The summer holidays have kind of thrown me for a loop. Having both kids home and not a lot of routine (although fun!) has definitely taken its toll on my organisational habits. I am a complete geek when it comes to mapping out my time and to-dos, but with work, a business, two kids and a house to run I kind of have no choice or the wheels would definitely fall off. Ethan returns to school this week (bit earlier up here in Scotland) which is the perfect ‘back-to-school’ timing for me to get my act together and get back into the habit of planning my week. There’s something about the start of a new academic year that gives me all the New Years feels when it comes to reigniting goals and routines.
Sunday is, for me, the perfect day to go through my little weekly review. I get up early for a yoga class and like to take about an hour before or after my class for the following routine. This keeps me on track and lets me breathe easy knowing that the week’s priorities are set. Don’t get me wrong, chaos usually ensues at some point and part of my plan will be shot to sh*t. But I feel better knowing that there are at least the remnants of a plan to claw back and that my week isn’t going to be lost to the ether.
First up, I like to have a scan over the week ahead and make a note of anything that could/would impact my plans. If Gavin’s working away, if someone’s birthday is coming up, we have plans with friends or appointments on the calendar. All of these things will affect how much I can get done, what we’ll be having for dinner and how much money we’re likely to spend that week. Being aware of all the comings and goings feels like a natural first step in planning out the week ahead.
Next, I’ll open up our budget to look at the cash monies. We use You Need A Budget because it’s the only app I’ve found that essentially allows me to squirrel away money for upcoming things (without having 60 different bank accounts) and doesn’t just give me a retrospective view of our money like most budgeting apps. Although it’s great knowing that I spent £14 last week on hot chocolates, that doesn’t really help me set enough money aside for the September Smyths toy sale (Christmas is coming people). You Need A Budget (YNAB for those in the know) allows me to do all that forecasting and set targets. I check how our savings goals are coming along and also what bills are being taken out that week.
Meal Plan/Batch Cook
I usually get my shopping and write up a meal plan on a Thursday. So by the time I sit down to do this little review on a Sunday, it’s just a case of making notes of things that need to be prepped for the week ahead. I usually make a batch of homemade granola, some berry compote or apple sauce to go with it and a pot of soup for a lunch option. Occasionally a sweet treat like banana bread or cookies gets thrown in there too. It depends on how much time/energy I have later in the day.
Clear Paperwork / Inboxes
This is my least favourite but most necessary part of the weekly review. I have a little in-tray at my desk that ALL paper nonsense gets thrown into. School notes, receipts, mail that I can’t chuck out immediately. I go through all of them one by one and see if anything needs actioned this week (forms to return, paper bills to pay etc). If it does, I’ll put it on my to-do list for the appropriate day. I then empty all my email inboxes (I know, vom). But doing this purge every week means that I never find myself faced with a massive stack of paper bits or a 4000+ unread email inbox. And although I loathe doing this part, it’s the bit that gives me the biggest sense of calm knowing that all the urgent stuff is taken care of.
Once the decks are clear, I’ll spend 10 mins or so filling my Todoist (my digital to do list of choice) inbox with allllll the things that are swirling around in my brain. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that you need batteries for the smoke alarm or that I need to call my Grandmother, but I find using this prompt sheet by David Allen (of Getting Things Done success) to be the best way to comb through my mind and to prompt anything that’s tapping on my brain to be remembered.
Plot The Week
Now that I have a mega list of tasks in Todoist and a much more relaxed mind, I go through each task one by one and ask myself whether it actually REALLY needs to be done A) At all? and B) This week? Anything that doesn’t need my attention right now gets parked on my Someday/Maybe list (like ‘Learn Irish’) and anything that needs to be tended to this week (like ‘Photograph new products’) gets assigned to the day I think it’s most likely to get done. This results in a neat little plan for the week so that each day when I look at my calendar and my task list, I know what I need to do to move everything that’s important to me forward.
If there is any chance that you geek out over this stuff too, then I’d love to hear about how you review your tasks and plan your week ahead. Or if there’s any part of this process that you’d like to see expanded on, let me know and I’ll make a note to write future posts on the topic. And finally, if you are more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kinda person, I doff my cap to you. Because I’ve been feeling all at sea these last few weeks without my weekly review.