Planning and preparation to succeed

Planning ahead is a survival strategy

As a busy mom of many, I have to plan ahead. There are 6 of them, and only me to care for them, and there’s no room for error here. I plan on a yearly, a seasonally, a monthly, a weekly and on a daily basis. It’s the only way this single mama can survive! So join me on an overview of my planning system.

First, take the global view in your plans.

Every year, I take a day or so and plan out my year in advance. I look ahead to see when the birthdays are, when the school holidays are, and when the big family trips should be scheduled.

I make notes about when sales are, for my budgeting purpose. (Did you know stores generally have seasonal sales? January is a great time to buy all those organizing totes, swim suits, and pillows and bedding!)

In my one year overview, I get a big picture of my budget and my time. There’s no point in trying to schedule a family trip in the same month as when I have three birthdays to celebrate. And I shouldn’t be trying to set up a business launch during my kids’ baseball season. I can plan out my business and my family life so that they work in sync, at least most of the time.

Second, have a 90 day plan.

The next planning view is seasonal. I live in an area where we have four defined seasons, so every 90 days or so, there’s a fairly big change in events. This is when I figure out what I’m signing my kids up for – swim lessons or baseball team, lego club or the speech meet. This is when I determine my commitments, my school field trips, and what my priorities are.

For me, each season plan begins after a school break, and ends with another school break. I like doing it this way, because during those school breaks I can take a day or so to plan the next season.

Third, manage the monthly plan.

At the beginning of each month, I look ahead. This is when I set dates for birthday parties, for business launches, for family fun days and family appointments. I figure out when we can do play dates and park days.

I match up my income to my expenses in my monthly budget. My one-month plan allows me to manage my budget better.

Planning doesn’t just involve your time. You need to plan for everything — time, meals, sleep, exercise, and money. These essentials need to be managed just the same as you manage your day-to-day time.

A monthly plan gives you the time you need to keep the budget on track, just the way a seasonal and yearly plan help you focus your family’s priorities.

Fourth, plan your weekly practical functions.

My weekly plan is where I start to get specific.

I pull from my yearly, seasonal and monthly plans to plug in the appointments, the special events, the after-school activities and the errands. I block off which days are spent out and which days are spent at home. Then I note my meal plan menu choices, matching them up with the busy days. I include my kids’ scheduled visits with their dad, and my business deadlines as well.

Weekly plans are for the family functioning. This is where you can get really practical. If Friday is payday, then don’t try to plan to do groceries on Thursday. If Tuesday is a doctor’s appointment for your son, you may need to make car pool arrangements for your daughter’s dance class.

Finally, plan out the day-to-day details.

AKA, a to-do list. Every day, as part of my morning routine, I look over my monthly calendar and weekly schedule, and I put together my to-do list.

I list my household chores, my business tasks, and my daily meal plan. I note on there any things I need to do to prepare for later in that week or that month, as well.

For example, on my monthly calendar I note that my daughter has a birthday party invitation for Saturday, and on my weekly plan I notice that my errand day is Thursday. So on Thursday, I’ll write on my to-do list that I need to take my daughter shopping for a birthday present for her friend. That means that on Saturday, I’m not scrambling last minute for a present, or having to buy something super expensive in a hurry. Instead, I’m already prepared.

How do you plan?

You can plan your life in a lot of different ways. There are different systems to suit everyone. I prefer my lists and planners, but you may be more creative than I. You may prefer a bullet journal or something that lets you get more artistic. Or maybe you love the options that technology gives you.

Whether you use Google calendar, a formal planner or agenda, or just make lists and more lists, find a system that works for you. You need to have a plan. And having a system of planning and regular review just makes life easier!

I have to plan ahead, as a busy single mom, in order to survive. So I developed planning systems to include every stage of planning that I need.

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