I struggled with starting this post today. Originally, my intentions were to write about why planning is important, but as I sat down to write I found that I didn’t have as much to say as I thought I did. Instead, the post started to steer in the direction of how to be a more productive planner and why planning is helpful on a day to day basis.
Here are a few tips on how to plan more productively!
Make the time to plan your week // Take an hour or so at the beginning of your week and sit down with your calendar, schedule, to-do list, etc., and plan things out. You are more likely to be successful and accomplish more if you assign specific tasks to specific days. I personally find that I have a greater sense of peace and control when I plan my whole week out in advance. There are less surprise things to do that sneak up on me and I feel more calm starting my week off in order. Every morning, take a quick look at the day you have planned to see if you need to make any changes, and adjust accordingly.
Menu plan // This can be a cumbersome chore for me, but my week runs so much more smoothly when I have an idea of what we are going to do for dinner every night. To get started menu planning, brainstorm a list of your favorite meals so you have a “bank of options,” so to speak. You can then plan out your meals accordingly. Save time consuming recipes for nights when you know you’ll be able to cook, and either plan freezer meals or take-out for nights when you won’t have time to cook. Remember that your meal plan doesn’t have to be set in stone! Every now and then I will look at our menu for the evening and not feel like eating what we planned, but because we have a whole week of meals planned and shopped for, I can just swap days and still be ahead of the game!
Find a system that works for you // For me, it’s color coding. I assign a specific color to different aspects of my life so that when I write everything out in my planner I can quickly see what it is I have to do that day, or what my overall schedule for the week looks like. I personally find this to be really helpful because I don’t need to necessarily look at each and every thing that is happening that day, but just by glancing I’ll know that I have two blog posts to write, an appointment in the morning, and a meeting for church in the evening. If you are interested, here is a picture of the color code I am currently using:
Don’t over-plan // This one is really important. I know many of us have a ton of commitments, appointments, and events we need to keep track of, but if you spread yourself too thin eventually it will catch up with you. If you over schedule yourself (or your kids!), either a) you wont be able to keep up or participate fully in everything you are supposed to do, b) you will accidentally forget about things you are supposed to do, or c) you will burn out from trying to do everything. It is important to learn how to say no to people or commitments when you are becoming overbooked. It’s also important to learn how to prioritize the things you decide to stay committed to. It may be hard to eliminate things from your schedule at first, but as you learn what your priorities really are and how much you can handle, you will feel less stressed by keeping it simple (or at least, a little more simple than before).
Be flexible // Occasionally you may not get to everything you planned to do–life can be unpredictable and sometimes it just doesn’t happen! Allow yourself some wiggle room and be flexible with your schedule. Make sure not to schedule two things so closely back to back that you don’t give yourself time to travel, or a buffer in case your first commitment runs late. If you don’t accomplish all you want to in one day, take a few minutes at the end of your day to re-evaluate your plan and see where you can re-assign some tasks. That might mean you cut some things out completely, and that’s okay! Don’t beat yourself up for needing to change the plan.
Celebrate your accomplishments // Particularly in regards to goal setting, make sure to celebrate what you have achieved! Breaking a larger goal down into “bite-sized” manageable pieces is a great way to make the goal more achievable, and it also makes it way easier to plan for. When you manage to plan out the steps to accomplishing your goal you are already well on your way to being successful, so be sure to celebrate when you actually do complete one of those tasks! A simple pat on the back will help you to stay motivated, and if you wrote it down, crossing it off will make you feel great and give you a visual reminder of what you have achieved.
Buy a planner that you love to use // I invested in an Erin Condren life planner last year, and I really feel like it has made a huge difference in how I plan and my productivity level. I love how pretty and well organized it is, and it makes me excited to sit down with my colored pens and washi-tape and get to planning. If you find a planner you love, it will help you love to plan! This post is not sponsored in any way by Erin Condren. I just found something that works for me, so I wanted to share it with you. You can check out my most recent YouTube video all about my planner and why I love it below.
I hope some of these tips were helpful for you! Tell me, what are some things you do to be a more productive planner? I’m always looking for new ideas and tips!