Do you ever feel stressed or frazzled when you consider all the to-do's you need to accomplish? Join us to discover 8 planning strategies that will help you be more balanced, effective, and joyful.
practical planning strategies
We are so excited about our Pray and Plan planner for educators. It includes all of these planning strategies, but they can be incorporated into any way that you currently plan, whether it be a paper calendar, mobile tool, or a combination of different formats.
1. Keep a calendar- A calendar eliminates a lot of stress and makes life simpler. You should have one central spot where you write down appointments and other activities that you need to keep track of, whether this is on your phone, a paper planner, a kitchen wall calendar, etc. Make it available for your family so that they can check it, too.
2. Organize your to-do's with weekly and/or daily lists- There are so many methods you can use to organize your to-do list- the important thing is that you actually have a system. Otherwise, you sit down to a mile-long list and end up wasting time in the beginning of your planning period trying to figure out where to start and feeling overwhelmed. However, if you know how to organize your list, it can help you know exactly what to do and feel motivated to start on it right away. Here are some options that work:
- Put everything you want to do on its due date. If lesson plans are due every Friday, put it on every Friday on your calendar. If you’re planning a youth group bonfire, put it on the calendar. Then, go backwards and add intermediate due dates, such as “I need to have parent chaperones by this date” and “I need to print the flyers by that date.”
- Make a weekly to-do list and a daily to-do list. Each week, I think, “What should I do this week?” and I make a list. My tendency is to put too much on the list, but you don’t want to do that. Make a list that’s actually realistic of what you can accomplish in one week. (There’s a spot for this in the Pray and Plan planner.) You can always add more to your list if you finish early! Then, each day, I identify which of those things I want to do today. You could also plan ahead of time which tasks you’re going to do on each day of the week, or you can plan the night before or in the morning of each day. Either way, you can put a day of the week next to each task on your to-do list or you can write a new daily to-do list. Trello (an online to-do list board) is also a great tool for this because you can move tasks around.
Another tip is that you identify what task is most important and do that one first. That alleviates stress for the rest of the day. What makes these to-do list planning strategies effective is that you know what you’re going to do and you’re sitting down to a manageable list that reduces overwhelm.
3. Plan your work hours- There’s a spot in Pray and Plan to write down when you plan to start work, leave work, and do work on evenings and weekends. It’s so valuable to plan this ahead of time. I suggest doing this on a weekly basis because it may change from week to week depending on your schedule. This intentionality is a great way to make sure that work doesn’t bleed into your personal life.
4. Reflect regularly- Having patterns of reflection can be incredibly helpful to help you notice what went well, what didn’t go well, make adjustments, and clearly prioritize what you want to focus on in the next month.
5. Do a brain dump and organize them with the 4 T’s- Brain dump all your to-do’s every month by writing them down. After you’ve written them all out, decide what you will trash, trim, transfer, or treasure. You can find out more about that system in the article 4 Powerful Ways to Tame Your To-Do List. Doing this on a regular basis will help you be more effective and ensure you spend time on what matters most.
planning strategies for your spiritual life
I love how we integrate practical planning with our spiritual walk and put them side-by-side in Pray and Plan. Whatever system you use, you can include the spiritual.
6. Renew your mind with Scripture- There’s a Scripture verse at the beginning of each week’s planning in Pray and Plan. We look at our to-do list every day, so it’s a great way to keep God’s Word in our hearts. You can add Scripture to whatever planning method you use.
7. Integrate prayer into your planning- Before you plan, pray that God would direct and guide you and show you what He has for you this week. Pray and Plan also has spaces to write prayer requests or journal prayers. The prayer section is right next to the weekly and daily to-do list so it gets prioritized and not lost in the busyness of daily life.
8. Choose a memory verse- Each month, Pray and Plan has a spot to choose and write down a memory verse. The goal is that you’re looking at this verse throughout the month, so you’ll probably have it memorized at the end of the month without much extra effort. I have found so much help from memorizing Scripture and actively focusing on it. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time, but it can be so valuable.
We hope you find these planning strategies helpful! If you want to incorporate all of them and have the formats already created for you, please check out our Pray and Plan planner.
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