Any time we consistently struggle with changing something in our lives, there’s a good chance we are believing some lies about it. I know that’s been true for me with time management. I’ll share six lies we believe that keep us from using our time well.
#1 I’ll remember that
When a class registration deadline comes across my email, my friend asks me to buy something for co-op, or my son tells me he needs deodorant, I cannot lie to myself and say that I’ll remember it. I have to write it down. Before I homeschooled six kids, I was able to remember quite a few things, but no more. I made a rule for myself that absolutely everything has to be written down right away with good reason. I was meeting with a friend when I got a call asking me to substitute teach a class at church. My first mistake was taking the call when I was with my friend. The second was telling myself that I would remember to put the date on the calendar after my friend left. You guessed it–I didn’t show up to teach the class. I let a lot of people down and ruined my reputation. She didn’t ask me to substitute again.
I have such a hard time remembering things that I can’t rely on a paper calendar. I use Google calendar and have it send me two alerts for appointments through my phone. Once I was substituting for someone for tennis and left my phone on my nightstand. I didn’t get the alert and missed tennis. I now have an Apple watch and have my phone with my at all times to prevent these embarrassing times of forgetting.
Maybe you aren’t as forgetful as I am, but it’s still important not to believe that you’ll remember without making a note, adding an event, or setting up a reminder for yourself right away. Make sure you are using a trustworthy system.
[Related Post: Balancing Marriage, Homeschooling & Business]
#2 I don’t have enough hours in the day
It really does feel like we don’t have enough time to do everything that is required of a homeschooling mom. If you work in addition to homeschooling, the pressure is even greater. However, the not-enough-time concept is a lie. We all have the same amount of time. We may have a different number of commitments, however.
The truth is that if we consistently feel overwhelmed, we are most likely taking on things that God hasn’t asked us to take on. We have the kids in too many classes or too many activities. We are spending too many hours a day on actual teaching. We are volunteering for too many things. We have high standards for things like cleaning or cooking that God hasn’t given to us.
I imagine that Martha, Jesus’ friend, would have complained about not enough hours in the day. Jesus said to her that she was worried about many things when only one was needed — what He wants us to do. God doesn’t send tasks our way on a fast conveyor belt. So if we are shoving candy in our mouths or pockets because it’s coming at us too fast like it was for Lucy, we need to step away and ask God what the one thing is He has for us to do now. Then we need to prayerfully consider and discuss our commitments with people we can trust. What can we let go of? Where can we cut corners so we feel content with the amount of time we have? I realize that when I feel a sense of not having enough time, it’s almost always an issue of discontentment.
[Related Post: Contentment 101: Time]
#3 I’ll get caught up later
The funny thing is we believe we have a shortage of time now, but somehow magically more time is going to appear in the future. We even do this with seasons of our lives. We watched a video at church years ago of a man who had a different excuse for not getting involved during each season of his life. Of course, he never did get involved.
The main reason we believe this lie is because we think we have to devote large chunks of time to activities. The man didn’t volunteer because he thought he would have to commit to twenty hours a week for life, when he could have done a three-hour shift when he was needed. Instead of seeing the compounding benefit of spending fifteen minutes a day organizing, we think we have to wait until summer vacation to get started. Meanwhile, like the man who never volunteered, organizing never happens.
We can conquer this lie by committing to a small, but regular amount of time to the things we know God wants us to do. Small, frequent investments of time or money pay off.
#4 I just need to find the right planner or application
I would love to have all the hours back that I’ve spent researching and setting up planners and time management apps, not to mention the money! I spent an entire summer setting up a digital record keeper that I didn’t use. The truth is we can accomplish great things by using a to-do list in a notebook or planner we already own. Usually, the simplest method is the most effective.The shiny new app or planner isn’t what gets the work done; we are. Most of the time our research or lust for something new is just a way of putting off work.
Defeat this lie but looking for the notebooks, planners, and apps you already own but aren’t using. Often discovering a beautiful planner you already own is motivating. If you still don’t feel like working, we need to talk about lie #5.
