5 Steps to Successfully Plan your Week!

Are you a planner addict?  Do you cycle through a different planner every year (or every quarter!) trying to find the perfect one?  If so, have you stopped to consider that maybe it’s not the planner?  Maybe, and this is just a friendly suggestion…it’s YOU!  

Now that I’ve been using my new planner for almost a month (and I do believe it is the perfect planner for me!), I wanted to show you how I use my Design Love Planner to organize my week.  

You don’t have to have the DLP to make this work for you, though.  

The process you use to plan your time is much more important than the planner you select. (Not that I’m going to argue that the planner is also important!!  But that in itself, won’t get you organized!)

5 Steps to Successfully Plan Your Week via randomlittlefaves.com

I know for a fact that there are a LOT of planner addicts out there (planner addicts, unite!).  How do I know this?  Well, just google it (no, seriously!) and my most popular posts, hands down, are my posts that talk about planners!

There’s just something about this need to try to feel organized and that we, not the clock, have control over our own time.

I’m betting that a lot of you went on a hunt late last year to find the perfect planner for 2015.  Am I right? (if you’re still looking, check out my Planner Review post to help narrow down your choices)

And now that you have the perfect planner, a bevy of pretty pens, and maybe even some stickers, how’s it working out for you?

Are you organizing your time better, or just decorating your planner and wondering why your life didn’t magically come together the second you cracked open the perfect planner on January 1?

If you fall into the second category, don’t blame your planner for failing you!  It might be worth taking a good look at how you go about planning your time!

Today’s post isn’t about promoting one particular planner over another (been there, done that).  

Today, I’m going to walk you through how I plan out my week step by step.

With that said, I have been using the Design Love Planner for almost a month now and I LOVE it!  It really is working ideally for me (for my personal life, that is…if you recall from last week, I use a Passion Planner strictly for my blog planning).

I typically carve out 30 minutes or so every Sunday to sit down with my planner and map out my week.  The process that I use works for me and I’m not suggesting it’ll work for everyone, but if you’re struggling to get a handle on your tasks and schedule, then I highly recommend giving this a try.  

One thing you need to have a good grasp on, regardless of your planning method…the amount of time it takes to really get something done.  If you think it only takes an hour to do something that takes 3 hours, then that alone will cause you to create schedules that are unrealistic.  If this is you…this may take some practice and I encourage you to start out by jotting down how long it takes to do certain tasks to start training yourself on keeping it real when it comes to estimating times.

Alright…enough of my blabbering on…let’s get down to business!!

Step #1:  Set aside time every week to establish your schedule for the week 

5 Steps to Successfully Plan Your Week via randomlittlefaves.com

If you are evaluating your schedule and everything you need to do ahead of time, you’re much more likely to get things done.  You’ll already have a list of objectives for each day, as opposed to trying to figure it out at the last minute (which means you’ll likely forget something).

You could do this on Saturdays, Sundays, or even Monday mornings.   The goal is to pick a time that works for you and stick with it!

Step #2: Jot down everything you need to do on a separate notepad {free form}

5 Steps to Successfully Plan Your Week via randomlittlefaves.com

Before I even open my planner, I take out a notepad and just start jotting down everything I know I need to do for the week…errands, workouts, tasks around the house, bills to pay, etc.  I don’t put these in order or anything else, I just write it down as I think of it.  Usually, as I’m listing things out, it causes my brain to remember other things I need to do, so on the list it goes!

This list is my master list!  I hang onto it during the week even though I’ve already transferred most, if not all, to my planner by then.  I keep it to add more stuff as I think of it, or to start jotting down to-dos for the upcoming weekend.

Step #3: In your planner, fill in any appointments or blocks of time you know are already accounted for 

5 Steps to Successfully Plan Your Week via randomlittlefaves.com

In my Design Love Planner, there are 2 spreads per week…one showing the daily breakdown for mornings, days, and nights.  The other spread is for a list of to-dos (or whatever else you want to list out) per day.  For this step, I focus only on the daily breakdown pages.  

I quickly go through and note any appointments (if I haven’t already), scheduled workouts, meetings outside of work (I don’t keep my work schedule in here, unless it’s an evening meeting, which I do have a few times each month), social engagements, etc. 

This helps me see how my week is looking…do I have some days that are relatively light versus others that are packed?  Knowing this before I get to my next step will be critical!

