170. Planning the Day (reactive vs proactive, tools and approaches I use)

Planning the day can be an overwhelming chore that you are constantly behind in. Sticking to that plan can be frustrating and seem impossible. I want to share a few ways that I keep myself on track and having a proactive day, rather than a reactive day. 


Products recommended here may include referral links to Amazon. If you click through and buy something I may earn a commission, at no cost to you. 


In this episode I discuss: 

  • The crafty form of planning, bullet journaling 
  • The three planners that I found worked the best 
  • The crown jewel of planning apps, Google Calendar, and how I use it to plan effectively 
  • How to organize and use your To-Do list to check things off
  • How I prioritize my To-Do list, shiting from a should-do to a could-do mindset 
  • Planning a proactive day rather than having a reactive day, especially with chores
  • Cognitive distortions and how to get out of that All-or-nothing thinking 
  • Meal prepping 


All the fun links you might enjoy 


How to get started bullet journalling 

Planning the day for moms

The freedom you can gain from planning your day

Procrastination tips for moms

Does your to-do list overwhelm you?

Do you trust yourself to show up for you? 

How to move from ambivalent to ambitious 


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Hello friends welcome back to the simple on purpose podcast. My name is Shawna, you guys know me as your nerdy girlfriend and life coach and counselor. And if you are new here, if you found the podcast over the summer, welcome, I’m so glad you are here. At simple on purpose, we talk about ways to simplify, simplify your home, your heart, your life, and do things on purpose, do life on purpose, turn off the autopilot, turn off the default mode, that we’re just living in life reactively to life and letting things happen, like letting life happen at us and moving into an intentional space, being really proactive with who we are, how we want to show up our lives and what we want to get out of our life. So that’s the premise of what we talk about here. I’m really glad you’re here. I let you know earlier that I had taken the summer off, I was finishing up my schooling to become a registered professional counselor. And now I’m on the other side of that I’ve gone through certification, I am working on my supervision hours with my supervisor. And I just really had no idea what I would come back to in terms of what simple on purpose was going to look like. I think I still don’t know, people are asking me am I going to open up and like on purpose Academy again, am I going to keep the podcast going like all these plans, and I’m just like, I don’t know, I don’t know what I’m doing. But I am really enjoying the connection that I have with you guys over podcast, I love getting messages from you on Instagram over email letting me know that it’s something that’s part of your life part of your day. And it’s something that’s helping you, which is really my whole goal, right. And my whole goal is to empower moms to empower women to empower you guys to live simple on purpose. So I don’t know what the future holds. I’m really open to it to where my life will take me and where these career plans take me. But let’s keep digging into the podcast, I asked for suggestions on podcast topics I’ve asked in the simple on purpose, email, what you guys would like to hear about. And so today I’m going to talk about one of those suggested topics. And by the way, if you guys are not on the simple Saturdays email, that’s an email that comes out twice a month. So it’s not overwhelming. And I try to make that a place that’s just fun and connected. And I share pictures, I share pictures of what I’m decluttering I share links to things I’m loving, you know, whether it’s books, or podcasts or recipes, or just generally items that I’m loving in my life insights about as I’m going along insights about life on purpose. So you guys call it your virtual coffee date with your nerdy girlfriend. And I love that I love that you gave it that name. So if you are not on the simple Saturday’s email, stop by the website simple on purpose.ca. And find a signup box there and put your email in. I’d love to have you join us there. Alright, so I was asked to share on how I plan my date. And I know if you listen to enough episodes and read enough of my blog posts that you can put all this together. There’s a lot of bits and pieces throughout that give you a general idea of how I do this. But I also think I’ve changed a little bit of how I approached this. And so I think it’s kind of nice to just give you an update on what’s working right now some ways I approach planning. And I hope they can help you. I hope that can be helpful for you, as you aim to plan your day, give it more purpose, but also give it more presence and peace and actually enjoy your life. So first, I’ll talk about planners and apps that I use. And then I’ll talk about my approach to planning. And we can’t talk about planning without talking about the hobby that planning has become in the very crafty form of bullet journaling. Have you heard about bullet journaling? It had its heyday like maybe a decade ago when I started doing it. It’s also short form known as BuJo Vu J. Oh, clever. So this is taking a blank notebook. And in the notebook, you create calendars in there for yourself. You choose the layout that you like. And it’s a place where people are creative and as colorful and as cursive and whimsical as they wish to be. So this journal that you have you put your calendars in, it’s also aware a place to keep all of your ideas all of your lists is just this mega book of all your little brain nuggets stored in one place. And you can even look up on like Pinterest, bullet journal list ideas and you’ll find so many ideas of lists you could be keeping. The nerd in me can’t even do like

