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In order to feel at peace on a daily basis, I need to know that I have been productive. If I’ve wasted a day scrolling through social media and focusing on unimportant tasks, I feel anxious and unsatisfied.
Something that I have realized during my maternity leave is that I need to take small steps towards my goals everyday, even if it’s just completing one item on my to-do list. [I also know I need to give myself grace during this time of my life because most days I’m lucky if I get to shower. ? I don’t want to be so focused on getting stuff done that I miss soaking up this precious time with my baby. It’s all a delicate balance, wrapped in mom guilt with a side of toddler hugs and kisses. ?]
That being said, I am my most productive self when I take the time to plan out my days and weeks. I typically use Sunday evenings to get organized for the week ahead as well as the following day. I also plan out the upcoming months in terms of major events. The whole process is detailed below:
For monthly planning, I use the Snow & Graham calendar. I love the beautiful images and the calendar squares are big enough for writing.
I use my monthly calendar for major events, trips and birthdays. It also serves as my editorial calendar for my blog. I write out my blog and instagram posts on the days I plan on posting them.
I typically try and fill it out for the next three months. It allows me to take a quick glimpse and see what major things are coming up. I usually make these updates at the beginning of a new month. I’ll also make revisions as we go. This is not a weekly activity but I wanted to include it in this post to give you an idea of my whole planning process.
For my weekly schedule, I use the Rifle Paper Co. Weekly Calendar desk pad. Here I list out any appointments or meetings that my husband or I have. [I take these directly from our phone. My husband and I share our iPhone calendars with each other so that we know what the other person has going on, and any family events that are occurring. This has been huge in helping us stay in sync from a schedule perspective.] Although these events are in my phone, I’m an old-fashioned pen and paper kinda gal and love having it in physical form where I can easily see it.
In addition to these events, I also ￼do our family meal planning on my weekly calendar. Every Sunday, I figure out what I will cook for the week. Normally I cook on Sunday night, Tuesday and Thursday. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I try to prepare as much as I can during my lunch break so that I don’t have as much to cook when I get off work. [Working from home allows me to do that which is a huge blessing.] I try and make enough for two nights of dinner and for two lunches for my son. He eats mostly what we eat, but since he hasn’t perfected the art of silverware just yet, I sometimes modify certain foods to make it easier on him. Friday night we get tacos – it’s become a weekly tradition that we look forward to! Saturday night we’ll also go out. [These days post-baby, we’ve been picking up sushi and I’m in heaven! ? 10 months without a tuna tower was far too long, haha.]
For my daily schedule, I use the Brendon Burchard high performance planner. If you need to do your daily planning quickly, you might consider another planner. This one is time-intensive and very thorough. However, I have found, that when I really spend the time to fill it out, I am my most productive. [I fill it out after my son goes to bed.] The secret for me has been to block out my day in 30 minute or 1 hour time intervals. Within those timeframes, I list out specifically what I need to get done [i.e. finish X assignment, respond to emails, call Alanna, etc.]. If I don’t write EXACTLY what needs to get done in a certain timeblock, I’ll find myself wasting so much precious time with filler activities like social media scrolling and the like.
I hav￼e by no means perfected this strategy because I am a procrastinator and work best under pressure. My natural tendency is to wait until the last minute and then crank through whatever task remains. However, this approach allows me to get things done in advance and to know what’s on the horizon. Having everything scheduled out in chunks helps keep me on task.
On my daily calendar, I list out all work, personal and blog activities that I have to get done throughout the day. I plan out when I cook our meals, schedule out my work to-dos and my time slot to work on the week’s blog post. All personal tasks are framed in orange and all work-related tasks are pink. My morning [meditation / journaling] and evening routines [putting the baby to bed, dinner, etc.] are in blue. You can see this shown in the pictures above.
I do my daily planning the evening before. When I skip this step, I’m highly unproductive the next day and will forget to do important things.
The weekly and daily planning are the two most critical components of the planning process. When I started implementing this approach I noticed that I was able to get so much more done during the day. I also liked having a physical place where I was keeping track of my accomplishments for the week. Whatever I don’t get done the day before, I move to the next day.
Before I started doing my planning like this, I used to have a running to-do list that I tried to get through each day. This was a much less effective strategy. Unlike now, I didn’t know exactly when I should be doing each task. I would get to the to-do item when “I had time,” and that proved to be completely inefficient. My productivity was left up to chance, which is not an efficient approach.
I hope this post gives you some pointers that will help you in your weekly planning. Is there something you do that makes you incredibly productive? Or do you have a favorite journal, pen, etc that you use that gives you the boost you need?? If so, I’d love to hear about it! Let me know in the comments below!