#5 I’m a procrastinator
Labels are incredibly powerful. Most of us wouldn’t dream of labeling our children lazy. Children live up to their labels. But ‘procrastinator’ is the socially acceptable label we all love to laugh about. Yet, it really isn’t that funny. Procrastinating is costly financially, emotionally, and socially. Christians have the gift of self-control. We are capable of overcoming the procrastination habit, especially if we don’t wear the label with pride.
I don’t procrastinate frequently now, just as I don’t swear. It’s part of who I am as a Christian woman not to be fearful of a task or to put it off when the consequences are so negative.
To defeat this lie, stop believing that you’re a procrastinator. Begin practicing habits that will change your behavior. I did a year’s worth of weekly experiments to increase my productivity that may be of help. But two of my favorite tips for beating procrastination are to break work into tiny tasks and to randomly work on tasks. You can take something you’re putting off and create many small steps out of it. But I prefer to count a task as done for the day if I do anything on it. For example, let’s say I need to grade papers, something I don’t like to do. I can be done with the task if I make copies of the grading sheet I use to evaluate them. If I want to do more, I can. Otherwise, I’m done for today.
The next trick for defeating procrastination is to make a list of everything you want to do, including things you’ve been putting off. Roll some dice or use a random number generator like random.org to choose the next task you’ll do. I love to combine these two methods. If I land on “grade papers,” I can make the photocopies, cross off the task, and roll again. It’s a good idea to add an uncompleted task like grade papers to the end of the list or to tomorrow’s list.
#6 If it is to be, it’s up to me
This was my life motto, unfortunately. I didn’t allow God or anyone else to help me. The weight of marriage, parenting, homeschooling, and even my own medical care was on me. I didn’t ask for help because I didn’t trust anyone else, including God. I have changed a lot and no longer believe this lie.
Many homeschool moms are tired and overwhelmed because they don’t ask for help. They don’t pray and ask for specific, practical help. I prayed about a week that was completely overbooked. I had no idea how I was going to get it all done. One by one, the commitments dropped off the schedule. Even though it was my fault I was so overloaded, God in His mercy came to my rescue.
We also fail to ask our spouses for help. As long as I can make my needs clear, my husband is happy to help. He wants me to be stress-free. The key is to be clear about our needs. Our children can also do so much to help. The key with them is not to be perfectionists. I asked my children to cut some things out that we needed for co-op. They looked like children had cut them, but who cares? It was a great opportunity for them to learn and serve and a great opportunity for me to focus on what only I can do.
We can also ask our friends for help. If we never ask for help, we are silently communicating that they shouldn’t either. Think about that for a minute. Do you want your friends to give up homeschooling or get sick because they’re stressed and don’t believe they can ask for help? That’s what happens when we aren’t honest about our needs. I love that I have a friend who will teach for me and will also allow me to teach for her.
You Can Overcome the Time Lies in Your Life
When we work to defeat these six lies, we will find that we remember important things, feel as though we have enough time, work on tasks regularly and frequently, use what we have to get things done, get to work now, and ask God and others for help.
Which of these lies steals the most of your time? Let’s chat about it on Facebook.
The excitement of the new year is starting to wane, leaving me with a need for refreshment. I don’t want to wish my way through the rest of winter. Neither do I want to give in to sloth and discouragement. I want energy and vitality in my homeschool now. How about you?
There are a number of ways to incorporate a little Energizer bunny into our homeschools. I’ve discussed them on The Homeschool Sanity Show podcast. But I have one favorite way of getting refreshed — organizing.
I’m not one of these ultra-organized women. I don’t have everything in a beautifully labeled basket or bin. Martha Stewart wouldn’t be impressed. But I do geek out on getting my act together. I once purchased an organizing system for my scrapbooking supplies and couldn’t sleep because I was so excited about using it. I get a little jolt of energy, a burst of encouragement, and a bit more tenacity when I organize something.
