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It’s time to retake control of your life by making a few simple shifts that will make (almost) each week a breeze! Let us show you how to simplify your week before it begins with these easy tips and strategies that will help you feel relaxed and ready for whatever happens.
We’ve all been there.
It’s Monday morning. There’s so much to do this week! But there’s a whole week ahead, so it should be fine…right?
It’s Thursday already. How is this week almost over?!? Too tired to even think about dinner, let’s grab a pizza on the way home.
It’s Sunday and…ugh…Is tomorrow Monday already??? Wasn’t it just Monday??? Time to do this all over again…
Sound familiar? Honestly, I could feel that old “Sunday-scaries” tension creeping in just typing that out. I haven’t lived that life in a while (and I don’t miss it.) Changing my weeks from frazzled and fatigued to calm and in control didn’t happen overnight. Still, it DID happen after a few strategic changes. Imagine not feeling overwhelmed by the week ahead before it even begins!
How can you set yourself up for a calmer, simpler week?
Learning to plan for a calm and simple week is important for many reasons. First, it gives you a path toward being productive without feeling overwhelmed, a way to start simplifying before things get crazy. It allows you some breathing room in your schedule so that when something does come up, it won’t knock everything else askew. And a plan helps keep you feeling calm and on top of things so that if anything unexpected happens during the workweek, you’ll have the space and mental energy to roll with it.
So how do you take back your schedule? If you want to be the master of your own week – rather than feeling like it’s running you – then here are some simple ways to make your future, upcoming week easier.
Make a plan before the week begins
Plan your week out on Saturday or Sunday. I know, I know. That’s the last thing you really want to do during the weekend. But, I promise, if you start making a habit of taking 15-45 minutes to sit down and sketch out a plan for the week ahead, you will feel SO much more prepared when Monday morning rolls around.
Planning ahead can help you simplify everything. Once you have a general outline of what needs to get done, you can break things into manageable parts that don’t overwhelm you.
Rather than just jumping into the week head first, figure out what you need to do and when you need to do it. THEN – when the week begins – you’ll be free to focus on just doing it. Doing this will help keep your stress level low throughout the week. No matter how busy you are during the day, you’ll know exactly what needs to get done next without having too much weighing on your mind.
Start with mindfulness & intention
Before the week even begins, you can set yourself up for a calmer and more simplified week by practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness is about being present in the moment and focusing on what’s going on around you right now instead of worrying about what’s coming next or dwelling on things from the past. These practices will help keep your stress levels low and help you stay in the present moment.
Make a habit of starting off each morning with a meditation practice to set yourself up for a simplified week. Try these:
- Take a few minutes each morning to focus on breathing without any distractions.
- Start the day with a simple yoga flow
- Spend 5 minutes setting your intentions for the day
These few moments of being genuinely present will allow you to stay feeling calm and balanced, even IF things get hectic later on in the day.
This moment of mindfulness at the beginning of your day will help you feel relaxed and ready for anything else that comes up, so it’s important not to skip it even if you have only a few minutes in the morning.
Prioritize your To-Do List (and be ruthless about it)
When you’re too busy to do everything, but everything needs to get done, it can feel like all these tasks pile up until you don’t know what to do with yourself.
If you lean a little bit toward type-A (I do), it’s easy to get wrapped up in the narrative of “I want all these things to be done, and I want them to be done right now!” A nice thought, but realistically, there is only so much time in a day, and you only have so much energy, both physically and mentally.
There’s no doubt that we all like to get *ish* accomplished. And it feels really good to hit the end of the list and know that there’s nothing else you HAVE to do. But unless you take a good personal inventory of that list, cut it back to what actually is a priority, and eliminate the rest, the end of that list is like February 31st… it’s just never going to happen.
When you’re trying to simplify your week before it even begins, it’s time to focus on what really matters and prioritize your tasks. When you’re too busy worrying about doing things that aren’t important, you’ll find yourself having a much more complicated and hectic week.
Take a good look at what is actually a priority
When you’re planning your list:
- Ask yourself if each task is necessary
- Ask yourself if each task has to be done this week
If you can’t answer “yes” to both of these questions, it’s time to let these tasks go.
(You might also want to create a do-not-do list of things that you know aren’t important enough to spend time on; it’s unexpectedly freeing.)
Only plan a few tasks each day
This tip might be counterintuitive because we’re used to thinking that the more we get done, the better. But if you plan out a week full of tasks with a dozen things to do each day, you’ll soon find yourself feeling overwhelmed and exhausted by the end of it. So instead, limit your to-do list to three main things each day.
