Each week, on a Sunday, I plan out the week ahead using these 6 steps.
Review your big picture goals – those you set way back in January.
At the start of the year you probably narrowed down your annual goals into monthly goals (if not, now is a good time to do it!)
How does what you’ll be doing this week tie into those goals ? You should always start with the bigger picture and then narrow down into the minor details. Whenever I don’t check in with my goals, is when I tend to go down a rabbit hole of time wasters or end up doing tasks with minimal return for the time and effort invested.
What’s happening in my personal life?
Am I likely to have to do overtime at my day job? Do I have any social activities planned? I block out those times first. Some of the weekly layouts I’ve tried for the 52 planner in 52 weeks challenge don’t have any room for personal tasks (such as week 1 where I used only a habit tracker) – if this is the case I tend to use sticky notes as reminders. They’re great if you’re short on space.
Add in the non-negotiables and the deadlines. This is things like:
- Bills that are due to be paid (schedule these in as ‘due’ a couple of days before they are or put a reminder sticker a couple of days before so the money is actually in the persons account on the day it needs to be)
- Birthday parties, weddings and other special events
- Work events
- That movie you want to see
- Any events you’re going to such as a market, concert etc.
Next, I choose what blog posts I want to post that week.
I shared the process behind blog in this post: My weekly blog planning process (how I organize and plan for the week ahead every Sunday)
Some of the steps in my weekly planning process I do concurrently rather than there being a distinct end to where one task starts and finishes. I tend to look at what products I’ll be releasing soon and tie it into a blog post. For example, I mentioned the cash envelope sticker printables in this post about whether to use paper or digital systems for keeping track of your money.
If you have a family and need to consider other people’s plans now would be a good time to consult what’s happening in their lives this week and add in any occurrences where they overlap with your plans. E.g. if your child has soccer practice you’ll need to add that to your planner if you’re attending the game or dropping them off and picking them up.
Now that I know what’s happening in my personal life, day job, the blog and Etsy shop I can start to fill in the gaps. The first being – how much time do I have to cook? After work on a weeknight I don’t want to spend hours slaving away in the kitchen so will make something fast. On the weekend I tend to do up a huge lot of vegetables that will last most of the week, rather than doing smaller batches on the nights I need them.
Don’t forget to consider non-standard things happening that week. So if I have to attend an after work function on a night I’d normally cook dinner, I need to adjust my plans accordingly.
Fill in any gaps.
Now that I have the must do’s penned into my planner, I can add in the tasks I should do (but may not necessarily want to do such as paying bills). And if there is any space I then add stuff I’d like to get done. Don’t forget that just because there is white space in your planner doesn’t mean you have to fill it!
Since things can change around a lot I like during the planning process and because I like to keep my planner neat – I use 1 piece of scrap paper (or you could also use one of those numerous notebooks that seem to breed…) to jot down everything that needs to get done. You could also use the Frixion Erasable Pens or sticky notes.
Associating a different colored pen or sticky note to an amount of time e.g. different colors for:
- 15 minute tasks
- 30 minute tasks
- 45 minute tasks
- 1 hr + tasks
Or different colors for each of your goals / categories of your life that you plan helps to prevent over-scheduling.
Don’t forget to consider your routine tasks. I like to keep these in a separate section of the weekly spread rather than re-writing them each day.
Related: Week 15: Trying a freehand weekly planner inspired by bullet journalling
Then I allocate those tasks to a day when I intend to get them done. The exception to this is if I’m using a weekly spread like I did in week 5 of the 52 planner in 52 weeks challenge where I completed tasks on any day of the week.
Another thing I try and avoid doing is scheduling too many ‘eat that frog’ type tasks i.e. stuff I don’t want to do but have to do. If you schedule too many on a single day you won’t be motivated to finish them (or much else on your to do list). I also try and complete these tasks first to get them out of the way.
If I don’t get everything done on my list on the day I scheduled it, it’s fine – I just do it on a different day. I have a good idea of how much I can get done in a typical week so as long as it gets done and it’s not something that has a deadline with ramifications if I miss it, then it’s all good!
- 100 things to put in your habit tracker of your planner or bullet journal (plus free printable habit tracker)
- Favorite washi tape for planning, planner decorating & color coding
- How to make use of blank pages in your planner
- How to use functional icon planner stickers
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