I shared the way I schedule my week on my Instagram stories and it got a raving response so I decided it needed its very own post. This schedule is the best way I have found to go about my days that encourages both productivity and balance, especially as a stay at home mom. The best part of it is, though, is that the only things that are strictly time sensitive are scheduled appointments. The rest of the schedule is merely a check-list with triggers that mean it’s time to move onto the next phase, which works out well for my personality. I don’t know about ya’ll, but time is a hard thing for me. I worked as a project manager full time and went to hair school in the evenings, and the contrast between the two made me realize that I much prefer to check things off a list and move on to the next thing when I’m done like I could do as a project manager, versus being dictated by time like I had to be in Cosmetology school. It seemed so… un-tailored (is that even a thing?) to the individual. I felt confident with my skills and ready to work in a salon long before I completed the required hours at the school that I had to before I could be licensed. Not to mention that unless I have someone dependent on me to get something done I have a reeeeaaaally hard time with meeting self-imposed deadlines.
That’s why this is the best schedule ever! I will tell you, I have tried to put myself on lots of different schedules and routines over the years and the main reason this is one that I can stick with is because I make it a point to not be rigid about it. I have to give myself some flexibility or it doesn’t work. The lists that I make for myself are purposefully too long to get everything done in one day, so I don’t sweat it when I don’t get everything done that I would have liked. This schedule is designed to help me be productive, but it’s also designed to help me to have balance in my life. There are so many things that I would like to do with my day and some of them I would like to do more than others. So to avoid neglecting those pesky things I need to do but that I don’t want to I set aside a specific day for it. Enter: cleaning days.
So… let me show you how it works! This is the printable I created that I keep on my wall where I can see it easily. I use this in tandem with my calendar. The second page is what I fill out each week at my planning sessions.
Okay, so let’s break this down. Keep in mind, this is tailored to my life, so you will definitely want to tweak it to suit yours. My husband is currently in his second year of medical school which leaves almost exactly ZERO time for him to help with a lot of things he would normally help with around the house. (To be fair, he does help out A LOT for as little time as he has, especially with our girls). So there are a lot of things on my list that may not apply to you. I have included the editable word doc version in my printables library so go get it and feel free to adjust it to your own needs. I left my own list in there just to give you some ideas of things you can put on your list. Click on the link below to get access to my library!
I break my weeks down into one planning day, two blogging days, two cleaning days, and two flex days. My blogging, cleaning, and flex days are every day but Sunday, and are further broken down and include a morning routine, evening routine, and post-evening routine. I try to get to the items on each of these days after my morning routine is done and before my evening routine starts, which is entirely dependent on when my Student Doctor husband decides he can stop studying and eat some dinner. Like I said, no time frame! This has to be flexible because my husband’s study schedule is so erratic. My planning day is mostly a family day, so the only thing I have on my schedule for that day is to plan for the week.
I should note that everything I’m about to tell you comes secondary to my job as a mother. I have two kids at home that are more needy on some days than others, and I don’t beat myself up if I end up holding a baby all day instead of being “productive”. #priorities. I try to just go with the flow and get things done as I am able.
Morning Routine: This is how I try to start my day, 6 days a week except Sundays. I don’t do them in any particular order, unless I’m not sure how to start, and then I just go down the list. My morning routine starts whatever time I wake up, whether the kids are awake or not.
Personal Study: This is the time I take to read scriptures or whatever books or magazines help me to increase my spirituality. I don’t set a time for how long I have to read, I usually just read one chapter or article of whatever I’m reading and call it good.
Exercise: I don’t set a time on this either, but I do have two Pinterest boards, one for living room cardio exercise routines and one for living room strength training exercises. I’ve pinned a bunch of different pins to each board and then pick one each morning, alternating between cardio and strength training. You could break it down even further if you want and have separate boards for upper body strength training and lower body strength training, etc. Each routine usually takes between 15-20 minutes.
Make breakfast: I don’t have any particular plan for breakfast or lunch, I just make whatever we have time for before the hubby has to leave for the day.
Read Evelyn books: I try to do this every single day, and morning time works best for us. Some people may prefer to do this before bedtime (or not at all!).
** Like I said, this schedule is not meant to be rigid AT ALL. There are times when I’m done with all of these things by 10:00 am, other days I’m done by noon. Heck, there are even days where I don’t even do them at all. It all just depends on how things go and I don’t sweat it! The purpose of this is to have a list of things I can do so I don’t wake up every morning wondering what I should try to accomplish that day. If I have a list of things to do, I’m much more likely to not waste my entire day away on social media. If you fail to plan, you should plan to fail!
Blogging Day: I have this day because I’m a blogger. Go figure. SOOOO MUCH EFFORT has to go into blogging if you’re trying to make it successful so I have to devote at least two entire days out of the week to it. But if I were NOT a blogger, I think I would turn it into a cooking day or an errands day. I would do all of my grocery shopping on this day, and then come home and make all of the things I always like to keep on hand. At my house we eat homemade bread, homemade yogurt, and lots of homemade weird stuff like kefir, beet kvass, kimchi, and bone broth 🙂 Or I might even just pre-make meals for the next few days and stick them in the fridge or freezer. OR I might turn this day into a self-improvement day. I would use this day to practice any skills I’m trying to develop like piano or painting, to do my regular grooming like painting my nails, plucking my eyebrows, etc., and then to increase my knowledge through books, blogs, documentaries, etc on whatever subjects I want to learn about.
Cleaning Day: THIS day is my get-in-and-get-it-done day. I have actually come to quite enjoy these days, oddly enough. This is the part that I especially love about this whole weekly routine. I don’t feel like I’m cleaning ALL DAY EVERY DAY like I used to feel. I’m cleaning and doing laundry twice per week, including tackling some deep-cleaning and organizing projects, and because it’s twice per week it doesn’t feel overwhelming to me.
