By Nate Sleger
This is not a secret: Having a solid plan in place can truly make a massive difference in actually following through and achieving what you hope to.
To help support you, I’ve got a free planning tool for you (the same one I’ve personally used for years). But I’ll warn you, it’s not complex at all! Just a simple worksheet you can use to plan out your normal, healthy week.
To get started on crafting your ideal weekly schedule, head over to this link and download the weekly planner worksheet I've created. This worksheet is a great tool because it divides each day into 30-minute increments so you can precisely map out how you spend your time during an average week.
Once you've printed out or pulled up the PDF version of the worksheet on your device, here's a step-by-step guide to filling it out:
Step 1: Block Out Sleep
The very first thing I recommend doing is blocking out the times you are typically sleeping each night. Use whatever method works best for you to mark off those hours - color in the boxes, write "SLEEP" or "zzz", etc. Getting consistent, high-quality sleep of around 7-9 hours is so, so important for your overall health and wellbeing. Don't skimp on rest!
When planning out your sleep schedule, think about what times you realistically need to go to bed and wake up to feel rested. Be honest with yourself. If you need to be asleep by 10pm to function your best, write that in.
Aim for your sleep schedule to be as consistent as possible from one day to the next. Experts widely agree that maintaining the same bedtime and wake-up time reinforces your natural circadian rhythm and promotes better sleep.
Step 2: Add In Standing Commitments
Next up, go through your calendar and add in any fixed commitments that happen at the same time each week. These are non-negotiable priorities that other people are counting on you to show up for.
Examples include your work schedule, recurring meetings for your job or other obligations, appointments, family time, church services, etc. Basically anything that has a hard set time that you absolutely must be present for each week.
Block off the time those commitments actually take up, including drive time to get there if needed. See your full slate of "have-to's" in one glance.
Step 3: Map Out Your Ideal Morning & Evening Routine
With sleep and fixed commitments plotted, look at any remaining blank space in your weekly chart. This is free time that you have full control over.
Use this opportunity to map out your optimal morning and evening routine on a daily basis. What activities do you want to make sure you do each day before starting work or heading to bed?
For many people, an ideal morning may include things like:
- Quiet time for meditation, prayer, journaling
- Reading or listening to a podcast
- Making a healthy breakfast
- Cuddling with pets
- Practicing an instrument
- Engaging in a hobby like art
And an ideal evening could look like:
- Cooking a nourishing dinner
- Calling a loved one
- Reading before bed
- Stretching or foam rolling
- Doing a quick tidy up
- Walking outside
Think about what small actions would help you wake up feeling focused and positive, and wind down feeling relaxed and content each day. Block these off on your planner.
Step 4: Schedule Exercise & Movement Daily
Here's the fun part - use the blank spaces in your weekly chart to schedule in time for movement and exercise every single day!
I know it can initially sound daunting to exercise daily. But showing up for yourself and your health consistently by working activity into your routine makes a massive difference.
You don't have to do intense training every day - even just 30 minutes of walking, stretching, light weights or an online workout works. Find types of movement you genuinely enjoy.
Aim to have at least 30 minutes set aside to get your heart pumping a little harder with cardio or strength training most days. But any activity that gets you up and moving counts.
Scheduling in consistent daily movement helps make it a natural habit rather than a chore. You'll start to miss it on rest days!
Step 5: Block Off Meal Prep Time
Finally, take a look at your schedule and block off realistic time slots for preparing healthy meals and snacks for the week ahead.
Are you someone who likes to spend a couple hours cooking on Sunday to stock your fridge and freezer? Or do you prefer to do a quick meal prep session a few nights a week?
Add in meal prep blocks when it naturally fits into your current schedule. Having ready-to-eat items on hand cuts down on excuses to eat out and makes healthy eating so much easier.
Step 6: Review and Adjust As Needed
Once your planner is filled out, take a look at the full picture. Do you feel like you've achieved a good balance of work, rest, socializing, self-care and other priorities? Or are there areas you want to adjust to create more whitespace?
Don't be afraid to move things around until your weekly schedule feels totally doable yet still challenging enough to help you grow in positive ways.
Keep in mind your schedule will flex and change week-to-week. The goal is to have a template in place that sets you up for consistency and balance as much as possible.
Planning out your weeks in advance like this will be a gamechanger in actually sticking to your big and small health goals. Once you've filled out your worksheet, I'd absolutely love for you to share a photo of it with me on social media!
Tag me @natesleger so I can celebrate your amazing progress and commitment. Seeing your plans always motivates and inspires me so much in my own journey.
Wishing you massive success and joy in your continued wellness journey! You've got this.