January 7, 2016  

How I Organize My Week For Maximum Productivity & Focus

I am always looking for little ways to be more productive, and I bet you are, too. A few months ago, I set out to completely overhaul my weekly schedule in order to maximize my time. Since making this intentional change to my schedule, my productivity has skyrocketed in every area of my life.

Like me, I know you are crazy busy trying to juggle a million different responsibilities. I get it. With a full time job, this blog, a retail business, bills, cleaning, cooking, home improvement projects and trying to squeeze in a little free time, it can get really tough to fit it all in. And I know many of you have kids on top of all that, and I have to say, I’m not sure how you do it!

Today, I’m going to show you how I restructured my weeks and how you can, too. This post is part of the Resolve To Get Organized series where I’m taking a look at all sorts of ways to organize your schedule, to-do lists, house, and life – some of my absolute favorite topics! So, let’s get started, shall we?

What a great way to plan out my week! Great tips for juggling so many responsibilities at once.

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How I Organize My Week For Maximum Productivity

With so many responsibilities to juggle, I was getting overwhelmed. Last fall, I sat myself down and decided I needed to do something differently. I knew I wasn’t giving anything my best effort. And I knew I could do better if I found a different way to organize my time. What I ended up doing was essentially time blocking my entire week by carving out blocks of time for each area of my life.

Assigning tasks to every hour of my day might sound obsessive to some, but it gives me incredible peace of mind to know that I won’t forget about doing anything important. I know I have time set aside to get it all done, so when my busy week rushes by, I already have a plan. Having this specific of a schedule has actually made me feel more free. I’m no longer stressed about forgetting things or trying to decide what to do first, I just follow my calendar. Let’s dive into the specifics, shall we?

Let’s craft your ideal weekly schedule so you, too, can be more productive.

1 | Make a list of the ongoing responsibilities and priorities in your life

Think about the things you need to have time for every single week and make a list of those categories. Also include things that are priorities to you, like family and exercise. Oh, and don’t forget to include sleep and free time! Everyone’s list will look different, but here are the categories I used:

  • Work – 8:00-5:00 job
  • Buffer Time – travel time, quick errands on the way home from work, getting ready, etc.
  • Business – accounting & marketing for my husband and I’s retail business
  • Blog – writing, photography, interacting with readers, completing projects
  • Paperwork – sorting mail, paying bills, budgeting
  • Freelancing / Income Generating – freelance marketing projects and other money-making things like listing stuff on ebay
  • Work Out – specific time for exercising
  • Dinner / Cleaning – cooking supper and cleaning the house
  • David Time – intentional time hanging out with my husband
  • Free Time – socializing, relaxing, crafting, reading, catching up on projects if need be
  • Sleep – aim 7 1/2 to 8 hours each night

2 | Decide how much time you need for each category

There are some things that need to happen every day. Those are things like sleeping, cooking, cleaning, you get the picture. Other things need to happen regularly, but not daily. For example, I decided to put three work outs on my schedule each week.

Many things can be done just once per week. These are the ones you want to assign larger blocks of time to, but less often than you probably do now. For instance, I used to spend my evenings bouncing around between writing for my blog, scheduling social media for our business, and trying to sort through the mail. Honestly, it wasn’t productive. I had too much to do and a humongous list that was way too overwhelming, resulting in me actually accomplishing very little before it was time for bed. Now, each of these categories is assigned to one evening of the week. This is where the magic happens. Let’s keep going.

3 | Assign every category to a slot on your calendar

I swear by Google Calendar for scheduling every bit of my life. It works really well for this step, but if you prefer pen and paper you can certainly use a printed calendar or your planner. If you’re using Google Calendar, open it up on you computer to the week view and create a new calendar. I named mine “Daily Schedule”.

Your goal in this step is to map out time for everything. Start by adding those daily tasks and things that have set times. I added in my job first, then time for cooking / cleaning when we normally eat supper. I decided to work out in the morning, so I added those in, along with some buffer time to get ready for work afterward. This helped me determine my sleep schedule. I wanted to wake up by 6:30, so I needed to go to bed by 10:30. I also added in a little buffer time for getting ready for bed and for waking up.

Once the basic things are in the calendar, you’ll have a good understanding of what time is left for everything else. I really like Google Calendar for this because it’s so easy to drop and drag chunks of time. This is sort of like a puzzle to rearrange the pieces so they fit best. Here’s what my ideal week looks like in Google Calendar right now:

Wow! Check out these tips for setting up your ideal week.

