My husband often jokes that our life revolves around my planner. He’s completely right.
Like most of you, our lives are full of good things like family, work, appointments and commitments, community events, volunteering, and self-care. In the midst of it all, there are the daily tasks that need to be complete to keep our home and family running. Like trash day. All of this requires some planning.
Are We Overwhelmed or Stewarding?
When we step back and examine everything we need to do in a given week and everyone who relies on us for something, it’s easy to feel entirely overwhelmed. We can feel defeated by a week before it even begins. This is how I feel 60% of the time.
But the other 40%, when I take a deep breath and place my heart in the hands of the Lord, I have a different perspective on my to-do list. Instead of seeing my responsibilities as a source of stress, I try to see the blessings in them and turn them into opportunities for praise.
- Do I need to make a doctor’s appointment for a sick kid? Praise God for doctors and the ability to help my child in this way.
- Will a grocery run and preparing meals in advance take an entire day? Thank you, Lord, for giving us food that nourishes us.
- Is it a busy workweek full of meetings? I’m so grateful to have good work I enjoy.
- Should I do something about the post-apocalyptic scene that is my house? Praise Jesus I have a roof over my head and rooms to clean.
It sounds simple (because it is), but this subtle shift in approach changes the entire way I plan and organize my week. I understand that preparing for a week is not managing stresses but stewarding blessings. God has entrusted me with these responsibilities, and it is my duty and joy to steward them well. And I steward them best when I’m intentional about setting aside adequate time and energy for them.
Once I settle into this attitude of praise and stewardship, I’m ready to organize my week in the joy of the Lord and the light of the Holy Spirit.
This is well understood by most of us, but it’s worth mentioning here: we’re all different. How we plan, organize, think, and operate is as varied as the responsibilities we each have in our lives. Knowing our personality, temperament, energy level, and priorities is vital when it comes to finding a system for planning that best suits us. What works for me might or might not work for you.
I have a girlfriend who lovingly rolls her eyes at my weekly planning because so much structure and forethought would reduce her to tears. She operates best on a moment-by-moment basis (which would reduce me to tears) and her life is so joyful, she gets all of her things done, and she’s a saint in the making.
So find what works best for you and yours. The Father gave you a unique brain and heart and personality, ask Him how to best steward the time and responsibilities you’ve been given.
Here’s what works for me.
How I Organize My Week
Sundays are typically my weekly planning day. It’s a slow day for my family and my husband is home all day. After Mass and breakfast, I usually pour another cup of coffee and sit down with my planner while the others play.
I use the Blessed is She weekly planner, so first, I open it to the new weekly planning page. I take note of the verse of the week and write it on the chalkboard in our kitchen. This is always our Scripture memory verse for our homeschooled pre-schooler (and the adults!). Then, I use the To-Do column to brain dump. I write it all down. Appointments to be made, errands to run, things to buy, closets to organize, etc.
I also look at the goal-setting pages to determine any progress I can make on larger goals and habits this week. I get it all out of my brain and onto the to-do list. In the quiet of my heart, I set my prayer intentions. Next, I make note of calls or emails to make. Phew, I already feel better.
Planning Our Priorities
Then, I flip to the weekly layout (don’t worry, we’ll revisit the rest of the weekly planning page in a moment).
I usually plan my week in waves:
- First, I fill in time-definites. These are regular-occurance things like my husband’s work schedule, appointments, meetings, classes, and so on. Anything that happens at a certain specific time that week goes on the schedule first.
- Next, I schedule and organize the things that absolutely need to get done but aren’t tied to a specific time. For us, these are things like daily prayer and time with the Word, my work hours a weekday Mass, Adoration, read-aloud times, time at the gym, date night, and the items and errands on my to-do list form the weekly planning page. This step also includes the more random occurrences like play dates, nights out with friends, and family events that are happening that week. This wave involves everything that is more flexible and can happen on several different days/times.
- I’ll then make note of any feast days we want to celebrate with more gusto. I write down any supplies we need or materials I need to organize for that feast day. I love The Lazy Liturgical for simple but meaningful liturgical living ideas.
- Then, I plan our meals. I take a look at each day and determine what meals will work best that week. I do most of my cooking in the crockpot in this season of life, but if we have a free afternoon one day, I might take my time with a meal that requires more chopping, sautéing, and baking. This is also when I flip back to the weekly planning pages and record meals and the grocery list for the week.
Getting on the Same Planner-Page
Once the week is filled in, I sit with my husband and go over everything with him. We find that we operate best when we’re on the same page for the week. We are more generous with one another when communication and expectations are clear. So he jots down appointments, my work schedule (when he’ll have the kids), his to-do’s from my large to-do list, and times of prayer and exercise.
The Last Step is Important
Once everything is completed, I look at what kind of week it’s going to be. Is it a calm week where not much is happening? Then I’ll determine to try to catch up on some sleep at night. Is it a busy week that’s going to stretch us thin? I’ll make a note to be extra affectionate with my husband, to look my children in the eye longer, and to add an additional time of prayer (especially when I don’t feel like there’s any time left for prayer). Is it a week that’s throwing us off our typical routine? I’ll remember to be more patient with my children and to plan good snacks and activities in advance to help with any meltdowns. Including my own. Knowing what’s coming helps me to cover any deficits. I jot down these thoughts and prayers on my weekly planning pages to remind myself when everything is falling apart (wink).
Finally, I say a prayer over our family and our week, understanding that the week will absolutely not go according to my beautifully color-coded schedule. I surrender it all to Jesus, and make an act of faith and trust that His plans are better than mine. I ask for a heart open to the Holy Spirit’s movements, a heart that is more concerned with God’s calls than my list of phone calls to make.
Then, we get on living.
Do you plan your weeks or days? What’s your system? Do you have the Blessed is She planner yet? I would love to hear what works (and what doesn’t work) for you. Let’s talk about it in the comments below!
Olivia Spears lives in Kentucky, where sweet tea and bourbon flow like milk and honey. She works from home as an editor and social media manager while raising her children and laughing with her husband. Although she now spends most of her free time away from the internet, past adventures are still on her blog. You can find out more about her here.