It’s a question that I get asked often. “How do you keep up with yourself and how do you do it all?” I probably, almost always, look puzzled. While I know that my life is busy and our travel schedule is pretty crazy, I don’t often feel like I “do it all”. To me, people who “do it all” have a reputation for being so incredibly busy, and often successful, that that they miss out on the important things in life. For me, it’s ALL about the important things and prioritizing those, so the tasks and keeping up with life are all secondary to the main priorities. I’ve found throughout the years, though, that if you don’t make a conscious effort to priorities the things that matter, “doing it all” trumps and eventually will suck away the minutes, hours, and days of your life. So in an effort to be candid and share how I keep up with myself and “do it all” , I’m gonna let you in on a little secret of mine that is so simple but helps me stay on track.
A while back I blogged about the Big List. It’s a concept that initially came from Katelyn James, and one that has rocked my world. In a nutshell, at the beginning of each month I make a Big list of tasks I need to accomplish that month. It helps me stay on track with both my long and short term goals. From there, I sit down every Sunday and make my weekly schedule. Depending on if I am going to be home or traveling, I’ll either write out my week plan in iCal, or in my Emily Ley Simplified Planner. I am home in CT this week but, for the sake of this post, I copied my week plan into iCal so that you can get a visual. When I sit down on Sunday it takes me 30-45min to make my week plan. I start with writing in all my appointments – wedding, glamour shoots, and client meetings. From there I write down what I’m going to do for dinner each night, and then I make a shopping list based on my mean plans. After I’m done with the food chart I write down the personal things I need to get done or want to do that week. These things often include stuff like baking a loaf of bread, writing a letter to a friend, visiting my little siblings, or spending dedicated time with Adam. It’s so, so easy to get caught up in all the stuff that HAS to get done that I lose focus on the things that matter so, for me, I schedule those things in before anything else (beside the obligatory appointments and shoots). Lastly, I fill in the gaps with work. I fill in every single hour and minute of my day from the time I wake up until the time I go to bed.
For me, a huge key to the weekly planner being a success is being very specific. So, for example, instead of writing “9:30-1:30, Work” I’ll write 9:30-10:30 emails, 10:30-11:30 write Friday’s blog post, 11:30-12:30, edit XYZ session, 12:30-1:30 design XYZ album”. I’ve found that if I’m not specific then 9:30-10:30 is work and 10:30-1:30 ends up being “waste my life away on Facebook and Pinterest”. 😀 Sad, but true. On that note, though, it’s important to schedule those time wasters in. If they allow your brain to shut off and refresh for a little but and make you more effective, by all means give yourself 30 scheduled minutes to do that. I often do this during my lunch break.
I’ve found that by creating a week plan and sticking to it, I am able to accomplish so much more. It also leaves me feeling like I’ve actually gotten stuff done, as opposed to knowing I worked all week but wondering what the heck I actually did. I am not always able to follow my weekly plan exactly, because stuff will always come up, but I am usually able to follow it 90% of the time. So, this weekend, I challenge you to take time to write. Week plan for next week. And stick to it! When you’ve done that I would love for you to com back here and let me know how it went no if it worked for you.