6 Smarter Ways For Caregivers to Plan Their Week.

When my dad was diagnosed with Lung Cancer, I already had an insane life.  One minute everything was normal, and the next minute I was running head first into an explosion of tests, treatments, and never ending appointments.  

How does anyone manage all of this?  And how does anyone keep on managing their day-to-day life when cancer becomes the priority?

Woman outside in the garden planning her week.  Text overlay says 6 smarter ways fpr caregivers to plan their week.

Here’s a lesson that cancer teaches very quickly… Life doesn’t stop when cancer explodes into your family.  Things just get much more complicated. 

Weekly planning is the ONLY way I’ve been able to manage all of the chaos that comes with helping someone you love battle a disease like cancer.

It’s kind of like living in a pressure cooker.  You’re terrified, anxious, and overwhelmed by pretty much everything.

And on top of that, you’re trying to manage an endless to-do list (where literally everything feels like a priority).  


What if we could show you a quick and easy way to organize important medical information so you can actually find what you’re looking for?

No hassle, no stress, with a quick and easy setup that takes minutes to maintain.  And the best part… It’s 100% Free.

You can get the Cancer Binder Pack here…

The whole situation is really intense.

Weekly planning ahead of time makes sure you know exactly where you need to be, what you need to do and helps ensure that nothing major gets missed.

Because weekly planning breaks everything down so you can look at the week as a whole.  Then you know ahead of time which days are going to be crazy, and which days you might just make it.  

Once you know what your week looks like, you have the ability to head off any nonsense that might come up. 

Being a cancer family is hard.  One of the first things you realize is that without a plan you’re just aimlessly running around trying to manage all of this.

It’s stressful and overwhelming and you’re completely out of your element.  A weekly plan gives you a road map to where you need to be, things you need to do, and priorities that need to be handled. 

Without a plan, you’ll be dropping “balls” all over the place… 

The Best Way to Start Weekly Planning

Step 1:  Think About Your Unique Situation.

Start this process by considering your whole situation and everything that comes with it.  

Two hands on the steering wheel looking out to the road.
What time do you need to leave to get there on time?

Here’s ours- My dad received treatment at Memorial Sloan Kettering for his 21- month battle with Lung Cancer.  And now my husband, mom, and father-in-law all receive treatment at Sloan as well. That means we have a 2 hour (one way) commute from where we live.  

So for us, appointments and treatment might mean…

  • Overnight trips.  
  • All-day stacked appointments with a 4-hour commute (for more than one person because that’s less travel for us).
  • Planning for traffic into or out of NYC depending on the time. 
  • All-day trips that start at 2 am. (We’ve done a few of those as well… staying in the City is expensive).

That also means that while I’m running all over the place (because I do most of the driving), I have to make sure there is a plan for my husband (if he’s not with me) and the kids for things like dinner and laundry. 

I need to have something quick and easy for dinner, that anyone can make and that everyone likes.  If I don’t have a plan for that, I know to expect a huge take-out bill that we can’t afford on a regular basis.  

I also know that things like laundry will be an issue because my husband wears suits for work so he needs clean clothes and if the kids have sports their uniforms will need washing. 

Finally, I need to work because my family relies on my paycheck.  My job is flexible and location independent so I can work from anywhere, but I have to schedule in time to get my work done (so for me that might be extra hours the day before or after one of these trips to make sure I meet any deadlines).

Using this Weekly Planning system is especially helpful to make sure I don’t miss anything important on those really crazy and hectic days!

Action Steps

Think about your unique situation and write down anything that will affect how smoothly the week goes.

Brainstorm things like…

  • Travel Times
  • Overnight Visits
  • Appointments (example: something like dialysis would affect your schedule significantly)
  • Kid Pickup/Drop offs
  • Child Care/School Schedules
  • Work Schedule

Step 2: Plan Your Week.

Weekly Planning pages with weeks events all mapped out
This page is the ONLY way I could get control of a hectic week.

In its simplest form, a weekly plan boils down to just 3 major things… 

  • Where you need to be
  • What you need to do
  • How you can head off as much of the insanity as possible

So, the most important part of your weekly planning is what’s happening each day.  If you have a planner that you use consistently, grab it.  

If not you can grab our Weekly Planning Pages here…

Before you start unloading into the planner though, grab a piece of paper (or the brainstorming page from the Weekly Planning Pages) and a pen. 

Now, start brainstorming everything that you know is coming up for next week.

What’s going on during the week that you have to plan for?  Where do you need to be?

What needs to get done?

Think about things like…

  • Appointments
  • Pharmacy runs
  • Scans
  • Treatment
  • Bloodwork
  • Picking up kids
  • Grocery shopping
  • Soccer games
  • School concerts
  • Kids home from school 
  • Work schedule
  • Scheduled overtime
  • Errands (haircuts, oil changes, books from the library)
  • Defrosting meat for dinner

You can see a real life example of a weekly schedule from our journey here…

Once you’ve identified everything that’s going on, you can start your weekly planning…

You can grab the Weekly Planning Pages here…

Action Steps

  1. Write down everything you have going on for the week task by task in your planner. 

(Hint:  Use a pencil or a Frixon pen so you can erase completely with no mess if things change).   Protip: Things are always changing!

  1. Consider if there are any tasks on the list that you can delegate to someone else?  Can your sister grab meds from the pharmacy?  Or can a neighbor grab the kids from school?
  2. Underline anything you have scheduled that is NOT a priority.  This will allow you to skip them if the week goes berserk.  

Step 3:  Plan Your Meals.

Quick and easy chicken and green beans
You can’t go wrong with quick and easy 15- minute meals.

Meal planning will save you a ton of time and money.  So I always include at least dinner in the weekly plan.

