Why I live my life one week at a time

Here’s the thing about life — it can change on a dime. I know mine did 3 years ago, when I was suddenly diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Back then, it felt like my life stopped entirely as I endured surgery and chemotherapy. Today I’m grateful to have been forced to stop and slow down. If if hadn’t been cancer at 35, it might have been a heart attack from stress at 55.

I’ve been managing projects for a couple of decades now, and I honed in on a weekly planner pretty early in my process. Initially, it began as a way to minimize the overwhelming feeling that took over as I looked at my never-ending project list. I went for the analog version because I get satisfaction from physically crossing off a task completed. (Everyone’s gotta thing, right?)

There’s a saying that the way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. Life is the elephant, and the week is each bite.

After finishing treatment, and returning to work, I couldn’t find a planner had all the elements I wanted. I tried the Bullet Journal, and while I liked the methodology, I noticed I was drawing the same templates over and over again.  Being a woman of efficiency, I knew it was time to design my own. Thus, the Planner of Glory was born.

Our week begins on Monday. I find Sunday evenings to be the ideal time to plan for the week ahead, as it makes the transition back into the work week easier. Plus, I’ve always hated not being able to see the full weekend ahead in traditional planners. So Monday, we start with you.

Here’s what I plan for each week:

  1. Meals. If I don’t have meals planned for the week, I make bad food decisions. It’s just the truth and I own it. To save me from myself, and to save money while staying healthy, I meal plann. There’s space for each meal of the day, plus snacks. Snacks can be a real culprit if you’re trying to eat healthier, so I always try have some options on hand. I build my grocery list simultaneously in Google Keep — there’s usually one already started with items that need to be replenished (i.e. vanilla extract, or ziplock bags) — and I can access it quickly from my phone. Bonus feature, you check off boxes and it removes it from the list. SOOOO satisfying!

  2. Separating work & real life, and keeping it realistic. “Work-life balance” is such a buzz phrase these days, but that doesn’t mean it’s not needed. I keep my work and real life tasks separate from each other, and limit the number of tasks I can assign myself that week. On this side of the spread, the work life area is for my freelance business (what you’re reading right now). My day job tasks are captured on the right side of the spread in the table. Once I establish the week’s priorities, I add the Must Dos on the right side table on the day I’d like to get ‘er done.

  3. Stretch goals. Sometimes, a task doesn’t take me nearly as long as I think it’s going to. (And then I ask myself why didn’t I do it sooner.) I set some weekly stretch goals that can wait if I don’t get to them. If I do, yay! It’s box-checking time. If I don’t get to them (or a must do — it happens), I don’t sweat it. I just move it to the next week’s spread and try again.

  4. Good things that happened. I heard this trick on one of my favorite podcasts, and integrated it for myself. I jot down things that made me smile or feel good. Lunch with an old friend, kudos from my boss, going on vacation… it keeps a record that shows there’s good in every week, even if there are rough days.

  5. The week, at a glance. This table captures everything upcoming for the week: meetings, birthdays, projects, appointments, Must Dos, and workouts. Did you know that 30 minutes a day isn’t enough for some proper ditness? I try to move my body at least an hour every day. And like meals, I find when I plan my workouts ahead of time (and include others to join me — yay, accountability!), I’m more likely to follow through on actually doing it.

  6. Did somebody say party? I love any reason to celebrate, especially if it involves food or costumes. So, new in this year’s planner, I’ve added National Days of “X” each week!

  7. And finally… Despite living life one week at a time, I find myself needing to know what day a particular date falls on, so I’ve added a little month at a glance, plus a friendly reminder to go back to my monthly spread (we’ll cover that next week).

And that’s my weekly planning! I set realistic goals, and by eliminating some decision making ahead of time, I free my brain to focus on the tasks set for the week.

This is Part One of my {How to POG} series. I’ll be sharing a different feature of the Planner of Glory each week during it’s special pre-sale pricing, so stay tuned for more, or be sure to sign up to get updates!