How to make planning a regular part of your life
If you haven't realised by now, I love being organised in almost all areas of my life. Some people feel the same, others abhor the idea of sticking to a schedule, and many more fall somewhere in between - they like the idea of having a plan, but don't really know where to start. If you fall into that last category, this post is for you! I present to you my top four ways to make planning a regular part of your life.
Make it a fun ritual!
This might seem a little strange - how on earth do you make planning fun and where am I going with this "ritual" business? Hear me out! What constitutes fun will obviously be different for every person. Think about activities you enjoy and make you feel relaxed - it might be a steaming hot pot of tea, a glass of wine, or a wheatgrass smoothie. For me it is a fresh coffee and a slice of something sweet (preferably carrot cake). I also really like doodling and colouring, but I don't often make time for it. So my planning ritual is to pull out my bullet journal and coloured pens on a Sunday morning, make myself a nice hot coffee and then do my weekly plan while I enjoy my coffee, cake and colouring. Creating a personalised ritual is fun - it's a great opportunity for self care at the same time as getting your head around the week ahead. Spend a little time thinking about it - you want to create a ritual that you really look forward to.
Some suggestions to get you thinking: pour a glass of wine, make a special cocktail or mocktail, create a playlist, fill a tub and give yourself a foot soak while you do it, light a special candle, go to your local cafe and so on.
Make it easy!
We know by now that if something is just too hard, we are unlikely to do it. Or we'll do it, but it will be an uphill battle and there will be no joy in it - so the chance of the activity becoming a regular fixture in your calendar is pretty low. So how do you make planning easy? It depends on what planning you are doing, but let's assume you're creating a weekly plan for your family. For me, this includes appointments, a meal plan and a grocery list. I have a monthly calendar, a meal planning template and a grocery list template - and of course my trusty bullet journal and pretty coloured pens. I know where everything lives, so it takes me all of 30 seconds to set myself up (not including coffee making time!). I don't waste precious time searching the house for the tools I need - they're right there where they live, ready for me to crack on.
Pro tip: Whatever your ritual involves, consider creating a small toolkit with everything you need. When your allotted planning time arises, simply grab the toolkit from where it lives, unpack it and get started. It's easy to pack up again when you've finished, and get on with the rest of your day.
Plan to plan!
Wait, what? What I mean by this, is routinely carve out the time in your schedule to do the planning. Pick a time when you can realistically be alone for the time you need - no point choosing a time of week that you can't sustain. Once you've settled on your time, let potential distractors know this is Do Not Disturb time. Put your phone in another room, tell your housemates that you're in the cone of silence for however long you need (set a timer if you need a visual aid for kids), and then get busy with your planning. Be consistent with your planning ritual every week, and gently firm with anyone that tries to interrupt. Soon it will become a normal part of the week, for you and everyone else.
Pro tip: If you can’t make your planning session (because #life), consider rescheduling, just like you would if you had to cancel on a friend. But don’t sweat it if you need to skip a week - remember this is supposed to be an enjoyable ritual. Which leads me to…
Know when to say when!
Having a plan doesn't mean that you have no room for spontaneity. If you're just starting out, I recommend a loose plan - don't go overboard trying to micromanage down to every last detail. If you're just starting out with meal planning, for example, you could choose the meals that you're going to make and write a grocery list that corresponds - but not assign a meal to every day. Just see what you feel like making each day, knowing that you have a range of options and all of the fixings you require. Or if you're writing a household schedule for the first time, resist the temptation to fill every waking moment with activities. A high level overview of what is happening in the week ahead is enough when you're starting out - getting down to minute detail will be overwhelming for anyone trying to follow the schedule.
So there they are - my tips to make planning a regular part of your weekly schedule. If you're struggling to find your planning mojo, get in touch! I love sharing the joy of planning (lol) and can help you get started on a personalised planning ritual.