Step #4:  On the to-do pages, start filling in what’s on my master to-do list 

5 Steps to Successfully Plan Your Week via randomlittlefaves.com
 Based on my results from Step #3, I know which days will be better for doing errands versus tasks at home.  I know if I have a really busy day, or a day where I have to go to New York City for work, I’m likely to be more tired that evening and won’t have much energy for a heavy to do list once I get home.  

With all of this in mind, I then start transferring tasks from my to-do list to the days that I plan to tackle that item.  And notice I said ‘plan to tackle’…I don’t always accomplish everything on my list every single day!  That’s OK!!  The goal here is to create a reasonable plan that will allow you to accomplish the majority of your tasks on the days that you assign them!

I should also note, that when I do this on Sundays, I don’t typically plan out the following weekend.  I might note a few things I know I need to do, or an event that I plan to attend, but I generally run through this process again towards the end of the week (around Thursday) to set up my weekend.  This doesn’t take that much time since we’re only talking two days!

Step #5:  Highlight the top things that need to be done on each day!

5 Steps to Successfully Plan Your Week via randomlittlefaves.com

After I have my week planned, I quickly go through each day and just highlight the items that I know I need to do that day.  Those are the non-negotiables and I do make a point to complete these tasks on the day I have them assigned. 

This just helps you get some focus, so when you flip your planner open on Wednesday morning, you already have your top task identified!

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As I go through the week, I {loosely} use a bullet journal style of noting what I accomplish on each day and what gets tossed vs. what gets pushed to another day.  I check things off as I complete them, I use an X to denote anything that I didn’t do and don’t plan on doing, and I use a side arrow to denote a task I didn’t complete on the day I assigned it, so I know to revisit this one later on during the week.

I also add other tasks to a specific day as things pop up during the week, which they always do!

While I’m specifically sharing this with regards to the Design Love Planner, you could implement this process with any planner system that you are currently using!!  It’s the process that is important!  

In a nutshell…identify all of your tasks, evaluate your time, divvy up the tasks, then highlight your top priorities!

While it may take a little time to plan out each week, it’ll save you time during the week!  It’ll also help you keep your time organized so that you’re in control of it….and isn’t that why you bought that pretty planner to begin with?

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Your turn!  What are your techniques for staying on top of your schedule and your mounting to-do list?  I’d love to hear how you tackle it, so leave me a comment to let me know!

Comments

  1. 1

    says

    I tried for so long to use a paper planner, and I’d just give up after a couple of weeks. Really disappointing since I spent all that money, plus carrying around a pretty planner is awesome :) But now I just use Google calendar to keep everything straight. It syncs with my tablet and phone, which I almost have at least one of them near me if I need to make notes or add an appointment. It has worked out well for me. But I really like your idea of taking a specific amount of time every week for planning and jotting things down on paper first. I think that would help keep me a bit more together!

    • 2

      Vicky says

      Hi Trish! I’ve only recently started using Google calendars and I do love how I can then access my calendar no matter where I am or what device I’m on. I try to remember to put appointments in there (like doctors, hair, etc) since I tend to forget when those are down the road (when I’m out and about and don’t have my planner on me). But, I do love writing things down…I just think better that way, lol. I do envy folks like you that go the digital route…it’d certainly be a lot cheaper than having to buy a new planner every year! LOL :-)

    • 4

      Vicky says

      Hi Alyssa – Yay! So glad you found that tip helpful! Whenever I see something highlighted, it’s like it’s screaming at me, so I just want to cross it off the list as fast as I can, lol!

    • 8

      Vicky says

      I know, right?! If I don’t have some sort of list going, nothing gets done! I don’t even know how I waste my time (actually, yes I do…FB, Twitter, Instagram, etc.! LOL). Thanks Tianna!

  2. 11

    Judy Caban says

    Thank you for this post. I use this planner too, while I love it I still struggle with it. I will definitely try your suggestion. Thank you so much.

  3. 13

    says

    I am OBSESSED with detailing my life out in various planners! I’m in the process of consolidating everything into one do-it-all book, which has been a process letmetellyou, but I love feeling organized knowing that everything I need is pretty much in one handy dandy space. I’m still on the hunt for the perfect affordable planner, though…

    cominguprosestheblog.com

    • 14

      Vicky says

      Isn’t it crazy how we feel like we can’t get anything done until we list it and plan it out??! I can only imagine how much work it must be to try to combine everything into ONE planner! That’s awesome, though! Good luck getting that all set up!! :-)

  4. 15

    says

    I live for my schedule! We use the Cozi family planner app and then I have a dry erase board in my home office that I write things I need to along with any reminders in my Keep app. We also use our stainless steel fridge and liquid chalk markers to make any to do list we both need to remember.

