“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days.” Annie Dillard
I felt like that net was ripped out from under me when I quit teaching. Without a job to fill my schedule, I realized I didn’t know how to make a day happen. I felt unproductive and started to lose my sense of purpose. Eventually, through a lot of trial and error, I figured it out, and the unease gave way to the sure footing of a weekly planning routine.
My Weekly Planning Routine
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How to Plan Your Week to Be Productive
I start my weekly planning routine with a blank page spread (two blank pages side by side) in my bullet journal. I write “week of” on the top of the left page. This simple act is like waving a magic wand over plain paper and turning into a safe space to clear my mind.
If my thoughts are particularly jumbled, I just start writing down what comes to mind until every single idea has worked its way onto paper, not unlike a bunch of six-year-old children racing to be first in line to claim the coveted ‘line leader’ role.
When my mind is calmer, more clear, I linger a little longer, dividing the page into categories: Personal, Home and Work, then jotting down what I’d like to accomplish in those areas that week.
It’s just as important to schedule personal time as it is chores and work. Otherwise, something else will always fill you time, leaving no room for self care.
So, personal to-do’s are reserved for me: dates with friends, doctor visits, and personal appointments like getting my haircut or going for a monthly massage. I also write down ways I’d like to rejuvenate, relax and unwind, like reading, rocking on the porch, or taking a leisurely walk.
Then, I plug those in throughout the week.
Your week will feel so much more balanced when you make room for personal time. You’ll also have more energy for your other responsibilities.
Weekly Household Schedule
The Home category is where I bring decorating ideas and organizing projects to life. It’s also where I hold myself accountable for less glamorous household maintenance like changing out light bulbs, refilling any of the cleaners I make myself, or taking inventory of household products.
I fit all of this in based on my weekly and daily household routines.
How to Plan Your Work Week
I like to have theme days. So, Monday is for social media management. I spend Tuesdays on tech and training. Wednesday is writing day. And so on.
Even though it’s redundant, I jot down the same work tasks every single week. This simple act has helped me to show up consistently for myself and my people.
Adding a check mark next to “write and publish Simply Saturday” at the end of the week tethers my typically wandering spirit. I enter the weekend knowing I’ve answered my calling and feeling more connected to God and my online community.
If your work is volunteer, make sure your commitments align with your priorities. In other words, don’t say yes because no one else is available or because someone pressured you into it. The truth is someone else will do it. And another person’s urgent is not your important.
How to Make a Daily Schedule
Once those categories are filled out, I go back through each list and plug the to-do’s into different days of the week. This part of planning is like putting notes on a staff and creating a melody my soul instantly recognizes and syncs into.
Sometimes I just write the initial of the day of the week in parenthesis next to the task. Other times, when I’m feeling more inspired, I’ll create a weekly layout and add the tasks to specific days.
Having a loose theme for each day of the week keeps me from trying to do too much in one day. It also caters to my natural rhythm and tendency to be very methodical.
When you fill out your daily planner, start with appointments, meetings, game days, and anything else already on your calendar. Then schedule other to-dos around those appointments.
Always leave margin time between appointments and chores to give yourself time to breathe. This will keep you from always feeling like your rushing around from one thing to the next. You and your kids will notice the difference.
And most importantly, cater to your natural rhythm. If you’re not a morning person, schedule appointments for the afternoon. If you have more energy for exercise later in the day, there’s nothing saying you have to exercise at the crack of dawn. As my daughter says, ‘you do you.’
What is the Best Daily Planner?
I’ve noticed lately that I’ve shifted into using a combination of my bullet journal and Google calendar. I write the weekly lists in my journal and the daily to-do’s in the calendar. Whether you use a paper planner or digital planner doesn’t matter. Ultimately, the best daily planner is the one that suits your needs.
- Blank notebook – After some trial and error I’ve landed on a Gold Inspirational journal by Greenroom. I like that the binding doesn’t fall apart and it’s filled with a lot of pages. I used the same journal for over a year when other journals only last a few months.
The folks that are avid about bullet journaling love the luechtturm1917 or the moleskine classic notebook. While I’ve never tried the leuchtturm, I’m currently using a moleskine because Target didn’t have my usual planner. It’s okay, but it’s smaller in size and doesn’t have as many pages at the Greenroom journal.
- Laura Casey – I started out with the PowerSheets Goal Planner and immediately fell in love with it for its feminine, soul-tending design. This planner was designed to help you cultivate what matters, one small step at at time which is what we’re all about at Sharon E. Hines.
The only reason I switched to using a notebook is because I wanted something more portable. If your planning time is always in the same place, then I can’t recommend PowerSheets enough.
- Cozi app – I just discovered the Cozi app and am loving it. This family organizer is accessible on your computer and on your tablet or phone. You can add events to your calendar, view/sync your internet calendar with the Cozi calendar, add meal ideas, create shopping lists, to do lists, and even journal.
Every family member you add is color coded and you can share the calendar with your family. You can even sign up to receive daily and/or weekly emails of your agenda. Cozi is free but also has a paid option. I’m using the free option right now. The free version has ads. And some of the features, like journaling, aren’t available.
The Importance of Weekly Planning
The entire weekly planning process is a weighted blanket for my anxious soul and allows me to ease into the week.
Planning is also key to creating the life you want. It’s the foundation to creating daily and weekly routines. Routines help us develop healthy habits and those habits are the building blocks for our lifestyle.
A planning routine also helps you track how you’re spending your time, what areas of your life need more attention, and where your life is aligning, or not, with your values.
And as Benjamin Franklin so adequately put it,
“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”
For more time management tips for busy moms, read:
Wishing you the ease and rhythm of a weekly planning routine,