I think refreshment from organizing is hard-wired. We crave completion. It’s one of the hardest parts of homeschooling. We have to wait more than a decade for our work with one child to be done. Organizing in your homeschool or your life gives you a win. It’s like running a marathon and feeling like you can’t take another step. Then you reach a mile marker where there’s a refreshment stand. Suddenly you believe you can finish. (I’m guessing that’s what it’s like because I don’t run marathons!)
I wrote a post on refreshing your homeschool through organization at Year Round Homeschooling. I’d love to be one of the people who cheers you on to the finish line when you read it. It helps me finish my journey.
See you there!
If you want to get organized this year, you’re in good company. It’s the second most popular goal for the year. But it’s a big one. Where do you start? I recommend starting with six areas.
#1 Organize Your Tasks
The first area I recommend you organize is your tasks. Nothing makes me feel worse than forgetting to pay a bill, forgetting to RSVP or even forgetting a party completely, or letting someone down because I don’t have my tasks organized. This used to be commonplace for me when I started homeschooling. There is one good reason for that. I didn’t have a system for dealing with all of my tasks.
As homeschooling moms in a digital culture, we have tasks presented to us in multiple ways. In addition to traditional mail, we get email, phone calls (sometimes on more than one device), text messages, and social media messages and event invites. We also have family members and friends asking us to do things in person. If you’re like me, this happens all the time. If any of these tasks fail to make it to a common list, we are likely to forget them.
The solution seems simple enough. We need to choose one place to house all of our tasks. The first decision to make is whether you will have a digital or a paper task list. A digital task list has the advantage of always being with you if you have a smart phone. This is the method I choose. The advantage of having multiple alarms to remind me of appointments is huge for me. If you choose a paper list, choose something that you can take with you wherever you go. If you have a home planner and want to have a smaller planner with you when you travel, it can work. But you will have to be disciplined in transferring your tasks to your planner when you get home every time.
Once you’ve chosen a central to-do list, your work in organizing this area isn’t done. Next, choose a method of insuring that all tasks make it to that main list. I was once in the middle of a meeting when I got a phone call asking me to be a substitute teacher for a class at my church. I was sure I would remember to put the date on my calendar when I was done with my meeting. I didn’t. I no longer allow myself to put off adding tasks, appointments, or even grocery items to my list. Develop routines for adding Facebook events, text messages, and phone tasks to your list. For example, every night before dinner, go through your messages of every sort and add them. Use a checklist for all the places you need to look for tasks. Organizing your to-do list will help you feel organized this year.
#2 Organize a Parent-Teacher Conference
A second organizing challenge to take on this year is to have parent-teacher conferences. This is certainly not a typical organizing challenge and it may seem funny to suggest to a homeschooler. But it is amazing how much anxiety we homeschool moms can have about our children when we aren’t discussing them with our spouse or someone else if we aren’t married. The successes feel more significant and the challenges seem smaller when they are shared.
One of the things I have learned over the years is that my husband has some anxiety about how our children are doing. Having a parent-teacher conference gives me the opportunity to talk about what each child is working on. It also gives me the opportunity to share ways in which my husband could be supportive. For example, if my kids are doing a computer coding course and he doesn’t know, he might tell them to get off the computer. It’s a good idea to talk about all of your children’s needs and accomplishments during this conference. Discuss progress in chores, sibling relationships, and attitude. If there is something your spouse or another confidant can do to help you in homeschooling or parenting, be sure to ask.
#3 Organize Your Homeschool Space
The third organizing challenge I recommend you take on this year is to put your homeschool space in order. A cluttered and disorderly space takes a toll on your morale as a homeschool mom and does not encourage your children to work hard. Rather than ogle designer homeschool spaces on Pinterest, my recommendation is that you remove anything in your homeschool space you aren’t using. Simplify your space and keep frequently used items accessible. If the kids have to move things around in order to access their books or tools, you will have a mess every day. It’s better to have these items visible, even if they aren’t pretty, than to have the frustration and mess making.
