Tuesday, March 6, 2018

A Weekly Plan: Amping Up the To-Do List

My to-do list is four pages long.

It makes me cringe just to write that, and it’s not really as bad as it sounds. I don’t wear busyness as a badge of honor, but there is a certain amount of stuff that needs to get done each week.

I also use my list as a dumping ground for just about anything that enters my mind, from books I want to read – to the need to repair a child’s shoes – to field trip ideas for the next school year.

What I really need to do is separate my list into must-dos, want-to-dos, and ideas. That bit of organization is on my to-do as well. J

But I’ve begun a different sort of organizing of my to-do list which has helped me check things off It’s also helped me psychologically. You know that spirit of discouragement that creeps in when you feel overwhelmed with tasks and you rarely see that you accomplish anything? I can’t say that’s gone completely – will it ever be gone completely? – but there is improvement.

I now have, in addition to my four-page to-do list, a Weekly Plan.

My Weekly Plan organizes the things I can reasonably hope to accomplish around my calendar and my children’s calendars. It also creates a cut-off, a finish point (to some extent), so that my to-do list doesn’t creep into my mind when I need to be focused on the most important things in life ~ my husband, my children, ministry.

It sounds simple now when I write it out, but this was a real eye-opener for me.

So, every weekend, in preparation for the next week, I examine my to-do list. I prefer to compile my Weekly Plan on Friday as the week ends or, at least, on Saturday before our day of rest on Sunday.
I keep my weekly plan in Google Docs so that I can access it on all devices. It’s a simple list of the days of the week with bullet points underneath. (If you’re into bullet journaling, this would probably fit right in.)

First, I check the calendar and insert all of our activities that week. It’s just a simple asterisk or bullet point under that particular day. For example ~

Monday –
*LEAVE at 5:00 for ladies meeting.

I capitalize or bold or use a different color font depending on my urgency in remembering. J

Some activities repeat every week, so those stay in the Weekly Plan.

Second, I look at my to-do list and determine the most important. Then, I plan those in around the activities for the week. I have a fairly good idea of what I can handle in a given day, so I’m careful not to insert too much to get done. The last thing I need is a Weekly Plan that shames me. The point is to organize and encourage me. It’s a terrific bolster on Thursday afternoon and Friday to look back over the week and have a visual of what I’ve accomplished.

A few more examples ~

I know that on the same day every week I’m going to spend a large portion of my day at our homeschool co-op with constant interruption whether it be getting children to and from the TKD classroom or a much-needed moment of conversation with a homeschooling-mom friend. In the in-between moments, I’ll plan to update our school logs then and work on a blog post or respond to emails. I know that’s not the time to try to get serious words on the page for my next book.

On a recent Tuesday, I had to pick up my daughter in the middle of the afternoon at an odd location due to a one-time change in our schedule. In planning that week, I already knew my day would be interrupted, so I planned some writing time at another point in the day. I also knew I would be out of the house, so I prepared to stop by the post office to mail off a book to a giveaway winner.

On a recent Friday, we went to the theater to see Shakespeare. (It was an amazing field trip!) The show was midday, so I knew bookwork would get interrupted. As I glanced at my Weekly Plan at the beginning of the week, I was reminded. So, on Monday and Tuesday, I reminded the children to do a little bit of extra bookwork so that Friday wouldn’t get us behind.

Third, I don’t delete things as I complete them. That way, at the end of the week, I can review the entire week. The sense of accomplishment that comes from that gives me the encouragement I need to plan for the next week.

Fourth, I remind myself not to be afraid to edit as the week progresses. It’s not set in stone! My Weekly Plan serves me. I don’t serve it. If I don’t accomplish something necessary on Monday, like calling the doctor to schedule an appointment, I move it to the next available time.

It’s one page, a summary of my calendar events and necessary tasks for the week. It’s simplified my approach to the week and helped with the calm. What could be better? J

How do you organize your week? I’m always looking for tips to streamline the to-do’s!

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1 comment:

  1. Meghan I hate writing my to do list and since I'm a poor planner, I write it daily. I'm getting better at planning though. I'm old school so I used a spiral planner called Homemakers Friend. It has space for daily, weekly and monthly plans. There is also space for grocery lists and daily menus.
    It helps me stay organized but I'm still a work in progress. Looking at my planner just now, I realized my week is actually all planned! Yay! Of course it may change and I need to not panic if my week doesn't go as planned.


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