How To Plan Ahead And Get Better At Using Your Time

First, let me say that I think planning ahead is great. You should not be riding along by the seat of your paints hoping everything will fall into place. BUT I want to help you learn how to manage your time well by planning ahead with INTENTION. Its really easy to feel like if we plan it that is the way everything should go but the truth is that’s not how life works.

We need to be laying out the big picture life goals so we know where we are going but also leave room for things to change.

Planning ahead intro image

Here’s the clincher that is REALLY HARD for people who love planning…. We have to be ok if it does. 😨

There are things that will happen six months from now that you have no way of knowing will happen. Both good and bad things can come along and will change your goals, make you take a different path to reach your goals or cause you to not want the same things in six months.

There could also be something that comes along that will speed the process and help you reach your goals even faster which would be awesome.

Plans change but they also give us the power to adapt and make decisions quickly. So let’s figure out how you can start planning ahead by creating your long-term vision and your short-term plan that gets you to your goal. Which will enable you to use to your time better and more intentionally.

Planning Ahead Meaning

Planning ahead: To think about the future or plan for the future.

(Merriam-Webster) Planning: The act or process of making or carrying out plans

Synonyms and similar words according to Webster: Preparing, Designing, Organizing, Arranging, Plotting.

After reading all of the information above what does that tell you? It tells you that you have to be intentional if you want to get better with your time. You have to not only take action on the things you want but you have to do it in a particular order.

You may not always get the order just right but you can definitely do your best to set a clear path to take the next steps towards your goals or get things done in a day.

Are you ready to make a change in how you do things in life? Because nothing happens by accident. You have to happen to life instead of letting it happen to you.

large clock on a brick wall to help keep track of time while planning ahead

How Planning Ahead Helps You

Planning ahead might seem restricting to some people but it will help prepare you so you can respond to what comes. Not react to it. If something goes off the rails and changes your plan, you are able to look and see where you stand with your work, home, or business. Then decide what is most important with the time you have left.

Planning ahead will help you:

  • Keep from getting overwhelmed.
  • Help you see when you should say no to things if you have a busy week. — I don’t like to back out of things once I have already committed. It’s rude and will damage your reputation both in person and in business.
  • It will give you peace of mind.
  • It will free up your time.
  • You can get things done faster.

How to start planning ahead

Planning ahead literally starts in your mind. You don’t need a single thing to start planning ahead.

You can start by doing these simple tasks that will help give you clarity and even make your life more peaceful.

  • Write a list of things you want to get done this week. Then take that list and assign 3 tasks to each day of the week from that list.
  • Make a shopping list.
  • Meal planning.

Planning Ahead Action Example

  1. If you are leaving a room in your house and you are going to pass by the drawer that is where the tool is sitting right next to you is supposed to go you take that tool with you as you go and put it away.
  2. If you are going out to do feeding can you bring the chicken feed with you when you go to feed the goats instead of going right back to the same spot to get the chicken feed?

Planning ahead is literally doing things that will save you time or mental peace in the future.

Clock in the center on a wood table with a cup of coffee and a french press in the background.

Tools To Help You Plan Ahead

When it comes to your time and knowing what needs to be done next you need to have ONE place where you put everything you do or need to know. It could be google calender, a paper planner, or even a digital tool like trello.

You need to pause and think which tools you use the most right now and which ones you can easily create the habit of using. Because if you have to force yourself to use that tool you won’t stick to the system.

  • Trello or Asana – For a digital idea bank or digital to-do list if you think better digitally.
  • Google calendar
  • Paper planners.


Daily Planner Undated, To Do List Notebook with Hourly Schedule

Blue Sky Day Designer for 2023-2024 – Has a daily page with hours marked.

Clever Fox Daily Planner – Daily planning and habit tracker.

Simply by Happy Planner, Weekly Monthly Planner, Dreamy Watercolors, 9″ x 10″, July 2023-June 2024 – Get At Walmart

Pilot Frixion Clicker Erasable Gel Pens, Fine Point, Black Ink, 3 Pk (These are THE BEST erasable pens I have ever used. ** Let the ink dry completely before erasing and you won’t get any smearing) Get them at Walmart.

If you are into color coding here are the same erasable pens I use but in color – Pilot FriXion Clicker Erasable Gel Pens, Fine Point (0.7 mm), Assorted Ink, 5 Count – Get At Walmart

My Three Stepp Process

  1. I have an idea bank where I put the tasks and “ideas” I would like to do someday whether that is for the business, our backyard farm, or just life in general.
  2. When I get closer to doing those things I move them to my paper planner for the month or the current week where they will be accomplished.
  3. Then I have a digital planner in Google that I use to put anything that takes my time that I would need to know if I am out in public. — This is so I am able to look and see when I can make appointments or I can see if I am able to do something for others.

