As I’m looking for a full-time job and working part time in addition to some freelancing opportunities, I’m finding myself even more packed than when I had a job. Staying organized is critical to my sanity and my ability to make money and survive. I’ve always loved Sunday night as a planning opportunity to look at the week ahead and plan out what I want to do. As I’ve gotten better at balancing this, I wanted to share my process for how I prepare each week.

How I Prepare Each Week

Word to the wise, I use three separate systems to compare, and I’ll touch into why I do that, but you probably don’t need all three of these.

How I Prepare Each Week – the Analogue Way

Every planning session I have starts with my Day Designer. I’ve been using Day Designers since junior year of college, and I’m on my fourth one (the first one and second one had a bit of an overlap. I haven’t been out of college that long). I start with what I know will happen. Things like weekly choir rehearsals, doctor appointments, bills that are due. Things that I can’t change or move go first so I can plan around them.

I’m also a super color coder, so every category has a different color pen I use. Bills are orange, book related things go in red, and blog things obviously go in blue. There are a few other colors I use, but there’s a specific reason I use each color for the category I use. When I was in politics last year, I bought special glimmer pens so each client could have his or her own color.

My planner is where I allow myself to get a little messy, crossing things out if I decide that isn’t as important that day. One thing I really have to struggle with is making sure I don’t plan too much because I have a tendency to over pack my to-do list. When I overpack my plans for the day, everything that doesn’t get accomplished ends up shifting to the next day. It makes my week unbalanced and somethings end up moving through the week never getting accomplished.

After I have the “must-haves” scheduled, I look at big projects I’m in the middle of, like editing a book. I break up editing by the chapter, so I go through my planner and schedule my editing progress for the week. Once I have my editing schedule down, I look through on what I need to do for the blog. Right now, I’m working on some packages for services and an e-book, so I usually split my time between those two.

The rest of my planning involves regular tasks, like cleaning, going to the gym, and applying for jobs.

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How I Prepare Each Week – The Digital Way

I actually use two programs to plan my week. First, I go to Trello, where I have a weekly board. I’ve broken each day down to a list, and each list has headers for “Ongoing,” “Morning,” “Afternoon,” “Evening,” and “Night.” I take all the tasks I have in my planner and dump them into Trello. There, I break them up by day and time. Since I usually work a part-time job in the mornings, I try to keep my mornings light with simple things like going to the gym and work.

once I have all the cards in the days I want them in, I go and assign labels so I can see colors. The label colors correspond with the colors in my planner and the colors I use Todoist. Yes, I’m that color-coding crazy.

Once this is all done, I add everything back into Todoist. I like Trello because it gives me the ability to look at the week in one picture, which is something that my Day Designer and Todoist don’t really do. Last year, Todoist did a Todoist Boards experiment for Windows 10, but so far nothing has come out of it that I know of.

Because of the quick add and the fact that it’s basically muscle memory for me to quickly add tasks to Todoist with shortcodes and quick keyes, I can add all the week’s tasks into Todoist in about five minutes.

Now, I use all three resources because I forget things all the time. By dumping my tasks into three separate spots helps me feel comfortable that things will get done. I can give myself permission to forget because of my autoimmune disease (and it’s been super bad lately).

So I use all three to create a cohesive look at my week, but you can probably just use one or two.