My favorite part of the week is Sunday afternoon or early evening. This is the time I set aside for planning my upcoming week. This crucial time sets the tone for my entire week ahead and the better I plan, the more productive, fulfilling, and enjoyable my week will be.
I know myself pretty well and I thrive with schedules and routines. Not everyone does. For some people the opposite might be true. If you are not a planner, but more of a moment-by-moment type of person, the thought of planning may be uncomfortable for you because having too much structure gives you stress. You may like the freedom to change your mind in an instant and you might think that “planning” prohibits that spontaneity. The truth is you can plan your week, your way!
Everyone can benefit from a little planning.
Whether you plan every detail of every day or you only plan your lunches is up to you. You can plan certain aspects of your week without having to organize everything.
Your week will feel smoother when you take control.
For those who work many hours away from home, Sunday planning could be a life changer for you. Once the alarm clock rings on Monday morning, to the final bell on Friday evening, there is little time to stop and regroup.
Planning your week will reduce the amount of stress you experience.
We all need lunch and dinner every day of the week. We might have some appointments, fun events, and want to go to the gym. No matter how busy you are, a little time set aside to plan may transform your week into a stress-free schedule.
During this crazy time of sheltering in place, planning is still relevant.
You may have discovered that your life has slowed down considerably. Planning can actually help you get more done and be more efficient with your time.
What do I do during my planning time?
- I sync my calendars. I keep a physical planner and use my phone when I set appointments. I make sure that everything on my phone is written in my planner for the week.
- Next, I look at what I need to be prepared for every appointment and event for the week. Is there a birthday to celebrate? A lunch date with a friend? Doctor visit? I gather what I need for each event. For example, if I am visiting a friend and have a gift to bring, I wrap it and write in the card. If I am going to the doctor, I find the paperwork I need to bring with me or maybe write down questions that I want to ask. If I have a gym class, I get my mat and bag ready. If I do not have something I need, I would rather find that out on Sunday.
- Another way to save time each morning is to plan your outfits. I used to have my daughter choose her five outfits for the week. We would hang everything she needed on one hanger and put them in her closet. If she didn’t feel like wearing something she originally picked, it wasn’t a big deal to adjust her outfit.
- Finally, I plan my food for the week. I make a big salad, cut up fruit, cook a batch of brown rice, and stir fry veggies. I prep as much food as I can for the upcoming meals. I eat healthier when I plan, and it saves me so much time during the week.
Start small by planning one aspect of your week. Maybe this week, you pick out your clothes for each day or you could meal plan and prep. Even the smallest step will reduce your stress for the days ahead.
Sunday planning does take effort, but it will save you valuable time later! It will feel great to take control of your schedule and be prepared for everything you have on your calendar.
Featured photo by Emma Matthews on Unsplash.
Last week, I met a friend for coffee. Later that day, I ran a few errands and even stopped by TJ Maxx. My daughter and I scheduled pedicures in a nearby town. Other than the face masks people were wearing, things were starting to feel “normal” again.
This week, stores are closing for a second time. Until a solution for the Corona Virus is discovered, this may keep happening. The progress of returning to normal vanished as soon as businesses close their doors. After our pedicures, the salon was also shutting down, but at least we had that one last pampering before we shelter in place again.
It is time to accept that this is the new normal and we must embrace it.
It occurred to me that I hadn’t exercised for several weeks. I was waiting for the gym to reopen. Each week, I think that surely next week it will open again. Guess what? It is still closed and now it has been months! I realized I needed to figure out new ways of doing things instead of waiting for “normal” to return.
Create a new plan – I took a look at how my life was and how I can still do the same things, but in a different way.
1. Exercise at home
Going to the gym most days was part of my routine. I used the weight machines and then ran on the elliptical. Since I don’t have access to the gym, I took a look at what equipment I do have at home. Now, I use my free weights and for the first time, I ran outside. I loved it! Running in the open air is really good for the soul. This is something I would not have tried because I am much more comfortable in the gym.
2. Meal plans delivered
I enjoy going out for lunch with friends. I love sitting outside and making a meal last with good company and a tasty dish. Since this is not available right now, I started getting meals delivered and I cook at home. I had to try several companies before I found one I love, but now I look forward to my food box. I am learning little tips about cooking and trying dishes I probably wouldn’t have experienced on my own.
3. Make income from home
So many people are financially struggling right now because they are unable to work. This is not a situation that I want to be in so I had to shift the way I want to do my business. My new partner and I are turning our business from a face-to-face service to an online one. I am so excited about this because if another outbreak occurs, we will still be able to work.
Stay social – After shelter in place protocols began, I shut myself inside for about three weeks. But my emotions started to take a toll on my well-being, and I knew I couldn’t do handle many more days inside. I had to make a change.
1. Walk daily
I started to take a long walk every day. Having a dog helps and she benefited as well. (I think it was taking a toll on her too!) Getting outside every day breaks up the monotony of being indoors.
2. Zoom call or facetime with friends
A phone call is great on most occasions, but when you are able to see someone’s face, you almost feel as though you are in the same room. It is a wonderful way to feel connected to the people that are important to you. The isolation disappears and you know you are not alone.
