How do I plan when I don’t have the time? Yes, we hear you. Our lives are already so overwhelming and just the thought of having to plan and schedule the mundane parts of our lives is well, kind of depressing.
We’ve all heard there are benefits to writing up and our schedules and planning ahead. And doing some of this planning prep work does provide positive affirmations. But like any good habit it can be hard to keep it up.
Here’s some of our tips to keep your family planning habits going.
1. Work out what you want to plan.
If you want to successfully and efficiently plan ahead for your family, you need to decide what things you need to plan and keep track of. What are the things that are forever forgotten by everyone? Do your children have like a thousand extracurricular activities with different schedules? Do you work irregular hours or have changing shifts?
I use my large monthly calendar to plan what’s for lunch and dinner each week, keep track of when bills are due, birthdays and birthday parties, when we have to RSVP or respond to something for school, due write up when markets and events are on in Canberra (in case we want to go), daycare drop off and pickup schedule, and cleaning/chores list, and a running ‘catch all’ to do list.
2. Allocate a time to plan.
I often read about people spending excessive amounts of time to plan their week ahead. You do not need hours to achieve this, you just need to have the system in place.
Like any activity, you will need to make some time. We say spend no more than 15-20 minutes each week updating your weekly plans. This is enough time to review who has what going on, adjust or move things around if needed, and make your quick lists - to dos, shopping, phone calls to make etc.
Next, pick when you will do your weekly plan. Pick a time you will generally be at home each week, or when you have a few minutes while cooking dinner or having breakfast. Then aim to stick to the same time each week to make it part of your routine. I typically spend some time on Sunday morning during breakfast, reviewing what my family has coming up the following week and taking stock of the fridge and pantry. Done, quick and simple.
3. Include and involve ALL family members.
There is no point in making an effort to plan if you are the only one doing it and using it! Next time you all sit down together for dinner, turn off the tv, put phones away and explain the new system to everyone.
Ask for their ideas and input and include this in the system if it works. Make it clear that you can’t remember everything and you can’t be blamed if someone forgot to write something up.
Involving my family in the weekly planning saves me so much time. I’m not having to double check everything with me partner separately, I’m not having to follow things up or organise something on the fly. No more phone calls every day to my husband to check who is collecting the kids from daycare, and having to rush home from work and pack swimming bags - we are sorted and ready to go the night before!
My husband even starts on dinner now when I’m running late from work, as he knows what we are having each night.
4. If it’s not working, change it.
After a few weeks of using your new planner board system, ask each other how it is going for them. Work out what everyone thinks is working well, and maybe not so well. Then discuss how to adjust the system to make it work even better.
Is something still being missed or forgotten? Have you tried using different colours for each person or type of activity?
The ways to use a planner board really are endless. We have kept our layout designs purposely simple and basic so they can be used to plan and schedule by everyone in any setting.
5. Keep it real.
Each time you try something new, you have to be realistic about what success might look like. If you have never used calendars or written schedules for your family, it will take longer than a few weeks to get everyone on board.
Our tip is start small, pick one or two things you absolutely MUST keep track of right now. Just stick with that for a month, then add something else into the mix. For the new visual planner user, writing up everything imaginable on the board will only make you feel just as overwhelmed as before.
Ready, set, plan!
The key point is, you need to have a plan for how to plan! Planner boards are a fantastic tool to help you manage your personal and family schedules for the day-to-day. To start, set up the system, install your planner board, make it a habit, and adjust it as you go.