In Sunday Self-Care I talked a bit about planning as a form of self-care. When we take the time to invest a bit in our week on the front end, the pay off is a smoother and less stressful week. Which leads to a more peaceful less stressed you…one of the main goals of these Sunday posts. Many people view self-care as something you do when you are burned out and unable to keep up with the basic requirements of life. But that is living life in reaction mode. In order to have the abundant and fruitful life that we long for we must learn to live life more in the responding mode. We know ourselves better than anyone and know what we need to be the best version possible. This is more of a preventative approach to mental and emotional health, the things we need to do to keep burnout from becoming a way of life. And I know that sometimes you feel like adding one more thing to an already overfilled schedule is impossible, I promise you if you make the time to take care of yourself, the other stuff will fall into place. It’s like the example of putting sand in the jar and then attempting to put all the rocks in, inevitably all the rocks won’t fit. But, if you place the rocks in first and then pour the sand in you can fit so much more in your jar. To me, planning is one of those rocks you should add to your jar first. Planning is a very individualistic thing, and you have to find out what works for you, Some people swear by electronic planning, however, I am an old school paper and pencil kind of girl, so that is reflected in the way I plan. I have never found one planner that met all my needs, so I combine pages from several different sources to create something that best serves me. I have always preferred ring-bound planners, they give e the ability to add sections and remove sections as seasons in my life change. I would say that is a key concept in planning, realizing that your needs change, and adapting your planning system to meet you where you are at the moment. Think of your planner as your very own administrative assistant, it’s working for you to make your life a bit less stressful and chaotic. On Sundays, I take the time to plan my week. The three things that have been consistent in my planner over the years are 1) a monthly calendar 2) a daily page and 3) a menu planner. My monthly calendar contains appointments, school holidays and important events and birthdays. Since I make it a habit of carrying my planner with me when I am out when I make an appointment I immediately write it down in my planner. No scraps of paper, no appointment cards, no trying to remember what calendar it was written on, one central location. Do you see how that could eliminate a little bit of stress from your life? And I carry a full year of monthly pages in my planner at all times, so those 6 months out dentist appointments don’t get lost in the everyday part of life. After I have checked my monthly calendar for any obligations coming up, I date a week’s worth of daily pages. Now I know daily pages aren’t for everyone, some people find a week on a two page spread to be all they need. This is where your individual needs and preferences come into play. I use my daily pages to track my spending, my water intake, a gratitude journal for the day, along with a to-do list and schedule planner. During my Sunday planning, I write appointments on the proper day, plan out work assignments, and finally place my weekly scheduled tasks on their proper day. Next, I plan our meal plan for the upcoming week. It helps me to have a basic plan I try to follow each week; Monday-crock-pot or insta-pot meal, Tuesday a beef main dish, Wednesday quick and easy meal (think grilled cheese and tomato soup) Thursday chicken main dish and, Friday fish or non-meat main dish. While these three sections remain a constant in my planning, other sections come and go. I like to have a section for each child, this is where I write down their school schedule, bus number, clothing size, wants and needs list…you get the picture. I also like to have a section for goals, so I am able to look over it periodically and see how I am progressing. Maybe you would like a section to write down books or movies or podcasts that people recommend. How about a section to write down inspirational quotes, a place to put your own wants/needs list or a place to keep notes on things you read or hear. You get the idea, the sky is the limit. This is your planner and your system, it as individual as you are. You can find plenty of free printables online or maybe, if you are creative, design your own to best fit your needs. There are also plenty of places online to buy pre-printed pages. It can be something as simple as a blank notebook that you use to keep track of things, or as complex as a personally designed system of pages and sections, the important thing is that you use it. This is why a Sunday planning day works for me. Now, does this mean that everything always goes according to the plan? Nope, but I know if it is written down it is much more likely to get done. As the saying goes, failing to plan is planning to fail. This type of structure allows me to be a better steward of my time, which leads to a more productive day. So maybe as we enter into this second full week of 2019, you give this planning thing a try. What do you have to lose?? And if you have any questions about the specific pages I use, leave them in the comments below, I think I have tried every kind of planner out there at one time or another!! Have a beautiful week!