How to plan your productive week

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There is such joy for me in the space between rest and productivity. My favorite day is one that combines both — a restful pace while still crossing things off my to-do list and making progress. That may not sound enjoyable to everyone, but I have a hard time with plain old rest. It’s something I’m working on. BUT I do believe there’s a time and place for productivity. That’s what allows you the time and space for the rest, right? Work hard, play (or rest) hard.

As someone who enjoys productivity, I thought it would be helpful to break down how I plan my week to optimize my time and energy. Of course, this is going to mean being intentional. Intentionality is going to make all the difference in taking you from busy to purposeful.

I plan out a week at a time. A month is too much to think about and things can change in the day-to-day that might affect my overall plan. A day at a time isn’t enough because I don’t want to overlook something by planning so short-sighted. So a week it is! Of course, do what works best for you! If you’re just starting out, try the weekly method with my tips and adjust as needed!

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Use a planner

Take your pick: paper or digital. Having somewhere to jot everything down is not only going to help keep everything straight, but it’s going to save you from a lot of headaches. I have been using a planner since middle school and it’s obviously evolved quite a bit since then. For 2018 I’ve been using a daily Simplified Planner and I’m in love!

If I don’t write things down, it becomes overwhelming and I’m likely overstretched because I said yes to everything without really noticing. That isn’t where you want to live. If you take nothing else from this, my biggest tip is to get all of that stuff you have to remember out of your head. Now that you have your planner, lets get to planning!

First: list out what’s already scheduled

meetings, appointments, must do’s for certain days, etc.

My Pure Barre classes actually fall into this category too since I book all my classes for the week on Sunday nights. I work in real estate and the community I’m in may vary depending on the day, so that’s the first thing I list for each day. I will also make a note of anything that’s already been determined such as a sales meeting, professional development class, dentist appointment, etc.

While I’m adding these items to the respective days, I make note of the time the commitment begins if it’s specific. This is helpful for 2 reasons: 1) so I know when I’m expected to be somewhere and 2) so I can create buffer time as we’ll discuss soon. I’ll schedule everything else around these items because I’ve already made the commitment.

Second: schedule in what should get done

errands, to do’s, workout, self-care, etc.

These are items that may or may not be tied to a specific day, but should get done during the week. Things like grocery shopping, picking up dry cleaning, scheduling a haircut, etc. Since I’ve already written down the commitments and times, I can add these in where there’s open time. Bonus, if I can add these to a trip I’m already scheduled to make, such as stopping by the bank on my way to work since it’s close by. This will save time, gas, and get those items taken care of!

Third: schedule in what you would like to do

dinner dates, fun stuff, house projects, etc. 

These are the extras! It’s great to build fun things into your week or even just things I’ve been wanting to do. The commitments are scheduled, the to-do type important items are scheduled. Now I can see the space to use however else I want! Maybe a girls night to a new restaurant downtown. Maybe working on that project around the house I’ve been thinking about for a while. Make time for the things that light you up and bring you joy! When we aren’t intentional with our schedules, these things are usually the first to go, but intentionality gives them room. What a benefit of planning!

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Remember, you don’t have to do it all! Things can always be moved to the next week or be dropped completely. Maybe it can be outsourced or it’s just no longer important. You can keep a running list for things that fall here if you’re worried about needing to take care of it for later.

We’re talking about filling in our week based on priorities, but that doesn’t mean every single minute needs to be filled. You can (and probably should) leave white space in your week. Time that isn’t necessarily devoted to anything. Call it planned spontaneity, but this will give you the space to add in something else or just completely rest. We don’t want to jam pack our weeks on the regular because that only leads to burn out. Productivity and joy cannot exist long-term when we’re operating from a burnt out place. You know what they say about pouring from an empty cup…

With that being said, don’t be afraid to leave time buffers. In busy seasons, especially when I was planning our wedding and had a lot on my plate, I would plan things back to back to back. This set me up for failure because if one thing ran over time or got started late, everything else got messed up too. That would only lead to more stress and then more things I had to add to my list to reschedule and coordinate. Yuck!

I hate being late to things, but I often was because I wouldn’t allow enough time. Now I’m sure to leave a reasonable gap between items and allow time for travel. I find it’s usually better to overestimate how much time I’ll need. Sometimes that means I’ll be early to things, which is great, but may feel like a waste of time depending on how early I am. I always try to keep something productive with me like a book and my planner so I have the opportunity to read and maybe even plan.

Busyness does not equal success, worth, or value. Productivity means intentionally taking care of what’s important to you. Busy is just adding a bunch of stuff to your plate and trying to carry it all. We don’t need that. Your time, energy, and peace are worth more than that. YOU are worth more than that!

What is one thing you’re going to be sure to plan for next week?

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