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    15 Ways To Make Prepping For The Week Ahead A Little Easier

    Including tips meal preppers swear by and a tear-off daily planner that got mega popular during the pandemic.

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    1. Carve out a time each weekend for planning ahead for the week, and make it a part of your routine.

    Warner Bros.

    It doesn't have to be the same time every week — like, if you declare 2 p.m. on Sundays for yourself, life will most CERTAINLY find a way to come for it — but maybe on Friday take a peek at the weekend ahead and see if there's a time that would work best

    When you're doing this, also try to account for the amount of time you'll need depending on what you like to prep in advance (ie, if you have other people or family you're prepping things for, if you're using this time to cook or clean in addition to planning tasks) and limit distractions, if possible. 

    2. Before you hop into cleaning or cooking, make a biiiiig ole list of all the things that need doing in the week ahead — appointments, hangouts, tasks, the whole nine yards — in no particular order.

    Nickelodeon, Amazon

    Actually, it might be helpful to continually do this as each week goes on — you can keep a running tab of miscellaneous appointments on a page in your Notes app on your phone, use an online organization system like Trello to dump all your tasks in before organizing them, or keep a magnetic whiteboard ($18.99 on Amazon) on your fridge you jot notes on anytime you set up a new appointment or hangout with friends (or when you need to remind yourself of groceries that are running low!). Personally, I have a Google doc where I just write down anything I have scheduled in the order they're happening that I'll organize the week of — doesn't need to be anything too fancy pants, just whatever works for best for you!

    3. Prioritize your tasks and appointments with a planner or organization system that suits your style.

    amazon.com, amazon.com

    Once you've got your Big List prepared, you can tailor the more organized version to suit your lifestyle — whether it's breaking tasks down with a schedule, via a to-do list, or a mix of using apps or handwritten planners.

    Here are some popular options that might work for you:

    ✨ A tear-off daily planner with options for tasks, appointments, water intake tracking, and meal prep perfect for people on the move (psst — this 50-page one for $10.99 on Amazon took OFF during the pandemic) so you can always have your tasks at hand without carrying around a full planner.

    ✨ A Rocketbook, aka a reusable notebook you can write and organize your schedule in using calendar and planner pages before uploading online, so you can access them from anything with a Wi-Fi connection. (You can snag one of these in 10 different colors for $37 on Amazon!)

    ✨ A free planner app like Twobird, which lets you manage everything from your inbox by integrating tasks with it, or Zinnia, which serves as both a planner *and* diary you can fully customize to your own ~aesthetic~.

    It may take a little trial and error, but it'll be much easier to stick to doing prep if you find an organization system that speaks to your human heart!

    4. Try to schedule or tackle your most challenging tasks *first*.

    NBC

    Not only will it take some of the dread factor out of the way, but you'll also be able to ride that sense of accomplishment like a smug little wave to help you knock off the much less challenging tasks on your to-do list. Taking out the trash doesn't seem like a big deal after you successfully figured out what the heck is going on with your taxes, am I right?? (What is going on, though? Someone still needs to explain 😭.) 

    5. Find a playlist, podcast, or audiobook to get you in the ~groove~ for your longer, more mindless prep tasks.

    Nickelodeon

    Sometimes it's easy to let prepping for the week fall to the wayside because all the planning, cooking, and cleaning is — well, boring as heck. Thankfully, we live in a modern age where we can trick our brains into thinking they're fun! Behold, a few options at your disposal: 

    ✨ For playlists, you can make your own (or collab with friends to make some fun ones!), or rely on some excellent ones Spotify already has that are great for week ahead prep, like the boppin' Lazy Sunday playlist or the chill Sunday Scaries playlist

    Podcasts are an *excellent* way to pass the time, too — your friends are a great source for recs, especially since you can chat about them after you both listen! But personally I love You're Wrong About, Hidden Brain, and and Science Vs for engaging content with fun hosts and a looooot of backlog to go through, so I never run out of episodes to enjoy. 

    ✨ For audiobooks, if you haven't already gotten and Audible account ... WOOF, are you in for a treat. If you're struggling to find time to read books these days because of your busy sched, an Audible subscription is def the move — for $9.99 a month you get a credit for a new audiobook (usually around $28.99 each!) you can use whenever you like, basically offering audiobooks at such a steep discount that they're on par with e-books. Audiobook narrating is a TRUE ART and an excellent way to experience a book (Carey Mulligan's narration of Matt Haig's The Midnight Library was a recent ❤️ of mine).  Ever since I started listening to audiobooks to prep for the week, I'm bummed when I finish my chores because then I have to turn them off! You can check out an Audible subscription here for more deets. 

    (Psst — if you're looking for an excellent pair of wireless Bluetooth earbuds on the cheap, reviewers swear by these $30 AirPod dupes that make it wayyyy easier to do mobile prepping tasks and listen to jams at the same time. It also has a built-in mic if you want to use that time to catch up with friends and fam over the phone!)

