By Jiji Lee

Sunday Night Planning: Make Monday Morning Amazing


How to reflect, recharge, and start your week off on the right foot.

Have you ever experienced the “Sunday Scaries?”

It’s that impending feeling of doom that sets in on Sundays. When the peaceful vibes of the weekend start to slip away, and the nervous anticipation of Monday morning rolls in. Sunday Scaries are a real drag, and regardless if you have a full-time job or a flexible schedule, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed about the week ahead. 

If you’ve ever experienced Sunday scaries, then a good way to combat it is with a Sunday night planning session. 

In fact, Ink+Volt founder Kate Matsudaira likes to start every week with a planning session: “I block out a full hour on my calendar to devote to planning and thinking—I call it my Ninja Planning Session.”

It’s such an empowering way to approach the week! Rather than dreading the week ahead, you can plan it and turn it into a successful and fulfilling one. 

Think of your Sunday night planning session as an opportunity to recharge and motivate yourself. When you know exactly what to do and how you plan on doing it, you’ll feel so much better and more confident about the week.

Below are tips and tricks to help you conduct a Sunday night planning session so you can beat the Sunday scaries and make Monday morning great.

Why weekly planning works 

You have a blueprint. Waking up on Monday morning and not knowing what to do will make you feel overwhelmed. With a weekly planning session, you’ll have a solid plan to work from.

You can spot conflicts. Thanks to your planning session, you’ll have a bird’s eye view of your week, and you can identify schedule conflicts or overlapping deadlines. This advanced knowledge allows you to act decisively rather than be in reactive mode. Also, if anything unexpected arises (which, let’s face it, it always does) you can course correct, because you’ll already have a course in place.

You’re more mindful of your time. Once you have your schedule laid out, you can see where you have free time and be more intentional with how you spend it. No more wishing you had more time for meditating, reading, or doing things that make you happy. Now you’ll know exactly when you can do things that bring you joy.

You can reflect on your goals. Sometimes it feels like the weeks and months are just passing us by, and our well-intentioned goals fall by the wayside. That’s why it’s nice to regularly check-in on your goals. Doing this weekly check-in can help put you back on track.

How to do a Sunday night planning session

Set aside 30 minutes or one hour. Schedule a time that’s good for you. Sunday night is good because it’s a nice way to end the week and prepare for the week ahead. But if you’d rather do your planning session on Sunday morning or even Monday morning, do that. Just make sure to pick a time that you can commit to. This appointment is just as important as if you were going to meet with your boss or coworkers. Show up for yourself. 

Supplies you'll need
  • Your Ink+Volt Planner 
  • Digital calendar, if you use one (I like to enter my work deadlines and meetings into a Google calendar so I can sync with my email and get pop-up reminders) 
  • Planning notepads or scratch paper for brainstorming, drafting ideas, etc. The Ink+Volt Planner also has blank pages which I use for note taking and brainstorming.
  • Optional: washi tape to help organize your planner and block off important dates/time blocks

Agenda for your Sunday night planning session 

Here is a sample agenda you can use for your weekly planning session. Try these methods, see what works, and then put your own personal spin on them. Maybe you want to add self-care elements into your session, then add a nice candle and cup of tea. Maybe you want your session to be more motivational, then read an inspiring quote beforehand. Or maybe you want to keep it productive and efficient, then turn off all distractions and get to planning.

List your wins. I like to start with something positive because it motivates me to keep going. I do this by reflecting on the previous week and listing all the wins I achieved. Make sure to write down all your wins, no matter how small they may seem. Did you wash the dishes? Do laundry? Email someone back? Those are all wins!  Write these down in the “Reflect + Celebrate” section of the Weekly Goals page. 

Brain dump. The brain dump is super helpful if you’re feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. Sometimes you just have to get everything down on paper before you can be strategic and organized about it. Use the notes pages in your Ink+Volt planner or any scratch paper you have on hand. Then, start free-writing all the things you have to do for the upcoming week.

Your list might look something like this

  • Schedule doctor’s appointment
  • Find birthday gift for friend
  • Work deadlines
  • Powerpoint presentation
  • Phone calls with family
  • Meal Planning
  • Cleaning 
  • Haircut

Identify top priorities. Now it’s time to start shaping the brain dump and identifying your weekly priorities. What are the top priorities for the week? These are the things that are important to your personal and professional life plus any tasks and deadlines you have to accomplish.  

Write down your weekly goals in your planner. Now that you’ve identified your priorities, it’s time to commit them to paper. Turn to your Weekly Goals page, and write down your top priorities.  

Reflect on the previous week. Afterwards, reflect on the progress you made last week. Take note of anything that you didn’t get around to doing. This could be something like “I didn’t get in enough walks last week.” Then you’ll want to prioritize more outdoor walks for the upcoming week. You can also contemplate any challenges you encountered and how you would respond in the future or just how you’re feeling about it in general. This way, you can contemplate things as they arise, instead of letting issues build up. After you reflect and get your thoughts down on paper, you’ll be better positioned to handle the week ahead. 

Reflect on your yearly goal. Now it’s time to look at the bigger picture and check in with your yearly goal. Write down 1-2 things you can do this week to make progress on your goals.

Time block your days

Now that you’ve checked in with your weekly goals and yearly goals, it’s time to start scheduling by using the time blocking method. This is a system to help you organize your top priorities by blocking off chunks of time.

Find your peak times. Some people feel most productive in the mornings while others are productive in the afternoon or at night. Figure out your peak periods and schedule your top priorities during these time blocks.

Align your schedule with your goals. Decide which days are optimal for working on your goals. Maybe you can set aside two mornings or evenings for deep work. 

Mark important deadlines. For any deadlines that I absolutely cannot miss, like medical appointments or work deadlines, I’ll enter those into my Google calendar.  

Schedule personal priorities. Add workouts, creative routines, and self-care time into your planner. This way, your schedule won’t lean too work-heavy and you’ll have a more fulfilling schedule for the week ahead.

Sunday scaries don’t have to ruin your weekend. If you want to mitigate the Sunday blues and feel better prepared for the week ahead, try to find 30 minutes or one hour to do a planning session. Not only will you feel so much better on Sunday night, but you’ll be setting yourself up for success on Monday morning.