In order to make the most of our days, there is a bit of prep work involved. We don’t just have to plan each day going forward, we have all the baggage of the past days, weeks, months, and years. So, we need to take into account all of the things on your plate from before today.
Thus, the first thing we need to do is perform a brain dump. You will need pen and paper for this as well as a set amount of time. Usually 5-10 minutes is sufficient. A brain dump is where you take a few minutes to write down every single thing that comes into your brain. You don’t try to edit or categorize or otherwise format the list. It’s purely stream of consciousness style writing.
Your brain dump is going to be on everything you have to do and I mean everything. This list should include appointments to attend, paperwork to complete, gifts to buy, grocery shopping, cleaning to do, meals to make, errands to run…. everything. Anything that you need to get done should be written on this list.
Once you are done, you should have a pretty long list. The next step is to start filling in your calendar. I have weekly calendar pages that I print out to help me plan out my weeks. While I love making use of technology for a lot of things, there is something about physically writing things down that helps clarify things in my mind.
You can print copies of my weekly planner pages by signing up for my resource library. Just fill out the form below and I will send you the info to access my resource library which contains the weekly planner page and lots of other great resources.
The first step once you have the weekly spread in front of you, is to add in all the set in stone appointments. So if you have a doctor’s appointment or a work meeting or something with an exact date and time, add those things to the calendar first and cross them off of your list.
Next look at all the other items that require large chunks of time. Prioritize these, and find blocks of time in your week to get these items done. For things that take you out of the house, try to group these items into trips.
For example, if the post office is next to the grocery store, and to get to those two stores you have to pass the dry cleaners, you can run all three of those errands in one trip.
Or say you have to drop your son off at school on the way to work, and between school and work is the pharmacy; include the pharmacy trip as part of your morning commute.
Any “trip” you can make that includes one of your set in stone appointments should be added to the calendar at this time. An example would be the school - pharmacy - work trip.
Besides errands outside the home, some other items you may want to schedule in this step are meal prep, projects you want to complete, bill paying and budgeting, and tasks that take at least an hour to complete.
Lastly, you look at the shorter tasks and prioritize them. This is where you can fill in less time consuming tasks like checking email, packing book bags and work bags, a workout, etc..
There are two very important things to note during this process. Ironically, these two things can actually appear to be conflicting. They are: you shouldn’t book every single minute of the day and you should schedule everything that you intend to get done.
As for the first one, it is important to not create so much rigidity to your day that every single second is accounted for. No one can live that way. You need time to be spur of the moment and creative.
Also, if nothing else, as a mama you know that having kids teaches you to be prepared for the unexpected. It is always important to have buffer time built into your schedule in case something happens.
For example, when the baby accidentally knocks the open green smoothie bottle out of your hand and it spills all over the living room 5 minutes before you normally leave for work. If you have built in buffer time, you know that you have an extra 10 minutes of time to clean up and still be at the office on time.
Creating time to just be is also important so that you don’t burn out. Men, in general, are way better at giving themselves a break than women are. Women constantly allow their to dos to weigh on them so much that they can barely even take a 5 minute break.
Men on the other hand can stop everything and zone out, when they need to recharge. It drives us women crazy. You’ll wonder how can they just sit and watch the game when they know you’ve asked them 100 times to fix the gutter. However, it is actually a useful trait and definitely something we should work on ourselves.
Number two appears to contradict this idea by stating that everything should be scheduled. Entrepreneur and podcaster Chris Ducker says, “If it doesn’t get scheduled, it doesn’t get done”. But how can we possible have free time in our schedule and still have time to fit everything in?
This is where our prioritization comes in. When we prioritize and set goals, we are easily able to determine what is or isn’t important at any given time.
If your goal is to get 100 new customers for your MLM then planning a giveaway may be a priority, but stocking up on inventory may not be. Family time may be a priority one week, but a work conference may be the priority the next week. Knowing what is important allows you to determine what tasks need to get done and what can be pushed off until next week.
You want to end the week feeling like you got the important stuff done, not like you were busy running around from task to task with nothing to show for it. You may even determine that some of the things that made your list don’t actually need to get done, or at least not by you. It’s ok to take things off your plate. No one said you have to do it all.
Just as important as these skills is learning about how to give things up in a way that doesn't make you feel bad, or feel like you are letting someone down. This is so important! Sometimes we over commit or we have a hard time saying no in person. If you want to learn ways to handle these kinds of situations so you can take back your time for the things that matter check out this post on ways to say no to over-commitment.
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