I think I short circuited when I started bullet journaling because it can be fun. It can be beautiful, but it can also suck you in on one hand. There’s just so many ways to use it. I think there’s also a very minimalistic way that you could use it and just use it to manage list and manage to dues but there’s also this other way that

It’s approached where it’s almost an Instagram performance art. And I was personally overwhelmed by all the ideas I saw on Pinterest and Instagram. It actually, I didn’t realize it, but it was deterring me to make use of it because I realized I had this pressure that I had to make each sheet each page look a certain way. So I wouldn’t get around to doing it, because it would just be so overwhelming. And it wouldn’t look how I wanted it to. But once I realized that I was kind of operating under that false sense of pressure for myself, I let that go. And I really enjoyed bullet journaling for years,

specifically creating different calendar layouts that worked best for me, because my husband has worked Shipwire since we’ve had kids, so that traditional weekly layout, it’s not very helpful to me in planning my days, especially when the kids weren’t in school and a week to me look like a Wednesday to a Tuesday. So having that layout was just really helpful for my brain to plan things without having to be like, Oh, who’s home this day, and what’s happening. The other thing about bullet journals that kind of drifted me away from them was the upkeep. I mean, after all, I was at home with all three kids. And that felt like a luxury to draft some calendars into a notebook, set up the weekly layouts and all of that. So that was something I found myself doing like, week, after week, like I could only keep up by one week. So it in the long run, it wasn’t really making my life easier. So I started to use paper planners, I planner hopped, trying different planners with different layouts and different features. And of all the planners that I tried, there was about three of them that I preferred the most, I’m going to link those ones in the show notes. And these ones in particular, were ones that I would use the entire year. So I wasn’t like switching halfway through the year. And they were ones that I bought, again into the next year, which I think says a lot when you’re a planner hopping around. One thing I think, though, from doing the bullet journaling that helped me pick a planner was the ability to try different types of layouts. So if you think you want to get into planning, but you’re not really sure you don’t want to commit the dollar bills to a planner is try just get some paper and just try different weekly layouts for about a month and see what helps you what helps you plan your day, what what do you like to visually lay out? How do you like to look at it? So I would take what I learned about myself in the layout that I like, and apply that into my planner search, because planners can be overwhelming. There’s like just countless types. It’s like standing in the drugstore and looking at all of the face washes and be like, I don’t know, what kind of face wash I need. Alright, so I also will say with planners that some years you want more structure in detail, and some years you want less. So it’s okay to try new things that that was my approach to planners, that was my experience with planners. But I don’t use a planner as much now. I do I just do still use one. But now I mostly rely on the Google Calendar to manage my schedule. And you might have heard me talk about this in the past episode I shared about it before and even my friends were like, Yes, stop talking about the Google Calendar. But the Google Calendar is like my personal assistant. I just love the Google Calendar. And if you are using the iPhone calendar, and you’re like, Oh, it’s great, no, Google Calendar is better. You can zoom in, you can zoom out, you can look at different views, different layouts, the iPhone calendar is just so limited. For all of their amazing technology, they just can’t make a planner that really kills it, you know? Alright, so my husband has the Google Calendar app on his phone, I have it on my phone, our calendars, talk to one another. I color code things I color code, work the kids stuff, appointments, because why not. It’s just another way to visually check your day really quick. I also set reminders for so many different things. And with most planning, calendar apps on the phone, you can go and set reminders for different intervals. So if you’re like, I want to remind myself a day ahead that I have this thing tomorrow. And then I want to remind myself an hour before like go send, go set multiple reminders. That’s the beauty of it. Really, I think the biggest benefit, though, is how it’s synced. It just it’s like a living document that we’re both updating. So if Connors Out and About for the day, or if I’m out and about for the day, we can just look at the Google Calendar and we can know who has what plans without it being this big back and forth and checking in with one another. We just have like the same like it leaves in the Google Calendar. It’s there and I just love having it on the go like I haven’t on my phone. I add things into it all the time as I think of them, even if it’s an important reminder, sometimes I put important reminders in my phone in my Google Calendar and I have it pop up like it’s so and so’s birthday or go and buy the thing you need to do the thing the next day. It’s and it’s really helpful for me in this job where I have clients booking sessions all the time and that has its own color code.

