Ever feel like there’s just not enough time in a week? With a job, family, and housework to balance, sometimes it seems impossible to indulge in hobbies or even just relax. Although it may seem counterintuitive, taking the time to plan your week in advance can help you manage the responsibilities of life much easier. It can even free up time for the fun things on your list, too.
So if you’re wondering how to organize your life, today we’re sharing a few simple tips to efficiently manage your schedule, one week at a time, and get the most out of your day. What will you do with the free time you create in your week?
Tip #1: A planner is your best friend.
Visually planning out your week is a must for keeping on tops of things. Find a planner that works for you. This could be a free printable calendar located in a central location of the home, a cute planner from your favorite store or it could be an electronically synced calendar that is viewed and modified by multiple family members and devices.
If an online calendar makes the most sense for your household, try color coding each family member. Each person can add their own activities via their computer or phones. Life has unexpected changes (extra soccer practice, unexpected doctor appointments or after work events, for example) and if one individual adds it to the calendar, then everyone in the tribe can be instantly updated. This will help streamline communication around your schedules and avoid confusion. Setting reminders or alerts can also be super helpful.
Tip #2: Set goals and make lists.
Sunday is a great time to plan your upcoming week and develop a few goals for what you’d like to get done. Your weekly plan should include the family’s activities, birthdays and get-togethers, meals, chores, and whatever else is upcoming.
From this master list, you will be able to create manageable mini lists: menu planning and grocery list, errands list, daily to-do list, and so on. Once you have done this for a few weeks you will have created a planning foundation. From there, the process should take no more than twenty minutes on a Sunday night.
Using more than one visual aid is helpful. Start with your main monthly calendar and then use a notepad or checklist for each day of the week to map out your daily goals. Each week should include no more than three planned goals (in addition to your usual responsibilities) as you do not want to set yourself up for failure. Mini accomplishments and the ability to check items off a list is the reinforcement needed to start a life of productivity. By including routine chores like “make the bed” and “laundry” every once in awhile you’ll give yourself easy items to cross off your list. These small wins will help get you motivation. Plus it’s always more fun to check things off a list!
Tip #3: Prep what you can the night before.
Alleviate the morning rush by prepping what you can the night before. Lunches should be ready to grab from the fridge on your way out the door. School papers and homework should be placed in backpacks and ready to go. Outfits can also be picked out the night before. You may even consider planning a whole week’s worth of outfits on a Sunday night, referencing your weekly planner and weather app, of course.
Tip #4: Get an early start.
You have your lists and you are ready to start the week. Now what? How can you get the most out of your day?
Try setting your morning alarm to wake up thirty minutes earlier than usual to take advantage of the calm morning hours. Note: this is not extra time to check emails and phone notifications. It is intended to give you some much-needed “you” time. It’s also a great opportunity to start the day off stress-free. Try some yoga, stretching, or even a run on the treadmill.
Tip #5: Plan meals in advance.
Breakfast. Lunch. Dinner. Repeat. Sound familiar?
When planning out your week, it makes sense to think through your meals for the next seven days as well. Use recipes that require the same main ingredients that you can vary slightly for a new meal. Recycled leftovers make great meals, too!
The most important meal of the day should not be overlooked. Plan and prepare things the night before (overnight oatmeal, parfaits, hard boiled eggs) or make large batches of items that can be frozen and in supply when needed (waffles, breakfast burritos, pancakes).
Leftovers make excellent lunches. But when in doubt, here are eight creative packed lunch ideas that require very little prep work.
Although fresh and new recipes are exciting, most nights should contain the simple staple meals you look forward to. For instance, think Taco Tuesday and Pizza Friday! Each family member should choose a menu option, and participation in the preparation is a bonus. When you feel adventurous, add a new menu item into the rotation!
Bonus Tip: You usually end up buying the same items at the store each week. If this is the case, simply create a list on the computer and make copies so that you can save time adjusting a pre-made shopping list.
Tip #6: Clean a little each day.
We all know cleaning the house is no fun (for most), but it doesn’t have to be a chore. Use a cleaning checklist and do a little each day to alleviate the all-or-nothing approach. These room by room cleaning checklists can help you prioritize your cleaning routine into daily, weekly and monthly tasks. Spending at least twenty minutes each day is an excellent way to get things done without feeling overburdened by a long list of chores. Distributing tasks throughout the household will also help lighten the load.
Let’s not forget the laundry! (But how could we?) To avoid feeling like laundry deserves its own day over your precious weekend, wouldn’t it be better to break it down in 15 minutes a day? Here are our laundry routine tips (plus printable planner) to help you maintain that growing pile.
Remember: Little details can make all the difference in staying organized throughout the week.
- Command centers for backpacks, lunch bags, jackets and your purse are great ways to organize the weekday clutter. Baskets and wire hanging file baskets help, too!
- Cell phones are a big distraction. Designating a time of the day to put down the phone and electronics will surprisingly add extra efficiency to your day.
- Don’t worry if some things did not get done today. There’s always tomorrow! Simply add to your to-do list for the following day.
Learning to develop your own routine and sticking to it daily will help you reach your weekly goals. Set realistic goals and reward yourself for all your hard work! Good luck!