Hi friends, I hope you are enjoying your new year so far! If you were like me, you began making plans for 2021 the minute you watched the ball drop at midnight… travel plans, new year resolutions, personal and professional goals you’ve set for yourself… Having plans is a great thing! They help us focus our time and energy effectively on achieving what we aspire to do, and it give us something to be excited about for all that is to come. I have always found that the more time I allow myself to ‘plan’, the smoother my life goes, the more I achieve, and the more I enjoy my productive time and down time. While no plan is fool-proof and we must stay flexible to change, and open to spontanaety too, I really believe that the mantra (my mom always told me) that”failing to plan, is planning to fail” really does hold true in our day to day lives.
Today I thought I’d share some ways I plan in my own life as we continue moving into this new year… ways that help me to multi-task and manage my family, businesses and home. As we can all relate, the juggle struggle is real… so any ways that we can make life easier on ourselves, the better!
Use a Planner!
I am a huge proponent of using a Planner… and I spend a bit of time each year selecting which planner to use because the book means so dang much to me… it is my bible of sorts as I use it to keep track of literally everything and everyone in my life.. schedules, appointments, work deadlines, special occasions, trip details… everything! When I have a lot going on it can be therapeutic even, to get everything off of my mind and down on paper, organized in one consistent place… my saving grace.
Target has a wide selection of tried-and-true planners I love, and I have used Erin Condren planners as well and love hers! But this year I tried a new planner by Paper Panduh and am loving it! The soft colors, subtle graphics, pretty fonts, and weekly layout design all spoke to me. I like that there is a bit of space next to the typical lines for me to get a little creative if I have time… using stickers or having space to write more notes. I am a visual person and like to pretty things up, plus I keep all my planners for years to come, as I like to think one day I’ll be in my 80s, rocking quietly in my granny chair looking back thru all of my old planners, remembering the years of my life (& wondering how the heck I did it all some 40 years earlier)… and I’ll want the books to be pretty… so I kind of do it for my future 80 year old self too.. 😉
I take list-making to the extreme probably… just ask my husband… he LOVES getting lists from me. But I picked up this trait from my own mom and can say for certain this organizational genetic trait has definitely been passed down to my daughters… as they list out everything!… So let’s break down my list-making habit a bit further…
Each morning I start my day either at my work office desk or my home office on the weekends, with a cup of coffee and a blank piece of notepad paper to write out all my list of to-dos for the day… emails and calls I need to make, work-related tasks I have to complete, meetings I may have… all the way through to evening with kids activities, home chores… you get the drift. As the day goes along, I satisfactorally (is that a word?) cross things off…and what is not crossed off, I carry over to the next morning’s list. These daily lists keep me on task with what is priority, and helps me not forget anything major, and stay productive all day long. One word to the wise though… don’t over-list yourself, because it can feel very disappointing when you only complete half a list because what you planned to accomplish in one day would realistically take 3 days to get all done…so be practical and patient with yourself.
A Journal of Master Lists…
So this may seem like taking list making to the extreme but I find it really helpful to keep a journal of all my bigger project lists in one centralized notebook. I take a Journal and divide out all of these major parts of my life into ‘categories’ of sorts… so I have a few pages dedicated to each business I own and run, a few pages for family things, a few pages for home projects, etc. Then, when I think of something that needs done…. like, schedule my son’s senior pictures (cue mom’s-ugly-cry)… I write that down under the family pages… if I remember I need to call the pool company to open up the pool in the Spring, I write that under the ‘home project’ pages… that way I don’t have 3000 random things wrote down from work, to kids, to home all mixed in on one overwhelming, never-ending list, but rather strategically placed in their proper categorized lists… (Did I mention I am type-A??… moving on)…
I’ve used plain-jane college-ruled notebooks for this, and I’ve used pretty journals, or even the back notes section of my yearly planner works well too… I do find that the prettier, the better and the more apt I am to use it – kind of like when you have cute work-out clothes, it encourages you to actually want to put them on… and work out… it’s a bit of mind-trickery, but it works!
Set Tasks for Set Days
Another planning strategy that is really helpful for me, is I set certain tasks for certain days each week. For example, I do laundry on Sundays and Monday nights.. I wash my car on Fridays, I have a cleaner who comes to my home every-other Thursday, so I pre-clean my house on Wednesday nights (this… this is something I should work on…why do I pre-clean my house before a cleaner comes?… because I don’t want my cleaner to see my house dirty… everyone has their quirks) 😉 moving on… Planning for the same tasks on the same days/nights (within reason when things come up) is helpful for those of us who are creatures of habit and like schedules.. and it can lessen the burden too as you come upon things that you see needs done… like walking past a huge pile of laundry on a busy Thursday night… instead of feeling overwhelmed that I should be doing that pile of laundry right at that moment… my mind’s eye just remembers – oh, that task isn’t for me to tackle until Sunday…
If there is one thing I have realized is a never-ending responsibility of mine… is that my family needs fed… like every day… multiple times a day… forever. I decided for my own sanity, to break it down in this way… Sundays is a big family brunch or dinner. Mondays – I cook a meal at home. Tuesdays – I cook another meal at home. Wednesdays – I put dinner in the crock pot in the morning so it’s ready for a busy night. Thursday is leftovers night (or very easy dinner (tomato soup & grilled cheese… cereal… let’s be real.. we all do it!) because by Thursday nights I am tired and over it! Fridays we eat out or order in, to celebrate the week!… and Saturdays are simple Saturdays (or fend-for-yourself… aka – mom’s got the day off!) Each morning before I walk out the door, I look at what I have planned for dinner that night and do any prep that needs done hours beforehand… like get meat out to unthaw, marinate, or prep the crock pot… when I get home that night, I am ready to cook!
I meal plan for 2 weeks worth of dinners and only get groceries every/other week (twice a month), with the occasional stop for bread and milk on the off-weeks… I keep my meal planning lists on my phone’s Notes page, because that’s where I also keep my running grocery list (as my phone is always on me and I remember things we need at the most random times and places.)
A Few Other Tips
Those are the key points of my daily and weekly planning tips. A few other things I do, is in January I make all the annual doctor and dentist appointments for my family for the year, book our travel destinations or at least plan for which weeks we are going to travel, and decide which house projects we are going to tackle for the year.. and then write them all down on their respective lists and in my planner… 😉 My only other recommendation is to have a “command central” space in your home… maybe that is a home office, an area of your bedroom, or a desk space in your kitchen, or even if you are tight on space, a portable canvas tote bin… some place where you can keep all the planning things of your life, together… school calendars, travel confirmations, notes, your lists, planner…
Some of this is pretty standard stuff friends, but sometimes it helps to create a system of sorts that works for you, that you can follow each day, week, and year as a guide to help yourself through life, staying organized, on track, accomplished, and well…sane.
I hope my planning tips were helpful for you! Like I said, I’d love to hear how you plan and organize your day-to-day as well… so comment on this post or feel free to message me!
Wishing you all a happy, fulfilling, beautiful year that energizes your spirit and brings peace to your soul!