How to Plan Your Ideal Week

How to Plan Your Ideal Week

From the earliest days of the Making Things Happen Conference, Lara walked attendees through visioning their "ideal day." Year after year, it was one of the most powerful exercises.

Why? Because it asked attendeesmaybe for the first time in a long timeto think proactively about their time. Many of us feel at the mercy of other people as we move through our days; this was an opportunity to consider our own priorities first before automatically attending to the priorities of others. They say you can't draw water from an empty well, and the same is true for your schedule: it's hard to show up well for the people you love if you're constantly racing from one commitment to the next.

In designing the Season by Season Daily Planner, we knew we wanted to give users this same opportunity, and so at the beginning of each season, we included a two-page Weekly Rhythm Ideas spread for users to plan their ideal weeks. It's one of our very favorite parts of the planner, and we're chatting about how to get the most out of it today!

1. Ground it in reality.

In that "ideal day" exercise, Lara always emphasized that attendees shouldn't picture themselves in Tahiti (unless, of course, they were lucky enough to live on a tropical island!). The more powerful challenge is to brainstorm the habits and rhythms that will help you live out what matters each week within the constraints of your actual life. It's an ideal week, yes, but it should also be a week you can actually live on a regular basis.

2. Brainstorm what matters most.

Start here. What do you want to cultivate? What are your priorities? What are your goals in this season? Make a short list (3-5 items) of what matters most right nowthis will help guide your time blocking. A few ideas to get you started:

  • Having dinner with my family
  • Exercising daily
  • Seeing my friends
  • Going to church
  • Reading
  • Working on my business idea
  • Taking a morning walk
  • Going to the park with my kids

While you won't add these to your calendar first, this is the stuff that's easy to get pushed to the sideso we start here!

3. Add in boundaries.

Now it's time to open to your Weekly Rhythm spread!

What hard boundaries do you know need to be included in your week? Do you start and end work at a certain time? Do you have a regular commute? Standing weekly appointments? Times you need to shuttle your kids to and fro? Go ahead and add these in.

Then, schedule time for the activities from your "what matters most" list.

4. Consider themes.

Depending on your schedule and life circumstances, it might be helpful to theme different days of the week or times of the day. For example, you might choose a theme for each weekday eveningcleaning on Monday, socializing on Tuesday, errands on Wednesday, etc. Or maybe you use your morning time differently each day: exercising on Tuesdays and Thursdays, reading on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Using themes is a great way to find places to streamline your schedule and batch tasks. Instead of squeezing in random to dos whenever they get urgent, they'll get taken care of on timeand you'll have more time for what matters most.

5. Don't forget delight.

One of the best parts of planning your ideal week is intentionally sprinkling in fun! Mark time for favorite rituals and traditions. Think: big Saturday family breakfasts, a standing brunch with friends, Taco Tuesday, Friday movie night, playing pickle ball with your parents... whatever adds joy and meaning to your days! 

6. Keep it loose.

Give the opportunity to make an ideal week, it can be tempting to want to schedule every single hour with great detail. Resist! You want this to be a template you can follow week in and week out, so once the non-negotiables and the big blocks are in, keep some margin for flexibility.

7.  Try color blocking.

Got your weekly rhythm set? Great! To add an extra dimension, consider color coding your spreadsheetthis will help you see how much time you're allocating to different priorities or areas of your life. You might color code work, family, and personal, or rest, exercise, and funwhatever fits with your life!

8. Use it as a template. 

Once your weekly rhythm for the season is set, you can use it as a template to plan each week. By knowing where your focus should be throughout your days and weeks, you'll be less likely to get distracted or waste time, and more likely to actually do the things you want to do. Yes!

And when a new season rolls around? You'll have a fresh spreadsheet ready for new priorities!

We'd love to hear: Have you ever mapped out an ideal week? How have you found it helpful?

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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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