There’s a reason why the planner industry makes so much money every year…we love to plan! As busy women, we’re always looking for tools that will help us organize our to-do lists. The secret, however, is not in what type of planner you use but in how you use it to plan your day.
I can go into an hour long conversation about different ways to plan your days for maximum effectiveness but we don’t have that much time right now. I didn’t plan for an hour long conversation today 😉
What I can give you are my top 3 tips for scheduling your days in a way that will allow you to get the most important things done. Once you’ve gotten comfortable scheduling in this way, then you can start implementing other scheduling tips to get even more done.
You know the feeling you get when you buy a new planner? The one that makes you think you’re suddenly superwoman and this magic planner will allow you to get 30 things checked off your to-do list today? What happens next?
You very quickly realize that there’s no way you can possibly get all this done in one single day! Then end up feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, and like a failure that nothing seems to be helping you get your days organized. You wonder if you’re one of those people who just can’t get organized.
Let me tell you something… yes you can! If you truly want to be organized, you have to be realistic with your time and how much you can fit into your day. Everyone has a different schedule, so work with your own and stop comparing yourself to other people.
Here’s how you can stop biting off more than you can chew:
Above all, make sure you’re scheduling in time for yourself, your family, and things you love to do (the ones that make you feel sane). These three things will keep you grounded no matter what your day throws at you.
A lot of times we think we’re being super productive if we cram our planner with to-do’s for every 15 minutes of the day. This is setting yourself up for failure before you even begin. By not allowing time for the unexpected (which will happen), you’re willingly adding stress to your day.
Especially if you’re a mother, you need to insert buffer times into your schedule for the unexpected tummy aches, sudden fevers, spilled liquids, dirty diapers, boo-boo’s that need band-aids, etc. So when you’re planning out your day, make sure you not only schedule how much time each task will take you to complete but how much time you’ll give yourself in between each task.
My buffer time used to be 15 minutes in-between each task. Now that I have 4 kids and one more on the way, my buffer time is 30 minutes between tasks. Sometimes I need the buffer time, other times (the rare ones) things go so smoothly that I end up not using my buffer time at all.
Play around with your buffer times and give yourself the time (and grace) you need to get through your days as stress-free as possible. I know when you’re a mom, stress is just a part of your days most days. So don’t willingly add to that by cramming your schedule so full that you’re setting yourself up for failure before the day even begins.
I spent years trying to make myself a morning person. I would set my alarm for 5:00 am, workout, shower and get ready for my day, eat breakfast, and then tackle my to-do list….nope. I would end up going back to sleep cause my morning routine had worn me out!
It wasn’t until recently that I decided I was just going to allow my body to get the rest it needed before tackling my to-do list. Best. Decision. Ever. I get so much more done in my day by working with my internal clock instead of working against it.
Now don’t get me wrong, I still wake up around 6:00 am to get in my morning quiet time before getting the kids ready for school. This is when I do my bible reading and journaling. Then I start getting the kids ready for school.
By the time the kids are off to school, my youngest is still asleep. So that’s when I go back to bed. I get in another 1-2 hours of sleep until she wakes me up by “sneaking” into bed with me. This is usually around 10:00-11:00 am.
So yes, I get what most would consider a super late start to my day. For me, however, it’s perfect. I’m most productive at night. That’s when ideas flood into my brain and when I can get the most done (especially after the kids fall asleep).
I still get dinner on the table at 6:00 pm. I bathe the kids after dinner, clean up the kitchen, and tidy up the house by their bedtime. I’ve learned that if I need to record any videos for my YouTube channel, I need to get them done before my 5-year-old gets home from school.
I get all my house cleaning done while the kids are at school. Then I get started on my to-do list after that. I can usually get a good 2-3 hours in to work on my to-do’s before the kids get home. Once the kids get home, I don’t do anything off my to-do list.
I spend time with the kids, get dinner started, and then continue through my evening routine. After the kids are asleep is when I’m most awake. So that’s when I finish up anything that’s left on my to-do list.
I stay up pretty late, but it’s just what works for me. I stay up late, but I also start my day a lot later than most. So it works for me and allows me to be my most productive self.
Do what works for you. Crafting the perfect schedule for yourself is going to take some trial and error until you get it just right. The most important thing through this process is to stop comparing yourself to others.
You may find yourself being inspired by the way others plan their days and that’s great! Use that inspiration to figure out what works best for you. Don’t beat yourself up if something doesn’t stick like it did for others. Get what you can done with the time you have, and remember there’s always a fresh start tomorrow.