So I don’t get double booked. Alright, so I love the Google Calendar. I hope you love it. There’s so many, I think YouTube videos on the Google Calendar, and how to use it if you want to really nerd out about it. But I still use the paper, I really love to write things down in a notebook. And right now I’m using a weekly planner, but I found myself just using it as a notebook more often that I’m by myself relying on the Google Calendar. So I’ve got a blank notebook, it’s got more space for ideas, and notes and reminders, which is what I find myself writing down often. So how I use these tools, here’s a quick rundown of how I use these tools, the Google Calendar, alright, it has everyone’s schedule in it, like all three kids, me and Connor and the cap, joke about the cap, things are color coded. And I also have a widget on the home screen of my phone, which is so handy because it’s a little bit larger. So it shows what’s next in my day. And it’s just always there, I can just quickly check it out. Like all that’s next I got it, you know, prep for that this is making my life sound a lot more high level, maybe high.

I don’t know highly scheduled than it actually is because my life is a series of routines that I just know are going to happen. Like I know what happens on Mondays and Tuesdays. So it sounds like I live a really well planned and intense life, but I don’t. So my strategy in using the Google Calendar is to put what is happening, I put what’s happening like work or dentist appointment or counseling or coaching session, I don’t put specifics, it’s not my to do list. It’s not my errands or my tasks unless I put an errand or task in if I know I’m going to be in like in town. And then if I’m going to be in town dropping kids off, then I’ll put in a reminder, go pick up paint or something like that. I’m gonna tell you about my to do list in a sec, though, I wanted to say just a second more, a little bit more about the calendar. A calendar is only good for you if you use it. And so make it easy to use it some ways that I use it is having that widget on the phone that I can check I reviewed in the morning, so it’s just bookmarked on my computer, I can check it in the morning. I also copy it out onto the calendar on my fridge. So it’s there. Also in hardcopy, and I don’t know why I could not live without a fridge calendar, like we’re renovating the kitchen. And I don’t want anything on my fridge. So I’m looking for the most pretty calendar I can find and really small. So I can still have a fridge calendar, and everyone can see it, the kids can look at it and they know what’s happening. And then another way we make sure we’re using our calendar is Connor and I go over the calendar together. And we used to have weekly calendar meetings when the kids were a lot younger. And we had to really balance out who was using what time, I’ll link a post on that in the show notes. But over the years, it’s become more of a situation where we’re just like sitting on the couch, or we’re like sitting at the dining room table. And something is like oh, what’s happening this week, and we’ll open up the Google Calendar, we’ll just run through it together. It’s a lot more informal. But I find that we are often looking at it together just to kind of get on the same page about how the week is going to flow. All right, so my to do list. So we’ve got the calendar, we know what is happening, like the chunks of time. The To Do List is like how am I what am I going to do in that time. So if I’m traveling around in again, my life is not that exciting. But you know, I’m going to the city for some appointments or something. I use the Notes app for everything. I will put packing lists in it, I’ll put shopping lists in it. It’s also where I keep a list of gift ideas. And especially for shopping lists, the Notes app is really helpful because then you can share it. So if we’re doing a big Costco run or Connors going shopping for some stuff for us at Costco, I will make a big notes list in the Notes app and then share it with him. If I’m at home my to do list it lives in my notebook, my planner, and you’ve might have heard me talk about brain dumps if you’re an OG reader, because brain dumps I think are one of the best ways to mentally declutter what’s in your head. And a strategy I like for brain dumps is I divide a sheet of paper into two. One side is home stuff and one side is work stuff and I brained up all the things that I know I need to do, maybe I’ll look at the calendar to like I need to prep for this or prep for that. And now this is my to do list and I’m gonna keep it handy for myself. And this relates to a question I did get on how I keep myself on track. I think one big thing is just keeping that list handy. It kind of follows me around the house into my office into the kitchen. And it’s just there the book is open and I can just refer to it. I also try to block out time on my calendar for things that I want to make time for. I think this is another way to keep yourself on track is making time for the things that you want to happen. Scheduling it ahead of time and just keeping it in the calendar. Whether it’s like a counseling appointment you want to make sure you go to I have to schedule mine in advance a month in advance so I know it’s there. I have time for it coffee with my friends.

