For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a planner. Even as a child, I was the kid with the plan. If the neighbor boy and I were organizing a neighborhood game of kickball, I would devise a plan of how we would divide up knocking on all our friends’ doors to find out if they could join. As a 6-7 year old, I made a plan to get a dog, because I was obsessed with having one. I created charts about what I would do if I had a dog and how I would take care of it. I researched all the different breeds and types of dogs like it was my job. I gave a full on presentation to my parents with poster boards and everything. My savings plan was having a milk jug in my room as my savings account and any money I could get my dirty little mitts on went towards buying myself a dog and all the supplies needed. My plan finally worked out by the time I was about 11-12 years old when by the grace of my parents I got my first rescue dog ever, a collie named Jake. I was beaming with pride when I got him. It felt good to see a long-term plan work out. I loved the heck out of that dog.
Anyways, the point of all of this is that planning can help you reach your goals. Having a plan and following it helps give you the direction needed to keep working towards your goals instead of wandering into something completely unrelated and unproductive for your life. I am a planner by nature and it has always been a valuable tool for me. I plan as much as I possibly can. For instance, back long before marriage when I was going on countless first dates with dudes I met online through a dating website, I always had a plan. First off, I always told a friend about the date, where I was going, along with a name and the profile pic of the guy I was supposed to meet. If he was a weird beard, the plan was for me to slyly text a random number or letter to my friend under the table or from the bathroom or however possible. That was their cue to call me and get me out of there with some fake emergency. Fortunately, while I met a lot of weird beards along the way, I never got to the point where I felt the need to fake an emergency to leave. I also had back-up plans for these situations. If he didn’t show up, the plan was to have a book with me so I could look like I was planning to have lunch alone and read my book. I had plans for each scenario and it helped me generally feel better about the whole situation. Also, for anyone left wondering, I didn’t have to implement my book plan. I was fortunate enough to not be stood up. They may have been weird beards but hey, at least they showed up.
I might be an extreme example of a planner. You’ll have to let me know about that. But, I still think that planning benefits me greatly. I think it could benefit anyone. I’d go so far as to say it could be life-changing. Read on, friends.
Currently, I spend anywhere from 5-20 minutes a day planning things out. It has helped me immensely in working toward my goals amongst the chaos of working full-time, being a full-time stay at home parent to a one-year-old and trying to maintain my relationships with myself and others outside of my immediate family. While you might say that there’s not enough time in the day to even sit and make a plan, I’d counter with the fact that I probably save myself hours of non-productive wandering by planning out my days. I’m also better at making the most of my time because it’s been mapped out and ready for use. I get way more productive things done now than I ever have. I’ve been using my planning powers to help me find a wonderful symbiosis in my life that I think I’m managing quite well.
I’d like to offer you some tips on how to make a plan. These tips are mostly related to planning things out as a parent, but my hope is that they can be adaptable for anyone to use. Here it goes:
Plan your week, plan your day, plan your meals, plan your routines, plan for your goals, plan your housework
1. Set your goals
What do you want to accomplish for you and your family? What is important to you? Where would you like to be in a few years? The time to start working on that future you is now. Find what your goals are and start taking steps to meet them. For instance, your goal may be to have $50,000 in your savings account by 3 years from now. If your income is modest, such as mine, you should probably start taking steps now to achieve that.
2. Break down the goals into manageable chunks
Moving along with the example above, determine how much you need to save each month in order to achieve your goal. Three years is 36 months. If you want to save $50,000 in 3 years, you would have to find a way to stash away $1,388.89 every single month. If you break that down even further, you could say you have to save $46.30 every day in order to reach your goal. The next step would be the figure out where that money will come from and use a similar system to plan that as well. If it requires switching jobs, break that down the steps necessary to do so and start implementing your plan.
3. Plan your week
Each week you should have a goal. For instance, my plan this week is to write a blog post and work on making it fully legal so that I can start marketing it. I consider this my professional goal. I also plan to get some solid work done for my current employer, get the house clean, take care of my child, take care of my pets, and cook some nice dinners. When I have so many things like this floating around that I want to get done in a week, it helps me to sit down and create a map. I break the tasks up into different days throughout the week so that each day, I know what my main goal is. Obviously there are things that need to get accomplished every day, such as eating and feeding your family. These auto-pilot things are not what I write down. I do, however, write down what meal I should make for that day so that I don’t spend half of the day wondering what I should make for dinner. I write down what I need to accomplish to take me closer to my goals. When you are able to accomplish something that is related to your goals, you are able to feel the sense of accomplishment many of us desperately crave.
4. Plan your day
Every morning, it’s helpful to take a few moments to sit down and make a plan. For me, this is when I basically “brain dump” everything I want to get done that day. I write down the cleaning tasks I want to accomplish, the type of dinner I want to make, the games I want to play with my son, and whatever needs to be accomplished for my job. I use this time to free up some brain real estate so that I have the capacity to stay focused on the task at hand and not worry about all the other things I hope to get done that day. Also, I get to feel productive while having my morning coffee.
5. Establish routines
One of the best things you can do for yourself is establish routines around things that you do regularly. We are creatures of habit. So, if the things you need to get done every day are part of your routine, it will be easy to accomplish them without giving them much thought. There are a million resources out there about how to establish routines and what is best for morning, what is best for evening, and so on. However, you need to find the routines that will serve you the best. If you find that you typically feel the urge to clean your bathroom at the end of the day instead of the beginning, by all means, clean it then. If you have the most focus and energy during the lunch hour, create a routine that gets you to work on the important stuff and make things happen during that time. Similar to breaking down your goals, add small habits that eventually contribute to the one that you want to have.
6. Stay focused but stay flexible
What? Yeah I know, it sounds kind of weird but hear me out. Once your brain has been dumped and you have a clearer headspace, keep your eyes on the prize. Get as many things as you can done in the day with the most focus on the ones that will help you feel most accomplished at the end of the day. Give yourself some grace to not complete everything on your to-do list. Most people do not check every item off of their to-do list because we are crazy busy people. We overschedule ourselves and expect to get way more done than is physically, mentally, or emotionally possible in a day. If you have an off day and are completely unproductive, that’s OK. Somewhere in your subconscious you must know that you needed to have that. As long as you get back on the productivity train again, all is not lost. Those tasks will be there waiting for you. They aren’t going anywhere. Remember that life is meant to be enjoyed. Always always always make sure you are taking time to enjoy it. Pencil it in.
I hope these tips will help you start getting some planning of your own done. Planning is my jam (and always has been), so feel free to leave a comment or send me a message if I can be of any help along the way. I love hearing from you!
Much love and productive vibes,
Momma Caped Nerd ❤
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