time management

Sunday Prep, Step By Step: How I Plan For the Week Ahead Every Sunday

May 24, 2021

Thank you to Basecamp for sponsoring this episode.

Reading Time: 11 minutes

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In Episode 82, I’m pulling back the curtain and sharing with you the exact steps I take every single Sunday in order to start my week with success.

Whether you call it getting a game plan, doing a weekly planning session or any other number of things, the success of your week can be directly linked to how well you plan ahead.

Keep reading to find out:

  • Why Sunday Prep is a nonnegotiable at our house

  • And Why Sunday is the day I recommend for planning your week

  • You’ll hear the exact list of things I cross off my list while I’m planning

  • And the tools I use to make it happen

  • And finally, I’ll blast through some of the common obstacles that can get in the way of getting your game plan



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If you listen in on how I plan my week in this episode and your wheels start turning and you want to get your own game plan, I’m here to coach you through it and help you make it happen.

Introducing – Get a Game Plan: 3 Steps to Design Your Winning Week. Get a Game Plan is my proven 3 step process for getting your priorities straight, designing an ideal week and doing a weekly planning session – just like the one I talk about in this episode. If you want to get your game plan and win your week before it starts, click here to get access to Get a Game Plan. Your sanity and stress-free weeks will thank you!


If I didn’t get a game plan every weekend, I would be frantic, frazzled and stressed out. I’m not joking. Our lives have so many different moving parts, work, home, life, family, health, wellness, friendships, hobbies? Maybe? And now that I’m a mom to two little girls, I’ve got even more plates spinning in the air at any given moment.

That’s why my Sunday prep routine is absolutely key to my success, and that trickles down to my family’s success. Sunday prep impacts what we eat, where we’re going, when we get there, even what we wear – well… what my two-year old little girl Millie wears at least.

This doesn’t have to be complicated.

And before you get intimidated thinking I’m about to unleash some kind of complicated two-hour in-depth planning session, lemme stop you right there. This is simple. If it were complicated, I wouldn’t do it. The point is to keep your planning session simple, so you’ll actually do it and reap the rewards.

So before I dive into what I do – let me do a quick overview of WHY I plan.

Why I Spend Time Prepping and Planning on Sunday

Two Words: Decision Fatigue

It comes down to two words – and if you’ve been around here for a while, you might be able to guess what they are. Those two words are decision fatigue. That feeling where we run out of gas when it comes to decision making, so we get sloppy.

In a nutshell, our decision making ability is like gas in a gas tank. We wake every morning with a full tank, and every time we make a decision, we use a little bit of that gas. So that by the time it’s 8-9PM we’re tired, and most – if not all – of our decision-making fuel is zapped. That’s why so many bad decisions happen at night!

Take that limited amount of decision making fuel we have, and add in the fact that we’re making something like 35 thousand decisions every single day. According to researchers at Cornell University, around 225 of those decisions are JUST on food! In a single day! Isn’t that crazy?

It’s no wonder that we feel snappy and crabby when we open the fridge at 6:30 p.m. wondering what we’re going to pull together for dinner – and why picking up the phone and ordering pizza feels like the best way to find some relief in the moment. Trust me – there’s a time and a place for pizza, more on that a little later – but after a while even pizza gets old.

So yeah – limited decision fuel, lots of decisions to be made, and we want to make good decisions – not frantic, frazzled, stressed out decisions. That’s where getting a game plan, like my Sunday prep comes in.

Sunday prep is my – is our – opportunity to make a whole bunch of decisions in advance, so we’re not wasting that precious decision making fuel – and bonus – we’re not wasting TIME during the week. Because if your weeks are like mine, once Monday morning hits, they can sometimes feel about like jumping on the freeway and driving 80 miles an hour until exiting on Friday afternoon. Nonstop, swept up. go go go.

Why Sunday?


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And you might be wondering – why Sunday? Why not Monday morning? Why not Friday afternoon? When it comes down to it, you’ve got to do what works best for you. You know your schedule. For me? Sunday works best. I’ve tried Friday afternoon. I’ve tried Monday morning, and I always go back to Sunday.

I think Friday afternoon, or the final hours of your last workday of the week – starting in June, for me that will be Thursday. Anyway – Friday afternoon is a great time to reflect on the past week of work.  What did you accomplish? What new ideas did you have? What is unfinished and needs to be bumped to next week? What deadlines or project milestones need to be shuffled around. All of these work-related questions are great for Friday afternoon, and I’ve found that if I try to do the things I typically include in my Sunday prep – it ends up feeling too cumbersome and then I skip steps or rush through it and that doesn’t benefit anyone.. And again – we want to keep things simple.