- Laundry: Because I’m doing it twice per week, my loads are much smaller and more manageable. Plus, we never run out of clean clothes! I pick one of the laundry days each week to wash the bed sheets, hand drying towels, bathroom rugs, car seat covers and anything else that I can think of that wouldn’t get thrown in the wash after using it because I just don’t think about it.
- Mow lawn: This is something I only do once weekly, and its obviously seasonal, so it isn’t necessary for the entire year.
- Surface clean: This is where I take the time to clean all of my surfaces. I have defined what that means to me, but you will have a different home and a different standard than I do, so you’ll have to come up with you own version of a manageable surface cleaning.
- Pick one problem area to organize/deep clean: This is where all the magic happens. On my planning days each week I will determine some problem areas in my house that are bugging me or just need some attention, and then I’ll tackle them, one cleaning day at a time. These projects can be as big or as small as you would like. Last week I cleaned out and purged my kitchen cupboards on one day, and on the next cleaning day I washed out all of my garbage cans. Next week I’m planning to start organizing my garage, but I’m only going to try to tackle one section at a time to avoid burnout and becoming overwhelmed. I have found that doing things this way means I’m consistently lending time to some of those problem areas that I would normally push off for months and months because deep-cleaning my entire house seems too overwhelming. Yes, it does take longer, but it’s making me more consistent. Now instead of looking at my baseboards and thinking every single day that I need to give them some attention, I can actually make it happen in small, manageable sections, working on it twice per week until the job is done!
- Take Evelyn to the park: Rarely do I ever get around to this on a cleaning day. I typically will go on a flex day because there is usually so much to do these days. But I still want to have it on the list in case I get done early or even decide I would rather do that than an organizational project!
- Track Expenses/update budget: My husband and I have been trying a new method for keeping a budget and it requires tracking all of our expenses and income on a shared excel document. It’s a lot of work to put in all my purchases, so I try to do it every day or every few days to keep it from becoming too much of a hassle.
Flex Day: No, this doesn’t mean that I flex my muscles on this day. This means that this day is FLEXIBLE. As a hairdresser I do a lot of hair as a side gig to being a mom. This is the day when I will schedule those appointments. This is also the day that I will work on projects that I’m going to be blogging about. If there are no major projects coming down the pipeline this is when I will take the time to practice my skills, read my books, take Evelyn to the park, maybe pay some bills or run any errands that are pressing. This is the day I will usually do my cooking, or schedule other things like play dates or doctors appointments. I like to have as many things on my list as possible so that I can refer to it if I complete a project or errand and am not sure what to do with my time next.
Planning Day: This day I reserve for Sundays. Sunday is the day that Stuart takes off from studying so we will go to church and spend the rest of the day together as a family. We make sure we have a family council where we discuss all of our plans for the week and get our calendars coordinated, set goals and make plans to achieve them, and then discuss any pressing family matters. After family council I will do my own weekly planning where I plan (tentatively, because things change all the time) what we’re going to be eating for dinner for the week so that each night when it’s time to make dinner I’m not spending time trying to decide, and I can make sure I have all the groceries I need in advance. I will also determine what projects I’m going to work on for my flex days and what areas I want to try to deep clean on my cleaning days. I will also try to get some additional spiritual reading in there since I don’t do my morning routine on these days.
Evening Routine: For me this usually begins when my husband determines he can come home for dinner, which is not always consistent. Some days it’s 5:00, others 6:30 or 7:00. My evening routine is the time when I do a few of the daily chores that I can’t get away with by just doing them twice per week, such as the dishes and cleaning off the kitchen counters and table. This allows them to get done every day, and it also allows me to wake up to a clean house every morning which is always nice :). My evening routine includes getting our girls to bed, and before I send my two year old to bed I work with her to clean up her messes that she has made throughout the day, most commonly in the living room. From there it’s bath time, then bed time.
Post-Evening Routine: On the rare days that my husband isn’t studying clear up until bedtime, this is the time that we will spend together. Most days, however, hubby is studying for some kind of test, so after the kids are in bed this becomes my “me” time. This is when I will take the time to read the book club books or nutrition books that I like, or I can practice painting or hand-lettering. Or this is when I’ll take the time to paint my fingernails and maybe even take a bubble bath. I’m not much of a TV watcher, but I would imagine that catching up on a show would be on a lot of people’s lists for this part of the day.
The second sheet to this printable is just to assist in the planning day. Once I fill it out, I transfer all of the info onto my giant desk calendar where I can look at what I had planned for each day.
Potential Flex/Cleaning Day Projects: I like to keep track of all of the projects that come to mind as I’m going about my week, so I add to these lists as time goes on, and I update them each week and take out the ones that I completed.
This week’s flex day projects: This is where I plan what I’m going to do with my flex days.
This week’s cleaning day projects: This is where I plan what I’m going to do with my cleaning days.
Meal Plan: I usually only plan dinner in advance, but some of you may want to plan all three meals.
Grocery list: I will usually transfer this list to the whiteboard I have on the side of my fridge where I keep my working grocery list.
AAAAAANNNNNNDDDD that’s it. I know it was a lot. Trust me, I’m very aware of how intimidating this all looks but once you get it down and tailor it to your own situation you’re going to have more productive days than ever! If you try it for a couple of weeks and find something isn’t working, determine what it is that’s not working and why, and then figure out a way to tweak it so it will work. But remember, RELAX! Give yourself some slack and don’t get too rigid with it. There have been plenty of days where I plan to have a cleaning day and it turns into a flex day instead. No problem! The magic is behind having a plan written down, and then having it somewhere easily visible so you can see it often. I would love to hear your thoughts on it and if this is working for you! If you want to refer back to this later, pin it below!