    6. Use some popular meal prep hacks and tips to make the process easier and stress-free.

    Disney

    With a lot more people eating from home these days, there are a *ton* of excellent meal prep hacks and tools you can use to make the process a little easier both on the day you're prepping and when you're actually enjoying the fruits (and meats and veggies!!) of your labor:

    Invest in some kind of meal prep planning organization for your shopping/cooking needs.

    A model drawing on a meal prep pad magnetized to a fridge
    Amazon

    For instance, this meal prep planner you can magnetize to the fridge includes space for meals for each day *and* a shopping list you can tear off and take with you to the store, making it easier to plan as you go and save money by sticking to your plan ('tis $9.95 on Amazon). 

    Try batch cooking some of your favorite staples on Sunday (or whichever day is the "start" to your work week) using tools like rapid egg cookers and microwave noodle cookers.

    amazon.com, Amazon

    TBH, batching cooking has never been easier thanks to Instant Pots and other nifty tools. The aforementioned rapid egg cooker is great not just for medium- and hard-boiled egg prep for weekdays, but omelettes, poached, and scrambled eggs when you're got more time (you can get it for $16.99 on Amazon). And this microwave noodle cooker for pasta prep is one that meal preppers swear by — not only can it prepare a whole lot of noodles at once, but you can pop it in the microwave for steamed veggies, ravioli, and lasagna as well (it's $16.99 on Amazon). TL;DR: if there is something you eat a lot of, odds are there's a cooking gadget out there to make it easier to make in bulk!

    Keep any batch-cooked meals in stackable, leakproof containers so storing them is easy peasy, lemon squeezy and you don't spend half your day wrestling around in the fridge for room to stash 'em.

    meals prepped in rectangular glass containers with lids
    amazon.com

    These reusable glass containers from Amazon are not only airtight, but you can use them in the freezer, fridge, microwave, *and* oven, making it super simple to safely store and reheat them throughout the week (a set of five is $25.99).

    Psst — if you're getting into meal prep or you're a pro looking for more handy tips, I've got a whole piece on products that meal preppers swear by!

    7. Take a peek at the weather ahead 👀⛈.

    iPhone weather app showing a forecast of cloudy and stormy days for the week ahead
    Emma Lord/BuzzFeed

    Look, you might *think* you have everything planned to a tee, but Poseidon might decide to throw you for a loop. This is just a nice little check to see if there's anything that might need finagling — like if it's time to drag some jackets out of storage, or reschedule an event or hangout that will likely get rained out. The earlier you can anticipate little bumps in plans, the easier it will be to navigate 'em. 

    8. Use some helpful tools to plan out your outfits for the week.

    Fox

    Not everyone likes to plan out their outfits in advance, but it might be helpful just to peruse these tips anyway — or at the very least use them to plan for your Monday and Tuesday outfits to make those mornings a bit more ~seamless~. 

    Make your clothes as visible (and organized) in your closet as you possibly can, so you know precisely where everything is without ever having to dig.

    Emma Lord/BuzzFeed

    Ah yes, hello, welcome to my closet (pictured above). Is it the prettiest aesthetic in the whole wide world? No. Do I know where absolutely everything is at all times?? Heck yes.

    I credit this to two things: one is this four drawer wire storage chest from Wayfair ($82.99) that I got two of and use for all my T-shirts, workout clothes, and accessories. I love these because they are super sturdy, have a good depth to them, and make it easy for me to see what clothes I'm working with even before I open the easy-glide wire drawers, so I'm less likely to make a mess while poking around for items.

    My other secret weapon are the non-slip velvet hangers from Amazon ($16.49 for a set of 30) I use for all my button-up shirts, sweaters, and dresses — these lightly stick to the fabric of your clothes so they stay snug and secure on the hanger and never fall down. It also helps create more space in your closet by subtly flattening the clothes against their surface and making things easier to pack in. Because of this I'm much more likely to hang items now, and have them right in my line of sight for easy plucking (particularly handy in transitions between seasons, when the weather changes on a dime).

    Consider using an "outfit planner" to avoid having to lay your outfits down on valuable space when you're choosing them.

    The pink and navy colored digital download with space to write in
    Style Pique

    For instance, this outfit planning digital download from Style Pique, a Georgia-based Etsy shop established in 2019, comes with spaces to consider your clothes, accessories, *and* the temperature.  

    Consider using a "capsule wardrobe" method (or a version of it) to minimize outfit indecision throughout the week.

    The book cover
    Ten Speed Press

    A capsule wardrobe — aka, a wardrobe broken down to the bare minimum of items you need, often with high quality "investment" pieces — might not be entirely feasible for some, whether it's a money factor, a lifestyle factor, or because using clothes to ~express yourself~ is important to you. But it might be nice to consider the concept and how it might work for you — maybe instead of reducing your clothes to a small number, you can set aside a "capsule" separate from your other clothes of pieces that you know you will feel good wearing and can always throw on in a pinch. That way you can prioritize making sure they're always attended to on laundry day and raring to go if you need them either as frontrunners on a busy day or backups if you end up not feeling the outfit you originally chose. 

    If you want to learn more about outfit curating for convenience and style, you can check out the book The Curated Closet by Anuschka Rees ($15.99+ on Amazon and $22.99 on Bookshop, to support local bookstores). 