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Working Out :: Mon/Wed/Fri mornings at 6:30
Buffer Time :: Getting ready for work, eating breakfast, driving to work (literally 5 blocks away)
Work :: 8:00-5:00 usually, with an hour for lunch
Buffer Time :: Running quick errands after work, driving home, changing clothes, settling in
Projects :: 5:30-7:30 each night are set aside for projects. Blogging on Mon/Wed, Business on Tues, Freelancing/Income Generating on Thurs, and Free Time on Friday nights
Paperwork :: Sunday evenings
Dinner/Cleaning :: 7:30 – 8:45 most nights, although this gets moved around a lot. I try to tidy up the house as much as I can while cooking dinner. By cleaning a bit every day, I avoid mass amounts of dishes and things to clean up on the weekends.
Free Time / David Time :: What’s left of my evenings and weekends are set aside for time with my husband and time for myself
Buffer Time :: 10:00-10:30 is my time to turn off the TV, tidy things up a bit, and get ready for bed
Sleep: 10:30-6:30 on an ideal day

4 | Categorize your to-do list to match

This step is where you really up your efficiency. I suggest you keep a to-do list for each category you put on your calendar. I keep my to-do list stored in Evernote and I have all of my categories in bold text. Whenever I think of something that needs to get done for my blog, I add it to that section of the list in Evernote. And whenever I take on a new freelancing project, I add all of the associated tasks to that category. You can see a more in-depth look at my to-do list process in this post.

Evernote works great for this because I can access my list from any device, making it easy to type in my thoughts quickly before I forget (which used to happen all too often). Having my list separated by these categories makes it so easy to keep everything straight, and I can quickly see what I need to accomplish in each category.

5 | Roll with the punches

Finally, remember that the schedule you just made is meant to be a road map of your ideal week. Obviously, things will come up. You’ll have an event one night, or an abnormally high amount of things to do in a category one week. It’s okay. All I suggest is that you rearrange your blocks of time as needed.

If a friend asks me to go out to eat after work one night, I usually do. My rule is to try to move the task assigned to that evening to a different day later in the week. This usually means giving up some free time somewhere. Or, if I know I don’t need the entire block of time to complete my to-do list for that night, I’ll just keep my social time short so I can still check everything off my list once I get home.

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Intentionally organizing my week has helped me so much. I have greater clarity about what I should be doing, and I know I have time set aside for everything. When I come home from work each evening, I know exactly what I need to focus on. No more fiddling around as I try to decide what to do. Now, I just dive right in and do it.

My advice is to roll with the punches, move things around when needed, and make your schedule work for you. You’ll never have an absolutely ideal week, but taking some time to intentionally organize your week like this is a great way to get focused and be more productive. You can do it!

How do you organize your week? Is my process something that might work for you?

If you like this post, make sure you check out the others in this series and visit again as I post more in this series this month.

Other Posts In This Series

Introduction: Resolve To Get Organized

Part 1: Setting Goals & Designing a Road Map to Crush Them

Part 2: Dominate Your To-Do List With This Time-Saving System

Part 3: How I Organize My Week for Maximum Productivity & Focus – you’re here!

Part 4: 7 Steps to Ruthlessly Organize Your Email

Part 5: How to Organize Your Mail to Eliminate Paper Clutter

Part 6: 13 Practical Habits That Will Keep Your Home Organized

Part 7: Organize Like a Pro With Free Printable Storage Labels

Part 8: How to Organize Any Space in 7 Steps

Conclusion: 6 Warning Signs Your Organizing Attempts Will Backfire


Ready to crush your week?

If you are ready to be more intentional with your time, than you do not want to miss out on my eBook, Crush Your Week: The Complete Guide To Designing An Intentional Weekly RoutineIt includes actionable strategies and worksheets to guide you through the entire routine creation process.

This book is designed to help you find time for all of your commitments and responsibilities as well as your big goals. Consider it an action guide rather than your average book. You will come away with a tangible routine you can put into practice immediately.


Struggling with time management? Organize your schedule with Crush Your Week: The Complete Guide To Designing An Intentional Weekly Routine. This isn't simply an ebook, but an action guide packed with practical advice and helpful worksheets.

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About the author

Emily Counts is the founder of Small Stuff Counts, a home and organization blog she created in 2013. Her goal is to help moms make home life easier so they can create beautiful, organized, and thriving homes. She shares life at home as a working mom juggling two young kids, a corporate job, and all that goes into managing a home. The Iowa-based blogger lives in the suburbs of Des Moines, Iowa, with her husband, two children, and rescue dog. Emily has collaborated with brands including The Container Store, Cricut, Command Brand, Bissell, Sam's Club and Rubbermaid.

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  1. Here’s what I want to do: omit the paperwork portion of my life all together. No mail. No bills. Is that possible? :) What a great, thorough tutorial! I’m here from the Inbox FB group!

    1. Hi Kirsten,
      I haven’t gone completely paperless at my house, but it is possible! This upcoming Thursday’s post will be all about my system for organizing my mail and paperwork. It includes tips for reducing the amount of paper you have, how to organize it better, and how to track your bills. I think you’ll get some good ideas from that post, so stay tuned for Thursday! If you want to get rid of every single piece of paper, you might want to read The Paperless Home. It’s about using Evernote to scan in all of your paperwork so you don’t have to keep the paper copies. I haven’t completely transitioned to this yet, but it would definitely be nice! http://justagirlandherblog.com/paperless

  2. Now that is organised! Hat off to you Emily! I have yet to find a system that works for me, however I am getting better at juggling my day-to-day tasks. Ooh and looking forward to next weeks post about email! I definitely need to tackle that area!

    1. Charlene, thanks so much for the kind words! I’m always striving to get better at juggling everything and this system is working really well for me right now. Let me know what works for you! If you need help organizing email, Tuesday’s post is for you!

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