In order to make your homeschool space decluttering easier, don’t make any final decisions about curriculum and material that you’ve purchased at this point. Just remove it if you aren’t using it. Put it in storage and leave the possibilities open. Ask your children to help you find the best place for the things you are going to be using. When you’re done decluttering, then pretty up the space. Attractiveness is important, but only after you have simplified. Buy a nice art frame or two to display your children’s work. Or put maps in a frame. Have favorite photographs of homeschool activities enlarged and framed for your homeschool wall. I love this idea and will be implementing it this year.
#4 Organize Your Used Curriculum
The next organizing Challenge I have for you is the used curriculum challenge. If you know you have things that you won’t be using again, then you can absolutely get them out of your home now. Otherwise, wait until the end of the traditional school year to decide what to do. When you have younger children who may be using materials in the future, It can be hard to let go of curriculum. But I can tell you that I have sold or given away curriculum only to have to repurchase it and I survived. I also could have asked to borrow curriculum if I did not want to repurchase it. It feels great to sell or donate items you won’t be using anymore. You can bless other families with them. I wrote a comprehensive post about the best places to do just that.
#5 Organize Kids’ Clothing
Once you have organized your to-do’s and your homeschooling, I recommend you get clothing organized. Make it simple for your children to choose what to wear. The easiest way to do that is to remove clothing that they cannot wear right now. I have spent countless hours organizing my children’s hand-me-downs. I did save money doing this, but I honestly wonder now if it was worth it. I do know homeschooling moms with large families who don’t hand clothes down. If you need to keep used clothing, I recommend that you start with the oldest children. Have them choose clothing that no longer fits. Then have the next oldest child of the same gender give it a try. Choose a number of clothing items that you think is appropriate for each child. If your child is in need of more clothing, add those items to your shopping list. You do have a shopping list now, right? I use the built-in list on my iPhone for this purpose. Having your children fold clothing in drawers using the Konmari method well help them to remove items without making a mess.
#6 Organize Meals
The final area I recommend you organize this year as a priority is your meals. Unfortunately, dinner has to be made at the end of the day. If we haven’t planned ahead or put something in the crock pot, we’re likely to be irritated by having to get dinner on the table when we’re tired. Without a plan, we are likely to go out and spend more money or time having to run to the grocery store at rush hour. Failure to meal plan costs us money, time, and good health. Fortunately, there are easy ways to meal plan. The simplest way is to make a list of easy meals your family loves. Create a meal plan and grocery list from them. Start with a one-week plan and keep creating more plans as you can.
A more advanced way of planning your family meals is to use Plan to Eat. Sign up for a free trial. Once you have your family’s recipes added, you can drag and drop them to a calendar. In this way, you can plan an entire month if you want to. Another advanced meal planning method is to do freezer cooking. You can not only plan your family’s meals but make them in advance. It’s one less thing you have to worry about at the end of a long homeschool day. My favorite freezer meals go into the crockpot in the morning. Finally, you could opt to use a premade meal plan. The problem with that method is not liking all of the recipes. I have had very good luck using Tastefully Simple’s 30 day meal plan, however. I also have a free meal planning book for you.
When you have completed these challenges, you’ll be well on your way to an organized year. If you’re ready for more, I think you’ll enjoy my book, The Organized Homeschool Life. It includes 52 challenges for organizing every area of your homeschool life.
Which area are you organizing first? Let’s chat about it on Facebook.
This is the time of year when we homeschoolers consider what worked and what didn’t in our homeschools. We want to plan to have the best homeschool year possible. There are three simple strategies for homeschool planning.
Ask yourself why and why not
The first step isn’t purchasing a new planner or learning a new program. Instead, it is to ask yourself why and why not. First, consider your best homeschool day. By that I mean to choose a typical homeschool day that went really, really well. Envision it as clearly as you can and then try to determine what it was that made it so good. Was it scheduled? Did everyone go to bed on time the night before? Did you exercise before you started your day? Did you do devotions first thing? What were your children’s attitudes? What material were you studying? How were you learning it? Were you working as a family? Were you doing individual tutoring? Were you going with the flow and learning as you felt led? Perhaps you included a field trip or spent some time outside.
