Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Perfect Week: A guide to setting up for an easier Monday - Friday

I don't float through weeks; I wish I did. Instead, I tend to attack my work weeks, cramming as much as I think I can handle into five days, then either winding up pretty exhausted by Friday, or totally elated that I had a great one.

I want to talk about those great ones: those weeks when everything gets done and I still have time for myself. When I eat well. When I work out. And when I spend some qt with my family and friends. 

They're the best! And they don't happen by accident. In order to set myself up for a great week, I very purposefully prep my apartment, my food and even my work clothes, so that come Wednesday, when work keeps me late or I just don't feel like doing anything, I can rest assured the critical business of living is taken care of.

Here are the steps I take each weekend to make sure my week runs smoothly…

First things first, I clean my apartment. Because let's face it, that won't happen M-F. I actually really enjoy cleaning - I play podcasts and generally feel like I'm getting good "me" time. Here are my current favorites:

- the Totally Laime series (Comedian Elizabeth Laime hosts three podcasts devoted to comedy, marriage and motherhood. She is hilarious and I'd really, you know, like to be her best friend some day.)
This American Life (a classic for anyone who loves good storytelling)
Freakonomics (The authors of the eponymous book dive into fascinating social economics topics.)
Joy the Baker (My favorite bloggers, Tracy Shutterbean and Joy the Baker, host this podcast on a variety of topics and answer reader questions. Really, though, it's just fun to hear about life through their friendship.)

Every Sunday I sit down with paper and pen (or an electronic notebook like Evernote) and plan what I'll eat for the week. Here are the steps I take to do this:

1) I take a refrigerator/pantry inventory and make a list of what I have on hand already. This is an excellent way to cut down on grocery costs, and I waste less. Win-win!

2) I use cookbooks or Pinterest to plan a few meals I'll make, and plop them into my daily meal planner. Here's where I try to find recipes using the ingredients I have on hand. I also don't plan for every meal of the week, since I've found that tends to leave me with leftovers.

trying to find a recipe to use up my black beans (I ended up making the Mexican Chopped Salad)

my Evernote daily meal planner

3) I make a grocery list of the ingredients I still need (and check off the ones I already had).

4) I do the grocery shop…

5) …and then prep what meals I can. This may mean prepping dinners for the next few days, but it always means prepping breakfast. Since I'm always pressed for time in the morning, it's important to me that I can grab breakfast and go. 

prepping overnight oats for breakfast all week

Prepped and stored!

If I have to pick out an outfit in the early hours of the morning, you can bet I'm going with the least common denominator - the black work pants and the top that never wrinkles. Maybe a nice pair of earrings to make it look like I tried. And flats.

Prepping this stuff on Sunday and giving myself time to iron means I'll get a little more creative and wear my non-go-to clothes, too. So! …First I lay out my outfits and iron them, if needed.

…then hang them up in the order I'll wear them. Voila!

I hope you have an easy week this week!

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