Best Laid Plans

BLP Episode #159: Thinking Through Quintile 4

August 14, 2023

How I Define Q4:

When school starts.  

In many ways – Q4 is the most jarring (if you have kids at home OR work in any sort of academic field!)

You’re going from the laid back special feeling of summer to something much more structured. No matter what your situation, there is often a lot to think about for Q4!


1-  Set up a time to do it!  I honestly would try to have at least a full half-day for this.  I will be planning Q4 most likely in two parts:

  • Dreamier “what do I want” type of planning —> on vacation.  I will do a lot of this on paper and will have some discussions with my husband so we can be sure to be on the same page.
  • More concrete “putting specific plans into action / into calendar” —> I did this on my flight home!  We are now at T – 1 week before school starts.  (AHHH but also YAY!)

2- Things I will be thinking about for Q4 . . .


  • school supplies
    • stuff school asked for
    • backpacks
    • lunch supplies including water bottles
    • uniforms if applicable
    • shoes
    • any forms needed prior to school entry
  • sports or activities (ie: piano dance soccer)
    • are signups done and any conflicts?
    • gear needed?
    • special events on calendar?
  • any necessary appointments / physical forms
  • back to school routines!
    • need to rethink this at every stage –
      • kid wakeup/morning routine (what time to leave?  who makes breakfast? etc)
      • homework routines
      • dinner/bed routine
      • school year screen time policies
  • family communication plans
    • might change as kids get older!  How can kids see the schedule?
    • kids tech needs – phones? etc


  • is everything booked if it’s happening Aug – Oct?
  • any childcare issues if traveling without kids


  • any upcoming travel to think about reserving in future?


  • Depending on your traditions you may have 1 or many holidays coming up – can think through plans 
  • Halloween 🙂
  • Upcoming birthdays to plan for or think about


  • my example –> any races that might find their way onto my calendar?
  • any concerts or plays that are coming out?
  • seasonal activities – list or not?
    • community events?
    • Pumpkin Patch?
    • Fall hiking, leaf peeping etc

GOALS!!!  As with any seasonal / quintile planning session, take time to take a look at your annual goals list! Use that to see what you’d like to tackle that was part of your big picture plan for the year — plus you can add anything on that feels right for the time period / your energy / the season.

I prefer to set goals in a limited number of categories:





If you enjoyed this episode and were thinking – wow I wish I could get an even more detailed and interactive version of this in the future . . .  with functional + aesthetic worksheets to elevate the experience . . . yes I am working on it!  This was requested by multiple listeners and I am excited to see it come to fruition next year!

2024 BLP Seasonal Planning Sessions are coming, with signups beginning in late Oct / early November. Make sure you are signed up for my newsletter if you want to be among the first to have access! 


  • Reply Omdg August 14, 2023 at 8:05 am

    Oh gosh we don’t do 1/2 of that for back to school! Reading that list was so stressful and I’m so happy that with one child it’s largely not necessary! My husband typically takes care of the registration / forms and I buy the stuff, and that’s basically it. The activities are already mostly in place, and I plan to encourage her to do some clubs/ school sports but otherwise… I don’t typically have to micromanage the homework thank god. Idk, that was just my gestalt on reading this.

  • Reply Grateful Kae August 14, 2023 at 8:57 am

    I think we (or primarily, I) do many of these things, but not in such an organized fashion. I have never actually sat down and mapped out the whole fall or cross checked all the various to dos, exactly. Somehow I guess we always manage to make it work; some things seem to come in natural waves for us. (e.g. when August nears I automatically think “school supplies”, club soccer tryouts happen back in June so that’s already dealt with, the piano teacher at some point over the summer sends the request for fall scheduling, emails come out about the various school forms, etc.)

    But I do really like the idea of making a “master checklist” of sorts to make sure nothing is missing! Things like new shin guards or soccer socks or other gear can definitely slip past me sometimes…. And I could definitely be more intentional about scheduling/ thinking ahead to fall fun activities, community events, etc.

  • Reply Coree August 14, 2023 at 9:47 am

    This was a really great episode! I’m in this weird transitional phase and have made my master to do lists for the autumn in Notion – one personal and one work. And it feels good to just start nibbling off my list.

    A big master list for the summer worked really well. I do always end up printing it out at some point but it’s nice to have it all in one place.

  • Reply Lisa of Lisa's Yarns August 15, 2023 at 10:24 am

    Loved this episode – it got me thinking about how to plan for the next stage of the year. But I wanted to let you know that the ad placement in this episode was off – there were no ads during the ad break; instead they happened in the last 4-5 minutes of the episode with no transition. you were talking about planning and then – bam – there was an ad! I was like – what just happened? 😉

    • Reply ndelacroix7 August 15, 2023 at 10:48 am

      I was coming here to say that too… I guess there was a glitch in the podcase matrix.

      • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger August 15, 2023 at 11:19 am

        Thank you for letting me know!

      • Reply Arden August 16, 2023 at 6:11 pm

        I thought it was a glitch in my matrix! Glad it wasn’t just me. 😶

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger August 15, 2023 at 11:19 am

      Omg!!!! I’ll talk to my sound people – not good!!

  • Reply Daria August 16, 2023 at 3:29 pm

    One of my favorite episodes! I, too, have a “master list” of things that repeat in every quintile. For instance, in Q4 is when all of us must get flu shots, so, it’s on the list and repeats year after year. Every Q2 there is spring break and we like to take trips so that is a repeat as well. Q1 is when I get mammogram- another repeat.

  • Reply Hannah, UK August 22, 2023 at 3:53 pm

    Loved this episode Sarah! I have a week off with the family just before back to school so going to block out some time to do this. I’m going to feel so organised!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger August 23, 2023 at 5:25 am

      I love this!! Thank you ❤️!

  • Reply Brooke August 24, 2023 at 7:56 am

    Love this. I’m wondering if anyone has any fun ideas for naming this Quintile other than “Back to School”? I can only think of negative ones – “Summer’s Over” “Back to the Grind” etc 😉

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger August 24, 2023 at 9:55 am

      Fresh Start Fall? The Other January? Focused Fall? I know August (and most of Sept!) isn’t actually fall, but a) the quintile DOES include fall and b) there are definitely fall VIBES!

      • Reply Brooke August 24, 2023 at 12:46 pm

        Focused Fall is great!

  • Reply Sarah August 29, 2023 at 5:07 am

    Was reflecting from this episode on how quintiles/quarters will align differently in regions other than North America, and thinking about how this intersects with planning and with planners (eg spring start planners, to align with the Japanese academic and fiscal year) – haven’t heard much mention of this in previous podcast episodes (apologies if I’ve missed it), and also wondering if BLPA resources factor this in? eg in Australia, the school year starts at the end of January (so all the back to school stuff happens then), with the other 3 school terms starting end of April, late July and early October (with 2-3 weeks holidays between each term, and 5-7 weeks off over summer). The clinical year for junior doctors is also in quarters – planning for our dept is based around this, with non-clinic/non-meeting weeks at the beginning of each term, even though our junior staff usually spend 12 months in the dept, but these don’t quite align with school terms (beginning of Feb, May, August and Nov). The year lends itself well to quarters based on either the clinical year or quarters based on school terms, with the possible addition of Q5 over summer holidays.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger August 29, 2023 at 2:21 pm

      Hi! So BLPA is much more about HOW to plan (with assistance in creating your own planning rituals around the day, month, season, and year) so it is not specific to any calendar. The goal is to help students built robust systems, clear the decks, and establish rock solid planning routines. Instead of being prescriptive, you are encourage to decide on the right division for your own year and create your planning rituals accordingly!

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