Today we’re taking a bit of a step back in order to take a step forward. Hear me out.
(Day Designer; the planner of my dreams)
I don’t mean to pull the rug out from under your feet, dear readers, but I do need to let you know that a big part of the reason I have a meal planning system that works is because I have a life-planning system that works. It involves a paper planner, a wall calendar, and endless, nagging texts sent to my husband about what is on those. He is allergic to calendars. Breaks out in hives when I try to tie him down to something on a specific date.
Your life-planning system might look like mine, or it might be more digital, or it might not exist at all.
It’s not that you couldn’t be successful at meal planning without a life-planning system, but I’m going to venture a guess that if your life is more complicated than, we are all home for dinner every night, you need to have at least a working understanding of what is going on each day, and how it will interfere with meal planning.
I love peeking into the ordinary details of people’s lives, especially when it comes to seeing how people appear to make it all work. So for the sake of imagining myself as a reader, I’ll share a couple of my planning systems. Please don’t feel like they should be yours. Rather, read them and think about the systems (even the beginnings of systems) you have in place in your own life.
Long Term Planning – We have a desk calendar that hangs on the wall between our foyer and kitchen that I update at the beginning of each month. That’s about how far out I plan things. We don’t have as many “save the date” worthy social events as we used to, so while I can always tell you the next time we’re going to the beach, I don’t need to look more than a few weeks ahead at any given time. I love that it’s right there in plain sight because I know my husband checks it every single day when he walks by. He likes to know what Gooplet and I are up to during the week when he’s a work, and I like being able to get a quick glance at whether we’re headed into a busy week, or one with more down time.
Weekly Planning – Because we’ve got the same flexible weekly routine more often than not, I’ve changed how I plan my weeks. I used to use the Day Designer (from Whitney’s Target line) religiously, filling in to do lists by the day. Now, I make one to do list for the week, with things that need to happen, and I use that to guide our pockets of time in between naps and activities. Some highlights from this week’s lists include calling to schedule appointments, running to grab the dry cleaning, joining the zoo (!), and making progress with this whole spring cleaning undertaking I’ve, well, undertaken. I like that it shows me what needs to happen, but gives me the flexibility I need to shuffle things around by day.
Daily Planning – This happens whenever I check in with that weekly to do list, which can happen nightly, every morning, or every couple of days. I simply look at what still needs doing and try to figure out how it’s going to fit. On a particularly busy day, I’ll pop back to my Day Designer and fill in a more hourly kind of schedule, but that’s a rare occurrence these days.
Oh, dear readers, this sounds like a lot, and to many of you, it probably seems like a giant chore. But truly, it’s a much more automatic system than it appears when it’s all typed out, and at this point it requires very little thought and effort on my part. And that is what I’d encourage you to play around with. Finding a planning system that takes 0 thought and effort, and maybe 5 minutes of time here to keep up with.