maybe kind of a bigger project that I want to be working on around the house, I put it in there in my calendar in a place, I give it a chunk of time of where it’s going to work. And I know there’s so much more involved in keeping ourselves staying on track. And I think this is where we need to develop the muscles of motivation, focus, determination. These are not skills I had years ago, I have been building them over the years. And I wouldn’t really take the time to do things unless they were easy and exciting. But I have become someone who does the harder and less exciting things routinely as I’ve developed those skills. And I just share that. So you don’t beat yourself up. If you think you’re not motivated enough, focused enough, determined enough, have enough willpower. All of those are skills, we need to develop muscles that we need to strengthen over time. So give yourself time and the ability to practice it. I was also asked about how I handle things if plans change, or how to handle things if plans change if there’s a disruption in the schedule. And I think this is more of a question of how I handle that list. Like how I handle what’s getting done, what’s not getting done. To me, I look at my to do list of the day, my outline of the day as not as should do. But more of a could do. Like I don’t have to do any of these things. And if we’re going to get really super meta about it, everything is it could do. But of course there’s higher priorities and lower priorities. Like the other day I was driving, and I had dropped kids off somewhere and had to go pick them up at a certain time and stores were about to close. And I had three errands that I had to run before the store shut and I had to go pick up my kids. So I’m driving and thinking about the three things. One of them was get gas, and I’m like, it’s pretty important, but I can push it just a little bit. And then the other one was order paint because I’m painting the upstairs with their kitchen, Reno. And then the third one was to go drop a package off for return to the office. So I knew I wasn’t going to have time for all three of these things within the 15 minutes that I actually had. So I had to prioritize that deprioritize on the go. And I’m like a first second. Third, we’re just going to focus on the first day that we get to the second grade. And then the third is probably going to happen tomorrow. And I don’t know, I think it’s from the book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, it talks about the Eisenhower matrix, and it has us divide our tasks into four quadrants being urgent, non urgent, important, not important. And I think that I’ve gotten a tendency to view my tasks as this I practice this a lot, assessing the urgency and importance of things. And I feel pretty confident in how I choose my priorities. I’m okay with some things not getting done at this point in my life. I know this isn’t always how others feel. Maybe it’s the type nine in me. But I think a few things can really help with just prioritizing what you’re actually going to be doing. So the first one is, is knowing what’s important to you, my values guide how I’m going to spend my time, my energy, my money in that moment, when I have to make a decision. Another helpful thing is to not buy into that false sense of urgency, whether it’s generated by others who want you to do something for them, eg your kids, or yourself, like I gotta get this done, I gotta get this done. That’s an sense of urgency that you’re putting on yourself. And the other one is accepting the fact that I must make choices, this is hard for us, because maybe there are some of us who think Yeah, but if I could just find out how to have more energy, more motivation, I could do all of the things like there’s a code, I can crack it, I can find out how to do all of the things. But my reality, what I’m seeing, what I’m experiencing is, we have finite energy, we run out finite amount of time, a finite amount of motivation. And that doesn’t mean we just throw up productivity of the window. But it pushes me into this level of acceptance that I have to make choices, I have to choose, I have to choose what’s the most important, all of this can’t fit into one container of my day. It’s like decluttering your life, the metaphor, it gets deeper. So just a bit more on the to do list is that as I’m brain dumping all of the chores and tasks, and I kind of find myself just sharing like my inner monologue of how I’m planning, I find myself looking at this brain dump of a list. And I am thinking about when I’m going to get it done. Like I’ll do this today. I’ll do this on that next work day. I’m probably gonna do that next week. And I’m kind of sorting out mentally when things will get done. And that can go for chores as well. Chores are so helpful to plan out whether it is looking in the morning around your house and saying, I’m going to fold that laundry out. I’m going to take some meat out for dinner and take out the trash like, I keep that bar low. That feels good. And then I do it I actually do it. Because what’s happened when I’ve made this plan, even if it’s simple, is I’ve turned the chores from being something I do reactively to something I do proactively. So reactive chores are when you walk through the house and you’re like oh, there’s a pile of laundry there. I’m gonna go put it in the wall.