Our natural tendency when something out of the ordinary goes well is to think that we can’t do it on a regular basis. Allow me to explain. If you had an amazing homeschool day because your children begged you to keep reading a book they love and you did it, you may think that doing this on a regular basis isn’t realistic. If you took an unschooling approach to the day, you may think that you cannot meet your homeschool goals that way. Or perhaps you relaxed the rules and ended up having a great day. Ask yourself why not. Why can’t you continue to do the things that work? I find it helpful to actually say ‘why not’ out loud. Perhaps your answer is someone wouldn’t approve. Whose approval do you need to homeschool your children in a way that works? Perhaps you have very real regulations that you have to abide by. Is there a way that you could continue to have great homeschool days and still meet those rules? I encourage you to ask a veteran homeschooler who knows you and knows the laws of your state about your homeschooling practices. Ask how you can continue to have more great homeschool days.
In the same way, consider one of your worst homeschool days. Really picture it in your mind. What was it that led to this disastrous day? Did you have cranky kids because they hadn’t gotten enough sleep? Were you cranky for the same reason? Were you pushing your children to do something because you were worried about what someone else was going to think? Did you continue to insist that your child complete a certain curriculum or use a certain approach that ended badly? If you aren’t sure what led to that no good, very bad day, ask your children if they can remember. Our children are often very good at being able to tell us what isn’t working. We just have to be willing to listen.
After you have considered all of the aspects of the day that led to its demise, ask yourself if you have to do things the same way in the future. If you believe that you have to keep using the same curriculum or completing the same classes or keeping the same schedule, ask yourself why do I have to? Whose expectation are you trying to meet? Is it truly a rule that you must keep? Are there activities that you absolutely must engage in, or are there activities that you could let go of in this season? By asking ourselves why not when it comes to activities that work and why for activities that don’t work, we can come up with an excellent homeschool plan. The truth is there are many homeschoolers who would not approve of how I homeschool my children. But I no longer care! Homeschooling the way that we do it works for us. And with God’s blessing and obedience to the law of my state, I don’t have anything to apologize for.
Establish routines that work
The second step to take when planning your homeschool year is to establish routines that work. Most likely the homeschool day that was ideal for you involved healthy routines. You got enough sleep, you didn’t have a meal at 10 o’clock at night, and you felt in control. The best way to realize the goals that you have for your homeschool this year is to establish routines. I had FLYLady (a.k.a. Marla Cilley) on my podcast talking about the power of routines. The lack of routine is what threatened to destroy my homeschooling when I had barely begun. No one had ever told me about the power of unloading the dishwasher at the same time every day, the power of insisting children do chores every morning, or the power of having a consistent bedtime. All of those things and more made homeschooling possible for me and even made having more children possible.
A routine change you should consider, if you haven’t already, is doing family school time together in the morning. I have done this for years. Some of our family time activities include prayer, Bible time, history, vocabulary, and read alouds. The content has varied over the years, but the routine of beginning our school day together has been a part of o our ideal homeschool days for years. When we are finished, my kids do individual work and I can help with individual subjects.
A second routine change to consider is cleaning up after every subject. When your schoolroom and your home are in order, you feel better about what you’re doing. FLYLady discussed this in a podcast episode on getting organized.
A third routine to add is scheduling time for the weekly organizing challenge of the week from The Organized Homeschool Life. Last year I tried to do my organizing challenge during our regular chore time. I usually got so into the challenge that I wasn’t supervising the kids’ chores. Let me tell you, the kids need supervising! This year I will be spending an hour per challenge on Saturdays.
Plan the quarter
The final step in planning your homeschool year is to plan the quarter. What we often try to do in our perfectionism and desire for control is plan the entire year. I’ve spoken before about the recipe for frustration this is. Listen to the podcast episode I did with the creators of A Plan in Place planners for more on that. I have also spoken before about how motivating it is for my children to have a short list of assignments to complete before they can earn a break. Planning quarterly has allowed me to give my children that motivation all school year. I created a quarterly homeschool planner that you can find in the show notes. I recently began using Trello to plan my children’s quarter. I created a Periscope broadcast where I showed how I set it up. Things change so often. Kids get sick, the unexpected comes up, and planning an entire year is not wise.