And Monday mornings are a great opportunity to do an overview of the work week ahead. Lately, I’ve been doing Money & Marketing on Monday morning. A quick review of my business and family finances, checking in on the budget, and making sure that my marketing content is queued up and ready to go. You’ll see in just a second when I give a break down of what I do during my Sunday prep, but waiting until Monday morning would make me feel… behind.

So for me, Friday end of day is for work reflection, with a little bit of looking and planning ahead. And Monday morning is for making sure all the trains are on the track and I’m ready to rock and roll.

Sunday ends up being the perfect fit for life and family prep. And I’m able to step into the week feeling calm, prepared and ready for just about anything.

My Sunday Prep

So here’s what my Sunday prep includes:

01. Gather the things. Scan the week ahead.

First – I gather all the things. And by all the things, that’s usually just something that I can look at my Google calendar on. Sometimes it’s just my iPhone, sometimes it’s my laptop, and sometimes it’s my iPad. See? Flexible. As long as I can see my Google Calendar.

So first – I’ll scan the week ahead. What’s on the agenda?

My girls are too little right now to have a bunch of activities or busy school schedule, but if they did have dance lessons or t-ball practice, this is when I’d double check their schedules too to make sure I’ve got a handle on all of the moving parts.

02. Block out drive/transition time.

Then – my next step is to block out drive time – or transition time on my calendar.

Yep – that is one of the biggest not-so-secret secrets to getting places on time – adding in drive time. I even have a recurring appointment on my calendar for Millie’s daycare drop-off.

Adding in drive time helps me do two things

  1. It keeps me from accidentally scheduling something else too close to another appointment that would stretch me too thin and make me late due to the too-tight transition time

  2. And two it requires me to be realistic about what I can actually fit into a given day.

Most of the time when we don’t accomplish everything on our too-long to-do list, it’s not because we’re not productive enough, it’s because we weren’t realistic about the contents of our list.

And most of the time when we’re late – it’s because we didn’t fully consider transition time. Maybe you know it takes about 25 minutes for you to get to your doctor’s office – but if you don’t factor in having to part two blocks away and use your parking app to pay the virtual meter and then walk, and maybe it’s raining…. You’re going to be late.

One of my former clients used to run into a similar problem when she traveled for work. She’d leave for the airport with enough time to drive there, but completely forget to factor in parking in the parking garage and walking from long term parking to the terminal. Yikes.

Anyway – so

First – scan the week ahead.

Second – add in time blocks for drive time or transition time

03. Scope out tough spots & potential challenges.

Third – I’ll scope out any tough spots. What days are super busy? What evenings do I have Junior League or other community meetings? Is my husband Scott on call or working longer hours some days?

Identifying the tough spots and possible obstacles gives me an opportunity to talk with Scott and map out solutions in advance. Typically he picks Millie up from school, but by scoping out the week in advance, we’re able to be doubly sure who is doing what each day. And if I’ve got an evening meeting or he’s working late, neither of us are caught off guard the day of.

So once I’ve identified any tough spots in the week – two things happen next.

First –  I’ll compare the week ahead with my Ideal Week and start sketching out some time blocks. What can I realistically accomplish this week with the time I have available. And if you’re wondering… wait – what’s an Ideal week? Stop what you’re doing right now and go listen to Episode 48.

Episode 48 is called My Secret to Getting Every Done: Why You Need an Ideal Week, and having an ideal week is a key ingredient for a less stressful week. 

Listen Now: Episode 48 – My Secret to Getting Everything Done: Why You Need an Ideal Week

04. Plan the meals!


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And second – I’ll start planning meals for the week. Tough spots first, meal plan second. Why? Because if you know you’re going to have a stressful day with back to back meetings or an evening meeting – just go ahead and plan to order Chinese that night or plan a slow cooker meal.

And by the way – if you want a deeper dive into meal planning, head over to episode 68 which is all about how to start meal planning – or take your meal planning to the next level. 

Listen Now: Episode 68: Serve Up a Delicious Game Changer: How to Start Meal Planning (Or Take Your Meal Planning to the Next Level)

While I’m in meal planning mode, I’ll head over to the pantry, fridge and freezer to see what we already have on hand and then I’ll set the menu for the week.

In addition to dinners, I also decide what I’ll have for lunch – usually a sandwich and a fruit cup, and Scott brings his lunch to work – so he’ll add his lunch request too.

