25+ Ideas for Theme Days

25+ Ideas for Theme Days

by: Emily Thomas

The PowerSheets® goal planner was built on the idea of regular tending.

Spread thin, with roles and responsibilities in many areas of life (mom, wife, business owner, friend, daughter, gardener...), our founder Lara's a-ha moment was noticing the power in consistently caring for the things that mattered to her. Even if each step forward was small (and they were!), her little-by-little effort added up.

Our team quickly adopted her makeshift Tending List, and after a few months of using it ourselves, we began to see how powerful it really was. By checking in frequently and focusing on small, actionable steps, we were all seeing big changes. We were more productive, creative, and efficient at work, and we were growing the things that really mattered to us at home.

Instead of giving our time and attention to whatever screamed loudest on any given day, we were tending to the things that mattered in the big picture—things that lasted. We were living on purpose instead of by accident.

A little clarity, a little thoughtful planning, and a few easy-to-follow routines can do wonders in so many areas of life—and so today, we wanted to share another way to tend to what matters to you: theme days!

What is a theme day?

A theme day—also called a duty day or batch day—is a day designated for a particular project, task, or area of life. Theme days can be scheduled weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly, or on an as-needed basis. They can also:

  • Streamline your to dos, at work and at home.
  • Make sure that your priorities get tended to on a regular basis—that the things that need to get done, will get done! You'll rest easier knowing that the things that matter have been accounted for in the big picture.
  • Make it easier to complete "deep work" sessions. When you focus the purpose of your day instead of bouncing from task to task, you'll complete what needs to get done in an efficient way AND feel accomplished and satisfied at the end.
  • Banish distractions. Distractions are easier to sidestep when you've already made the decision about how you'll spend your time!

Whether you own your own business, are juggling school and a job, are balancing caring for your children and your parentsor any number of other combinations that add up to a full life—theme days can help you move through your days with purpose and see real progress on the things that matter. And they'll feel good, too!

Weekly v. Monthly v. Other Theme Days

Theme days can be scheduled weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly, or on an as-needed basis. And—psst—a theme day doesn't actually have to last from sun up to sundown! Depending on your circumstances and season, your day's theme might apply to just the morning hours before your kids get up, your evening hours after work or kids go to bed, or a particular part of your day—a two-hour block every afternoon, for example.

If your theme days don't fall in a regular rhythm (like when Mondays are always the same theme, or a certain theme day is on the first and 15th of the month), make assigning your theme days part of a regular rhythm. Maybe when you fill out your Tending List! :)

Ideas for Theme Days

The idea of theme days can be applied to almost every area of life—both personal and professional!

My first foray into trying out a theme day (really more like a theme hour!), was with something I called "monthly relationship prep." I started by making a list of to-dos that would help me connect with and care for the people I love. Then, instead of fitting them in throughout the month, I rolled them all up together and batched them on the first of the month. My list included things like:

  • Noting any birthdays, and setting phone reminders to send texts or call, prepping cards, and buying gifts
  • Sending kid artwork to my parents or in-laws
  • Taking a mental inventory of any baby/wedding/graduation/etc. gifts that might need to be chosen and purchased
  • Taking a mental inventory of who might be hurting or suffering in our circles. Is there anything we can do to come alongside them?
  • Setting up a next visit with my sister's family
  • Reaching out to friends to set up get-togethers for the month ahead

I loved this practice immediately, and have kept it up for about eight years. It opened the door for many other theme days in my life, some of which have flopped but others that have made it easier to cultivate a life I love. Here are some more ideas to get your wheels turning!

