Originally published: February 2019. Updated March 2021.
For most of us, the day finds us running from the moment our feet hit the ground on Monday morning. That’s why it’s so important to have a plan for the week! Today I’m sharing my best tips on how to prepare for the week ahead so you know what to expect and have less on your to do list.
It can be so easy to feel overwhelmed or exhausted when you think about the week ahead and everything you need to do. But you don’t have to feel overwhelmed. In fact, God wants you to be at peace!
“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.” Isaiah 55:12
Weekdays can be crazy. And for women who often give of their time until they break, the non-stop go lifestyle is often our normal. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could prepare for the week ahead and have a few moments to relax each day? Or at the very least not feel as stressed in the mornings or at meal time?
The last few months I’ve been working really hard to create new habits of prepping for the week ahead of time and you know what? It’s really made a difference.
I’ve always been somewhat of a planner. I like knowing what my plans for the day are. I’m pretty flexible, but I still like waking up and knowing what I will do throughout the day. And while I can be flexible, I hate it when plans change. Despite that, it is important to be able to go with the flow sometimes! After all, life happens when you’re making other plans!
“In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Proverbs 3:6
Sometimes our best laid plans are tripped up when the Lord has something else in mind and when we allow God to direct our paths and accept that plans will fail and unexpected things will happen we can use those opportunities to praise God, do His heavenly work, and even bless others in the process.
So, having said that, let’s talk about how you can prepare for the week ahead and be more productive whether you stay at home full time or work full time.
How to Prepare for the Week Ahead
For most of us, the week begins on Monday so Sunday planning makes a lot of sense. If your week starts on another day – choose which ever day makes the most sense for you!
Remember, anything I write here is meant to be helpful and is only a suggestion based on my own experiences as a pastor’s wife, homeschooling mom of five, and a work at home mom.
The goal here is to think about your coming week and give it attention before it actually happens. We want to live life with intention, right? The one thing we all have in common is time. And we all get the same number of hours each week.
You have a choice. You can choose to let life just happen and ride the waves as they come at you. Or you can choose to be intentional with your time and live each moment however best fits your current life season.
The Proverbs 31 Woman
In the passage of Proverbs 31 we are told that the virtuous woman looks well to the ways of her household and that she works diligently.
“She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.” Proverbs 31:27
“She… works with willing hands.” Proverbs 31:13
From these two verses we can asses that it is good for us as Christian women to look after our homes, be productive, and work willingly.
When I think of the “ways of her household” I think about all the different tasks that need to be done each week that keep your household running smoothly and help your family do all the things they need to do with the least amount of stress possible.
After all, stress is no fun!
Now, it’s important to also note that looking well to the ways of your household does not mean you are doing everything yourself! If you have a family, delegating some of your household tasks to those around you is perfectly acceptable and even a good thing.
Sunday Habits | Sunday Prep
Like I said, most of you will probably find Sunday is the best day to prepare for the week ahead, but certainly if there is another day that works better for you that’s okay too!
On Sunday’s we usually eat a late breakfast or brunch and then we’ll eat an early supper around 4:00. So we only eat two meals on Sundays. This gives me time to work on my plans for the week as well as meal prep.
Here are a few Sunday habits that you can start this week that will help you prepare for the week ahead.
1. Pray Over Your Weekly Plans
I like to sit down at my dining room table with my planner and my computer. This is a time when I can focus on my week and really give thought to being intentional with my time.
Life always goes smoother when we involve God in the process. And while things won’t always go as planned, when we pray we are giving God control over everything that takes place during the week. Begin preparing for the week ahead by spending a few minutes in prayer.
“Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” Proverbs 16:3
Here are three things you can specifically pray for when preparing for the week ahead:
Purpose: Ask God to lead and direct your plans and help you live with intention and that His will be done each day. When you are living God’s will for your life, you are living with purpose!
Patience: Remember that not everything will go as planned during the week and that’s okay! Ask God to give you patience when people – including your children – interrupt your plans or unexpected things happen.
Perseverance: Ask God to give you perseverance as you go about your day. Perseverance is needed to stay disciplined at home and in your daily life! It can be so easy to get discouraged when things don’t go as planned or when it feels like life is hard and you are overwhelmed.
