The secret to my productive weeks

November 14th, 2011 Posted by Uncategorized, Wellness 14 thoughts on “The secret to my productive weeks”

My secret for a productive week?

Sunday prep.

Sundays are not my day of rest. Sundays are for getting things done in an effort to smooth out the week as best as I can.

When I start the week off organized, thoughtfully, and with a plan, I feel much more relaxed and under control during the week.

So, what do I do on Sundays to plan for the week ahead? Here’s my Sunday plan of action:

1. Laundry. Sunday is my major laundry day. I wash all the sheets and towels and any other outstanding dirty clothes. I start my process Sunday morning, and by Sunday evening, my goal is to have an empty hamper and all the wash put away. That way, everyone starts off the week with clean sheets, towels, and more than enough underwear to make it to whenever I do wash during the week.

2. Clean out the fridge. This is so major. Taking the time Sunday to dump out old leftovers and anything expired leaves me with an organized fridge for the week. Also, it gives me a chance to see what I need to buy (and more importantly, what I don’t – hello, three tubs of sour cream) at my weekly shopping trip. Plus, I am less likely to find smelly, molded over food during the week. (Don’t act like you don’t know what I mean. I am sure each of you has found something growing in your cream cheese before.

3. Major cleaning chores. I tackle vacuuming and floor washing on Sunday. Why? Dan entertains Kate, so I can quickly move through the house. Kate is not the biggest fan of the vacuum. So with Dan on Kate duty, I can get my floors squeaky clean in minimal time and with far less screaming. Since I can move quickly through the floors, I usually have time to wipe down the bathrooms, too.

4. Plan out my week – online and on paper. I use a combination of Google Calendar and Evernote and my Erin Condren planner to organize my weeks. On Sunday, I sit down with my Google Calendar open, my work Outlook calendar, and my paper planner. I see what’s going on and make sure all my calendar’s sync. Once I know what meetings, events, activities, etc…I have going on, I type up all the things I need to get done on the task list in Google calendar. Sometimes I have to scale back once I see the list. There is only one Sarah. Once I see my week and what I want/need to accomplish, I work all my To Dos and errands into the mix.

5. Make a meal plan and grocery list. Since I’ve cleaned out the fridge, I know what I’ve got and what I need. So I make a grocery list and accompanying meal plan and schedule a time for me to hit the grocery. Plotting out my meals saves me so much time and effort. That way, I know when I need to pull chicken out of the freezer to defrost, what I can prep ahead, what I can’t. I schedule the easy stuff on challenging days and the more complex stuff for days when I know I have an easier day.

6. Answer emails/send emails. I like to start my weeks off fresh, which includes a fresh inbox. Sundays I go through all my starred emails and either 1) reply or 2) do what I need to do so I can reply. My goal is always to start off the week at no starred emails. That doesn’t always work. But I can significantly reduce email clutter taking care of those emails requiring just a quick response from me.

7. Put things away. I take time Sunday to put back things that seemed to have migrated during the week. Cups of water on desks, finished magazines on bedside tables, stuff Kate tosses into the hamper. I also go through the house and do things like fill up the coffee bean canister, soap dispensers, flour container, etc… I also take a few minutes to clean out my purse. It never fails to amaze me how much junk I manage to collect within a week. It seems insignificant, but these small measures eliminate one more thing I need to do during the week. Putting everything back in it’s place is another way I create clean surfaces and fresh starts to my week.

8. Schedule me time. If I don’t take a minute to think about myself, I won’t. I’ll spend the entire week taking care of everyone but me. And my Friday night, I’m completely wiped and end up slogging through the weekend. I make time to meet up with friends, schedule a time for me to go to CVS to browse beauty products solo, find time each evening after Kate goes to bed for some reading or blogging. Me time, it’s crucial and a half. Make the time.

Working through these items doesn’t always make for the most relaxing Sunday, but I find I can cross off these things pretty quickly and have late Sunday afternoon/evening to relax. And with practice, I’ve found I can move through these chores fast. I am just the type of person who likes things organized, so, for me, it’s so worth it to take a portion of my day and dedicate myself to plotting out my week and putting small measures into place that take some of the stress off of my Monday through Fridays.

