointment.

It can be costly for your reputation, which is scary. It can be costly for your work results, which is scary. Or it could just be costly from a financial perspective or a relational perspective. Right? I have checked all of those boxes quite thoroughly. If that’s you or if you’ve had that fear of that happening, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Again, the Weekly Preview, similar to tasks… When we do that list sweep, Courtney, I always make sure I look at last week’s calendar and the upcoming week’s calendar, sometimes the next two weeks’ calendar, potentially, because I’ll inevitably always see something I forgot about that if I hadn’t looked ahead, I either would show up unprepared or it would have caught me by surprise and been stressful.

Courtney: Totally. If we haven’t sold y’all on the Weekly Preview… Again, maybe you’ve done the Weekly Preview in the past. Maybe you’ve never tried it. This is kind of reconvincing you the power of this tool. Now, I will add, if you have a partner or spouse or you have kids, this is also the time to check their big appointments as well. Even if you’re doing the Weekly Preview, but you’re not seeing other people’s appointments that impact your appointments, that can kind of be another scary issue if you don’t account for it, and I really love doing that as part of my Weekly Preview process as well.

Blake: Let’s move on. Let’s do another scary, Courtney. I’m having fun with this. I’ll just do a little head shake every time, just so you can really…

Courtney: Can you do this one as, like, a British scary?

Blake: A British scary. Hmm.

Courtney: Can you do a British accent?

Blake: I was about to make some jokes that were offensive. We have some British listeners, and I won’t. Maybe I could do it like Michael Caine. Your friend texts and asks you if you want to go out for coffee. You’re excited, and you agree, but it never finds its way into your planner. On the morning of, you get the text. “Are you on your way? [Confused emoji]”

Courtney: Blake, I don’t know if there are awards for podcasts, but I feel like that one deserves one.

Blake: Okay, yeah. That was my Michael Caine does the Focus on This podcast Halloween episode. That was that character.

Courtney: That was amazing. That was really good. Okay. This one is kind of a connected scary, but it’s more about our connections with people and our relationships with other people. Obviously, those relationships are really what make life worth living. The people closest to us, our most important relationships, are really the driving force of why we do all of the things we do. So, when we let those fall through the cracks, it’s really hard.

I have to admit, Blake, I did this big time recently. I have a group of some friends I worked with. It was like my first job out of college. We get together periodically for lunch or something, maybe two times a year. So, we had been going back and forth pitching dates. You know it’s hard when you have a group of people and you’re trying to coordinate all this.

Blake: And the one person doesn’t have an iPhone, so it makes the whole text thread green.

Courtney: Exactly!

Blake: Ooh! My iMessage doesn’t work.

Courtney: So, I had thrown out a date that worked for me, and they had replied back, but I never put it on my calendar. Then the day before the thing, they were like, “Okay. Is everybody good for tomorrow?” and I was like, “Oh my gosh. Guys, I’m so sorry.” Obviously, my calendar gets filled up. I felt terrible. These are people I love and care for and really want to prioritize connecting with them.

The problem was it was in an informal channel in a text message, and it didn’t get put into my planner. It didn’t get onto my Weekly Preview. So, it’s like a snowball effect. Again, this happens to all of us, but the way to not let that happen is to capture them. You know, move it from that informal channel into a formal channel, like your planner. It’s just really funny that these things still happen to me even though we have this really great tool.

Blake: I mean, that’s one side of the coin, Courtney. I’ve definitely been there, just forgetting, and that has been a theme a little bit, like, things you don’t realize are happening are happening, and then you have to react. The other side of this coin with relationships is that things in your heart you would love to make happen don’t happen because you’re always living in reaction.

I’m actually hanging out tonight with a friend, and I was trying to do the math. This is a guy that I feel like is one of… You know, we really love hanging out. We were in each other’s weddings and stuff. I was like, “It has been over a year since we’ve hung out,” which is bananas. And it’s not for any negative reason. It’s simply because, hey, we’re both busy. Things happen. You’re just going to roll through your life, and you’re busy.

The Weekly Preview is really helpful in this instance. First, to account for those appointments, like you said, Courtney, that you do have with people and to keep those and to honor those commitments, but the other side is… The last step in the self-care section… I’ll use that portion of the Weekly Preview to think about, “Who would I want to connect with this week? What relationships do I want to invest in?” and actually be proactive about putting something on your calendar.

If I’m ever sending texts to friends about hanging out, it almost always happens on Sunday afternoon, because that’s when I’m doing my Weekly Preview. I think, “Oh yeah! I want to hang out with them this week. Let’s see if anybody is free on Friday.” So, if that’s you… Especially in the last couple of years, in a pandemic season, it has been easy to let some relational rhythms slide. You can leverage the Weekly Preview to proactively invest and reengage in relationships.

Courtney: That’s such a great tip, and I feel like we get a lot of questions in the Full Focus Community… By the way, guys, if you’re not there with us on Facebook, join us. It’s such a great community. People ask, “Hey, I kind of feel like I do the same thing over and over again in the self-care section of my Weekly Preview.” I think that’s a great tip for how that might evolve each week. Okay. Are you ready for our last scary?

Blake: Yep, I am. Imagine this, Courtney. You get to the end of a Weekly Preview, and you realize your next week will feel like moving 180 miles per hour. You’re not sure how you’re even going to survive this week. Did you feel scared?

