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Weekends are the best, aren’t they? A little less “scheduled”, a little extra time in your day, fun activities with family or friends…weekends are just…simple. Every now and then, on a Saturday, we have a “stay in bed” day. We sleep in, make some breakfast, binge watch something we’ve been waiting to see, and generally just lay around all day! It’s wonderful (and highly recommended)!
But what about those other 5 days of the week? Do you feel that here-we-go-again tension start to creep in on Sunday night? Do you wake up Monday morning unprepared, rushed, and feeling a little frantic?
Believe it or not, your weekdays can be simpler too. Whether you’re a stay at home or work at home parent, working a 9-5 job (maybe even a couple of jobs), or self-employed, simplifying those weekdays is not an impossible goal. How? All it takes is a plan!
With a little planning ahead, you can be prepared for (almost) anything that comes your way!
Make an umbrella plan: Have a general routine
If you haven’t noticed yet, I’m BIG on routines. I like knowing what to expect on any specific day. Yes, days don’t always go as planned…because, you know, life. But knowing ahead of time what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, if it’s flexible or not – That is a HUGE step in simplifying.
It may take a couple of tries to figure out what works for you, but you should really only have to do this step every now and then, reassessing occasionally during life changes.
For example, Mondays are…well, Mondays. I try not to schedule too much, because it’s just not my most motivated day. I do my weekly housecleaning & grocery shopping on Wednesdays, because my work schedule is lightest on Wednesday. Because of that, I know that I need to make a grocery list & meal plan on Tuesday. Thursdays tend to be all or nothing days – work is either really busy or really slow, so for that day I schedule some of the more flexible tasks. If they get done, YAY! If not, no big deal. I know that on Fridays, my husband will probably want to go out – grab dinner somewhere and maybe see some live music or meet up with friends, so I try to leave that day more free than the others.
Try this: Take 15-20 minutes to sit down and look at your typical week. Write down anything that happens regularly, on the same day each week – things like appointments, meetings, typically busy days at work, the kidlet’s practices or lessons. Think realistically about your motivation and energy levels on those days.
Then, write down anything that needs to be done each weekly or that you’d like to do regularly each week, but doesn’t necessarily have to happen on a specific day or at a specific time. (For me, these would be things like grocery shopping and housecleaning – they need to get done, but in my life, it doesn’t really matter which day they happen most of the time.)
Finally, spread those flexible tasks out. Plan for them to happen on the easier and less busy days. Write up a quick overall view of a typical week and guess what? You have a plan in place!
Plan each week before it starts
Every Sunday, I sit down for about 10 minutes with my calendar, take a look at what’s coming up and adjust my normal plan to fit this particular week. It doesn’t take long and it helps me feel SO much more prepared.
For example, if I have an early Thursday morning meeting, I’ll block off Wednesday night so I’m fresh and ready the next day.
Take a look at what you know is coming at you, adjust anything in your normal planned routine that needs to be moved around or even plan to let a few things slide if it’s particularly busy.
Each evening, prepare for the following day
Take a few minutes in the afternoon or evening to prepare for the next day. If you have an early morning, decide what you will wear the night before. Get breakfast or lunch ready, so you don’t have to think about it in the morning. Need to remember to bring something unusual with you or drop a package at the post office? Set it near the front door so it’s ready to go. If you have an idea of what to expect from the day, you’ll feel so much more mentally and physically prepared!
Have a plan…but be flexible
I know, I know. I’m doing a lot of talking about planning here. But if life has taught me anything, it’s that things don’t always go according to plan. In fact, during certain times in life, they rarely go according to plan. That’s okay! Plans can be flexible, they’re not written in stone. The world won’t end if certain tasks just aren’t going to happen today or even this week.
Remember that general routine we made earlier? You already know what can be rescheduled (cleaning the bathrooms can wait for a day…no big deal) and what can’t be rescheduled (paying your mortgage or rent late is a bad thing!). If you need to adjust things on the fly, do it! Being aware of what absolutely HAS to happen and what can be delayed is a big weight off your shoulders when the unexpected happens.
Please, please, please don’t try to pack too many things into each week. Over-scheduling causes stress and is the exact opposite of simple! Be realistic about what you can and can’t get done when making your plans.
I’ll be honest here, this is a tough one for me. I tend to over-estimate my energy levels and under-estimate how long tasks will take to complete.
And you may find yourself in the same boat for a little while, as you settle into your new routine. But you know what? Notice when you’ve overscheduled, accept it, and adjust for next time. You can make a change whenever you need to!