How about you? Do you plot our your weeks Sundays? How do you prepare for the week ahead?

  • Kat

    Again, we’re on the same page about everything. I usually meal plan on Saturday because we grocery shop right away on Sunday mornings. Even on the Sundays where I want to sit around and thwart productivity I end up cleaning/crossing things off the list. No one loves doing chores when they’ve just gotten home from work.

    p.s. Since I switched back to a paper planner, I feel like I’ve gotten SO much more accomplished. There’s just something about using a pen.

    • Are we virtual twins or what?! I agree, I much prefer to do chores on the weekend, so I can avoid it during the week as much as possible. Yes, I hear you on the paper planner, so I do both. I don’t like the calendar on my iPhone, so I keep both paper and online in sync, so when I’m out, I can check my paper planner. It is probably too convoluted for most, but it works for me! 🙂 The first order of productivity is to do what works for YOU, not someone else.

  • Ugh. Can you please come make me productive? I’m failing bigtime lately. Maybe I can shoot for this system. But my Sundays are usually my first free full day to work on blogging and sewing, so if I add in “prep” it all goes down the tubes. Hmm.

    • I can come over and do a productivity audit! I’d love that. I also love cleaning out closets 😉 I spend part of my Sunday with my chores and the other part on blog prep. I think you could manage both, if you were really strategic. But, in the end, you should work a system that works best for YOU!

  • I’m with Jane – totally feeling underwater right now! Send help! Can we postpone Christmas because these last six weeks of the year are going to suck! 😉

    Sarah – you are so inspiring and this is a great system. I think you get more done on Sundays than I do in an entire week! I, too, am a list maker/scheduler, the problem is I can’t seem to get the things on my list crossed off (probably because there are too many things on my list!)

    • Ha ha, I totally hear you on the too many things on the list. To help with that, I put the most important stuff first. And I only allow for a certain number of super important stuff to be at the top. That way, I can cross those things off and move on slowly to all the other stuff. I get to feeling underwater lots of times, too. I should do a post soon on what I do when I find myself treading water.

  • Matt Mella

    I love the fact that crucial and a half made it into your blog… Sunday prep days are pretty critical. Amber and I have found that by taking Sunday to prep for our week, even go as far as cooking meals or cutting meat/veggies for an early week meal is a huge time saver during the week. Especially when we don’t get home til 7 or 8 and are too tired to cook. If most of the meal was already prepared its easy!

    Keep it up Sarah!

    • Absolutely! Prepping for meals is a huge time saver! Totally crucial and a half 😉

  • My weeks definitely go much more smoothly when I plan ahead. I’ve never thought of cleaning out my fridge before the week though…great idea!

    • Cleaning out the fridge is a lifesaver! No more food gone yucky and smelly!

  • Jen on the Edge

    This is an impressive set of tasks.

    I use Saturdays and Sundays to tackle some projects, including a major laundry push. I also have my girls do most of their chores on Saturday mornings. I also make a point to tackle mini projects throughout the week, so that the weekends aren’t all about chores.

    • Agreed, I tackle small things here and there during the week, so the weekend isn’t one big chore mess. It’s a challenge to mix in the have to dos with the fun, but with some practice, I’ve gotten a little better 😉

  • NinjaMama

    This is a timely post for me. I am trying to juggle so many things at the moment and I am finding it hard to manage. I work on Sundays in one capacity or another but Saturday often tends to be my ‘prep day’.

    • I hope you find this post helpful! I totally understand what you mean about trying to juggle everything. It helps me so much to plan on Sunday.

Hi! I’m Sarah, I am passionate about creating community, building deep connections, and the power of creativity. I live in Northern Virginia with my husband, our three kids, and our golden-lab mix.

I believe in leggings as pants, and I drink my coffee black. I love shopping at Costco, teaching group exercise classes, and, athleisure.

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