Living a beautiful life is a culmination of living lots of beautiful days
Hello from snowy New York City! I hunkered down this weekend to brave quite the storm here on the East Coast and I hope that if you were hit with it, you stayed warm and safe as well!
Seeing that it’s Sunday and I am set on staying in my bed in my PJs for as long as possible today, I thought it would be the perfect time to write to you about my Sunday ritual for planning my week.
You know what they say… “A Sunday well spent brings a week of content”. And I agree! Just an hour or so spent on Sunday can really change the course of your week.
Why do I believe so much in “planning your week”?
Because we all have a LOT on our plates and so much that we try to get done each week, and planning helps us to evaluate what really matters to us, what we actually physically have time for, and enables us to plan our week with intention. When we don’t plan, we tend to let important things fall through the cracks or we just bounce around from task to task without really taking ownership of our time and spending it in a way we value.
When we intentionally plan our days, we can do so in a way that allows us to feel more of how we want to feel on a daily basis. And the more beautiful, meaningful days we have, the better our weeks feel. And the better our weeks feel, the better our lives feel.
So I want to guide you through the practice I do on Sundays that helps me create weeks that feel fun, productive, and that generally just make me happy.
This is what typically works for me, but I would encourage you to think about how YOU want to feel on a daily basis and what you truly value before doing this exercise.
I pull out my Google Calendar and this is how I plan my week:
- Pleasure: You may have heard me talk about this before, but I have a “pleasure calendar” that is a light green color coded calendar right in Google Calendar. When I was recovering from binge and emotional eating, I realized that one of the reasons I turned to food (especially sugar) so often was for pleasure. I would eat ice cream and chocolate in order to make my life sweeter, in large part because a life of dieting doesn’t really have much pleasure in it, so I needed sugar to compensate. Now, I live a life so full of pleasure, and my calendar serves as a reminder. Anything that is considered purely fun and enjoyable is color coded green, and I make sure to have green in my calendar at least once per day. This can be anything from a dinner out with a girlfriend to taking myself out to tea with a good book for an hour one afternoon. Prioritizing pleasure every single day is a non-negotiable for me.
- Movement: Scheduling in a few fun workouts each week is also a top priority of mine. I let the times I work out and the activities I choose vary week to week, just depending on what sounds good at that moment. Sometimes I am craving more yoga and other times more cardio or strength. I also make sure I take a few days off from exercise each week, because I know my body and I know that right now, working out every day feels like too much for me. Tune into your body to see what types of movement feel fun and how often your body wants to move that week. I always schedule in a few workouts and then leave the rest flexible.
- Major Work Projects: I’ve found that one of the ways to reduce anxiety and overwhelm is to schedule in major work tasks and projects into my calendar. Instead of having this overwhelming thought of “I have so much to do and have no idea how I’m going to get it all done”, by scheduling it all in, I can physically see when it will all get done. It puts my mind at ease, knowing I’ve created time for what needs to get done and I know when I’ll be doing it. This method also helps me see when I have set expectations for myself too high and have too much on my plate. If the projects physically don’t all fit in my calendar, I think about re-prioritizing: delegating something I would have done myself, saying “no” to something, or pushing a project off to the following week.
- Social vs. Alone Time: This one is really about knowing yourself, and the more you plan your weeks with intention, the better you’ll get at this. For me, I know that if I look at my calendar and I have plans to be out socially every single night, it’s too much for me. I wind up feeling exhausted and depleted. On the other hand, if I am home or doing something solo every night, I don’t feel fulfilled either. I wind up feeling disconnected and too in my head. Each week I try to strike a balance between spending time out with friends vs. spending relaxing time with myself.
- Food: I’ve found that weeks when I have no groceries in the house leave me feeling very ungrounded. I like to eat out a lot, but I also like to have some basics in my fridge and pantry especially for breakfasts, snacks, and whatever dinners I want to eat in. So as I think about my week and look at what my plans are, I usually think of what food I want to have on hand. If I have several dinners at home, I may even find a one-pot batch recipe that I can make on Sunday or Monday (like a chili) to have on hand for those dinners. Or, depending on the situation, I will just get basics for breakfasts, snacks, etc. Each week here totally varies, but I just like to think about what simple food shopping / food prep I can do to help me feel grounded and taken care of that week.
