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How to Organize Your Busy Week in 4 Easy Steps

By Jan 9, 2012May 24th, 201531 Comments

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Do you ever get to the end of the week and say “I’ve gotten NOTHING done this week and it’s Friday at 3pm! Now I have to pick up the kids, go into weekend frenzy mode, and my to do list has yet to be started! What am I going to do?”

That happens more than we’d like, yes? I used to wonder why so many weeks turned out this way, wonder why I had to stay up half the night to get my work done and wonder why I couldn’t stay on top of my “to do” list.Β And then I figured it out.

This easy, four-step plan is the answer to organizing your schedule and your life. Get organized today!

How To Organize Your Week In Four Easy Steps

Today I’ll help you find your week’s pattern and then give you advice on how to maximize your productivity within each week.

Step One – Find your week’s pattern

Every week has a pattern. You may not see your week’s pattern right away, but it’s there. Some weeks are really busy at the beginning, the dreaded Monday. Some weeks are slow, peak in the middle, then slow down again at the end. Some start slow and pick up steam by Friday.

And while some of you may FEEL like your entire week is busy all the time, I promise it has a pattern.

You just have to find it.

Take a look at your own week. Go ahead, open your calendar.

I looked at fairly typical week in my calendar. In the beginning of the week, I have almost no commitments. Starting Wednesday, my commitment level increases and by Friday I’m scheduled with commitments and meetings almost hourly.

Almost every week is like this for me. A quiet Monday builds up to what could be a chaotic Friday. If I weren’t prepared for it each week.

Step Two – Prepare for your Week

For preparing my week, I subscribe to the Montessori Method. In a Montessori school, they call it “having a prepared environment.” If the classroom is set up in a very specific, child-friendly way, the child has greater opportunity for successful learning and reaching his or her potential.

Adults can approach their week the same way!

I call it “preparing the week.” No later than Sunday afternoon or evening, sit down and look at your calendar. Find both the big time chunks that are spoken for and the areas where you are committed all day.

At the bottom of my master list list, I also include a special section for the volunteer work I do.

Once you make a master list, block out your week. If you have something big that’s due, block out the time during a less busy part of your week. If you know that by Friday, you’re not going to have a minute to breathe, then plan to have all of your work done before Friday.

Step Three – Stick to your Preparation

Step 3 sounds simple, doesn’t it? But it might be the hardest one.

Why? Social Media! Pinterest. Other time sucks. Distractions. Procrastination.

But you can do it!

Stick to your preparation. You will reduce your stress level significantly if you stick to your schedule.

If you decide on Sunday night that you need to hammer out a 1500 word article by 11am on Monday morning because that’s the only day you can write it, then by all means, keep Twitter, Facebook, and your blog reader closed until you reach your goal! Then treat yourself with some social time afterward.

Step 4 – What to do when things go amok

So we all have weeks that explode, right? You have the best plan laid for a super-productive, busy, yet manageable week and you are ready to go. Then, BOOM. A child wakes up with strep throat. Or an exepected work issue arises. Or you get sick. Life happens.

That crazy busy week I was talking about above? One of my children was up all night vomiting Thursday into Friday.

When this happens, recover as quickly as you can.

And what I mean is this: get to your plan, determine what CAN and CANNOT be prioritized. Do you have a deadline that is absolute and it’s Thursday? Then that’s a high priority. Did you plan to write that blog post that’s been swirling around in your head for weeks, taking up space but isn’t mandatory? That’s something that can likely wait until next week.

In my case that week, I transferred two in-person meetings to conference calls, cancelled a doctor’s appointment, and cancelled a much anticipated dinner with friends on that Friday. Because I knew up front what the week was going to be like, I’d already accomplished most of my work before my sick child changed my plans.

And there you have it. Four easy steps.

  1. Find your pattern.
  2. Work within the pattern of your week.
  3. Stick to your plan.
  4. Recover when life happens.

You (and your family) will be happier as a result. Less stress, more productivity. Win. Win.

About the Author: Missy Bedell
Missy Bedell blogs at The Literal Mom, where she encourages all parents to be “thinking parents.” She uses humor, wit and sometimes even tears to communicate with her audience (and her kids!). You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook, as long as she hasn’t blocked the time out for a deadline.

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  • Thank you so much for this post, I have been using my own little calendar that I made over 6 years ago and it has cut down time, and stress. I hope this post encourages others to become more organized by either making their own or using your ideas, whichever works best for them. Trust me, the fact that you are writing it down and visually seeing it makes the world of difference.