  5. 16

    says

    I LOVED this post! I make lists every Monday of things I want to get done, but I never break them down by day or even when throughout the day I want to do them. I think I may need to look in to getting one of these planners! I just keep jumping from my Passion Planner to just writing lists, to using my white board…it’s quite frustrating! I think I can take some of your suggestions and implement them using my Passion Planner. Thanks for another great post!! xo Liz http://www.4evermysweetpea.com

    • 17

      Vicky says

      I totally hear you Liz! The perfect planner is a challenge to find, but so far, this one is really working well for me!! I still love my Passion Planner for my blog planner (although I should get my Spark Notebooks on Saturday, so we’ll see if that works better for me for blog planning!). Glad this was useful!! :-)

  6. 18

    says

    I’m actually thinking of getting this planner. Are the pages easy to turn? The Day Designer was great, but I found it hard to turn the pages and the paper was soooo thin.

    xoxo

    • 19

      Vicky says

      Kat – that was one of the things I HATED about the DD! Pens would bleed through and forget using highlighters! That isn’t the case with this planner. I use highlighters all the time, I use a gold felt pen, and felt tip pens and they all don’t bleed through (I haven’t tried sharpies, though). I haven’t had any problems with the pages…it seems like nice quality paper to me.

    • 21

      Vicky says

      Thanks! And I hear ya, Stephannie, on feeling like life is still cluttered, lol!! I hope these prove to be helpful :-)…

    • 25

      Vicky says

      Awesome! There’s something so satisfying about planning everything out, isn’t there? Glad these tips may be helpful for you, Andi :-).

  7. 26

    Chrystina says

    This post is awesome. Such a good way to start each week, and it actually sounds like a pretty relaxing thing to do on Sunday nights (because I’m a weirdo?) – maybe I’ll start this evening!

    • 27

      Vicky says

      I’m with you, Chrystina, so I guess I’m a weirdo, too, LOL! I actually look forward to planning out my week and once it’s done, I feel much more relaxed! If you give it a try, let me know how it goes! :-)

    • 29

      Vicky says

      Hi Erica! It’s amazing how taking those few extra moments to just plan everything out makes such a difference in getting things done :-).

  8. 32

    says

    I swear by using a planner too!! I love your ideas though! The other thing I do is print out a calendar and keep it by my computer, under my mouse, so that way I always have everything in two places!

    • 33

      Vicky says

      Ooh..that’s a great idea, Lindsay! I love having things in more than one place..lol. You never know when you’ll need to remind yourself of something, so having it right at your fingertips is perfect! :)

    • 35

      Vicky says

      Hi Giselle! Thanks so much…I hope this works for you and it allows you to find your system :). It seems so easy to just set goals, right? lol, but there’s so much more to it than that! Good luck!

  9. 36

    says

    Hi! I just stumbled upon your blog and love love love it! Especially this one – I should add that I am in need of a little more planning and NOT a new planner (what I like to tell myself instead of actually working on my system). So you post was definitely an inspiration.
    I am excited to see what you will post in the future.
    xoxo, Ronja
    http://www.sothisiswhat.com

    • 37

      Vicky says

      Hi Ronja! You just made my day, girlfriend!!! Thank you SO much for your very sweet words and I’m so glad that you found this helpful :-). It took me awhile to figure out that an awesome planner is only part of the solution, so I get ya, lol (but a good planner definitely helps!!) :-). I’m going to go hop around your blog now…I love how your blog looks, so I can’t wait to dive in! Hope you have an awesome weekend and I look forward to connecting again soon!

  10. 38

    Brenna says

    I used to use a planner in high school but I never took time to fill it out and when I do I never think to look at it. But my fiance and my life is getting ready to be really hectic. So I’m planning on getting a planner and I love all of your tips. They will definitely help me when I finally buy one :)

    • 39

      says

      Yay! Glad these tips were helpful, Brenna! It can take practice to get into a routine, but once you find one that works for you, it can make such a difference with staying on top of things! Good luck and congrats on your upcoming wedding :).

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