2. Look at Your Calendar
Now that you’ve spent a few minutes in prayer asking God to help you plan for the week ahead, it’s time to make note of appointments and events coming up in your calendar.
I keep all of my appointments on my Google Calendar synced to my phone. When we are at the orthodontist or a doctor’s office and schedule the next appointment, I immediately input the time and location into my calendar.
Doing this immediately means that I don’t ever forget an appointment! I like to set up two reminders for the appointment, too.
I use my Google Calendar, but there are also apps that you can use that will sync to every family member’s phone as well.
So, I look over my Google calendar and then make a note of any upcoming appointments or events and write them down in my planner. This helps me know what’s coming and make plans around those activities. Knowing what my schedule is like for the week also helps me in my menu planning – more about that in a bit.
3. Think About Your Week & Make a To Do List
I don’t know about you, but I know that when I don’t write down what I need to do, I usually forget to do it. Writing down appointments, tasks, errands, shopping lists, things my husband asks me to do… helps me to stay focused and on track for the week.
I’m easily distracted! If I’m going to get things done and be productive I need some form of a list.
What kind of list will work best for you? There are a number of different options for creating a to do list.
- write your to do list in your favorite planner
- make your to do list on a sheet of paper
- use a notepad to create your to do list
- use the note pad app on your smart phone to make a list
- use a “to do list” app on your phone
The most important thing to remember is that a list only works if you look at it. So, whether you use a paper list or a digital list, it should be something easy for you to keep with you, look at, and use.
It’s also important to note that having too much on your to do list can be overwhelming and make you feel defeated if you don’t cross everything off your list.
I like to choose my top three goals for the week. These would be priorities that I need to accomplish even if I don’t get anything else done. That works for my schedule. You may find that having a top three list each day of the week works for you.
After choosing my top three for the week, I make a list of things I need to do each day. I can add to the list and cross things off as the week progresses, but I try not to write too many different tasks on the list.
When you make your to do list consider these things:
- What must be done?
- Don’t try to do more than one thing per hour – especially if you have young children.
- Do your least favorite thing or most dreaded task first thing in the day.
- Focus on your bigger life goals when making your to do list. What will propel you toward your goals?
- Consider transition times between tasks.
- Add time each week to your calendar or to do list for self care. Do something you enjoy.
Some tasks don’t need to go on your to do list. Household chores could go on your to do list, but they don’t have to. If you have a cleaning schedule, you know what to clean and when. Adding those chores just add clutter to your to do list and might make you feel overwhelmed.
related: What to Clean and When
Remember, being busy is not the same thing as being productive. It’s very easy to get wrapped up in the busyness of life and never accomplish anything toward our bigger life goals. Simplifying your to do list can mean the difference between rushing all day long to accomplish a lot of lot of different things to focusing on a few things that are important and working toward your long term goals.
John Spencer says:
“You don’t get a trophy for packing your schedule with more projects and more accomplishments and more meetings.
All you get is a bigger load of busy. But busy is hurried. Busy is overwhelmed. Busy is fast. Busy is careless. Busy is a hamster wheel that never ends and a sprint up the ladder without ever asking where it leads. There are moments when life gets busy. I get that. But I never want busy to be the new normal. I never want to look back at life and say, “Wow, I was really good at being busy.”
4. Plan Your Menu for the Week
After I have worked on my calendar and to do list for the week ahead, I like to finalize my menu plans for the week as well.
These days I often start working on my meal plans a week or two in advance. This helps me as I am grocery shopping to know what foods I will need to use in my meal prep.
Menu planning is a busy woman’s best friend.
We all have to eat. Skipping meals isn’t healthy and I’m sure your family appreciates being fed. Menu planning makes meal times so much easier. When you meal plan, you don’t find yourself staring into the fridge just as everybody is starting to get hungry trying to come up with a healthy and tasty meal.
What we put into our bodies is so important and we have a responsibility to ourselves and our families to feed them food that nourishes their bodies as well makes them feel loved and cared for.
“They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.” Matthew 13:20
It’s important to me that my family eats well. By planning ahead I know if I need to pull something out of the freezer to thaw or if I need to soak beans overnight for soup. Menu planning also helps me plan for quick meals when we have a hectic schedule and I know what meals I can spend more time preparing.