And then you realize there’s some the dryer or bring it upstairs, then you get upstairs and you’re like the the gross in here, I got to vacuum it before I try and fold this laundry here. And then a kid calls you and now you’re making snacks in the kitchen. And the whole day just feels reactive, like you’re putting out fires, it is an emotional experience, operating from stress, isn’t it. And over time, I know I did, I developed the perception that there’s never enough time, everything’s a burden. Everything’s out of control, just putting out fires, versus proactive chores, whether it is saying today, I’m gonna vacuum and bring up the laundry, or Mondays or laundry day, Saturdays or bathroom days. And both of these are ways to be more proactive. And the whole reason of thinking ahead of time, what I’m going to get done is that you feel more in control of your space and your time and your energy, it’s not in control of you, now, you have a cent less urgency that you’re buying into less panic, it changes the whole emotional experience of your day of your life. And it shifts your perception into like, Oh, I’ve got a bit of a system, it doesn’t have to be perfect, right? Like, you’ll see some things that come up that oh, I need to take that box to the thrift store or someone will call you something, things will come up. But just give yourself one or two things a day that you can be proactive about, even if you’re just in the morning, looking around your house, I’m gonna do that I’m gonna do that. Make that commitment to yourself, and you will feel differently about that chore. Another part of the question about how to handle disruptions and not writing off the day is a failure was the other parts of the question. And that deserves another answer. Because all or nothing thinking is what’s happening here. And I would recommend exploring that all or nothing thinking so that all or nothing thinking looks like if I didn’t get 100%, I failed. If I can’t go to the gym for an hour and a half, I won’t even bother or I blew the budget by $100. So whatever the whole budgets out the window, whenever you find yourself living with these kinds of rules, also called cognitive distortions. Some self inquiry can really help you get to know this aspect of yourself and get to know it, asking yourself questions like, how do you measure success in a day? Where did you learn that measurement from? Most of us learn it from what we grew up with? What do you expect out of yourself when your day is disrupted? What do you make it mean about you when your day isn’t 100%? What it should have been? How does this expectation impact your life? I think we can free up a lot of rules around how we think we shouldn’t be living in start to think about the ways we want to approach the day. And it sounds like in this question, you want to give yourself a bit more grace, you also want to acknowledge the progress that you’ve made instead of ending it all in a state of defeat. And now that’s your emotional experience of the day. So practice acknowledging the progress, practice letting go of the expectations that things have to be 100%. Just let yourself breathe for a minute. And I think just talking about planning, we also need to talk a little bit about planning food. Because this is a big task on our list. That’s almost every day. And I personally I didn’t plan anything until the head gets. But go on Pinterest, go find the countless ways that you can plan your meals, a monthly plan, a weekly planet template, even if you just spend a second in the morning, look in your cupboards and decide this is what I have. This is what I’m going to blackbox challenge for myself today or run to the store. That’s still a form planning start there. And I was asked to share about after school routines, which is where the idea of food came from. Because we’re also planning for the times of day when people will be hungry. It’s good to plan for right. So what works for your family. Do you want to have snacks right after school and a big dinner later? Do you want to eat dinner early? Like what what’s going to work for you? I know for us, we’re going through this right now we have something happening every day, every afternoon, every weekday. And so I have just found myself guiding the kids into the kitchen and having them make their own snacks. And some kids eat a little some kids eat a lot like the oldest who’s 11 eating the equivalent of a second lunch, but I like them to take care of that for themselves. There is an odd day though, where I will prep snacks for them. And I’ll lay them out on this big platter, put them on the table. It sounds like I’m doting on them. And I hope they think that but really, it helps me control which snacks are being eaten in the house. So they don’t eat all the school snacks when they get home. And I can just say here’s what’s what I would say yes to here’s everything you can eat. And then if you don’t like it have a carrot. So those are kind of my main approaches to planning. I think the conversation is really interesting. And if you do have more questions about it, I would love to hear them. You can share them with me on Instagram at simple on purpose.ca or in the Simplon purpose Facebook group if you’re a part of that. And if you are part of that group, I encourage you to post your questions your before and afters, your struggles, your tips, your ideas, your insights, your thoughts on the episodes. That group is there for you to have a community so make sure you’re using it. I do want to wrap up and say that I think planning well. comes down to a few

Everything’s getting good at prioritizing one of them. Learning how to self motivate, and growing the skill of showing up for yourself. We are really good at showing up for others, but we struggled to do it for ourselves. I know maybe when you’re listening to these thoughts and strategies on planning, you think Yeah, but I never follow the plan. And that’s the skill to develop is showing up for yourself putting something on your calendar and following through with it. I have an episode on that too. In fact, go check out the show notes for all of the links. I’m gonna put a lot of links in there that relate to planning the freedom you can gain from planning your day. Procrastination Tips To Do List overwhelmed so stop by the show notes. If you can’t find them in your podcast player, head on over to someone purpose.ca Click listen, you will find them all there. Alright friends, have a great week.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai



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