3. Plan picnics
Another way to stay connected with those who live nearby is to have a picnic. You can practice social distancing while enjoying a meal together. It is amazing how just a few hours outdoors with family or friends can uplift your spirit.
Keep my sanity – The seclusion of being at home day after day, gives us extra time to think (maybe too much time), to worry, or to experience anxiety. In order to take care of myself emotionally, I started to practice some daily habits.
1. Daily self-care
Each day I choose something I will do to take care of myself. It could be painting my nails, or taking a bubble bath, or reading a book. Self-care isn’t complicated. It is just making yourself a priority, without guilt, to do something nice for you.
2. Journal each morning
I was not a journaler. (Is that a word?) I joined this online group and each day we journaled and posted it. Somedays I did not post because it was too personal, but the point is that I was held accountable to journal every single day. Some days, nothing exciting was written, but other days, I was surprised by how much I was learning about myself through this daily process.
3. Learn a new hobby
This is a great time to experiment with different hobbies. Find something you enjoy doing or making besides work. Try something new. There are so many online classes available through Creative Bug, You Tube, or LinkedIn Learning. You might even be able to make a new business for yourself.
Changing my perspective on our new “normal” has helped me to embrace and accept what is happening instead of resisting it. The stress and anxiety are lessened, and I am now able to move forward in the best way I can. I am creating new routines to fit my new way of life and it is okay. Hopefully, some of our old ways will return, but in the interim, make your current life the best it can be.
Featured photo by Sarah Kilian on Unsplash.
As organized as I am, (and if you know me at all, you will know I am very organized), even someone like me who has to have a place for everything and everything in its place . . . I also, occasionally, every once-in-a-while, manage to accumulate a pile of clutter. Yikes! That is hard to admit, but it is true.
Clutter comes in all shapes and sizes.
It sneaks in all around us – through paper, junk, emotions, and thoughts. We cannot escape it because “stuff” bombards us all day long. I personally get frustrated when my desk starts to pile up because I like to clear it off each night. So, I began to take notice.
What was I leaving in a pile? And why?
Sorting through the papers, it hit me. This is all the stuff I don’t want to deal with right now. It included things I didn’t know what to do with, or I just didn’t want to do, or it carried some emotional weight. That’s when procrastination sets in and instead of dealing with these tasks head-on, I chose to put them in a pile. At least now I know why my clutter and piles start to grow.
We can have physical, mental, and emotional clutter.
Each of these areas have things in common and we can deal with all of them in some similar ways.
- Physical clutter: papers, bills, magazines, clothes, toys, shoes, etc. Basically anything that you can hold in your hand is physical clutter.
- Mental clutter: thoughts, to-do’s, stress, upcoming deadlines, etc. Anything you are thinking about constantly or several times a day is mental clutter.
- Emotional clutter: feelings, worry, anxiety, stress, shame, guilt, etc. All those issues that impact our emotions that we carry around with us is emotional clutter.
It is easiest to deal with PHYSICAL clutter because we can see it, touch it, and feel it, but this works for MENTAL and EMOTIONAL clutter too!
To quickly deal with this type of clutter, BOX IT UP! I learned this tip from a friend. She would come over and help me with my scrapbooking business and while we were busy cutting paper and preparing for a class, my workspace would get a little messy. She suggested that instead of having all these little places of piles, just put the piles in one place, a box, so that everything looked clean. I did this and instantly felt better! Then I took the box and put things away one at a time.
- Boxing things up clears up your view. When we clear our line of vision, we do feel better and not overwhelmed. It allows us to take a moment and experience how good it is to have everything done and put away.
- Boxing things up allows you to focus on one thing. Instead of seeing all the piles of clutter, you see the top thing. The box contains the clutter and you can just deal with one thing.
- Boxing things up helps us to prioritize. When you go through the box, you will notice that we tend to do the things that must be done right away. We prioritize without really thinking about it. The most important things rise to the top.
Caution: you must empty the box.
The box is not a solution for avoiding uncomfortable tasks. Those tasks must be done, otherwise you wouldn’t have them in your box. Try to tackle the harder tasks as quickly as possible. Make them fun or ask for help. It may be worth it to pay someone to do them if possible. But don’t continue to avoid them.
Boxing things up is NOT long-term storage!
Set a deadline for you to empty this box. Really push yourself to do those things you keep procrastinating. (I am speaking to myself here too!)
Boxing things up works for mental and emotional clutter too!
Our minds are full of thoughts, worry, stress, to-do lists, expectations, and the list goes on. How can you use this “box method” for your mind? I like to use a notebook and write everything that is going on in my head down on to paper. Just get it all out of your head and into your notebook. The notebook is your “box” for your head. The same steps can be applied to this list.
You will feel relief and a sense of calm when you box up the clutter.
Remember, though, we are not avoiding our tasks. We are just dealing with them on our terms, with a clear view, one at a time, and prioritized.
Now, it is time for me to clear my workspace and box it all up.
Featured photo by Lia Trevarthen on Unsplash.