Do you ever start your week with an optimistic to-do list, only to end up on Saturday afternoon, wondering how a whole week passed by and you still didn’t manage to get that bill paid or that load of laundry folded? And let’s not even think about the long-term dreams like organizing family photos or finally cleaning out the hallway closet!
I’ve had many fits and starts at planning and organizing over the years. Some have been more successful than others. But the thing that has consistently worked? Just getting it all out of my head, and writing down a list of things I need to do.
And then — oh joy! I get to cross things off my list! Honestly: It’s a pretty big motivator for me. Especially if I tell myself that I can’t make that big bowl of popcorn I’m craving until everything’s crossed off the list!
I’m not one to put together a fancy binder with color-coded tabs and alphabetical passwords. But I’ve come up with a simple system that works for me. It’s a two-step process I go through every Monday morning:
1: I jot down all the tasks I’d like to get done that week, circling the ones that need to get done. I usually jot things down by category (Errands, Household Chores, Volunteer Tasks, Etc.)
2: Then, on a separate sheet of paper, I assign each task to a specific day of the week, taking into account the time commitments already on my calendar. I try to be ruthlessly realistic here, using more “open” days to get a lot of tasks finished, but keeping them at a minimum on days that are already busy with appointments and such.
I used to just jot a weekly to-do list. But I would end up feeling overwhelmed, especially during the early part of the week when so much was still undone. I ended up working like a crazy woman until all hours of the night and—surprise, surprise—I’d have troubles falling asleep.
Now that I actually break the tasks up by day, I can focus on getting through one day at a time. And when I finish, I can take the time to unwind a bit, knowing that the rest of my tasks will get done another day. It’s a much better recipe for a calm heart and a good night’s sleep!
This system also helps me set realistic expectations for my week: I often have a very large list after doing my “brain dump” of tasks on Monday morning. On extra busy weeks, when I’ve got a lot of commitments on the calendar already, I just focus on the circled items that need to be done. On lighter weeks, I schedule some of those long-term things goals—when I will realistically have time to get to them.
This year, I’m sharing this simple system with my kids as well. It’ll be a little extra work at the beginning of the week, but it’s a win-win for all of us: They get to learn good time management and gain independence. And I don’t have to keep all their schedules straight in my head or nag them every day about what needs to get done!
If you’re looking for a simple system to help you—or your kids—stay more organized each week, I invite you to give this process a try at your house. And I’ve put together a set of free printable planners you can use. One set is for the kids—with fun colors and categories that fit their life. And one set is for you—prettied up with a few flowers and separate categories that fit life as a mom.
In each set you’ll find:
- A Weekly To-Do List sheet: This is where you can do your “Brain Dump” of all the items that need to get done during the week. I’ve added categories so you can organize these tasks. (Note: I use my “Next Week” category as a place to put ideas I know I won’t get to this week, but want to remember for the future.)
- A Blank Weekly To-Do List sheet: Your life may look a bit different than mine, so I included a planning sheet that’s blank, in case you want to create different categories than mine.
- A Daily Tasks sheet: This is where you can organize all the tasks by day by day.
I hope these weekly planning sheets will help you stay motivated and get more done each week. But even more, I encourage you to set realistic goals: Don’t fill your days so full with things to do that you never find space to simply be. Leave some space in your life to rest, reconnect with God, and enjoy the people around you. Be present. Be grateful. Be you!