How To Really Use Your Planner & 3 Things You May Be Forgetting To Plan For

Last week I was asked “how are you liking being a stay at home mom?”

On paper I’ve described myself as a SAHM for the last 5 years, even though I worked part time for most of it. There was something about having it said out loud to me that didn’t sit right. My first thought was “I don’t stay home… you see me right now, I’m not at home..” I sat in confused, dumbfoundedness as I struggled and finally said, “it’s alright,” with a shrug.

It was an awkward interaction, as most of mine are. I sat there for awhile after the conversation, reflecting on the term stay-at-home mom. It just doesn’t feel right anymore. Sure in 2020 we were all stay-at-home whatevers, but now as things in our communities open back up and we venture outside like timid groundhogs after a long winter, “stay-at-home” just rubs wrong.

I don’t have a boss, so I’m not a work-from-home mom, but I don’t “stay.” I’m busy, I’m an entrepreneur. I own 2 businesses. I budget. I meal plan. I homeschool. I cook. I clean. I run this house. I am a work at home mom. WAHM, bam, thank you ma’am.

We’ve got a lot going on as moms. We work our booties off. We don’t stay.

As moms, we have a lot to keep track of. I honestly don’t know how anyone can manage without writing everything down. Between how much there is to recall, how many distractions we face regularly, and how little sleep we get, mom-brain became a bad thing.

Us WAHMs need productivity and balance to get it all done and still have energy leftover to be a wife and mother through it all, because those relationships are important, too. Having everything on a to do list can be really helpful, but also super overwhelming. Not to mention all the things that need to happen every single day (dishes, laundry, shower), but don’t always make the top of the to do list. Routines help to keep up with these, but don’t always keep you productive all day (rest is productive, too).

Simplification and organization is key to keeping your days right. Many productivity experts recommend the time block, or schedule blocking, method. This is something I have always liked to do in my weekly planner. If I don’t decide what I’m going to do with the day, it will be decided for me.

How to Time Block  

Time blocking is simply looking at all the hours you have available in your day (from wake to sleep), and dividing it into blocks of multiple hours and deciding what those hours will be used for.

Last year I decided that I was going to separate motherhood from housekeeping. I set a limit on the time I would allow myself to work on chores and to do lists. Housekeeping became my 9-5 job. I don’t let myself worry about the house outside of the hours 9am – 5pm. I just clock out and I’m all mom and wife after 5pm. (Mom and wife still cooks dinner and cleans up after herself, but it’s much less stressful than the housekeeper version of me who might want to mop the floors).

I didn’t realize at the time that was time blocking. It can be as simple as that. Or we can set more limits throughout the day to be even more productive. Now my time block looks more like a variation of this from day to day:

7-9: coffee, quiet and Jesus.

9-11: breakfast, housework

11-2: business admin time

3-5: house work

5: restful hour

6: dinner

8: baths, books and bedtime for the boys

10: my bedtime

Fill in your time block to reflect your needs. Leave white space to breathe if this feels overwhelming. It’s meant to free you up so you’re focusing on one area at a time, instead of all of them for all day.

I like to use “time limiting” as well. When I get excited about something, I tend to spend too much time on it. Writing for example, can become an obsession. I’ll spend too much of my day writing and not enough cleaning up the house or time with my kids. Time limiting is my solution to this problem, and I’ll only allow myself to work on my writing during my admin time (11-2) for example.

It’s totally fine to put the bare minimum on now and come back to edit it later when you’re comfortable with the concept. The important thing is to DO something, not just plan to do it.

As a busy woman, I know that your sanity and sense of productivity are important to you. As a mom, I know that mental clarity and the opportunity to spend time with your family is important to you.

I don’t believe every moment of every day should be carefully planned, but I do believe that planners are incredible tools for organizing all the thoughts that distract your throughout your day, and to help you remember all these things that are important to you.

My daily planner has been one of the best tools for maintaining my mental health and running my home smoothly as a stay at home and a work from home mama.

1. All the “major” events.

How many times have you forgotten a niece’s birthday until the week of? I’m not saying I have, but yes, I totally forget these things every chance I can. The easiest way to remember big dates is to put them in your calendar – both the monthly view and in your daily view. This way you are reminded of the upcoming event twice, and are fully aware of it as the day approaches and you are planning your week.

2. All the mundane things.

When’s the last time you had a big bill deducted from your bank account that you completely forgot was coming? (Hello, Amazon Prime yearly subscription…)

Don’t let these things surprise you and screw with your budget, put it on your calendar when you sign up – this way you don’t have to count on yourself to remember it a year from now.

This is also a great practice to include when your family and pets will be due for annual exams.

3. Your goals, dreams, and deadlines.

It’s time to level up, my friend! You’re done with going by to get by. You’re ready to really make some progress and chase those dreams of yours.

If one big goal isn’t coming to your mind, I want you to brain dump all the things you’d like to accomplish a year from now. Dream big, friend!

Pick one goal from this list. Is it measurable? Is it attainable? Does the thought of achieving this goal fill you with excitement and joy? Go for it.

Set a deadline, at what date do you want to have this accomplished?

Work backwards: what needs to happen between now and then to make this happen? Use your planner to create your timeline.

If you need some extra help with your goals, you might find this post helpful!

In what unexpected ways do you use your planner? Comment below and share your ideas!

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