You may have figured out by now that I am a planner. Generally I function best with a plan that has been written out. For me the reason it works best is that I feel like planning frees up my brain to work on other things within my home and business. Often times if I haven’t written things down, I start to feel my thoughts swirl around the things that have to get done.
The other reason I like to have a plan in place is because I feel like it makes me more efficient with my time. My time is so precious to me, as I’m sure it is to you as well, and I don’t want to spend the little time I have trying to figure out what I should get done first. If I have a plan, even a loose plan, in place, the work usually gets done right away and I can move on to my next task.
I use this philosophy with my home life, business and personal to-dos. And I can assure you while I use this philosophy constantly, I’ve changed the WAY I plan out my days and weeks multiple times even over the last few years. I believe it truly depends on what type of season I’m in and what is feeling best to me at that moment.
I think sometimes just the change of how I’m planning out my week is enough to keep me energized and excited to do it. Even if you’re not a planner, there are ways you can use a little bit of weekly planning to make your week run a bit more smoothly.
I also change how I plan based on what type of season I’m in. Some seasons I’m busier with work or the kids school and so my planning routine changes. I have learned that the best thing to be is flexible and to be gracious with myself. Sometimes I’ve had to take a step back and learn that leaving things on the to do list for another week is okay. It also helps me with future planning and knowing what I can handle and what I can’t handle.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
The first thing to do is realize just how you plan best. You might be the type of person that needs structure and scheduling in everything from day to day tasks to huge projects is beneficial. Or, you might be a person who needs some flexibility with their schedule and the time frame that you have to get things done may change from day to day. And still there are others of you who might really need structure, but have a hard time implementing it.
It’s important to realize HOW you work best. Think about the feeling you get when things are written out or scheduled. Does it overwhelm you, or does it make you feel mentally freed up? That should be a really good indicator of how you can work with your personality and your needs when you plan for the week.
If scheduling everything makes you feel great - do it! If it leaves you with an overwhelmed feeling, then maybe just plan out the “MUSTS”, which I’ll get to later.
LAY IT ALL OUT
Usually on a Sunday night I mentally go through a list of things I want to accomplish during the week. I have it broken down into tasks for work, tasks for my house and home, personal tasks, etc. Notice, I don’t have any actual schedules or appointments on the list. This is strictly tasks I want to accomplish during the week.
Once I have a list of everything I want to do I plug it into my calendar and decide which day things will get done. Some things end up getting done on the same day every week, like chores and cleaning, so there isn’t a whole lot of thought there.
This is a really effective way to get things accomplished when you have a less than regular schedule. You can leave one day completely empty of tasks if it’s a really busy day for you, or you can double up on things you want to get done if it’s a day where you’ll have extra time.
Every week I plan out 7 days worth of meals. I did a whole post on how this can actually save you money and help you eat a more nutritious diet here. I usually don’t plan breakfasts as we have a pretty regular rotation. For the most part it’s planning out dinners for the family.
The one exception to this is planning out school lunches for my first grader. She usually does a mix of school lunch and home lunch and we go through the week of meals every Sunday and she lets me know which days she wants school lunch and home lunch. For the home lunch days I add a task to my calendar for the day before to pack up her lunch for school.
I do the same thing with my meals as I do for my to-dos. I look at my calendar and make sure that I’m not planning a really intensive meal on a day we’ll be gone all night at gymnastics, or a night that we have commitments until dinnertime. If it’s a night we will be home after school, I might plan a meal that takes a little bit more time or effort.
I also look at the weather to see what nights are good grilling weather and what nights we want to do a picnic outside.
Then I plug the meals into my weekly calendar and add any to-dos like meal prepping to that
I had heard about people planning their week of clothing on a Sunday night and I originally thought they were insane. I could not imagine WHY on earth someone would need to do that. But then, I started doing it for my kids just to make school mornings easier. And did it ever!
