The Importance of Being a Planner
If you have seen some of my Instagram Stories recently then you are probably already aware of the fact that I have been thinking of how I can set myself up for success! One of the ways I accomplish this is by simply planning things out. I know how easy it is to go through life mindlessly and without a plan. And by that I really mean thinking that everything is under control, but you have not taken the time to think through and put pen-to-paper to plan things out.
There are various areas that one may plan out their lives. You can plan out your day, and steps that you need to take during that day. You can do meal planning. You can also write massive amounts of to do lists, but without a plan to go along with those to do lists where will it get you? Recently, I find myself being the busiest that I have been in a very long time (probably since grad school). During these busy times, I find that planning tasks out to be extremely helpful for me and structuring my life. I probably would not be able to do all of the things that I am doing if it was not for planning! There are several different ways that I do this.
Meal Planning and Preparation
On my weekly planner spreadsheet (as listed below), Thursday nights are scheduled to work on my meal plan for the upcoming week. The reason I do this is because I plan to purchase groceries on Saturdays, and I usually leave Fridays open for spending time with loved ones. This leaves less work for me on Sundays, when I work on preparing my meals for the upcoming weeks. For me, spreading the work out over the course of the week makes each task more enjoyable and focused. This helps me because I will not need to spend half of my Sundays meal planning, grocery shopping, and then meal prepping. All of those tasks in one day can be very exhausting for this full-time worker!
When I plan out my meals, I reference a list of recipes that I enjoy very much and that can also be cooked in batches, and/or put in the freezer for meals at a later time. This list of recipes is a growing list. It is just gathered over time, mostly from Weight Watchers recipes on Instagram! These are some of the accounts I follow for recipe ideas: Skinnytaste and Recipe Diaries. When I reference my list of recipes I also take a look at what I have on hand. What do I have in my refrigerator? What do I have in my freezer? What do I have in my pantry? Then, I try to make sure that I am eating up the foods that will go bad first. This way it helps reduce the amount of food waste that I have. Which in turn reduces the amount of money I actually spend on food!
An easy hack here is to think in terms of what do you actually need from the grocery store versus what do you want in the grocery store. By thinking in these terms you will easily save money because you have done your due diligence and looked at the materials that you have on hand. Not only does that contribute to less food waste, but it also contributes to a reduction in your grocery budget because you are not buying as many groceries as you might think you want.
After I know what I have on hand and what recipes I am interested in for the week I take a look at my calendar. That way I can look at my whole week ahead and see which meals I do need to meal prep for, and which if I have a lunch or dinner planned already I know I do not need to worry about that particular meal. This way I am also reducing the amount of trips to Starbucks, or the local fast food joint because I know that I already have delicious homemade food ready to go for me.
Priority and Task Maintenance
Another way that I plan out my weeks are by simply taking a look at what is due and coming up in the next week. For example, if I have a project from a client that is coming due, I make sure that I block out the time during my planning stages in chunks so I can accomplish more that way. Since I have to juggle many different high priority items in my life, I make sure that each day has very specific goals. Since I have more than a handful of clients I want to make sure that I am catering to each one of their needs. I simply use a spreadsheet to track this out.
On this spreadsheet, I have a list of clients going across a single row with the task or priority listed under each of their names. I make sure the task gets scheduled into a block of time during that week. If it does not come up during that week, but I know it will come up the following week, I list that task under a “Next Week” section on that same spreadsheet. I also make sure that I schedule in time to exercise and attend a Weight Watchers meeting as well as spending time with my friends and family. It is a lot to manage, but this way of having very specific goals for each day for each chunk of time helps me swallow things a lot easier.
I had to figure out a system that worked for me! I essentially think of my day in blocks of 3 hours for my side business. For example, during the week: one hour in the morning, one hour during lunch, and one hour after work. Each block of 1 hour has a specific goal attached. Sometimes, it can be the same goal for the day depending on how much client work I need to get done. On the weekends, I also try to focus on getting as much done as Saturdays as I can so I can enjoy my Sundays. I know I will get there eventually!
Let’s not forget trusty Google Calendar! I also use Google Calendar religiously! For important meetings and phone calls I make sure to not only schedule it on the spreadsheet above, but put it into my google calendar as an appointment with a reminder. The reminders are super helpful as they show up on my cell phone to alert me when I should be calling someone or meeting up with another person. This way I could put the cell phone number, address, or zoom link on the calendar event and I am ready to go! Usually on Google Calendar I will put things related to my day job as well as client meetings, phone calls, and any other family or personal events that are going on in my life. I have everything synced into one calendar.
Social Media Calendar
Separate to everything is my social media calendar. Which I use Asana to schedule out my social media postings for the next couple of weeks. I try to keep in mind what might be happening in our culture as well as any holidays. This is still being developed and definitely in the works. But, having this extra task management app to help move things along is super helpful -- especially since I have team members that help me with my social media postings :-)
I do happen to be organized as well, but don't get me wrong I do have a few junk drawers that are overdue for being cleaned out. But, generally speaking I have a good organizational system going. Even this week I spent a good amount of time re-organizing my files because I am already thinking of the new calendar year and taxes coming due! (I cannot stress how important it is for regular finance maintenance, this way when tax season comes around, you are better prepared and ready for it!)
Let me know in the comments section what your thoughts are on staying organized and planned out.
Happy Planning, Friends!