If you are not a paper person Google Calendar is a great tool so you can have your dates across all devices. This is helpful when you have multiple people in your family and helps with the coordination with your spouse.

We now have a shared calendar where we can both add things if it involves the other person. Like Church events, a commitment, holiday get-togethers, or when my husband is gone on trips. (I’m not the trip taker)

sage green clock

How To Plan Ahead In Your Calendar

Whether you run an online business, your homestead, or your home. (I never say “just” because we all know running a home is no easy task.)

Everyone has those things they know are going to happen and you can’t change the date. These are your non-negotiables. Things like birthdays, holiday events with family, etc… Start marking those down first. You can’t change them so if you are going to attend or you want to observe those things. That’s when they are. You don’t have a choice.

Here is a list of things that you should consider adding to help you get started.

  • School holidays
  • Birthdays
  • Anniversaries
  • Christmas events
  • Thanksgiving events
  • Days off work
  • Vacations
  • Local Fair 4-H events if your family is involved.
  • FFA
  • School game seasons

Homesteading Seasons

If you are chasing the country lifestyle dream, raising animals, and having a garden, below are some other seasons to think about…

  • Starting seeds
  • Tilling the garden
  • Raising chicks
  • Planting the garden
  • Breeding seasons
  • Best sale times

Dates For Homestead Business Owners

If you run a business or blog there might be launches or affiliate product sales you can not change so you should mark those down as well. I still write down the ones that I might participate in even if I know I won’t do both because they are so close together.

  • Affiliate Sales.
  • National Holidays
  • Fun social holidays to help you plan content. – These are great for injecting yourself into that conversation so other people will find you on those funny national holidays.
  • Launch of your own products.

How far ahead should you plan

I used to plan a year in advance, especially in my business. On the homestead or with livestock you sometimes have to because you need a lot of lead time for breeding and gestation. That is not what I am talking about here. I am going to talk more about referencing goals and daily actions.

Here is how I think you should plan ahead and not waste time in the process.

  • Have your big vision goals that are your life goals.- Keep in mind that you are not going to have all 100 steps to get to those goals laid out in front of you. That’s just impossible.
  • Then you need to have your intentions set for the next 6-12 months. What goals or big tasks will help you reach your dream life goals that you could do this year? Have those listed out by order of importance and by order of possibility of completion.
  • Then for the big goals that you can complete this year you should have a list of tasks that need to happen for each of those big goals or tasks. — This will enable you to choose an appropriate timeline to get them done.
  • Have your current project task that you are going to work on and have that be your focus for the month or the quarter. Take the list of tasks you wrote out for that project and put the next 3 steps that need to be done for that project that can be done this week.
  • Planning the week: now you can choose to assign a task to each day of the week you can fit it in at the beginning of each week. OR you can have your list of tasks for the week and each moring you look at your day and pull the tasks that can be done today over to your todo list for the current day and work on those. — I tend to do it this way because I am often able to get more done than I thought. But this also allows for flexibility if something comes up for the week and I am not disappointed or derailed by moving projects.

Planning Ahead Quotes

I LOVE quotes, here are some good ones to give you some motivation to start planning ahead.

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.

Benjamin Franklin

Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.

Abraham LIncolon

When you are well-prepared with a plan and the right tools you can do anything. Taking the time to be intentional is the key to getting the most important things done in life.

If you don’t know where you are going you’ll end up someplace else.

Yogi Barra

Homesteaders struggle with this one big time. They see all the cute things and think they are building their dream lifestyle but the truth is they are randomly going through life with no clear plan of action. That is not going to get them to the ultimate lifestyle they want.

It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.

Elenor Roosevelt

Always plan ahead. It wasn’t raining wehn Noah built the ark.

Richard Cushing

Setting a goal is not the main thing. It is deciding how you will go about achieving it and staying with the plan.

Tom Landry

Good fortune is what happens when opportunity meets with planning.

Thomas Edison

Before anythying else, preparation is the key to success.

Alexandar Graham Bell

Planning ahead will help you manage your time well, be more present, and be able to shut off work when the time is up. Planning is a fluid process and your plan should be adaptable. Have a plan and your goals but be willing to change the path to get there.

It’s just like going on a trip. You don’t always see the road closures or the detors but you can still get to your destination if you are willing to take the next best road. You don’t just turn around and go home.

Remember that there is no one right way to do things so mix it up to see what is best.

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