Shown above: Well Planned Day Large Family Homeschool Planner
Did you know planning has to be a habit?
Every time I hit an “off” week, the reason behind it is usually pretty obvious when I look at my planner. It’s either very empty or very chaotic. Bottom line: I didn’t tackle the week and prioritize building a habit of planning.
Build a Habit of Planning by Setting a Weekly Time
The easiest way to keep planning prioritized is by setting a specific weekly time that helps you create a habit of planning. It’s not enough to work through ASPIRE, create goals, and then expect every week to just fall into place. You have to invest the time necessary to review the week you’ve just finished, compare it to your benchmarks, and get a handle on the week ahead. And the only way to consistently accomplish this is by setting aside a specific time each week to do that evaluation. It doesn’t take long! But those few minutes are absolutely critical to success.
Planning each week will save you a great deal of time and energy. But in order to save time, you have to prioritize building your habit of planning.
Why don’t you stop right now and pick your planning time? Write down the day and time and put it in a place where you won’t forget it (like your planner!). Then stick to it! Trust me when I say that it’s a habit worth building!
I’m about to sound like a broken record, but I’m going to say it again anyway. The biggest reason that we fail in our attempts to build a habit of planning is because we neglect to prioritize time to plan.
Strengthen a Habit of Planning by Planning One Week at a Time
But, that’s not the only reason we fail. Another major issue with developing a habit of planning is that we try to plan too much at once.
We often confuse goal-setting with planning. That’s why the ACHIEVE method distinguishes them into very distinct steps.
When we set goals, we get a big picture idea of what’s ahead of us. For instance, your goal may include helping your ninth grader make it through Algebra 1 between mid-August and mid-May. You may even have benchmarks laid out, helping you know where your student needs to be every six weeks to accomplish this goal. Planning, meanwhile, is laying out the daily and weekly tasks necessary to meet that goal.
But if you lay out every single day’s assignments from Day 1 in August to Day 180 in May, you’re going to get frustrated. Why? Because something unexpected will always happen over the course of that 180 days to throw the plan for a loop.
The first time your plan falls apart (and it will!), it’s so easy to get frustrated and give up. The simple solution is to not plan so far ahead! Set your large goals, then break them down into six-week benchmarks. Next, determine what you need to accomplish next week to stay on track for meeting your first benchmark. That’s it. Just next week.
Finally, prioritize within those tasks. Whether it’s a list for home management or assignments for homeschool, make note of the most important subjects and tasks. If something unexpected comes up this week, what must be completed and what can slide?
And you’re done! You have a plan for the coming week and a plan for dealing with unexpected challenges.
Solidify a Habit of Planning by Checking Off Priorities Every Day
You have to prioritize planning time in order to succeed in planning. Have you heard that from me once or twice?
That’s true when creating the big picture by setting goals and a schedule; it’s true on a weekly basis when reviewing the previous week and setting a plan for the new week; and it’s also true on a daily basis. Every single day, it’s important to set aside a few minutes to evaluate priorities and then check off what you’ve completed. If you do this daily, it doesn’t take long at all — rarely more than five minutes! But, those few minutes can save you a fortune in time over the course of the week or month.
First thing each morning, look at your planner to see what your priorities for the day are. Start with those, then work your way down. At the end of the day, review your list. Is there anything left? Move it to another day (it doesn’t automatically have to be tomorrow), then mark your priorities for the next day.
Your planner makes it easy to stay on top of priorities. I’ve included little checkboxes on the weekly spread where you can number priorities or check off completed tasks. You can see at a glance what needs to take precedence each day.
And the more you practice planning each week and reviewing each day, the more you will find that you’re developing a solid habit of planning!