Time management is a tricky thing. Mostly, because there are so many different opinions and methods to making the most of your time. Over the years, I’ve read a lot of books on productivity and time management – what I’ve learned is that some things work really well and others only work well in certain scenarios. What you are left with is a mishmash of the good, bad, and mediocre. 

One of the most important places to start in getting organized is to plan out your ideal week. This will help you understand how you've been spending your time, and how you would rather spend your time going forward. Keep in mind, this is the “Ideal Week”; that doesn’t mean that you will follow this plan perfectly every week or even that you should – that isn’t the purpose of this exercise. Rather, this is meant to be a goal to work towards every week. The ideal week is important because we often won’t make progress until we physically write down our goals.

There are several ways you can plan your ideal week: printing out some blank calendar sheets and sitting down with different colored pens, writing everything out manually; using the template provided on JacinthaPayne.com to build out your ideal week; or creating your own method that works best for you. The most important thing is to find a way to create a template for your week that is easy to read, adjust, and access throughout the week – and of course it should also be fun.


First, think about any recurring weekly commitment you have. This could be your job, community group, game nights, school, etc. It’s helpful to plug all of these commitments in first, as it will allow you to see how much time is being used, and any remaining pockets of time you have left. Depending on where you are in your year, this may be a good time to walk through your commitments and consider whether there are things that you want to add or remove from your plate.


Second, it’s important for you to allow time to prepare and plan for your day. This looks different for different people. For example, I like to look at my Day-Designer before I go to bed at night and get a glimpse at what the next day holds. This allows me to relax and turn my mind off before bed and allows me to start my morning with some reading. However, my husband enjoys getting up at 5:00 AM and starting his day early going over his work tasks and daily planning. It doesn’t matter when you plan your day, the important thing is to make sure to build time into your day where you are thinking about the things that need to get done and finding the pockets of time in the coming day, week, months, to actually get it done.


Third, plug in all of the things that you want to get done on a weekly basis – whether this is grocery shopping, going to the gym, nightly walks, date nights, antiquing on Saturday -  whatever it is! The purpose here is to try and see if there is room to fit in all of the things that you want to get done. If you are unable to get everything in, then you can have a more important conversation about priorities and commitments. Even if that’s the case, the ideal week exercise is doing what it is supposed to do – get you thinking about what you are currently doing and what you want to be doing, and then concluding whether or not you are able to get it all done with the time you have.


Finally, you’ll want to make sure you’re building free chunks of time into your week for margin and recharging. Life is full of the unexpected, so you’ll need some pockets of free time that allow margin to get things done. There will be times when this free space will not be enough to compensate for the things that come up. However, it’s still important to schedule this time; you’ll be thankful for it. It’s also necessary to have this scheduled time to allow moments of recharging and resting. Life is hard and takes it’s toll – make sure you’re resting.

After you’ve filled out your ideal week, begin working towards full implementation of that week as soon as possible. Be prepared, you will 100% experience setbacks in regard to your schedule. This is okay! The ideal week is a goal to be achieved and for many, writing out an ideal week is a significant improvement from where you have been.

As you begin using your ideal week template, you’ll notice things that need to be adjusted. Feel the freedom to make adjustments to your schedule as you need to. Always keep in mind that this schedule is meant to help guide you, not be a burden.

Here is an example of how I filled out my ideal week. You don't have to fill yours out as thoroughly as this mine, but it can be helpful.

Here is an example of how I filled out my ideal week. You don't have to fill yours out as thoroughly as this mine, but it can be helpful.

I have launched a free eBook and downloadable resources on time management. If you are interested in learning more about time management or getting your hands on some of the other free resources (including the ideal week template) you can download them on the Getting Things Organized page.

I would love to hear some of your best practices for managing your time and productivity. Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments below.


|  Credits: Author - Jacintha Payne; Photography - Ali Marsh  |