Courtney: I’m speechless. So scared.

Blake: I can tell. You feel very scared, but it has nothing to do with the content of what I said. It’s mostly my gyrations as I was doing that.

Courtney: Yes. This episode needs to be…

Blake: Deleted instantly from everyone’s phones. Thank you. So, picking up off that last tip or instruction point about the Weekly Preview, this one is about some self-care. That’s the category we’re talking about: the too-often overlooked portion, perhaps, of your Weekly Preview, the part where you think about yourself, how you’re doing, and what you might need to take care of yourself.

Courtney: Well, I will add that I think a lot of people think of this as ancillary, like, “Oh, that’s nice,” but really, we include this because… First, you’re a whole person, but, again, most of you… In your profession, you have to perform. I see it as a recipe for success. If you want to design success in your profession, you’re going to have to take care of yourself. It’s not even an option.

So, if you need to reframe this and say, “Okay. This is actually what’s going to take me to the next level…” If that helps you to actually think about this self-care section differently, as less like, “Oh, yeah, that would be nice if it happens,” and more of “No, this is my unfair advantage. This is the thing that’s really going to catapult me to the next level…” I think that mindset shift might help you a little bit.

Blake: For anyone listening who hasn’t done a Weekly Preview or doesn’t have a Full Focus Planner, all we’re talking about is taking time each week to consider a few categories of self-care and being intentional about planning for those and installing those things in your week. So, things like sleep, eating (nutritionally, what you want to do eating-wise), move (that’s what we call it…exercise, that sort of stuff), connect (I touched on that in the last tip about relational connections), and relax (what you’re going to do to simply turn off and just chill and allow yourself to rejuvenate).

One bonus tip with this one… If you find yourself struggling to fill out that section of your planner or to even think through what self-care would be, I think the biggest challenge is something you touched on, Courtney: just the decision that this is important for my success. If you’re struggling with that, what I do in the Weekly Preview… Even before you get to the self-care section, look back at your annual goals.

Here’s how those are connected. If you’re looking ahead at your appointments and the to-do list during the week, it can feel like your whole world. It’s just so important that all of these million things happen, and what success looks like is just barreling through no matter what it costs. But if you first look at your goals, you can see this week in proper perspective in terms of importance.

There will be some weeks, perhaps, that really do require extra energy and time to do all the things. It happens. But if that’s every single week, that’s an indication that you’ve fallen out of that alignment. When I look at my goals, it reminds me, “Oh, gosh! That goal is actually pretty big, so I can’t afford to burn out this week, because guess what: another week is coming around the corner, and another week is coming around the corner. This is just one iterative step toward a big goal, so it’s important for me to take care of myself so I can actually reach the finish line.”

It’s why a marathon runner doesn’t run like a sprinter, like Usain Bolt, for the first four miles of the marathon. Otherwise, you’ll run out of gas. You’ll never even finish. So, look at your goals, as well, when you’re thinking about prioritizing self-care in your week, and I think it will help.

Courtney: Hopefully today you learned you don’t have to stay stuck in the haunted mansion with the Sunday scaries. You can start and end your week at ease when you plan your week around your tasks, deadlines, meetings and appointments, connections and obligations, and self-care. Obviously, the Weekly Preview is the secret sauce that we want to encourage you, if you’re not using, to start using right now. Go ahead. Blake, any other final thoughts you want to add?

Blake: Gosh. My final thought. A scary final thought. Let’s see…

Courtney: Well, the scary final thought is if you don’t take steps, you will live Sunday scaries for the rest of your life.

Blake: Until the end of time! In this instance, fear doesn’t have to get the best of you, but you can… Like your kiddos are probably going to be leveraging fear to score some candy in their pillowcase, or whatever they bring… I always just used a pillowcase. Was that lame?

Courtney: That’s old school, man. Now you get a cute little bucket with your name monogrammed on it.

Blake: What? Okay.

Courtney: That’s how they roll now.

Blake: I used a pillowcase. Literally, slept on that pillowcase the same night. Probably pretty gross. Filled with candy, just Reese’s wrappers crinkling around my ear. But you can leverage the fear that maybe you have felt this Sunday or you’re feeling next Sunday and be like, “You know what?” As soon as you feel that fear creeping in on Sunday morning or Sunday afternoon or Sunday night, just say, “Hey, I’m going to give myself 30 minutes.”

Just start there…not to try to not feel scared about the week and not try to plan everything in your head, but just to go through a process and see how you feel afterward. Just go through the process, take 30 minutes, and take those iterative steps until you build that habit, and eventually, you won’t have to use fear anymore to try to get stuff done. You can use excitement and vision and purpose to feel motivated for your upcoming week and finally start loving Mondays. Isn’t that what we’re about, Courtney?

Courtney: That’s right! That’s our whole promise. Okay. Thanks, everybody, for joining us. Hopefully you had fun today on this episode of Focus on This.

Blake: This is the most scary productive podcast on the Internet, so don’t be a stranger. Join us in the Full Focus Planner Community. And you know what? Share your own scaries in there, and we can help you out. We’ll be here again next week with another great episode. Hopefully less scary for my sake, personally, and for all of you listening. But we’ll be here next week.

Courtney: Until then…

Both: Stay focused!