It sounds like such a simple thing – making time to plan – and truly, it is. But because it is so simple, it’s easy to overlook, especially in the midst of busy mom life. The difference it makes however, is impactful.
When I first left the working world to stay home with my oldest daughter (she was my only child at the time), I was pretty clueless. I thought I would have so much time to get stuff done every day. I pictured us happily playing and cuddling, and then I’d fold laundry and make dinner and accomplish domestic greatness. It would be so easy, I thought.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
I found myself wasting a lot of time each day just trying to figure out what to get done. I’d think, “I should probably go to the grocery store today,” but then by the time I’d manage to scratch down a menu and make my shopping list between diaper changes and snacks (and how dare I even think of taking a shower), it was already time for lunch, and then nap time, and then it would be time to start making dinner (and not a good one since we would basically be out of food by this point) and then bed time and…you can see where this is going. I rarely made it to the store or accomplished much of anything I thought I might need to do each day.
And then I had another baby (or three :)) and our days got even trickier to plan. But that’s the problem. I wasn’t really planning. I was reacting. And take it from me, that’s not what works when you’ve got the demands and often non-routine needs of small children dictating the course of every day.
Fast forward six years and it finally dawned on me that I needed to incorporate routines for myself, in addition to my children, to actually be productive and accomplish more on a timeline that worked for me.
Enter, the Planning Day!
Now I take the time each week to sit down and plan for all of the things we need or want to accomplish for the coming week. And you know something? It has made a world of difference and helped me go from being reactive to my kids and my days, to taking some control and being proactive with our time.
In the course of establishing routines for myself (shameless plug – click below to download a free copy of my Simple Routines for Your Best Mornings),
I make sure to assign a certain task for each day of the week. For example, Mondays are the days I do our grocery shopping. Tuesdays are dedicated to kid stuff (think play dates, fun outings, volunteering at school and well checks or dentist appointments). Thursdays are when I make time to do my volunteer board work. Fridays I do a more detailed cleaning of my house.
And Wednesdays are my planning days. Nerd alert – as a list lover, this might be my favorite day of the week because I get to make all. The. Lists.
How to Implement an Effective Planning Day
Every Wednesday I sit down with my planner and my calendar and plan out all the things that need planning. I figure out our menu and make a grocery list, so when Monday rolls around, I just have to make it to the store :). Then I look at our calendar and determine what activities are scheduled for the week and who needs to be where when. I write that out for the week. Then I decide what detailed cleaning task am I taking on this week? What sort of blog work needs to be done? And what board work needs attention?
I make time to sit down every week and plot it all out. That way, when I sit down to make my daily to-do list, I know exactly what I need to incorporate and where I can attempt to fit it in. I say attempt because, when your days revolve around kids, there is always the unexpected element that throws a wrench in your plan (someone is puking and you can’t drag them to the store the day you thought you would go, or there are multiple school functions or parties during the week – which happens a lot towards the holidays and end of the year).
But even when the unexpected comes up, plans don’t completely go awry.
I can easily take a look at what I had planned for the week and adjust according to highest priority.
Like, maybe I simply switch days around. Shop on Tuesday and take care of sick kid on Monday. Or maybe I do a less detailed cleaning on Friday and do a little extra board work to make up for the time I missed due to a field trip or another day of having a sick kid to tend to (which also tends to happen when you’re living in a mini-daycare).
Now, with four kids and a full schedule of their obligations and my own, I am more on my game than I ever was before. I work out regularly. I am able to help out in my kids’ classes more often. I am even president of our cooperative preschool board of directors. We save more money and eat healthier now than we used to because we don’t have to resort to eating out or convenience foods as often since I can manage to plan our menu and get the shopping done on a regular basis. I even dreamt up and started this website as a creative and hopefully inspirational outlet. 🙂 And it’s all because of that one simple hour I spend each week planning.
So dear mom friends, if you are struggling with productivity or feeling like you can’t seem to accomplish as much as you want, if you feel overwhelmed and lost by how to construct your days, I urge you to set aside a planning day for yourself.
And if you want some help getting started, check out my free master planning pack. It includes my productivity workbook where I will go into more detail about how to figure out what your personal priorities are and how to fit them into your days and weeks, and a super helpful Week at a Glance planning sheet. Just click that pretty little button below. 🙂