This will help keep you from overbooking yourself and stay on track with your main priorities for the week. It will also free up space for those unexpected things that pop up and need to be handled ASAP.
The fewer tasks you have to worry about every day, the easier your week will be!
Batch It Up
Now that you know what truly needs to get done this week, take a look at your list and see which tasks your can “batch” together. Tasks that are similar, happen in the same place, or build on each other. If you batch together similar tasks, you’ll find the week is much easier to manage!
Batching your tasks will make it easier to get through each day because you won’t have to spend as much time bouncing around doing things that could quickly be done together at once! This helps simplify your life by cutting down the amount of effort you put into each task.
Schedule in Down Time
Ever feel like every second is filled with plans? We often don’t notice how busy our week is until it finally comes to an end and we have time to relax…maybe. However, if you’re trying to simplify, try including some intentional downtime so that you can recharge.
The point is to look forward to this part of your day so you can feel relaxed and ready for anything else that comes up. This will help simplify your life by letting you decompress and ease the week’s stress. If you schedule it, you’re a lot less likely to feel guilty about it.
Downtime tip #1: Plan something small for yourself
Plan one activity, something small for yourself that will help bring a little calm into your week. It could be something as simple as buying your favorite coffee on your way to work or stopping at the park with your dog for a quick walk.
Downtime tip #2: Start your week with a little bit of slowness
The next step is to start your week off on the right foot, slowly and intentionally, with something you love. Maybe spend a few extra minutes slowly enjoying your morning coffee, do your favorite quick yoga flow, or read a single chapter of a good book.
The important thing is that you’re doing something to start the week in a relaxed way instead of rushing into it.
Downtime tip #3: Take five minutes before bedtime to do something that makes you happy
Also, make sure you’re taking time for yourself at night. This could be anything from reading your favorite book or magazine to taking five minutes out of the evening to write in your journal. Whatever makes you happy!
There are so many distractions during our day that require our attention, which can leave us feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Taking just five minutes each night to do something just for you allows you to relax, recharge, and sleep better so that you’re ready for whatever the next day brings.
Try the timer method
Do you find yourself getting so wrapped up in one task that the others don’t stand a chance? Or bouncing back and forth between tasks so much that nothing ever actually gets completed? Or putting things off until later only to realize that it’s already getting dark outside? Don’t let this happen!
Try setting a timer on your phone (for a realistic amount of time), and when it goes off, you stop. Or CHOOSE to continue. That way, you won’t be spending your whole day on one task (or putting off a task you just don’t feel like doing.) By setting a timer, YOU get to create the rules and manage how much time you spend.
Start Meal Planning
Plan out what meals you’ll make during the week! Meal planning means you can spend more time doing things that matter and less worrying about what you’re going to do for dinner.
Before a new week starts, take a look in the kitchen, see what you have on hand and what you may need to pick up. Then, plan out what meals you’ll make during the week, and make a quick list if you need to grocery shop.
(Creating meal plans can also help you save money since you won’t have the additional cost of those mid-week panic pizza runs.)
If you find that you consistently don’t have time to cook during the week, try meal prepping on the weekends or freezer cooking once a month. (Check out Once a Month Meals to learn more about freezer cooking.)
Practice gently saying no.
Don’t over-commit yourself. While it might be challenging to say no to a friend, you’ll find that your life will become much less hectic if you prioritize. If an event will cause overwhelm if you try to fit it in, don’t be afraid to politely decline.
Overscheduling can quickly overwhelm you. It will just leave you exhausted and feeling the struggle!
You don’t always have to say yes.
Before accepting invites or committing to projects, be sure to consider the following:
Is it something that will stress you out if you try to fit it into your schedule?
Do you actually want to say yes, or would you be accepting out of obligation?
If the answer is no to either of these questions, politely decline. Learning how to say no can be hard, but prioritizing your time will keep you feeling calm and on top of things all week long. Be sure not to leave the invitee hanging; let them know as soon as possible and be nice about it!
Here’s to a simpler week ahead!
Simplifying your life before the week begins can be a great way to start off on the right foot. It can help you feel more organized and in control, which is especially important if you have a lot of things on your plate.
Make plans for what needs to be done. Use mindfulness practices to keep yourself in the moment and focused on what needs doing at that time, rather than stressing about the future or the past. And prioritize your tasks to make sure you’re focusing on things that matter most to you. By simplifying your week from the beginning, you’ll have a much calmer and easier week.