Last week we talked about taking our big goals and using them to fuel our plan for the whole month. This is a crucial step, so if you haven’t read that post, start there!
This week we’re going to get a little more specific and plan our week! Monthly planning is how I make time for dreams and goals, weekly planning is how I (attempt to) keep my life together without spinning into a nervous breakdown. It’s also how I make sure that I’m making progress toward those big goals.
HOW I PLAN MY WEEK
Step 1 – Plan to Plan: Oh does that sound familiar? That’s because it’s still important. It’s really tempting to put off planning or never do it. But I promise that if you invest just 15-30 minutes to plan your week, you’ll multiply your productivity and get way more done than if you don’t plan. (I can’t promise how much, but even if you get 2 more hours worth of stuff done in a week, wouldn’t it be worth it? What if you could do 10 more hours worth of stuff?)
I like to start the week with a clear plan and Monday mornings are always crazy, so I set aside some time Sunday afternoon while Olivia’s “napping” (aka jumping around in her bed) to plan my week. You can set aside any time that works for you. It may even take some trial and error to find the right time, so don’t dwell on this right now. Just pick a time you think might work and write “Plan my week” in your planner.
Step 2 – Write down appointments and other time-sensitive tasks: Some parts of our weekly schedule aren’t flexible. So I start by getting a visual of my week’s “framework.” What do I have to work around as I plan the rest of my week? Do I have a doctor’s appointment? A play date? What orders are due? Write it all down. If you already use a planner that has a weekly view, super! If not, use the monthly section of your daily planner. I think it’s important to get a picture of the whole week in one glance. And if you don’t have a planner that you already love, I made a weekly planning sheet just for you! (Click for the download link!)
Step 3 – Rearrange: If there are days that already look too busy, they are. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do about that. Orders need to go out on time, some appointments can’t be changed. But what can you move to make your week more manageable? If I have three big orders due on a Friday, is there room to move two of them earlier in the week? If I have a lot going on at the beginning of the week, should I reschedule the toddler play date for the end of the week? I’ve also started to get a sense of my week’s energy cycle. I work in my daughter’s preschool class on Mondays (you don’t see that in the photo because it’s President’s Day today! Free day off school to work on work!) and I come home exhausted. So I try not to plan anything for Monday afternoons except maybe responding to emails and watching business classes online. For the rest of the week I find I like to get as much work and as many errands as possible done early in the week so that I have more free time for play dates and goal tasks later in the week. The more you practice planning your week, the more you’ll get a sense for which days work best for you to get things done and which days make good pajama days.
Sometimes this means changing plans with friends. And I hate doing that. But as I get more practice at it, I’ve found that my friends enjoy me more when I’m enjoying my time with them. If I have a million things due, I’m not fully present and that’s not fun for anyone. So I’m getting better at noticing when my week looks crazy and saying “I’m really looking forward to our drink date Tuesday, but I’m overwhelmed with work right now! Are you free Thursday or early next week?” I try not to do it so often that I get the reputation of being flakey, but even if I do get that rep, I’d rather be flakey and present than distracted and a bad listener.
If you’re smart, you’ll plan with pencil so you can easily rearrange things. But if you’re me, you can’t find a pencil and your planner looks like a hot mess. Embrace the mess! Life is messy, plans are messy. And then print another page if you want to make a new, clean plan.
Step 4 – Make time for your weekly/monthly goals: Remember when we planned our month? And we came up with some actionable tasks that will help us make progress toward our big goals? If you’re like me, then on the first day of the month you were super excited about all of these things you were going to do. And then as you got into the daily grind, they fell by the wayside. Taking time each week to plan when you’re going to work on these tasks is one more step you can take to make sure these goals are not getting lost in the sea of everyday life. I plan the weekly tasks first. Then I see which monthly tasks could fit in the week.