With a new homeschool plan, 2017 can be a very blessed year. What’s on your new homeschool plan? Let’s chat about it on Facebook.
If you’re a new homeschooler, you may be understandably anxious. You want your first year to go well. After all, you have a lot riding on it! You may have had to convince family members that homeschooling is the right choice. You may have quit working or cut back to part-time. You may have invested in lots of curriculum. You may have signed up for homeschool classes and groups. Now it gets real!
If you’re a veteran homeschooler, you may be dreaming of an even smoother, more peaceful year than what you’ve had before. You may have a lot riding on it, too. You may be wondering if you can keep doing this. You may feel like you haven’t been the teacher and mom God has called you to be. It’s about to get real again!
Advice From a Homeschooler Who’s Been There
Whether you’re a new homeschooler or a veteran, you need the guiding hand of an experienced, godly mom. You don’t want the woman who was seemingly born with Pinterest-worthy organization skills, because she wouldn’t be able to relate. You want advice from a real-life homeschooler, right?
While I like to try and give that kind of advice on this blog, on Facebook, and Periscope, I have found a woman who has put the kind of advice I give into a book. Alicia Michelle has written The Back to School Survival Manual for homeschool moms like us. It will bless you with its:
- Practical help for clarifying your homeschool vision
- Suggestions for women who don’t want to have their lives controlled by their curriculum
- Easy organizing tips and loads of printables!
I’m so impressed with the book that I requested to become an affiliate. Alicia invites you into her homeschooling struggles and explains how she discovered the no-nonsense solutions to them. I am amazed that though we didn’t know each other, we developed so many of the same ways of making our homeschools saner. I hope you will consider buying the book and will recommend it to your friends.
Do you want more help for a saner homeschool? Check out my post, The Best Resources for Back to Homeschool and subscribe to The Homeschool Sanity Show.
I love to write, but I really love to write about the topics that matter most to you. The top 10 most popular posts help me determine that. Did you miss any of these? If so, click the title to read them.
Here’s to a great new year of discovery and sanity-savers. Thank you so much for reading, commenting, and sharing. You are a blessing!
Classical Conversations has become extremely popular with homeschoolers and this huge list of resources organized by cycle and subject area seems to be helpful for those enrolled in the program and those who are curious about it.
This guest post by Francis Wade really resonated with readers and with me personally. In fact, it made me change how I manage my busy life. Don’t miss this one!
I was really blown away by the quality of the free piano instruction Joseph Hoffman supplies and I couldn’t wait to recommend it to readers. Apparently I’m not alone in my opinion! I enjoyed a great conversation with Joseph on my podcast that I link to as well.
I started this challenge at the beginning of 2014 and it has grown in popularity as we begin a new year. I am going to be removing the dated calendars, so you can choose to do the challenges in order or when it works for you. Get your homeschool organized in just an hour a week!
My experimentation with a daily, weekly, monthly to-do list was very popular in 2013, so I wasn’t surprised when my recommendation of another list of this type turned out to be very popular. Would it work for you?
I will say that I was a little surprised by the popularity of this challenge, but happily so. I shared my approach to personal, couple, and family devotions and how to make them habits. I was surprised that so many haven’t found the right approach to make devotions a part of their lives, but I am thrilled by the heartfelt desire to make it happen.
Anything to do with to-do lists is popular on Psychowith6 and this post where I give suggestions for how to manage one is no exception. What’s most important is not the type of list you use, but your commitment to using one consistently. Get the inspiration you need here.
I knew bucket lists were popular, but I didn’t know what a happening time fall is on Pinterest. I you love fall bucket lists, pin this post so you’re ready way ahead of time.
Tom Dixon wrote this post and since no longer has his Monday is Good blog, but I think you’ll be inspired by his excellent goal-setting advice.
Routines have changed my life. It’s hard for me to believe that I once had a willy-nilly-not-so-happy lifestyle, but I did. Complete this challenge for a routine that could change your life, too.
You’ll enjoy reading the other iHomeschool Network bloggers’ top ten posts of 2014.