- Is it too much? This is a big question I’ll usually ask myself at the end of my planning. Most of us have a tendency to do too much and expect too much out of ourselves. This leaves us feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, and disconnected from ourselves because we’re all go-go-go instead of slowing down. To determine the reality of how your week may feel, go day by day on your calendar and try to “feel your way” through each day. Does the day feel overwhelming? Too hectic? Maybe you find the opposite, that the day even feels like it’s not stimulating or fun enough. If your body feels heavy looking at any particular day, pay attention to that. See how you can make it feel better – whether that means less stressful, more joyful, etc.
- Sleep: I thrive on 8+ hours of sleep, so as I plan my week, I also consider this. For instance, if I know I may be out later one night, I won’t plan an early morning workout the next day. Of course this can all vary because I don’t know exactly what time I’ll get to sleep on any given night, but I at least try to set myself up to get a solid night sleep most nights.
Overall, you can see that over the years, I’ve realized what’s important to me on a weekly basis and I create time and space in my calendar for those priorities. This is not an exact science, and as I go through my week, I am always revising my calendar — maybe I scheduled yoga for Tuesday night but then felt like going out with a friend instead, so I might try to squeeze in a walk around the neighborhood that day instead (or just do no workout at all). Nothing is set in stone and nothing is rigid.
The “plan” just helps guide me toward a week that I think I’ll love, and then I adjust as I go.
I hope that this insight into weekly planning sparked some ideas of your own, and be sure to let me know if you sit down with your calendar tonight and plan out your week! I would love to hear how this goes for you in the comments below.
Also, if you do something else to plan for your weeks, please share! We can all learn from each other.
Have an awesome, productive, fun, and joyful week!
Hi Jamie! I so appreciate getting your email this Sunday — I was feeling overwhelmed yet again facing my week, wanting to get back into a healthy relationship with food as well as my life. So this gave me the direction and tips needed as I sat in front of my planner to organize my days to set me up for more pleasure, movement, good food and restful sleep so I can wake up every morning excited about the day ahead! Thank you 🙂
Katie @ Live Half Full says
This is an awesome approach! I wrote a post on things I do on Sunday to set myself up for a week awhile back and I always return to it: http://www.livehalffullblog.com/2014/07/21/10-easy-things-sunday-will-make-work-week-easier
For work, I like to “close out my week” on Friday before I am done with the day. I make my to-do list and then prioritize and schedule things out. This helps me leave work shut off work for the weekend. On Saturday morning I sit down and layer on any personal obligations, then workouts, then meals and always make sure I have a few good blocks of time to myself, time with my husband, time with friends and time as a family. On Sunday I always make sure to have a lot of down time, get organized for the week and always make a night dinner so I enjoy the last of my weekend rather than dread the week ahead!
I also have made it a huge practice to erase anything from my planner that does not absolutely need to happen that week and move it to the next. Setting realistic expectations has been huge and it has helped me find a good balance and groove in my life.
I loved this post! A well thought out reminder of how important it is to mindfully plan out one’s time. This year I switched back to good old paper and pen for scheduling–that in combination with the insight from your post (and MYL course!) are making all the difference when it comes to enjoying my days and weeks. Thanks Jamie!
Raffinee Esquivel says
I LOVE this post so much for some reason. I love all your posts, but for some reason this one in particular as provided me with a lot of comfort. I have probably accessed this post ten times in the last month. It has really inspired me to organize my life in a way that creates LESS stress not more. It doesn’t always mean DOING less, just being smart with my time. I’ve taken your advice about adding a pleasure calendar into my iCal (mine is teal!) and that has been a fun way to add things to my week. Thank you for being brave enough to share your own journey in an effort to help others! You are so wonderful Jamie!