If there’s one thing that’s made a difference to how much I achieve in a week, it’s my Sunday evening ritual of planning the week ahead. The weeks that I make the time to plan, when often I feel like the only thing I want to do is to soak in a bubble bath and read a book, run so differently to the weeks when my Elemis Milk Bath and iBooks win out. Planned weeks are so much more efficient and productive and, while that might sound dull, it makes me so much calmer and happier. A planned me is a better mummy, a better wife, a better me all-round.
When I look admiringly (and sometimes enviously) at someone who I think has her stuff together – professionally successful, nurturing mummy, the cool, calm, collected type – I have to remind myself that each of us has the same 168 hours in a week. She might just choose to spend her weekly allowance a little differently to most. How are you spending your time? Is it getting you closer to the life you want to be living?
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Simply put, my weekly planning needs to become habitual. I want this to be my slight edge, as Jeff Olson calls it. In his book of the same name (which I would highly recommend if personal development/growth books are your thing), Jeff champions making “daily choices that lead you to the success you desire”. It comes down to two choices: you’re either on a trajectory towards your goals and visions or a trajectory away from them. By default, making no choice means you’re heading away, say adieu – if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten. And so, once I’d worked on my plan for the year, I’ve made sure that I’m keeping in mind the daily and weekly habits that I know will give me that slight edge… and I’m sharing them with you below:
Date night: It got to the point late last year when we were both so busy, Jack and I were often eating separately and having hurried conversations and ‘quality time’ was non-existent. Friday night is now our night. It’s pretty unlikely that we’d be able to go out each week BUT simply having dinner together, candles and chats is a treat in itself. And, I’ve made sure we have a few real dates lined up before Baby 2 is due in April – not least a night away!
Memory days: In the Christmas build-up I’d arranged a family day out on the Santa Express. Louis loved it and we both enjoyed seeing his eyes sparkling at the choo-choo’s and Father Christmas that I decided then and there that we needed a memory day like it each month. So, my weekly habit is to get my thinking cap on to find new and exciting places for us to visit.
Creative play: I don’t know about you but the novelty of Father Christmas’ festive delivery is already wearing off. Louis is such a creature of habit that he’d happily read the same books and play with the same small selection of toys each day. Though we’re often out and about, I want to put more effort into creative play on the rainy days at home. My fave resource for ideas is the Imagination Tree so I’m going to make my way through these ideas – first up, 4-minute play dough!
Meal planning: This sounds sooo domesticated that it makes me a little uncomfortable BUT with two (sometimes three) different meal-times to accommodate, I find it so much easier to plan some yummy dinners for the week ahead rather than leave it until the day arrives.. as I can guarantee we’d end having the same 2/3 dishes in our repertoire on rotation for ever more!
Writing time: I shared last week my plan to keep things simple and consistent this year. Using the Pareto Principle (aka ‘batching’), my weekly habit is to set aside a chunk of one of my working days to write both The Glitterati newsletter and my single, weekly blog post.
Daily priorities: As well as weekly planning, and in the theme of simplicity, I’m turning over a new leaf when it comes to my daily plan. I got completely overwhelmed with all I should be doing and, with the help of my business coach, I’m clear on my biggest priorities and I’m focusing on just 1-3 actions each day. This is totally new (and uncomfortable) to me so it’s going to take a bit of getting used to!
Yoga: I LOVE yoga. It makes me feel like me. I can be a different person before and after my time on my now-shabby-looking yoga mat. So, why is this the thing that gives? Weeks can go by and I’ll not have made any time for even a short yoga session – I always think there’s something more important to ‘get done’. Rather than over-face myself with the challenge of finding time daily, I’m promising myself that I’ll find at least 20 minutes three times a week.
Daily meditation and journal: Just like yoga, when I’ve been in the habit of practising meditation regularly, I’ve felt like a better me. And so far, so good: I’ve found 20-minutes each day to just switch off and ‘be’… though I must admit it’s often been the last thing I do at the end of the day, once I haul my weary bod to bed!
Nurture night: Oh how I love Sunday night now. It’s dubbed nurture night! I realised that simply having a bubble bath (one without bath toys and with candles and my skincare goodies instead) or taking time to give myself a manicure/pedicure, makes me feel like a ‘girl’ again. And so, Sunday has become the night that I emerge from my busy mum chrysalis and feel like Emma again.
Dates with Jack and nurture night aside, I was making very little room to do the things that make me happy i.e. the things I used to spend my spare time doing. Like, playing hostess. Or, having brunch with one of my friends. Or going to the cinema / to a gig / to watch a comedian. Clearly, I/we don’t have the same freedom as we used to but, by being a little more organised (and planning), I reckon Jack and I can both find some ‘time off’ to do things we love, either together or individually. I realised I had to make re-charging our batteries more of a priority… And so finding ideas/planning time-out made the ‘weekly planning’ cut.
I’d love to hear from you in the Comments below. Do you plan your week? What 3-5 habits can you commit to each week?