Do you ever feel like your head is going to explode with so much to remember and do? You’re not alone. In fact, most people feel overwhelmed with day-to-day life simply because it’s complicated. Modern life has only made this worse by adding chores and duties that didn’t exist before, like the ever-elusive goal of an empty email inbox.
I’d like to reintroduce you to an old friend of yours that many of you might have ditched because it didn’t work for you – a plan.
Sure, you say, that’s nice. But I tried using a planner and it didn’t work for me. It’s true, not all planners work for everyone. However, there are planning solutions that can work for anyone, as long as they are willing to try new things until they find one they like.
I’d like to encourage a fresh look at planning that both makes sense and isn’t just more work. Ideally, creating a plan for yourself, and slowly adapting it to suit your ever-changing needs, should be a journey of exploration that helps you find the time that keeps disappearing from your day. Extra time means more opportunities to make time for those things that bring you joy.
A plan sounds great, how do I do it?
The best plan is the one that fits you and your life. There will be parts of your day where what you need to do can’t be changed, like work, school drop-offs, and doctor’s appointments. Then, there will be those in-between times that you’re never quite sure what to do with yourself.
It’s these in-between times where the magic happens. It might be ten minutes here and twenty there, but all those little efforts add up to big things. Start your plan by finding these little chunks of time and taking a look at your to-do list. Do you want to start journaling? Find a 15-minute chunk and go for it. Is your laundry taking over your life? Use a five-minute chunk to collect and start a load. Is your kitchen never clean? Get a start on it by taking ten minutes to load (or unload and reload, who are we kidding?) the dishwasher.
If your days run roughly the same with kids’ schedules and work, then you can start building routines that allow you to move through your trickiest times without having to stop and think about what you need to do next, which saves you time and more importantly, lots of energy!
Create your own personalized planner pages using an online template. Add only the things you need, and leave off the things you don’t. You can even punch holes in them and add them to a pretty binder.
Find a solution that works great for you. Some love using their phones because then they always have them. Some do really well with a small notebook where they can doodle and be creative. Next time you have something you need to remember, jot it down! You’ll feel that much better knowing it’s stored somewhere safe. Then, be sure to check your planning page and calendar often. The best times are right before bed and first thing in the morning. If anything, it helps avoid last-minute surprises.
Attack of the mom brain
Back in the day, I remember being able to keep track of a whole week’s worth of assignments, friends’ phone numbers, and a huge school schedule. Nowadays, I’m lucky if I remember what I’m supposed to do this afternoon.
I used to try to keep it all in my head as I could do in college, but I found I was missing more and more important things and being surprised far more often than I liked. Finding the right solution for me took some time and I shifted around a bunch before landing on something that I liked.
I personally use One Note to keep my to-do lists and daily tasks organized and my family uses Google Calendar for scheduling. Hubby and I both know to check the calendar before we plan anything to make sure we’re not promising to do anything that we don’t have time for. I also use a bullet journal to help organize and focus my authoring business tasks and goals.
It’s taken a while to get into the habit and create systems that work well for me, but every effort has paid off.
DISCUSSION QUESTION: What would you do if you had an extra hour in your day?