written by Leslie Christopher, mother of 2 who is a business owner and very active in her church and in her community, serving in many leadership roles.
As a wife, mother, business owner and church/school/community volunteer, I have a lot of irons in the fire and it’s easy to get burned if I don’t plan ahead and stay on top of things. I’m both digital and analog in the way I keep up with my schedule and my to do list but that seems to be the best way to keep all my ducks in a row!
I set goals and keep track of what needs to be done on 4 levels:
Big Picture typically starts at the beginning of the calendar year by setting goals in strategic categories of my life: spiritual, marriage, motherhood, relationships, vocation, ministry, finances and health. Prayerfully setting these goals helps me create boundaries on what to say “yes” to and what to say “no” to when requests for my time and energy come along. I have these written in the front of my planner so I can easily reference them and check my progress and my focus.
When I do say “yes” to an event or commitment, that meeting, lunch, party, etc immediately goes on my digital calendar. I have different digital calendars that are shared with different people according to who needs to see what. It’s imperative that I put events on our family calendar right away so my husband knows when I’ll be where and knows if there are places he needs to be.
As I have time but often as a month draws to a close, I begin to work on my Monthly level by planning out the next month and recording events and activities on a large monthly calendar we have hanging in the kitchen that my kids and my mom can reference. Our girls are 6 and 9 and it helps them to know what’s coming up, when Mom and Dad are going out, when dance or soccer practice is, etc. For my mom, who is our after school super hero, it helps her to keep up with where to take the girls and when. I also update the monthly calendar in my planner as the month is coming to a close, although I use the weekly view of my planner more frequently.
Which brings me to Weekly planning. I drive my girls to school most days then go straight to my office. I’m generally there 30-45 minutes before anyone arrives and this special time for me! By this time I’ve already been awake for a few hours (I start the day with bible study/quiet time at 5 am then jump in to getting myself and everyone else ready to go for the day) and I’m ready to be productive! On Mondays, I sit in the quiet of my office and write down my schedule for the week on the weekly view of my planner. I record all scheduled meetings and events for each day then also write down tasks that need to be accomplished every day including my Bible study time, exercise, family time, errands that I need to run, even when I’m going to clean and do laundry. I’ve learned that if I don’t plan it, it doesn’t get done!
Finally, we’re at Daily planning. Every day I reference what’s on my schedule and what tasks must be completed and check it all off as it’s done. There’s something so satisfying in getting everything checked off!
When I sit back and re-read this I realize I sound far more “together” than I ever feel! The truth is, I don’t execute my system with perfection every day or even every week. I’ve learned over the years to give myself and my schedule a considerable amount of grace and to bathe all my planning and the carrying out of those plans with prayer. I’ve also learned that I am not a one man show and I must delegate whenever possible. I’m grateful for my husband, my kids, my mom and my friends who gladly take some of the load when I just can’t get it all done.
I’m also grateful that God speaks into my plans to guide me and keep me on track. Without fail, the days that begin with scripture and prayer are days more full of peace than stress. God made me a planner by nature, but I recognize that He is the ultimate planner and, unless He directs my steps, I accomplish nothing of value.