I recently bought a new planner, a beautiful red soft leather cover Moleskine eighteen months planner, starting from July 1, 2020.
When I was single, I loved to get a new planner at the beginning of each year and filled it with many to-do lists, work notes, or inspirations. Because rhythm and weekly structure were already set there for my work, my planner served more like a task reminder.
Then I got married and became a full-time mom. My planner was replaced by the calendar app on my phone to track my baby’s sleeping-feeding cycles. In my sleep-deprived fogginess, I barely had any time or energy to do anything else. But that was ok. It was for a season.
Now I’m a mom with a toddler and seven months old girl. I could sleep more than six hours a night for most nights, and no longer feel foggy all the time. Thankfully, my husband’s flexible working schedule and support allow me to carve out more time to write and do the things I love. But if I want to work on writing, housekeeping, cooking healthy meals, playing with my kids in the park, and taking care of my well-being, I desperately need to learn to plan my days better.
After praying about this subject, some researching, practicing, and reflecting, here is what I’ve learned about daily planning.
Know Your “Why“
We don’t have full control of life, and we don’t know precisely how tomorrow will look like. However, we do have a certain level of control over our days through planning. Unless some unexpected things happen, we can stick to the plan and go through a day with some degree of certainty. We won’t let others’ opinions or needs dominate us. We won’t say more “yes” than what we could deliver. Our plan is our boundary.
If I want to “make the best use of time” (Ephesians 5:16), I need to plan. At the end of each month, I will look at the next month, markdown some fixed dates. At the weekend, I will plan my next week—- all the meals, family activities, work and self-care time, playdates, etc. At the end of each day or early in the morning, I will look at the day ahead. Personally, daily planning is my favorite.
Making a daily plan is similar to making a budget. Creating a budget is to make sure that every dollar we spend has a purpose. Making a daily plan is to make sure every minute and hour we spend was for a purpose ( get the “why” clear). It is a practical way to steward the 24 hours God gives to us each day so that we could lie on the bed at the end of the day, assuredly knowing no time wasted.
Know Your Priorities of the Day
To me, making a daily plan is more than making a daily to-do list. Though I’d love to start my day by spending time with God in prayer and scriptures the first thing in the morning, with two young children these days, it doesn’t happen as often as I’d like. Most days, I would go to the bedroom for my quiet time after breakfast, when my husband’s watching the kids. I make it a daily priority. For each day is given by God, and I intend to use it for His glory. Therefore, I need to know what He is saying to me on that day. I would write it down on a section of my daily planner and meditate on it as I go about the day.
Then I would write down no more than five other priorities for the day. My goal is to get these priorities done. They could be as simple as cooking dinner, folding the laundry, listening to a particular podcast, bathing, exercising, or writing a blog post. Once I catch my priorities, I consider anything else I get done a bonus. 🙂
Trust God When the Day Takes a Detour
The other day, we planned to go to a particular beach by the lake for the afternoon as a family. When we arrived, we found it was too crowded with people, and hardly any shade left. We had to change the plan and make a detour. It happens to all of us, doesn’t it?
I don’t get it right every time, but on that day, I refused to let my feeling of disappointment steal my joy. Instead, I decided to make the best of the process. My husband and I had some pleasant conversations during the ride to another beach site. The kids took a good nap and enjoyed their music in the car.
Pleasantly surprised, we ended up meeting some good friends at another beach. Our kids had the best time playing together with theirs by the lake. My husband and I enjoyed catching up with friends face to face after months’ social distancing. It was surely a winning day, so much better than what we had initially planned. God knows better. He always has our best interest in mind and eager to bless us.
The bottom-line of planning our days is to practice faithfulness minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day. I hope this will help you to live your days to its fullest with more intentionality.
What have you learned about planning? Please share them by leaving a comment below! 🙂