For those of you who wear many hats in your life, including parent, spouse, employee, personal chef, laundry attendant (among many others), the work week can feel like a whirl-wind of stress! We often find ourselves with to much to do and not enough time to do it. However, there are several ways that we can improve the flow of our week-days and minimize the stress that we bring upon ourselves.
Whether you are a work from home professional, stay at home parent or a full-time working professional / parent, here are 10 Steps that you can incorporate into your weekly routine.
1. Meal Plan: Plan out lunches and family dinners for the upcoming week ahead of time and grocery shop according to those meals. This will eliminate the wasted time you spend looking in your fridge and pantry, trying to determine what you can piece-meal together and will also make your grocery trips more efficient and affordable. My shopping day is typically Monday or Tuesday morning (I find the store to be less crowded on these days) and my meal planning day is Sunday. Within a given week, I typically plan 4 meals for Monday-Friday, (leaving 1 night for leftovers – usually Tuesday, which is trash night) and 1 meal for the weekend (leaving another night for ordering in or dining out).
2. Prep the Night Before: For many, the morning grind is often the most stressful part of the day, consisting of rushing around trying to get yourself ready, the kids ready, everyone fed and out the door on-time. However, you can minimize a lot of the morning craziness simply by preparing the night before. Pick out your outfit / the kids outfits prior to going to bed. Make lunches at night and label them in the refrigerator by person. Set out non-perishable breakfast items, such a coffee, sweetener and cereal, so that everyone can help themselves quickly and efficiently in the morning. Set your coffee maker to brew automatically, so that it is ready when you are. Bottom line, if it can be done ahead of time, do it! This will alleviate a lot headaches in the morning and may even let you hit the snooze button one addition time!
3. Make a Family Calendar: Outline your weekly activities by day and time and share this list with your spouse and family. This will keep everyone on the same page and will prevent stressful scheduling conflicts. In addition, this will highlight free time within your work week that can be spent on yourself and with your family and friends.
4. Assign Roles: Within a household everyone should have a role and work together to get the necessary tasks done. Assigning roles for simple things, such as taking out the trash, preparing meals and lunches, setting the table, etc. will divide up that weekly to-do list and will allow you to focus on other things.
5. Stick to a Routine: I am a firm believer in the old phrase, “consistency is key”. When it comes to the work week, outlining and reinforcing a family routine will significantly assist in the goal of task management and more importantly, stress management. Determine a daily routine, consisting of a set wake up times, meal times, work / household chore times, exercise time and especially, free time. In addition, designate days or nights of the week for certain things, such as doing one load of laundry, cleaning one area of the home or even simply, cleaning out the fridge by having a leftover dinner night. Doing so will not only enhance productivity but will also minimize surprises, a large contributor of stress.
6. Use the Drive: Many of us spend a significant amount of time in the car within a given week, from commuting to work, running errands and shuffling the kids back and forth. While this time in the car for most may seem to be an inconvenience, it doesn’t have to be. Use this time for you; whatever that means. Use the car ride to decompress by listening to music or a book. Or instead, turn off the music and use this time to think and plan. I know when I was formerly commuting 45 minutes to and from work every day, I would use the morning drive as a time to plan out my work day, outlining the first tasks that I was going to complete once at the office. Some days, I would even use this time to practice sales presentations before meeting with co-workers or customers.
7. Prioritize “to do” Lists Daily: Whether you are at the office or home with the kids, make lists of things that you either need or want to accomplish in that day and rank these items in order of priority.
8. Enjoy Family Time: Despite hectic schedules within a given week, it is so important to make time DAILY for your family. Family dinner each night is a fantastic way to all come together, unwind and share your thoughts and experiences from that day. It is all too easy to get caught up in individual commitments and to each run in what feels like a million different directions, but reinforcing that quality time together will immensely benefit the stress level of both you and your family.
9. Take Time for Yourself: Just as taking time for the family is important, as is taking time for yourself. Everyone needs and deserves some personal time, regardless of how hard it is to find. As a mom who is home with her son all day, I often felt as though I NEVER had a minute to myself. However, I started this blog as something that is exclusively mine and a perfect use of my “me” time. Other people may find that reading a book, taking a drive, or even going out for a coffee, is the ticket for them.
10. Sleep: Sleep may be number 10 on this list, but it is just as important, if not even more so, than many of the other “Steps” outlined within this post. Sleep is such a crucial component of our lives. Without adequate sleep, we will find ourselves feeling overworked, run-down and more prone to anxiety and stress. Not every person requires the same amount of sleep within a given day, however it is recommended that the average adult receives between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night.
Thank you for reading and as always, feel free to comment below with any questions or feedback or to contact me directly!