  • Grace says:

    I have certainly learned to plan and expect the unexpected. The planning and preparation certainly helps when the unexpected occurs.

  • angela says:

    Thank you πŸ™‚

    I am buying a new planner tonight. My current method isn’t working for me, and I need something I can use to keep everything visible in an overall calendar.

  • Great post!
    One thing that helps me keep everything together is my smart phone. Having everything synced there has been really helpful.

    The tips listed here will give me a great boost.

  • Regina says:

    Normally at work, I grab a sticky pad or blank sheet of paper and start jotting down EVERY tasker I need to do … as I complete, I cross it off…it’s home that i may need to get my tail into gear to start doing the same…ugh!

    happy SITS all!

  • I learned something very valuable this week: I have an amazing energy spurt between 1pm-3pm, so I am planning my housework during that time span

  • Monique says:

    Great tips. I have to work on the recovery part when things don’t go according to plan. Thanks for the post!

  • Thank you SO MUCH for this post! I was a huge fan of figuring out both of my daughter’s sleep patterns when they were babies, I don’t know why it never occurred to me to do the same for my week! Can’t wait to implement these ideas into my life, thanks again. πŸ™‚

  • Luci says:

    This is a wonderful post! Believe me, I wasn’t a natural at any of these things either but now my friends often say I’m one of the most organized people they know. This IS something that can be learned, and even become a habit, if you just start doing it! Little steps!

    BTW- My latest blog post below reinforces this one.. take a look! (That is, if you have the time πŸ™‚

  • Maggie S. says:

    Well said; a great reminder for the morning.

  • Amanda @onemommythoughts says:

    Great tips! I think in general we tend to make our own lives harder instead of life actually being hard.

    I especially love the idea of a “master task” list. Well done πŸ˜‰

  • ed pilolla says:

    great advice. i especially like the idea to find the pattern of one’s week. i never even considered that. i have found that staying organized, and there are certainly different levels of that state of living, allows for moments of creativity.

  • Lori says:

    This is great advice. When my four were younger, these were some of the things I tried to implement (with ‘tried’ being the operative word!). The trick is what you mentioned – doing it routinely!

  • OneMommy says:

    Some great advice – I know that I am one to get sucked into that media world – total time-suck if you’re not careful!

  • The idea of taking some time to prioritize and plan for your entire week would help me even though I work nights and not in any consistent pattern. Very useful tips!

  • MommaKiss says:

    This is great! I have all of my work stuff thrown in, too. I use my yahoo calendar, which sync’s with my phone. But there’s just something about that little paper calendar that keeps me on task. It’s always in my bag and is a fab visual for me.

  • Marie says:

    Great, solid advice. I have to admit some irony,m though, in that I found this article while letting Twitter suck some time. LOL Really, I like having weekly lists, because sometimes tasks span a few days, cannot finish all of it in one day. Thanks for the Montessori tip!

  • Melanie says:

    I’m a sporadic listmaker, so finding the rhythm in my week sounds perfect!

  • Carolyn says:

    This is great. I’m a list-maker so it speaks to me.
    I finally got a planner for 2012 and already it is making a difference.

  • “When things go amok” was what I needed – thanx!

  • Oh Missy I am absolutely drooling over your to-do list. There is an organized person in me just waiting to jump out some day. It’s a process, I guess. These tips will help.

  • This fits in nicely with my New Year’s determination to GET THINGS DONE! Thank you πŸ™‚

  • I like that you break it down to a week at a time and to use Sunday afternoons to plan the week ahead. I’ve put “learning evernote” on my to do list for the week. And monthly reminders in Outlook to check back on my new years goals. I think it will help me bring myself back in line if I’ve wandered off the path of those resolutions.

    Thanks for some great tips.

  • This totally appeals to the listmaker in me!

  • Dee says:

    I need to apply my time management skills to my writing more. Thanks for some great tips

  • Lisa says:

    Nice tips – especially when things run amok as they tend to do!

  • I rely on my To-Do list. Without it, nothing would ever get done!

  • All great advice. I’ve been trying to switch to using the google calendar on my computer and phone, but I miss having the paper planner… I think I’m not so ready to be high tech!

    I’m feeling all prepared this week. My daughter starts gymnastics tonight which gives us after school commitments M-W. Last night, lunches were made, outfits laid out and dinner when into the Crockpot in the freezer. All I have to do is plop the crock in the bottom and turn it on. Remembering to turn it on is key! πŸ™‚

    Great advice!