This is also when I make sure to plan time for rest. I usually have rest activities like massages and happy hours built in to my monthly goals because some of my Big Goals involve taking care of myself and nurturing my friendships. But I also like to go one step further and make sure that I can spend at least one day a week in my pajamas. This is just something I need in my week–maybe you do, and maybe you don’t. But running a business, raising a toddler, and managing a household are all pretty exhausting. And if I’m not careful, I find myself running around all day every day. Even fun activities can be draining when there are too many of them. So I try to reserve one day to just stay home in my pajamas, watch movies with Olivia, do chores, and get work done. They’re still productive days, they’re just days I don’t leave the house. (It took me a long time to discover I needed this! If you’re feeling frazzled, try a pajama day!)
Step 5 – Review and Reschedule: Hint. If there’s no room for a single monthly goal/task or a single rest, your week is too busy. I totally get that some weeks are just too busy. But take a glance at next week and the week after. If they’re too busy too, you’re on a fast train to Burnout. I’ve been on that train. It’s not a fun ride. So if you think you’re approaching the loading dock, cancel something. Anything. Reschedule your dentist appointment, reschedule your kid’s play date, ask for an extension on a deadline. If you find that week after week you’re getting to the weekend exhausted and carrying a pile of work to catch up on, something needs to change. Maybe it’s time to ask a friend to come over and help fill orders. Maybe it’s time to start saying no to projects that aren’t fueling your passion. Maybe it’s time to hire a housekeeper. Or a babysitter. (We’ll talk later about trades you can make if this seems financially impossible.) But don’t stay on the train and hope it will get better. The only way it’s going to get better is if you change something.
The whole goal of this Reach Your Dreams Series is not to cram more into the day/week/month. It’s to recognize what your day, week, and month look like and rearrange as necessary so you’re making time for things that matter and are letting go of things that don’t. This is really really hard and takes a lot of practice. I am still in the beginning stages of it myself. But I can tell you that every time I say “no” to overwhelm, more good comes into my life. So it is 100% worth a try.
Bonus Step – Plan your dinners: While I’m planning what I’m going to do during the week, I also plan what I’m going to eat. Not every meal and snack and drink and sneaky m&m. That’s overwhelming. Just dinners. Planning dinners for the week saves me from having to make a decision about dinner every single night. And it saves my kids from having to eat pasta 4 nights a week because it’s the only thing I can think of to make. It also saves me from having to run up to the store mid-week to fill in the gaps of the weekly grocery trip. This might not seem related to reaching your dreams, but it’s huge for me. You see, our brains can only hold so much in them at once. And if my brain is having to think about dinner, remember to thaw something, make sure we have all the ingredients, and figure out when to stop working and start cooking, it doesn’t leave as much room for being creative. And if my body is physically going up to the store to buy something because I bought a ton of snacks on the weekly grocery run and didn’t really buy anything for meals, well then I’m not spending that time working on something productive. And if all of my money is going to pizza delivery because nothing’s planned for dinner and nothing’s defrosted, then that money isn’t going toward professional conferences or trips with my family or date nights. So meal planning is a key piece of dream reaching for me! (And if you want a tool to help you plan your weekly meals, check out my meal planner notepads! Shameless plug. But not that shameless. I just want everyone to have life changing meal plans like I do!)
And that’s it! It took way longer to write about it than it actually takes to do it. Remember that you’ve already planned your month, so a lot of this is laid out for you. And you’re still going to plan each day, so you don’t have to get crazy specific. This is just a middle step that helps keep up your momentum so you can make progress on those big dreams of yours!
Happy Mompreneur Monday by the way! You may have noticed that I didn’t title this post “Mompreneur Monday–Plan Your Week.” With each new post I’m finding out how truly universal our struggles/questions/joys/ideas really are. Whether we’re women or men, parents or not, entrepreneurs, students, day jobbers, dreamers… turns out these posts are resonating with a lot of different people! So while I’ll always write from the perspective of a mompreneur because that’s who I am, I may not always title the post that way. I want to make sure this information feels accessible to everyone!
I want to hear from you! What are you planning this week that’s one step toward reaching a big dream? Leave a comment for me below!