This way, you’ll know what you’re making, when you are making it and if you do it right, you’ll have all of the ingredients in the house and be ready to roll.  

Stick with 15 minute meals, which will help you get a decent meal on the table super quickly.  If you need ideas for quick and easy meals, you can find TONS here…

Because you have planned in advance (which you can do from the couch while watching Netflix), you’ll have a strategy of meals that your family will eat (and like!) ready to go.

This way, when things get hectic, you’re already ahead of the game.

You can find instructions for meal planning here…

Once you’ve finished planning meals, the next step is to get everything you need into the house.  

If you don’t have the ingredients you need to make the meal, your meal plan is going to be a disaster.

So you have two options…
  1. You can make a list, drive to the store, spend an hour or two sifting through aisles, grabbing groceries…
  1. Or, you can order your groceries online and arrange a time for grocery pickup or grocery delivery.  

I live in a small town on top of a mountain, so grocery delivery is not an option for me, but I LOVE grocery pickup.

***When you’re a caregiver, having an hour to spend aimlessly shopping at the grocery store feels like a vacation.  But, that’s nothing compared to the vacation-like feeling of going to pick up the groceries you already ordered and spending that hour doing whatever you want***

  • Grabbing a coffee at a nearby coffee shop.
  • Spending an hour at the library.
  • Taking a power nap in the parking lot of the grocery store (which I do sometimes).

I’ve become a true fan of grocery pickup which not only saves me a ton of time, but it also saves me BOATLOADS of money because I’m not randomly throwing things the kids “might like” into the cart.

And I’m totally guilty of napping in a quiet corner of the parking lot at my local grocery store with the doors locked and my Dunkin Donuts Iced Coffee.  ?

You can learn more about the Weekly Planning Pages here…

Action Steps

  1. Jot down your meal plan for each day.  Stick with 15- 30 minute meals and schedule one for every night.  (If you need quick and easy meal ideas you can find them here and here… )
  2. Get the groceries in the house.  Either by grocery shopping, grocery delivery or grocery pickup.

Step 4:   Establish Work Times

woman working on her computer from home.

Depending on your situation and the position your loved one is in, you may need to make some changes at work. (Hint:  If you live in the US, FMLA will protect your job for several weeks if you’re a caregiver, you can read more about that here…

  • Have your hours or days at work changed?
  • What hours will you be working?
  • Are there days you’ll need to take off?
  • Are you scheduled for extra or different hours?
  • Have you reduced to a lighter schedule because of this situation?

If you need some ideas to supplement your income FROM HOME this is the best list I’ve found…

You can grab the Weekly Planning Pages for $7 here…

Action Steps

  1. Write down any changes to days and times you’re scheduled to work for the week.
  2. If your hours are flexible like mine are, make a note of the times you plan to block out for work.  (Even if you’re normally on top of this, jot it down.  Cancer has a bad habit of sucking up your time).

Step 5:  Schedule Stress Relief

woman sitting with her feet up enjoying a cup of coffee
Start with 15 minutes and gradually increase the time.


The 21 months that I helped my dad battle cancer was hands down the most stressful time of my life. It was also one of the most incredible times of my life.   

You have to figure out some time to relax.

If you don’t find the time to do the things that matter to you, to rest and relax you’re going to burn out quickly.  And as you know, you could be running this schedule for the next 10 years.  In fact, I pray that you are.

You are going to have to schedule some time to take a break.  Start with small amounts of time and build up from there.

If you’re not sure how to start scheduling time for stress relief, we can walk you through the whole process here…

Need meal ideas to get started you can find them here and here…

If you want an easier meal plan that will eliminate most of the work, you can find that here…

You can get the Weekly Planning Pages here…

Action Steps

  1. Schedule 15 minutes of “me time” every day next week.

Step 6: Plan for Your Bills

Bill pay checklist
Mark your bills off as they get paid.

Schedule this!  Every week.

When my dad was first diagnosed, it never occurred to me how drastically everything would change.  

We were running all over the place for appointments and treatment…

And every bill I owed was either late or completely forgotten.  We spent the next month trying to catch up and figure out what was paid/not paid so we could get back on track.

Things that you naturally do all the time get missed and you won’t even realize it.

By adding a monthly Bill Pay Checklist (available in the Weekly Planning Pages) to my weekly planning, I knew at a glance what was/wasn’t paid and what was coming up.  

This system lets you check things off as you pay them, so you always know where you’re at and you can adjust as needed.

You can get the Weekly Planning Pages for $7 here…

Action Steps

  1. Write down all of your monthly bills.
  2. Mark down any bills that need to be paid this week into your weekly plan.
  3. Check off bills as they are paid for the month.

And that’s it.  That’s the whole process for weekly planning.  

Cancer is like a bomb drops into your family and your whole world explodes. In its wake, it leaves appointments (tons of them), scans, treatments, doctors, nurses, insurance companies, medication, symptoms, side effects, STRESS… 

You can’t deal with everything flying at you unless you have a plan.  You won’t make it, I don’t care how good you are. This cancer business is like a 60+ hour job.  

Weekly planning is quick and easy.  It helps you stay organized, know what’s coming, and makes sure the important stuff is taken care of.

Most importantly, planning ahead lets you head off as much craziness as possible, so you can make the week go as smooth as possible.  It will save you a ton of time and a lot of energy.

I’d love to know how it went.  Let me know in the comments.  


What if we could show you a quick and easy way to organize important medical information so you can actually find what you’re looking for?

No hassle, no stress, with a quick and easy setup that takes minutes to maintain.  And the best part… It’s 100% Free.

You can get the Cancer Binder Pack here…

Image of the cancer binder pack

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