Ideas for Theme Days at Home

  • A "moving weekend." This comes from our friend Jennie, who schedules one once a year. On this weekend, her family does their best to pretend they're moving out of their home: they clear out and organize the garage and attic, they Magic Eraser allthethings, they scrub the baseboards and the window lintels, they declutter throughout the house. It's a welcome reset for a family who's lived in the same house for many years.
  • A "re-entry day." Our friend Nancy schedules one of these the day after returning from a trip. By naming it ahead of time, the laundry/meal planning/ grocery shopping/returning texts and phone calls/generally getting life back on track that's necessary after being away feels purposeful instead of annoying and overwhelming.
  • Seasonal planning. Take time before the start of a new season to dream a bit about what you'd like the next few months to hold. Look at the calendar, reach out to friends and family, make plans, draft up a bucket list of activities, book camps or extracurriculars for kids.
  • Homeschool planning. On a yearly basis, you might set aside time to choose a curriculum, organize spaces or materials, reflect on what worked and what didn't, and make a plan for the year ahead. A monthly homeschool planning theme day might be needed to write lesson plans, thoughtfully reflect, schedule activities, or choose readalouds.
  • Goal planning. You know we love this one! Many PowerSheets® users set aside a day to complete their PowerSheets Prep Work and set their goals for the new year, often in December or January.
  • A marriage retreat. If you're married, you might combine goal planning as a couple with a marriage reset. Get away for a year hours and thoughtfully reflect on the past year—what worked, what didn't work, what plans do you have for the year ahead—and celebrate another year together in a fun way.
  • Meal planning. If you meal plan a month at a time, a monthly meal planning theme day will be important. Our friend Kate shares all about her monthly meal planning process right here.
  • Gardening and lawn care. Love to grow things but struggle to find the time?A monthly theme day might just be the ticket! Yes, you'll still have to water and tend a little in between, but marking the second Sunday of the month as your day to get out there and mulch/weed/plant/trim/build might work really well.
  • Financial. Update the budget, make a new budget plan for the month ahead, toss receipts, pay bills, review recurring expenses, problem solve with your partner... all often made easier when lumped together once a month!
  • Cleaning. Just like scheduling a house cleaner to come to your home once a month, choose a day to tend to the upkeep tasks that are important to you and otherwise wouldn't get done. 
  • "Out and about" day. If you're self-employed or not currently working, consider making one day a week your "out and about" day. Make plans with friends, run errands, do returns, volunteer, exchange books at the library... all those things that are important, but can steal time away from focused time at home!
  • Analog evening (or day). Set screens aside and use your hands: fix something, organize something, create something, do a crossword, read a book, take a walk, write a letter.
  • Weekend reset. A popular one with Cultivators! Link routines together to reset your schedule, home, food needs, and heart. More here!

Ideas for Theme Days at Work

  • Content Creation
  • Long form writing
  • Blogging
  • Admin (recording mileage, paying sales tax, updating budget, categorizing expenses, mailing client gifts)
  • Appointments
  • Client work
  • Project management
  • New client intake
  • On-site
  • Quarterly planning
  • Marketing execution
  • Podcast or video recording

Getting started with theme days

Maybe your mind is spinning with all the ways theme days can help you do more of what matters and less of the rest. Great! To get started, we'll follow our proven three-step process: uncover what matters, break it down, and live it out.

Uncover what matters.

What are the important pieces of your life? What are the roles and responsibilities that matter? What feels hard or unwieldy? What always seems to slip through the cracks? What do you never have time for but wish you did?

These are all potential opportunities for theme day magic. Spend some time brainstorming your priorities and pain points, then take them to step two.

Break it down.

Make a plan! Start grouping tasks, opportunities, or pain points together. Decide whether a weekly, monthly, or less-frequent cadence would be the right fit. Put them on the calendar (or set a reminder/make a note to schedule them a few months from now).

Live it out.

Dive in and try your first theme day! Start small, with just one new theme a week. Commit to sticking it out for a month, then notice whether it helped you do more of what matters and less of the rest. Did it help you get the right things done? Do you feel like you're more often living on purpose? Or did you feel restricted, inefficient, or behind? No worries—that just means you have the opportunity to reevaluate and try something new.

We all have priorities—big and little—that fire us up and keep our full lives moving forward. But what matters can get lost in the clutter of daily life, and we risk missing the chance to fully realize—and fully enjoy—the precious gifts and opportunities in front of us. 

Theme days might just be able to help. 

Let us know in the comments: do you already use theme days? What has worked well? We'd love to hear!

P.S. Love the idea of theme days? We think you'll love our Purposeful Productivity mini course

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Emily Thomas

Emily Thomas

Emily Thomas

Emily Thomas is Cultivate What Matters' Content Strategist and Writer. With over a decade at Cultivate, Emily loves helping women uncover what matters, set good goals, and live them out with joy. Her free time is spent with her high-school-sweetheart husband and three young kiddos.

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