On Sunday nights we pick outfits for the entire week based on weather, school activities, etc. and lay them all out. Now my kids can get up and get dressed and know what they want to wear before hand so we don’t waste time in the morning. It’s taken the guesswork out of deciding on an outfit and then changing their minds.
Once I started doing it for them, I realized how nice it would be to know what I wanted to wear for the whole week too. I look at my schedule and where I’ll have to be on each day of the week and then plan out my clothes accordingly.
I also find we rotate through our clothes a lot better. There isn’t one shirt that gets worn out because it’s getting worn week after week. Plus it helps me wear some of the clothes in new ways when I’m planning for the entire week.
I find that if I plan out a rounded routine of exercise for the week, it takes the guesswork out of each morning when I get up to exercise. If I already know what I’ll be doing for the week, I can just get up and go instead of try to decide what I should do.
I usually look at the weather and what my schedule is for this too, just like with clothing and meals. It helps me decide if I’m going to run, skip a morning workout and exercise with the kids or do some body weight work inside.
Whatever I end up planning, I just go with it and try to stay pretty much on track. If I have to change things around, I try not to worry or feel stuck to what I’ve planned.
YOUR TOP THREE
Choosing just three things each day means you’re not overwhelming yourself with too many little tasks. It feels horrible to look at your to-do list a mile long at the end of the day and only have a few things checked off. It’s actually counterproductive to have too many things on the list for each day or for the week.
Being realistic and just doing what you know you can do is much more productive in terms of momentum and continuing on.
CATCH UP DAYS
Every week I build in a time period or day where it’s simply a catch up day for the items I didn’t get done throughout the week. Some people will have a catch-up time every day at the end of the day, but for me, I keep it to one day, usually on the weekend.
The important thing about a catch up day is to actually schedule the that time out. Make sure there is a time slot on your calendar that you have scheduled to use for this. Then, make sure you fill in what tasks your catching up on. I find that if I have a blank space on the calendar without a specific task filled in I’m not very productive during that time.
Brendon Burchard has a system where he allows about 40 minutes at the end of each workday for catch up tasks. You could do this too, but since we’re talking about weekly planning, I thought I would share this method of giving yourself one day per week or a portion of one day per week.
TOOLS TO USE
Weekly Goal Planner: My weekly goal planner is a great tool I like to use each week as well. It helps me stay super focused on what I want to accomplish in each area of the week. You can download yours here if you haven’t checked it out already.
To-Doist: This is one of my favorite tools to use for a to-do list. I love that I can add things to each day by voice. For example, I can say (or type) into the app, “Pack Adrienne’s lunch on Tuesday Night” and it will add it to my task list on Tuesday night just because I’ve specified a time.
In To-Doist you can also make different categories to keep yourself really focused and organized. I have one for work, one category for chores and one for personal items. This helps me see exactly what type of task I’m working on.
Daily Print Out: This is my daily printout that I use for each day of the week. You can put it in a three ring binder if you want to keep it more organized, or for me, I just keep it on my desk. You could also print it and put it on your fridge for the day. I have two days per page and then a master planning page.
It makes it easy to put the weekly tasks into a specific day of the week. It also keeps your meals and exercise in one spot too.
GRACE & FLEXIBILITY
We’re all busy and we’re all trying our best to try and make our lives as smooth as possible. If you don’t get everything done one day or one week, give yourself some grace and move on. Let’s remember that these are self-imposed tasks and goals. We can change them at any time. However, if you’re striving towards getting a particular task done, it’s also important to stay on point and move forward as often as you can.
Not being able to get everything done is also a good learning tool to adjust and tweak your future to do lists. If you’re not getting everything done, then you need to ease up on your expectations for yourself.
If you’re finding a lot of time where you don’t know what to do next, then it’s time to get more intentional with your planning and put more on your to do list.
Either way, give yourself a break when it’s not perfect and make a better plan for the next week, not excuses.
Seeking a balanced life through healthy living and a healthy environment
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