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It’s hard enough to plan a week as a Virtual Assistant, since most of my clients send me jobs as needed and some weeks there’s a LOT to do – but add in three kids with busy schedules, homeschool, and the everyday needs of my family and it can feel like trying to tame a wild mustang. But take heart! I’ve (finally) developed a system that lets me plan my whole week, including work, and helps me stay on top of it all, with my family in focus!
Planning Starts Sunday Night with a Look Back
I rarely, rarely work on Sundays. We have church all day and I think it’s an important boundary for me to not be available this one day a week. But, I do PLAN on Sundays because it sets the tone for the rest of the week.
Sunday evenings I sit down with my planner and I start with a little reflection.
I look at what went well and write down things I want to remember and things I’m grateful for. Consistently, focusing on gratitude and happy memories puts my heart and mind in a good place before I tackle the next week.
Plus, I take a little inventory of what didn’t go so well. This practice has been so encouraging – the next time I have a similar struggle I can look back and recall that I did find a way to move past it, which gives me hope for the struggle I’m in!
Goal check-up is next. I set goals last January for myself, my home, my family, my job, and my faith, and here I make sure I’m staying on track. Every time I’m discouraged that I’m not making progress on my goals, I look back to see that actually, I am, one baby step at a time.
Then, I work through the top things I need to do in work and in life the next week, plus appointments, meetings, people I need to contact, etc. This gives me a good idea of how many extra things I have this week and how many work hours I’m going to need to find. I try to remind myself that if I only get these 3 things done, I’ve accomplished what’s most important because some weeks it doesn’t feel like I’m able to get done all the things I think I need to do.
This part of planning also helps me determine my Yes and No answers moving forward. If I have 3 huge projects on my plate, I’m not going to say yes to any more work; or, if I have a hard time filling in those top 3 tasks, I know I can comfortably take on extra work this week.
At this point, my pre-planning is done and I can move on!
(I’ve used the Brilliant Life Planner for the past 2 years and I’d be lost without it! It’s more than day planner – it’s a journal, goal-setting system, a game-changer for my productivity. If you’re interested, it’s on sale now during pre-orders.)
Taking in the Week as a Whole
Next up, I try to give myself an overview of the week, starting with appointments, meetings, or activities I know we’ve put on the calendar.
I also plug in some systems I’ve developed, that I use every single week to stay on track.
- School Goals this week (these will be what lesson we need to reach in each subject by Friday)
- Work Goals this week (Streamlined systems, progress to make on a big project, hours to hit)
- Home Goals this week (areas I want to deep clean or declutter, projects that need doing)
- Juliana’s Assignments (so I know what I need to grade)
Next, because homeschooling my daughter is among my top priorities, I plan out her school hours in blocks of time. I don’t always use stickers, but I LOVE how these make it easy for me to see what we’ve got going on at a glance. I spend about 3 hours a day teaching, and then I need to have some “white space” available in the afternoon to help my older kids with homework as well.
From there, I mark out work hours. Because I’ve already prioritized what my kids have going, I can feel super confident that my work hours aren’t interfering with my time with them. This is what I love most about VA work – it can get done when it’s best for my family!
As far as Sunday planning goes – that’s it! I don’t fill in what we’re going to do for school or what I’m going to do for work. I’ve got my top 3 tasks laid out, and I can fill in my goals Monday morning, and from there, each day I’ll assess what’s most pressing and fill in some specifics. Sometimes it’s work that needs to be done now, and sometimes it’s the next step in a bigger project I’ve got going on.
Mapping out the Details to Meet Goals
In terms of homeschool, I record what we do each day, keeping an eye on the goals on the left. Once we hit a goal (such as finish Algebra lesson 15), I cross it off. That means we can read extra pages in science if it’s clicking on Monday, and do two lessons of math on Tuesday if we want. As long as we’re hitting all the goals by Friday, we’re good!
The same goes for work – the first time I open my email each day, whether that’s early in the morning or at the start of my work hours, I plug in my tasks, estimating how long they’ll each take, in order of importance. My work goals are often centered on learning new things or streamlining, so I meet them by putting new ideas into practice and taking time to study and improve.
And that’s it! 20-30 minutes on a Sunday night puts my heart in the right place and gives me a great start for Monday morning. I do school and work with my planner open on the table and I do my best to keep to the schedule I’ve set for the day.
Family first. Work in its place. Time for everything. Flexible days and weeks. That’s my plan!
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