Week by week

I called my first time management book 168 Hours (have you read it??). That’s the number of hours in a week. All these years later, I have come to believe — anew — that “weekly” is the right lens through which to view time.

Life is good but challenging right now. The baby has responded to his sleep-training-enforced earlier bedtime by popping up in the middle of the night and staying up, often for an hour or more. (Last night he woke up only once in the middle of the night, but he fought going down in the evening for…3 hours). I am managing the older children’s virtual schooling. Everyone’s activities have started back up — for which I am profoundly grateful — but this means navigating a schedule of practices and driving (looking to hire some help there, but that’s a process too).

I keep wanting to create a master schedule: a spreadsheet I could consult that would say exactly what goes where for the next few months. I would get ahead on all my work projects. I would get ahead on some exciting personal projects (more on that later!!) But baseball games (3 each weekend) shift around. One-off things come into the schedule. Each day I look up and it’s almost 3:00 p.m. and the kindergartner needs to come home.

Now, I know that some people advise taking life day by day. In truly rough circumstances that might be wise. Outside pure survival mode, though, (and I’m no where near that, thankfully) day by day has some inherent issues. For instance, I prioritize running in my life, and currently I’m running about four times per week. That’s not bad, but if I looked at life day by day, I’d feel, on approximately half of my days, like I hadn’t done this thing that was important to me. The 168-hour perspective is more holistic.

So I am taking it week by week. I don’t have to figure out the schedule for forever. I will figure it out for next week, scheduling what needs to happen, and trusting that I will be planning again in another week. I will figure out each future week as it comes. Sure, the anxious part of my brain can see that next week will be a 3-day workweek for me, and it starts nudging me that I need to work farther ahead but…if I have to do everything in 3 days some week I will. If I do what I set out to do this week, I’ll start the next week better than if I drop the ball.

Do you plan a week at a time?

Photo: Fall! Let’s do this! 

10 thoughts on “Week by week

  1. I do try to look at each full week as it comes because while some activities happen regularly week after week, other events pop up only once in a while (like a doctor’s appointment). Also, by knowing what is already scheduled for the week, I can look for the empty time slots that can be filled with family fun or just some relaxation.
    I’m trying to get my whole family in the habit of talking about the week ahead during Sunday dinner. I’ll ask if they know of any activities coming up during the week like student council meetings or scout gatherings. I ask my middle school son to check his planner in hopes that will become a habit for him. With the kids getting older, I want them to learn to be responsible enough to stay on top of their schedules and to make sure we (the parents) know what they have going on since we’re still the ones driving them to all of those events!

  2. A week at a time is making sense for me right now too. My work schedule tends to fill up 2-3 weeks out, so generally by the week before, my schedule is fairly set and I can make arrangements as needed for everyone else in the family. 168 Hours is still the go-to book of yours that I recommend for time management!

  3. I think I do plan week by week without realizing that I do. Sure, plenty of work and personal things are scheduled much farther in advance, but in terms of action steps and details, the weeks are where things get done. I also think settling into a week-by-week mentality works better for me mentally. Your concepts of evaluating how we spend our time in 168 have helped me not whine if I don’t get to do what “I want” in a given 24 hours. The week-long view also helps mitigate perfectionism. We don’t have to eat perfectly every meal, but if we sit down enough as a family and if enough vegetables and fruits are digested it’s a win.

  4. Read and loved 168 hours! It really shifted my perspective from day to week. I look at things more holistically and that helps changing the narrative. Not every day is good but most weeks are overall fine. I also changed a bit my planning. Instead of cramming every minute with something “to do”, I would look at the overall balance of the week and if I did not get enough e.g. personal time, well then that’s what is going to be prioritised over the weekend. So much into weeks perspective that I am switching to an Hobonichi Weeks planner for 2021 😉

  5. hey Laura, sounds like your baby might have a “split night” issue, if he wakes up in the middle of night and is wide awake (and won’t sleep no matter what you do, rocking, nursing, etc)

    here’s a blog post on how to fix it: https://www.babysleepscience.com/single-post/2014/09/09/The-%E2%80%9CSplit%E2%80%9D-Night-Why-some-babies-are-awake-for-hours-in-the-middle-of-the-night-and-how-to-change-it

    My LO experienced this. It’s basically because he went to bed too early and not capable of sleeping the entire nights…so we started to push back bedtime and control how many hours he sleep at night (because he gets too much daytime naps..) I did a lot of research on this so wanna share…

    1. @Liv- sorry for the slowness in approving the comment! The split night makes intuitive sense. There’s only so long anyone can sleep. We aren’t exactly putting him down “early” (it’s around 7:30 p.m.) but if he is a lower sleep needs kid — as he very well may be — then he just may be done for the night at 4:30 sometimes.

  6. I think a week is about right for these times! I’ve heard this a few places- The Mom Hour and Gretchen Rubin both touched on this in different ways. I am normally a quarterly/monthly/weekly planner but it just doesn’t work. I do try to spend some special time planning weekends. Currently agonizing. Some days are just too draining to get deep into daily planning, too. About a week is just right- enough to inspire thought but not so much to be overwhelming.

  7. I definitely agree the week is the right amount of time for an actual plan. I set goals for the month, but it’s the time during the week that actually move me toward accomplishing the goals. For me, I tend to to use an hour or so on Sunday to plan for the week – I plan meals, I look for overlaps in meeting schedules and resolve those, and I work in time to work toward my goals. Sometimes the goals are around the house (like cleaning a closet) and other times they are a focused work project. If I try to go for more than a week, I get overwhelmed. Going daily doesn’t work for me either – I get more distracted and tend to put too much on a list for the day.

  8. Yes, I’ve read “168 Hours,” and I started planning a whole week at a time, based on your advice. I agree with you that it’s a solid approach, and a whole lot easier to see the “balance” of “work/life balance,” when thinking 168, not 24, which was a huge (and helpful!) mindset shift for me.

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