From Meal Planning to Work Scheduling: How the Two Go Hand in Hand

Three weeks ago, I publicly embarked on a meal planning exercise, launched in the Pizza Fridays: Family Friendly Meal Planning post.

It takes three weeks to form a habit right? Well, in my case, maybe a little longer but I am off to a good start.  I started the first week like gangbusters using the meal planner template for inspiration. The Menu Planner App also helped but I’m still getting the hang of it.  Weeks two and three were solid tries but didn’t go off without a hitch. There were bouts of “I’m too tired to cook” and “who wants pizza?” throughout both weeks but all in all, my life was definitely made easier by the attempt to plan and stick to said plan and I’m pretty sure I saved a little cash in my quest to repurpose pantry items and leftovers.

It got me to thinking, could this process be applied to my work week? Sure there are the occasional fire drills that often alter your work day plans but if we keep the plan flexible, maybe a well thought out plan of attack can at the very least alleviate some stress and induce more productivity.

So, I altered the meal planner template to reflect my work week.  In addition, I applied a little wisdom from a grad school professor: check email twice a day (once in the a.m. and once in the afternoon) and that’s it.  Dedicate the rest of your day to productivity.  Here’s what I came up with:

Sat/Sun   Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri
If you think of task to be done or brainstorm ideas, write them down, then work on them during your coming workweek. Upon Arrival
  • Check meetings for the day. Who will be there and what is the topic? Is it necessary for you to be there? If not, delegate and ask for the meeting notes so that you can use the time to tackle your to-do list. Try to always schedule meetings and diplomatically limit impromptu (time-sucking) meetings as much as possible.
  • Take 30 minutes to check and respond to email.
  • Update your to-do list accordingly and reprioritize if needed by due date / urgency.
Morning
  • Tackle 1-2 projects on your list. Enter them into your schedule as you would your breakfast meal plan. Then check it off as you complete it or note next steps and information you are waiting for as needed. Then move on to the next task. If you have more time left, tackle more projects.
Lunch
  • Take some time for lunch and an office breather.  If you must eat at your desk, use this time to accomplish a quick, easy task, catch up with coworkers or to answer 5-10 emails while eating.
Afternoon
  • Tackle 1-2 projects on your list. Enter them into your schedule as you would your breakfast meal plan. Then check it off as you complete it or note next steps and information you are waiting for as needed. Then move on to the next task. If you have more time left, tackle more projects.
End of Day
  • Take 30 minutes to check and answer email.
  • Update your to-do list according to your emails and your day’s progress so that you’ll be ready to hit the ground running tomorrow morning. Remember to reprioritize each day and add your projects to your weekly plan.
Evening If you think of a task or brainstorm an idea, write it down in a notebook and add it to your to-do list the next morning. 

I have yet to find an app that I trust with my work schedule but if your smart phone is attached at your hip, consider using the calendar function as your work week planning template and schedule reminder alerts to keep you on task.  Also, use the notes and tasks functions on your phone (if applicable) to update your to do list so you will have it with you at all times and save the environment one piece of paper at a time.

Sure, it’s not a simple as checking the Food Network for quick recipes and you may run into to a few snags via last minute requests but if you at least have a weekly roadmap, you’re more apt to spend your time wisely and making more headway on your to-do list and long-lead projects.  I’m applying this method now and will report back in two or three weeks with tweaks and successes.  Stay tuned!

photo credit: wenzday01 via photopin cc

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Tara Davis

A writer at heart, Tara holds more than 17 years of marketing and communications experience. Previously a travel industry professional, she recently hopped the fence to gain a better understanding of real estate and to hone her Public Relations Skills. A mom and avid traveler, Tara tackles topics ranging from what to feed your kid to the next generation and great housing market locations. In line with her love of snowboarding, Tara’s next must-go destination is Sun Valley, Idaho – not for the celeb watching, but for the terrain and scenery.

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