    9. Commit yourself to tidying up anything that will take less than ten minutes (and use a cleaning planner to take care of the bigger stuff throughout the week).

    A cleaning checklist that breaks down tasks by day
    Amazon

    Ah, yes. Everyone's least favorite part of prepping for the week: cleaning. Instead of committing yourself to doing a giant deep clean on Sundays, try to stay ahead of it by getting into a routine where you space out certain chores throughout the week — ie, laundry on Tuesdays, groceries on Wednesdays, vacuuming on Thursdays. A tear-off weekly cleaning checklist that breaks down tasks by the day is a super easy way to keep track (this 25-page one is $11.99 on Amazon). 

    As for prepping for the week ahead — this is a perfect time to clean up everything that fell through the cracks. I'm talking about things like stuff strewn around the front door, the pile of clothes on The Chair in your room, random clutter from the week that you didn't anticipate and didn't have time to address on the spot. Things that are manageable in small bursts but not so overwhelming that they're going to take up a huge chunk of your well-earned day off. 

    10. Check in on the status of any prescriptions and organize your medication and vitamins for the week.

    Amazon

    The last thing you want when you wake up on a busy Wednesday morning is to realize you (or a loved one) is FRESH outta their medication and you have to scramble to the pharmacy unprompted. Use this prep time not just to check in on your supply, but to organize it in a way that will set you up for success for the week, whether you're at home a lot or on the move.

    A great way to do that is with a portable weekly pill organizer. A current reviewer fave is one designed with push-through silicone lids to easily organize your pills at the beginning of the week without worrying about knocking it over while the lids are all open. Each pod also had a magnetized base, so you can easily remove it and replace it if you're away from home when it's time to take your medication. The silicone lids are super secure, but also designed for gentle and easy opening and closing to account for users with dexterity issues. You can snag it for $34.99 on Amazon in three different colors.

    11. Write in a journal or diary about what you did last week, and what you're excited for or dreading in the week ahead.

    Katy Herman/BuzzFeed, amazon.com

    Prepping for the week ahead isn't just about getting your tasks organized — it's also a great time to check in with yourself, and account for how you feel about the general direction your life's been taking lately. Even if you just jot down a few notes on things that make you happy and things that are making you stressed, it'll help give a bird's eye view on the state of your life, and also might help give some clarity to anyone new anxiety or ~Sunday scaries~ you might be feeling for the week ahead.

    If you want a quick option for this, this five-year One Line A Day journal ($12.44 on Amazon) is one a lot of non-writers swear by — you can write a quick thought down each day, and look them over at the end of the week to reflect. Otherwise, you can add some whimsy and zen to your routine by writing in one of these popular watercolor page journals ($13.44 on Amazon), or streamline by writing in a structured journaling app like Day One or Daylio.

    12. Don't be afraid to say "no."

    Pop TV

    Now that you've got a pretty clear sense for what's ahead and you've written out your feelings about it, it might be a good time to reassess some commitments — particularly if they're ones you made later in the week that you still have time to bow out of gracefully. It'll be a lot easier in the long run if you're able to give work or friends the heads up a few days in advance than if you decide the day of. Sometimes we all overschedule ourselves! People will understand. 

    13. Acknowledge that some things?? Might just not need to go on the list.

    NBC

    Personally, I think procrastination is an unfairly maligned phenomenon. If your week ahead is going to overwhelm you as it is, there are usually some tasks you can safely put off or even delegate out to someone else in the household, if possible. Often it's better to put something off for a little while than risk burning yourself out by trying to Get Every Single Thing On The List Taken Care Of, So Help Me God. 

    14. Also — recognize when certain habits you're trying to make or plans you're setting are just plain noooot working out, and regroup.

    Pop TV

    If there's some mental block or obstacle that keeps getting in the way of you completing certain tasks — whether the tasks are in your prepping phase, or ones you're planning for later in the week — sit in that ~discomfort~ and try to evaluate it. Are you maybe scheduling the workouts you love during a time of day when your brain is too fried for it? Is a new habit or goal you've been trying to set not fulfilling you the way you thought it would? Is there a weak point in your cleaning routine that you could try to make more exciting by rewarding yourself when it's done? If you can follow the challenges all the way down to the root, you can prep easier for the week by either anticipating challenges, or acknowledging when some things just aren't worth prioritizing to begin with. 

    15. Treat yourself to something fun at the end of your prep to knock those Sunday scaries out of orbit!

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    After all, that's what your day off is for — kicking back and relaxing! And now that you don't have to worry about the week ahead, you can fully decompress. Watch yourself some TV and relax with a nice stress-reducing activity like paint-by-number ($11.79 on Amazon) or a beginner's embroidery set ($8.99 on Amazon), pour yourself a glass of vino in the tub with this excellent bath wine caddy ($13.95 on Amazon), make some treats with a homemade mini donut maker ($19.99 on Amazon), or you know what?? Take a darn nap. You earned it.

    You relaxing on Sunday night after planning for your whole week like a boss:

    NBC