Is regret a common response at the end of your week? Or maybe guilt?
As a busy wife and mom, I’m often battling those two responses. But not because of the work I did or didn’t do. Work seems to wait for me. My regret and guilt are always associated with people.
- Conversations I rushed through.
- Phone calls I didn’t make.
- Special events I missed.
- Visits that never happened.
Without serious attention, my life can go on auto-pilot … kind of like those times when you drive on a street and don’t remember passing through an intersection. (Am I the only one that has happened to?) It’s a bad feeling. And one that prompts me to be more present at all times.
Today I’ve got a devotion running on Encouragement for Today about the importance of planning, especially as it relates to Christmas. If you are visiting from there, I bid you welcome.
I wanted to share a few tips on planning priorities in this post. Without taking time to plan what’s really important, my days can fill with busy work, but not my best work.
Planning isn’t a complicated process. But it does take knowing what’s important. That’s not complicated either, but it takes time and prayer if you are confused about your priorities. Before starting to plan, spend some time identifying what things will cause the most regret or guilt if you don’t do them.
Also, sometimes I have to deal with my resistance to planning. When I know my list of responsibilities is long, and may cause a minor panic attack, I avoid looking at it. But procrastination always makes things worse for me. So I have to get stern with myself.
When I take the time to plan, I am ALWAYS more productive, more loving, and more peace-filled. I’m sure there’s nothing earth-shatteringly brilliant or fresh with my approach, but it’s good to remind ourselves of these simple habits that can help us be more intentional. Here are some of my tips for planning:
Planning My Week
Get a calendar or notebook
I use a combination of Outlook and a spiral notebook. Outlook holds my appointments and the notebook allows me to pencil in tasks that need to be done.
If you’ve read my blog before, you’ll know I also use a project management system to manage all my responsibilities. For weekly planning, I will have this information available.
Schedule a planning meeting
This is a meeting I schedule with myself. I love doing this on the weekends or Monday morning.
Start with prayer and Bible reading
Just like any important business meeting, you meet with your boss. So when I’m planning my week, I need to meet with my Boss – God. I grab my Bible, notebook and pen (and of course my go-go juice – coffee) and start with no agenda except to listen and receive instruction.
I’m always working my way through a book of the Bible (I’m now in 1 Thessalonians – Read chapter 4 verses 9-12 for some great tips on living a simple productive life) so I just sit and read. I ask God to speak to me and I listen. I keep my notebook open in case God gives me an idea.
I’ve found that integrating my daily life into my Bible reading and prayer time, and integrating God into the crafting of my to-do list, helps me actually live out this life of faith I love.
List what’s important in the upcoming week
In order to create this list, you’ll need to know external deadlines of projects or special events such as birthdays. You might also include people you want to connect with and love on. Maybe it’s been awhile since you took lunch to your husband or took the kids to the playground. Maybe you need to call your mom or sister. Or bake cookies for your church staff.
Write down everything in one place and don’t worry about the order. That’s why a cheap spiral notebook works for me.
Schedule your priorities
Then, once I’ve listed what I want/need to get done, I review my week. I’ll assign certain tasks to certain days, planning my most critical early in the week. To avoid procrastination, I should also schedule the most unpleasant ones early in the week. So on Monday I’ll list 3 or 4 things I need to do, Tuesday I’ll list another 3-4 things, and so on.
If I have a big project due, I’ll often break it down and spread out tasks throughout the week.
My life is constantly revising due to external changes. I can’t seem to plan emergencies no matter how hard I try. (smile) So my plan is created with an open hand and an open heart to what God allows into my life.
I’ve learned that interruptions are often divine appointments and the tighter I hold to my plans, the more I miss. I know that seems like a contradiction of what I said in my devotion. But it’s really not. We can miss life’s best moments by under-planning or over-planning. The balance is found in being responsible and conscientious yet submitted to God’s will – with the understanding that His ways are not my ways.
A final comment I want to make is about digital options for planning. To be honest, I’m still a paper gal. But my goal in 2014 is to enter in to this digital world of scheduling. I’ll share what I find.
Thanks so much for joining me today. I hope you have fun planning a wonderful week!
In His love,