05. Make a grocery list.

Once meals are planned and we know what we want for lunch, we make the grocery list and we’ll use Shipt to put in a grocery order. You might have heard me mention shipped before, and just in case you’re not familiar, Shipt is a grocery delivery service. We shop our local grocery story using the Shipt app, and our groceries are delivered to our door within a few hours, saving us time spent wandering the aisles at the store and saving us money spent on impulse purchases. Like M&M’s in the checkout line.

06. Write our menu on our hallway dry erase calendar.

After the grocery order is locked and loaded in the Shipt app, I head over to the dry erase calendar in our hallway and write up the menu for the week. Not only is it a helpful reminder that we have a plan – which helps us stick to the plan – but it cuts back on any confusion and Hey – What’s for dinner again? Back and forth. It’s there, on the dry erase calendar, for all to see.

So those are the pieces of the Sunday routine that are done in a certain order, because each step preps me for the next one. Knowing what my week looks like helps me make a meal plan that fits our life that week.

A few more things in no particular order…

But there are a few things I do every Sunday that can be done just about anytime.


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In no particular order:

01. Laundry

Laundry – I always make sure we have clean towels for the week ahead.

02. Pick out Millie’s outfits for the week.

I also pick out all of Millie’s outfits for school. We have a pretty tight morning routine that we follow and from the time I open her door and sing Good Morning to you, until I snap her into the carseat, it’s one thing after the other – always in the same order.

Having a routine keeps things predictable and helps her know what’s next, and it’s just so much easier to walk into her room and head straight for her outfit of the day hanging up on her little hook. She’s only fought me on an outfit once – and I just grabbed the next day’s outfit and offered that one to her instead.

You can wear the cat shirt or the strawberry shirt. Which one?

…She went with the cat shirt.

I’ve picked out her outfits a week at a time on Sundays since she started going to daycare when she was six months old. This works really well for us now. Honestly,  I worked in an office or did regular video zoom meetings, I would probably pick out my outfits a week at a time too. It just cuts back on one less decision to make in the mornings when I’m still a little groggy.

03. Eat pizza!

And finally – every Sunday – we eat pizza.

Most of the time it’s a frozen pizza, but sometimes we get Dominos and sometimes we get takeout from a fancy pizza place. But Sundays are for pizza.

Why? Well – first of all, pizza is Scott’s favorite food. His groom’s cakes at our wedding were shaped like pizza – pepperoni and supreme, cut the mushrooms and displayed in cardboard pizza boxes from a New Orleans pizza joint.

Second of all – pizza means we don’t have a ton of kitchen cleanup to do and it’s a no-brainer for us while we’re focused on prepping for the week ahead.

I highly recommend creating a tradition like this at your house. It’s something fun to look forward to, and its one less decision to make.

Routine recap

So to recap my Sunday Prep routine includes:

  1. Scanning the week ahead

  2. Adding in drive time/transition time

  3. Identifying tough spots and talking with Scott to sort things out

  4. Meal planning

  5. Grocery list/grocery order

  6. Write the menu on the dry erase board

  7. Laundry

  8. Pick Millie’s outfits and

  9. Eat pizza for dinner!

But what if Sunday is bananas?

So you might be wondering – What if Sunday is a totally crazy, jam packed day and there’s no time to do any of this? For example – if we’re traveling home from spending time at my parents’ house in Winnfield.

Rarely is life too crazy for Sunday planning, but that’s because we try to keep our Sundays as low key as possible. And if a Sunday is going to be jam packed, we almost always know in advance, so we find a new time to plan – even if that looks like different parts of the process being spread to Saturday or Monday evening.

For example – last time we drove home from Winnfield – we had a 4 hour car ride and got home Sunday evening. On the drive home, we talked through the week ahead and made our game plan for what we’d do when we got home. So we parked, unloaded the car, and I started laundry. Scott checked the pantry, fridge and freezer and started sketching out a meal plan. I pulled Millie’s outfits that evening before she went to bed.

The Secret to Success?

Know your bare minimum.

Doing a weekly planning session can feel daunting if you have this whole idea in your head that it’s supposed to be this big long drawn out production, but it’s not and it doesn’t have to be. You know what’s best for you and your family. Know what the bare minimum is that will help you start your week with success.


LINKS & RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE

My new mini-course – Get a Game Plan: 3 Steps to Design Your Winning Week

Shipt Grocery Delivery – Save $10 on an annual membership

Episode 68: Serve Up a Delicious Game Changer: How to Start Meal Planning (Or Take Your Meal Planning to the Next Level)

Episode 48 – My Secret to Getting Everything Done: Why You Need an Ideal Week

Our hallway dry erase calendar


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