And the truth is, sometimes even when I have a meal plan we end up doing something different. Maybe our schedule changed suddenly and I have no time to cook or I decide that I’m in the mood to cook a different meal. That’s okay!
The meal plan is there to assist me, not to rule me.
5. Meal Prep for the Week
If you ever find yourself arriving home after a long day and wishing there was food ready and waiting – or if you find yourself stopping for take out on the way home – or you stop for take out on the way to your child’s gymnastics practice every week, meal prepping on Sunday may be life changing for you!
A few months ago I began to prepare whole meals ahead of time for the week ahead and it’s meant less time in the drive thru for our family! It also means I spend less time during the week cooking.
Meal prepping has made my life so much easier and really doesn’t take that much time. I can spend a couple hours on a Sunday or Monday preparing several meals in advance and all we have to do is reheat and eat. It’s such a sanity saver!
related: Meal Prep 101 for Beginners
Meal prepping can also help you reach your weight loss goals when you have healthy food ready to eat, healthy snacks ready to grab, and even help you with portion control.
Meal prepping can be done for lunches, suppers, snacks, and even breakfast. But you don’t have to prepare all of your meals for the week. You can decide to focus only on suppers or lunches – whatever you think will benefit your schedule the most.
You can prepare meals to keep in the fridge that just need to be reheated or you could make freezer meals to take out and reheat, or freezer meals for the slow cooker. There are so many options available to you!
One of my favorite resources I’ve been using lately is Once a Month Meals – and honestly, I don’t use the recipes for one big cooking day a month. I use the recipes on a Sunday afternoon and prepare two or three meals for later in the week or later in the month. It’s been a great resource and already made my life so much easier.
I made these Twice Baked Broccoli Cheese Potatoes from the Once a Month Meals website and my family loved them and I still have some in the freezer to use for another meal! I’ve also made some other recipes I’ll be sharing with you soon. You can join Once a Month Meals here.
6. Getting Things Ready for Monday
Finally, it’s time to set yourself up for a smooth sailing Monday morning. By getting things ready for Monday on Sunday you’ll have less to do before leaving on Monday morning. If you have kids that go to school or if you work outside the home, you’ll find that taking the time to set things up the night before really helps you feel more relaxed in the morning.
If you home school like we do, having a plan for the week, setting up school work boxes or choosing books to read on Sunday can help you get off to an organized start for the week.
Things you can do to get ready for Monday morning:
- prepare overnight oats for breakfast or know what you’ll be eating
- pack lunches and store in the refrigerator
- pack backpacks and set by the door
- clean out your purse
- lay out clothes and locate shoes for yourself and the children
- check your menu – plan ahead for slow cooker meals or pull meals out of freezer to thaw
- straighten the house and pick things up
Follow this step each night of the week and mornings will be easier!
How to Prepare for the Week with Young Children
If you have young children at home you can certainly do you Sunday planning and meal prep with them in the room with you. When my girls were really little, I had a number of tricks for keeping them busy while I worked.
- Have a drawer or bucket in your kitchen full of kitchen items your little one can play with.
- Let your little one have a wooden spoon and pot to make music with.
- Put your toddler in a high chair with some play dough and cookie cutters.
- Have a special box of toys your child can only play with when you are working.
- Put on a movie or educational video.
Remember that little ones grow up so fast! And while the days are long, the years are so short! Have patience and be creative about finding ways to make this time happy and functional.
Actions Steps to Take
- Set aside time on Sunday to pray and make your plans for the week ahead.
- Check your calendar for upcoming appointments and events.
- Create a simple to do list for the week.
- Make your meal plan for the following week or even a month in advance.
- Do your weekly grocery shopping before Sunday if you plan to meal prep.
- Prep some of your meals for the week ahead if desired.
- Prepare for Monday morning on Sunday night: Lay out clothes, put backpacks by the door, etc. Repeat this step every weeknight.
Free Printable Checklist
Planning your week on Sunday can help ensure that you’re making the most of your time. Not only can you schedule items from your to-do list around important appointments and events, but you can ensure the most important things get done and that your priorities are met.
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Prep for the Week
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