life Work

The Ideal Week

May 15, 2019

I wanted to revisit last week’s post for a moment.

Particularly to note that this the template I drew out is a fantasy. I do feel like it’s useful to have an ideal, pie-in-the-sky schedule in my mind, so I know what I am aiming for. But if you looked at that (as I know at least a couple of you did) and thought “OMG, she’s so lucky to have 30 minutes at 4:30 every day to perform a shutdown ritual!” — then I want to make sure I set the record straight.

So pretty. Not my actual life.

Most of the time, I don’t have that particular 30 minutes, either. On Tuesday I was with a patient until 5:15 and scrambled out the door, notes undone and no shutdown in sight. Yesterday I was at a GME event that required early morning preparation (goodbye AM reflective time!) and I worked straight through lunch with no break to speak of — but I did finish up really early!

Every day is different. But it still helps me to have an ideal in mind.

Because I do feel like I’d be happier and more at peace if I could leave my notes/charts/emails mostly complete at the end of each work day. I’d love to work out nearly every morning (perhaps one morning per week to sleep in?). It would be ideal to hang out with my husband every night (often not possible either because he’s still at work/has to finish work from home or because I’m too tired — agh).

I will conclude this post with a dream scenario – what I’d like to do each morning / evening for my AM and PM rituals.



Up + read nonfiction for 10-15 min (I am often in the mood to soak up someone else’s wisdom at that time while I start on my coffee!)

Plan day (priorities, any meetings/fixed events, etc) by filling out daily planner page

Write post (Mondays / Weds / Fridays seem to be my new groove) or podcast prep or other writing

Workout (30-45 min BB or run, or once/week 80 minutes with drive time for Ultimate)

Kid time including taking at least one kid to school

Drive with podcast

I don’t really find I need a startup ritual at work because I’m essentially ready to dive in, either seeing patients/making calls or doing GME-related tasks. (I’m freshest in the morning so I’m better off just going for it rather than a long ramp-up!)


Fantasy work shut-down ritual

Finish up any notes / clinical tasks if it’s a clinical day (electronic medical record INBOX ZERO is the daily goal because it means my patients’ needs are taken care of AND I get the satisfaction of having left things completed)

Last email triage and response to anything important

Set priorities for next GME work day (if it’s a GME day)

(Note, I said fantasy. Particularly on the clinical days.)

Home shut-down ritual

(After both waves of kids are in bed, G first around 7:15 then A&C at around 8:30)

Set up coffee & make sure desk is clear for next morning

Spend time with Josh (if he is home)

Skincare (must revisit this, am currently total slacker)

Flossing (actually I am so good at this now! I have flossed every day since 10/1/2018 except for a day or two when I was out of floss!)

Read actual book (not Instagram)



  • Reply Lisa of Lisa's Yarns May 15, 2019 at 10:48 am

    I like the idea of laying out an ideal day so you can use that as a guideline for how to organize your life, while recognizing you’ll rarely or never have an entire ideal day!

    You had mentioned recently either on here or a podcast that you wish you were reading more. I was also a pumping mama (exclusively in my case since our son didn’t transfer milk well/wasn’t gaining weight) and I definitely got a lot of reading done while pumping which was one of the only perks of pumping, I guess! Anyways, I stopped pumping in December but one thing that’s helped me continue to read a lot instead of getting sucked into social media is using the kindle ap on my phone. I don’t know if you are opposed to ebooks, but that ap has been a life saver for me. I gave up social media for Lent and as a result, my instinct is to read a book when I have downtime instead of mindlessly scrolling IG!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger May 17, 2019 at 5:47 am

      Definitely not opposed – I’ve read books on my phone app and I also have a Kindle Paperwhite that I like. Totally need to make better use of those options!

  • Reply alyssavbornhorst May 15, 2019 at 11:13 am

    Evening reading is hard for me too. I can start off the morning by grabbing some coffee and enjoying a book, but for whatever reason it seems to take so much more effort at the end of the day.

  • Reply Ana May 15, 2019 at 12:48 pm

    Love this! I’ve done similar, but in an analog format in my bullet journal, and I think doing it every so often can help initiate making changes when things aren’t working any longer. For example, I was prioritizing certain morning activities at home for a while, so I shifted my schedule later. Going forward, I realized that I should really spend my most alert hours working and am shifting earlier again.
    Totally agree with the Kindle app, I definitely read more because of it, and can squeeze in minutes here & there instead of scrolling social media. With a good book and the Kindle app I realize I can find all kinds of time to read throughout the day!

  • Reply Hannah N. May 15, 2019 at 1:27 pm

    I love this and think it’s totally a great idea to have an ideal. I was just wondering about “household chores” – time spent cooking dinner, packing lunches, doing dishes, cleaning, laundry, etc. I think maybe your nanny handles at least some of this stuff, but for those things that you do- any tips for efficiency in those areas? I find that even when I feel like my day is going according to schedule, these tasks can throw me off in a big way (specifically on the weekdays).

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger May 17, 2019 at 5:46 am

      I honestly don’t do most of those. The main chore for me is post-dinner cleanup (IF the kids did not eat earlier, which often they do) and helping/persuading the kids to pick up TOYS which always go everywhere. The only day I tend to pack lunch is Monday. I wish I had more wisdom to offer here, but honestly at this phase I don’t! It’s an expensive solution obviously but what works right now.

  • Reply Emma May 15, 2019 at 4:11 pm

    I am also a big fan of the ideal week–I actually have a separate “ideal week” calendar in my google calendar that I mesh with my “actual week” when I do my weekly planning. They never overlap (nor do I expect them to) but it helps me aim toward my ideal.

  • Reply Megan May 16, 2019 at 12:30 am

    I FINALLY have a skincare routine that I stick to. It’s a short version of Caroline Hirons recommendations
    Morning- quick cleanse (tiny dot of cream cleanser rinse with wet face cloth), serum, moisturizer, sunscreen
    Evening- double cleanse (in the shower with a face cloth), active product (retinol, acid, etc), facial oil (if feeling dry) and moisturizer.

    I re-buy the same products most of the time and don’t even think about it now. I used to be really slack and now I wonder how I ever went to bed with makeup on. Even if I’m exhausted I do a fast double cleanse and throw on some moisturizer- takes 2 mins!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger May 17, 2019 at 5:44 am

      that sounds reasonable and not that arduous . . . I’m 100% guilty of going to bed with makeup on. oops.

      • Reply Megan May 19, 2019 at 7:10 pm

        It’s really low key and low time commitment but it did make a huge difference to my skin. I don’t use anything overly expensive (my one indulgence is Leahlani champagne serum) or complicated. It had to be simple or I wouldn’t do it. Taking care of my skin was a failed NY resolution for 2 years before I made it stick

  • Reply Beth @ Parent Lightly May 16, 2019 at 10:30 am

    I’m slightly afraid that my ideal week would be a lot different than my actual week. Then again, maybe not! Adding this to my list for next week and may post about it as well! Thinking about time, work, home and effort a lot lately.

  • Reply NA May 16, 2019 at 4:12 pm

    Hi Sarah! Could you please share the type of coffee maker you have? I’d love to get something I can set up the night before.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger May 17, 2019 at 5:42 am

      We have an OXO Barista Brain. I’m not sure it’s worth the price but it does make good coffee and I do enjoy the timer feature 🙂

  • Reply My ideal week (May 2019) | She Does Better May 21, 2019 at 7:03 am

    […] was struck a bit last week when I read Sarah’s ideal week in part because it’s not something I had ever thought about before. I spend a lot of time […]

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