How do you plan your week when it feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day? Some seasons of life are like that – so busy that you don’t feel like you’re accomplishing anything. How do you prioritize tasks and projects when that’s the case?
For me, learning how to plan my week has been so helpful. It’s simple, and you may already do this intuitively. When you plan your week, it allows you to see the commitments you’ve made and the time available, and then plan for tasks and projects that are important to you.
For many years, I only kept a digital calendar. In fact, that was the number one reason I first got a smart phone. I wanted to be able to add appointments to my calendar while I was standing in the dentist’s office. (Otherwise, I would lose the appointment card and forget about it, until they called to remind me the day before my appointment. Can you relate??)
I still keep a digital calendar, because I can access it on my phone. Plus, I rely on calendar reminders for birthdays, appointments, and other events. However, in the last year, I started keeping a physical calendar, too. I use it to set my priorities and allocate the time I have available to the projects that are most important to me.
This is my planner, although I’m not sure if I’ll use it again or try something different next year. I like a two-page spread because it gives me room to write, but also allows me to see my entire week at a glance.
Seven Simple Steps to Plan Your Week
In this current season, I like to plan for one week at a time. Planning for an entire month feels daunting, but a week is a very doable timeframe to work with. I walk through the following seven simple steps to plan my week.
1. Sit down prior to Monday morning to plan the coming week.
For some, the ideal time to do this might be at the end of the workweek on Friday. For me, Saturday afternoon or Sunday afternoon works best. Now that I’m in the habit, I feel very scattered if I wake up Monday morning and realize I forgot to plan my week.
If you are married, you may need to meet with your spouse first in order to coordinate your schedules. My counselor suggested we do this and ask each other the question, “How can I support you this week?”
2. Write your commitments onto your weekly calendar.
I copy my timebound commitments from my digital calendar onto the planner. I don’t write in things like “Take kids to school” because I do that every day. (But as always, do what works for you!)
3. Review the things on your calendar that you’re already committed to.
Does anything need to go? Did you double-book your dentist appointment with your child’s soccer practice across town? Make notes to shift and reschedule plans that must change.
4. Write down how you will take care of yourself, your family (or relationships), and your dream.
These are my care priorities. My calendar came with space for this, and it’s been helpful for me to choose what I want to prioritize for my self-care, my relationships, and my dream. I really like doing this week by week, because it allows me to better balance my life.
If I canceled everything last week because a kid got sick, I know that this week I want to catch up on laundry and return to the gym. If last week I shut everything down to meet a work deadline, this might be a good week to schedule lunch with a friend.
5. Write down your goals for the week – no more than three.
In difficult seasons, you should have fewer than three goals, and most of them should be about surviving the season. (Think: Get the laundry done, feed the people, take a nap.) Whatever season you’re in, be reasonable with yourself and your energy levels when you set your weekly goals.
In this season of life – which isn’t mere survival – my goals are usually things that won’t happen if I don’t plan time in which to accomplish them. (For instance, the laundry always somehow gets done. It’s both a part of my routine and a necessity for running our household. The edits on my novel manuscript could get pushed back week after week if I don’t prioritize that project.)
6. Use your care priorities and goals inform the rest of your schedule.
Once I’ve penciled in my daily schedule, I decide when I’ll schedule my grocery pick up, and I block out times for work and meal prep. I also make a list of household chores or errands that I need to do.
7. If you struggle with rest, schedule time for it.
Some of us love or are so driven by our work that we struggle to take breaks; in that case, we really should schedule time for rest. Others of us might turn on Netflix in the name of rest and find ourselves deep into binge-watching Virgin River – again. In both cases, scheduling rest – a beginning and an ending time – will help us to care for ourselves well.
Follow-Through with Planning
After I write down my care priorities, I immediately do whatever I can to ensure that what I need will happen. I text a friend to make lunch plans, reserve a spot in the yoga class I want to attend, or confirm my sitter’s availability for Friday’s date night. This is especially helpful for me as an Obliger. If I have a commitment to someone else, I’m more likely to stick to it than if it’s something I only tell myself I’ll do. Outside accountability helps me to meet my goals.
Because I still rely on my digital calendar for appointment reminders, I make sure to put anything I penciled into my planner on my Google calendar. So, I add my commitments to myself (like “WORK” and the gym) to my digital calendar. That shows me that that time is blocked off for something important, so I won’t schedule something last-minute during that time.
I recently heard from a reader (hi, Evie! 😊), and our conversation prompted me to write this blog post.
Hearing from readers is the very best part of what I do, so please don’t hesitate to reach out.
You can email me at email@example.com.