As part of our Focused on '14 challenge this month, my husband and I have decided to plan ahead…by an entire year. We sat down 4 or 5 times, taking 30-60 minutes each time (because with 3 little kids running around that's all we could get before being interrupted), and planned out our entire year. Now, don't roll your eyes…it's not as hard or nutso as it sounds! In fact, it has been downright AMAZING! We are more organized, proactive, and on-top of things than we've ever been in our entire marriage. Less stress, less scramble, and it's been saving us tons of money so far.
Since I can't NOT keep my mouth shut, I decided to break down exactly how to easily calendar out your year, and created a FREE PRINTABLE to go along with it to help you stay on-track and not miss anything!
Here's how we calendared out our year…
Here's how our calendars work:
- We use Google Calendar because it's free, digital, easy to access from anywhere (on our phones and computers), and Google basically runs the world so I know they won't be going anywhere any time soon.
- I have my own calendar, Bubba has his own, but we can see each others' calendars so we can still mark up our own calendars how we like, but can see each others' activities at all times so we always know what's going on.
- But if there's a calendar event we both need on our calendars (like a date night, or someone's birthday – something that we both need to see), then once of us will create the event and just “add” the other person on it so it's not showing up 2x on our calendars.)
Here's what we calendared out:
We went through every family member and close friend and made sure we had their birthdays on the calendar. The good news is you only have to do this once! You can set the timer as recurring so it automatically shows up on future years too.
- We set reminders early to send cards in the mail, and set reminders day-of to call and wish them a happy bday. My husband gets these reminders as a text, I chose to get them as an email.
We looked up all the holidays for 2014 that affect our lives – “time off” holidays, and celebrated holidays.
- We marked the ones that are “work-off” holidays.
- We set early reminders for the ones that require gifts like Mother's/Father's day.
- I made notes on my personal calendar for holidays that require prior planning for fun kid/family things like St Patty's day and April Fool's day. I'm the mom that never remembers to do cute stuff and scrambles to throw something together the morning-of, and get so bugged that I can't get my act together.
Soap box moment…DATE NIGHTS ARE IMPORTANT!!!!! Bubba and I try to have one every week. They don't have to be dinner/movie expensive dates. Sometimes we watch a $1 movie in our basement. Sometimes we have friends over for games/dessert. Sometimes we go out and hire a babysitter. Sometimes we spend our date night calendaring out our year (boring only if you make it so!). It does NOT have to be extravagant, but it DOES have to happen. Keeping that in mind, here's what we do:
- We trade off planning date nights. Bubba plans the date one week, I take the other. We try to calendar those in as best we can, though things certainly change throughout the year.
- We also trade off planning our anniversary and Valentine's day. He plans V-day, I plan our anniversary, and the next year we switch.
This is where we are EXCITED BEYOND BELIEF. We have always been the family that on Friday morning we realize, “oh man, it's a 3-day weekend! We should do something fun!”. We scramble to find something to do, call a few friends (who all have plans already), then end up doing absolutely nothing and hating ourselves for it. Here's how we're beating that beast this year:
- We took note of all 3-day weekends. We picked one or two in the year and decided to go somewhere! It's more of a StayCation, really, because we're not flying anywhere or driving far. But we'll drive a few hours away, get a cheap hotel, and have a fun weekend as a family. For one of the weekends we plan to stay with friends who live in a sunny place 5 bours away. We can justify the longer drive because our accommodations would be free. Since we are planning so far in advance we will have time to invite some families to go with us and make it a fun, friend-filled mini vacay! We finally are planning ahead for camping trips this year too, much to Bubba's excitement.
- Calendared out any existing travel plans such as holidays and family reunions. My high school reunion is in May. Since we know this is set in stone, we decided to buy Bubba's plane tickets now so he can join us (I will be driving). We used previous vouchers, a flight gift card, and because we bought so far in advance the tickets were DIRT cheap. The cost of his flights? NOTHING! Zero! Had we waited until the month before (like we often do) ticket prices would've been 2x higher and our gift card wouldn't have covered it.
- Desired family vacations. This is where you would plan ahead for family fun vacations. This doesn't have to be extravagant vacations, it could be as simple as camping! Whatever the vacation, pick the time, pick the destination, then be meticulous about adding up how much it will cost (don't just guess!). You then need to divide that total by the amount of months you have to save up for the vacation, then start putting that amount of money aside each month.
Service and fellowship
One of our goals this year is to be more service-minded. We have learned that if it's not calendared out into our week, it won't happen! Here's what we did:
- Fellowshipping others. Our goal is to have at least 1 family over for dinner 2x per month, so we calendared those out as best we could. It will be a way for us to make new friends, or strengthen existing friendships.
- Calendar in worship and meditation so it's sure to happen this year! We calendared service at our local religious Temple 1x per month so we can plan ahead for a babysitter or to trade with a neighbor.
- Plan acts of service. We tried to calendar out people who we know are pregnant, moving, or having surgery so we can remember to send them cards or take them meals if they are local. We also calendared out Sub For Santa's so we can start saving in advance.
- Responsibilities and duties. Bubba and I both team-teach (two different) Sunday School classes at church and have to calendar in planning for lessons or we forget and scramble at the last-minute! We also calendar out Fast Sundays, Visit Teaching, meetings, ward parties, and other good ol' Mormon things 🙂
Personal and Family Goals
- Set at least 1 specific goal for every month and at least 3 overall goals for 2014. See how to do that plus another free printable HERE. We'll help you do this throughout the year if you continue following along with the Focused on 14 monthly themes!
- Be specific! Put dates and reminders on your calendar to help you achieve those goals.
Fitness, health, and wellness
- Medical anniversaries. Well-child visits, mammograms, Dr. appointments for school, and even our dog's vaccine renewals. We tried to calendar reminders for what we could so we could make sure we have enough in our HSA, and call and make appointments with plenty of time rather than trying to cram it all in last-minute.
- Fitness. We've learned that if we don't schedule time to exercise, we won't do it! Bubba scheduled in weekly basketball with the boys, I scheduled in my favorite classes at the gym, and we even scheduled some family hikes, swimming, and other things we'd like to accomplish this year that we always forget about.
It might sound like a lot, but it's not that bad! By planning out your year in advance as best you can, you'll stay FOCUSED and GET AHEAD rather than treading water and trying to keep up.
And again, be sure to use this free printable to make your job easier and not miss anything: