Before we dive in, I want to say this. I believe that God is the source of our strength and success. I know He deserves all the credit for the changes in my life. My degree in psychology, my natural abilities, and the dozens of books I’ve read have all failed to change me in terms of getting organized, helping me lose weight, homeschooling my kids, improving my patience, or writing books. In fact, most of the time those qualifications have gotten in the way of my success. It’s only been when I have confessed to God that I can’t and don’t know how and need Him to take over that anything lasting and worthwhile has occurred.
What I want to share with you today is wisdom that I believe the Lord gave me as I sought Him over and over again for help getting past my procrastination, disorganization, and addictions to get more done. But always take anything I suggest to you to the Lord yourself and ask Him to give you discernment for whether it is right for you in this season of your life. With that important disclaimer out of the way, let’s talk about how we can overcome three important obstacles to following through this year.
How to get more done despite our minds equating planning with completion
Last time, I explained that when we plan a goal that has some anxiety attached to it like saving money or losing weight, we feel better after planning. We feel we’ve done something and that makes all the difference to us mentally. Even goals that don’t have anxiety attached like writing a book or running a 5K fade into the background after we’ve spend time planning them and dreaming about them.
Planning is an important part of following through with homeschooling and other goals, so how can we follow through even though our mind is kicking back and relaxing? The first way is to use a 12 Week Year. One reason our anxiety is decreased after planning is because the end goal is far off. We tend to think of our homeschools as a full year, for example. And many people have goals for the year. We become like the hare, thinking we have plenty of time to win the race. Our anxiety is gone as soon as we’ve begun the race. It doesn’t kick in again until we’re nearing the finish line or the end of the year. Then, of course, it’s too late to accomplish anything meaningful.
The solution is to plan our homeschools and our goals for a quarter, not a year. Twelve weeks go by much more quickly. We can feel an appropriate amount of pressure to keep working toward the goal. We can plan exactly what has to be completed each week to reach the goal, where a year-long plan has to accommodate too many unknowns. Larger goals can be broken down into 12-week progress points. I’ve written about how planning my homeschooling by the quarter made a world of difference in keeping my kids and me motivated.
The second way we can overcome the planning-equals-completion problem is with remembering our why. Last time I gave an example of a woman wanting to lose weight because she was worried about her family history of diabetes. We humans tend to avoid thinking about these anxiety-provoking truths, so we have to work against that. We have to regularly consider why we’re planning, whether that’s our homeschool studies or a personal goal. We have to really think about it and consider it. Let me give you a personal example.
Last January, I realized with a start that at my current writing pace, I would not have the third volume of Grammar Galaxy ready for the Great Homeschool Convention in April. I imagined myself talking with attendees and trying to explain why I didn’t have another volume done, despite a year going by. I hated the thought of it! I worked furiously to be finished in time and every time I grew tired, I called up that image. I also reflected on my why, which was written on my weekly page of The Organized Homeschool Life Planner.
Remember your why by imagining in detail both how you will feel if you do accomplish your plans and if you don’t. Then reflect on your why at least every week.
The third way we can overcome the planning-equals-completion problem is by developing systems instead of goals. You may have a goal of finishing the first semester of your history curriculum before Christmas break. You are consistently reading and studying for 30 minutes every school day at home. But then the kids or you get sick. It doesn’t happen.
You can easily be disappointed that you don’t meet your goal. I could have had something keep me from publishing the third volume of Grammar Galaxy in time too, right? Not meeting our goals could lead us to want to throw up our hands in defeat. But both the history studier and I have something even more powerful than a goal. We have systems. If we continue the habits that lead to the goal, we will succeed–even if it’s not on the exact timetable we planned. There’s a good chance that if you continue studying history consistently that you will finish the book by the end of the year. Even if you don’t, you will have learned so much. If I kept writing Grammar Galaxy consistently despite the setback, I would have had the volume done for the next conference.
Using a 12 Week Year, remembering your why, and developing systems instead of goals can overcome our mind’s resistance to planning.
How to get more done despite our subconscious being on to us
The second obstacle to following through I discussed last time is our subconscious being on to us. It knows when we aren’t being realistic, that our goal isn’t important, or that we don’t have a good reason for pursuing our plans. It runs the show and we don’t follow through.
The first way we can overcome this obstacle is by consistently using a paper planner. Rather than having a one-and-you’re done approach, we can create a planning habit. I have found that planning by month, week, and day, I can easily see when I’m overloaded. Seeing plans on paper allows me to see that my expectations of myself and my kids aren’t realistic.
I prefer using a planner for myself that includes a schedule or routine for each day. In my Organized Homeschool Life Planner, I take my list of tasks and add them into a loose schedule for the day. It becomes obvious when I won’t be able to fit everything in.
Then I can use the third strategy for overcoming my subconscious and following through. That’s reduce commitments. When you’re asking a child or a work animal to do too much, they have a clear way of letting you know. They won’t budge. Our subconscious behaves the same way. When your weekly or daily plan freaks your mind out, you need to cut commitments. There are ways you consistently spend your time that should be eliminated, but there are also little things that just don’t have to be done. One way I identify these is by asking myself if I would stay up tonight as long as it took to get it done. If not, it can be removed from my plan for the day. My subconscious will start cooperating with me to get more done.
By using a paper planner, a schedule, and by cutting commitments, you can work with your subconscious to follow through on your plans and goals.
How to get more done by learning how we work best
The third obstacle that keeps us from following through is not knowing how we work best. We follow other people’s approaches and when they don’t work, we berate ourselves for being lazy. We may even tell ourselves we’re not cut out for homeschooling or the other goals we have.
This is what happened to me. I thought I wasn’t organized enough to homeschool or diligent enough to write books. I had plenty of evidence to back me up! But I tried using routines and wow! What a difference! Before I tried routines, I learned that time with God each day and exercise also helped me get more done. After trying routines, I tried other methods I’d read about like Getting Things Done. Some worked, some didn’t.
In 2013, I had the crazy idea to try a different productivity approach every week for a year and to share my results here on this blog. I was surprised by the response to it. I had people from all walks of life responding to my experiments. If you’re a long-time follower, you may recall the blog series. My intention was to write a book about the process at the end of the year. I started it but put it off and then gave up on the goal. Now I’m so glad I did.
Five years later, I’ve learned so much more about my own obstacles to getting more done and how to overcome them. In that time I’ve blogged, produced a podcast, written The Organized Homeschool Life book and planner, and three volumes of Grammar Galaxy. I also started a business and began conference speaking, while still homeschooling, making family and friends a priority, and enjoying several hobbies. What’s more is I’m happier and more at peace than I’ve ever been.
One big reason I’ve accomplished these things is I learned how I work best. I created a productivity formula unique to me in this season of life. I also know how to find what works for me as life changes. Instead of telling you how to get more done, I want to share with you how you can determine that for yourself.
Today I’m launching my book, A Year of Living Productively. In it I share over 80 productivity strategies. I give you the rationale for using them, the instructions for using them, my experience using them, and similar strategies to try. In the book, I help you decide which strategies to try first. Included with the book is a tracking form so you can reflect on your results. Like me, you may find that something that didn’t work before works brilliantly now and vice versa.
Purchasers will have access to a bonus that includes further reading for each strategy, another review of that approach when available, a list of the best tools, and a digital tracker option.
A Year of Living Productively is a great tool to use to become more productive as a homeschooling parent and as an aid in guiding your high schoolers and college students in getting more done. It’s perfect for assisting bloggers, authors, and entrepreneurs in achieving more than they dreamed they could. Save time reading the dozens of books I’ve read by giving only the methods that fit your life a try.
If you’d like the Kindle or print version, A Year of Living Productively is also available on Amazon. If you know a productivity junkie, someone who struggles with procrastion like I did, or anyone who wants to follow through and achieve their goal, A Year of Living Productively makes a great gift. Note that A Year of Living Productively is not a faith-based book but The Organized Homeschool Life is.
My prayer is that you can overcome the obstacles that keep you from following through with your plans and goals so that next year will be your most productive year ever.
Are you great at making plans for the school year but you never seem to do what you’ve planned? Or are you great at setting goals for the new year that you struggle to achieve? If that’s you, I’m going to put my psychologist hat on and explain why your follow-through fails.
One of my friends mentioned that she is a great planner. She has a great time taking her goals and planning them out in her planner in detail. She is so excited about her plans. She tells her family and friends about them. She believes she will succeed. And then the plans she has spent time crafting, the plans she was positively giddy about, never get beyond her planner. Why is that, she asked me? Why do her plans so often remain in the planner where she put them and never become reality?
If you can relate to my friend, know that I can too. I’ve left so many plans and goals in the planner cemetery. I wanted to know why I did that and how I could carry out my plans and achieve my goals. So I started doing some research. Then I did some experimenting. I learned there are three reasons we fail to follow through with our plans and goals.
Planning reduces anxiety
The first reason we fail to follow through was a surprise to me. Let’s say the new school year is upon you and you’re stressed. You don’t have anything ready. So you collect your books and grab your lesson planner and you start planning. Before long, you have several weeks planned. Ahh! Doesn’t that feel better?
Or let’s say that you haven’t been working out much this fall. As a result, your weight has increased. That makes you nervous because you have diabetes in your family. And you’re not that old. You know that if you don’t deal with eating and exercise now, you could have a serious problem later. So you talk with your husband about it and you agree that you’ll give one another the gift of a gym membership for Christmas. Yes! You ask for a new pair of running shoes too. Now you don’t need to worry about your health, right?
The problem is that sometimes when we make plans, set goals, or even take a small step toward achieving them, the anxiety that drove us to plan in the first place is greatly decreased. Research shows that in our minds, planning our goal is like actually achieving it. It’s handled, so we don’t need to think about it again.
When another homeschool commitment comes up that really needs to be arranged in your schedule, you don’t worry about it because you’ve already done some planning. But then things get real and your plan isn’t working. You stop using your lesson plans. Or it’s the holidays and you know you should work out and eat healthfully but you tell yourself that your gym membership in January will take care of it all.
Should we avoid planning to keep our anxiety high then? No, but there is a way we can stay motivated once we’ve planned. I’ll share that in next week’s post. In the meantime, I recommend reading How to Keep the Happy Planning Going.
Our subconscious is on to us
The second reason we fail to follow through with our plans is our subconscious knows the real reason we’ve made our plans and it’s not a good enough reason to do the work required.
So you planned lessons using two different science curriculum because you couldn’t decide which one to use AND you know that some of the best homeschoolers say that one curriculum isn’t enough. You really admire these homeschoolers whose kids got full-ride scholarships. You also scheduled one read aloud a week regardless of how long they are, simply because you want to read a lot of great books this year–like the ones you meant to read last year.
But your subconscious is thinking, “Really? Like that’s going to happen.” We can ignore our subconscious for a while, but as soon as we get through a week or two of school and get nowhere near everything done, our subconscious behaves like a homeschool hater. “You may as will give this up,” she mocks. And so we do, even though we don’t acknowledge that we aren’t being realistic in trying to be awesome homeschoolers. By the time we acknowledge that we aren’t following through with our plans, we’re more likely to tell ourselves that we’re losers than see that no homeschooler could do everything we planned.
When it comes to fitness, if one of the real reasons you wanted to set a fitness goal is because you know you’re going to see your super fit relative over the holidays, you aren’t likely to follow through. You’ll see her and say, “Yeah, so we got ourselves a gym membership for Christmas.” She’ll be enthusiastic. “That’s great! Good for you,” she’ll say. And you’ve accomplished your goal as far as your subconscious is concerned. No need to sweat it until next year when you see her. You can join a different gym then.
If you aren’t following through, there’s a good chance your “why” for your plans or goals is weak. Next time I’ll share strategies for keeping a strong why.
You don’t know how you work best
The third reason you aren’t following through is you don’t know how you work best. Some of the homeschool bloggers you follow have their kids start school by 7 a.m. It works for them, so you’ve been trying that. But you’re a family of night owls. Every time you try to get the kids up in the morning, it’s a battle. They’re tired and you’re cranky. Once you start, the kids sit and stare into space, falling asleep during your great read aloud. You’ve tried letting them get up much later, but that doesn’t really seem to work either. You have no idea how to get it all done without being mad at your kids and yourself.
And that’s just the beginning. You don’t know if you should be a year-round homeschooler, a textbook homeschooler, or a co-op homeschooler. Do you have time to work, blog, or start a business too? It sure doesn’t seem like it, though your finances could certainly benefit from the extra income.
Your super fit relative gets up early to work out. It gives her energy, she says. But you are so exhausted from staying up late and exercising early that you just want to crawl into bed and skip school. You’re just not the exercising type, you decide, and the fitness goal is forgotten.
You don’t know how you work best because you’ve been trying to make what other people do fit you. I did this for years in my homeschooling. I wondered what was wrong with me and my kids.
I also did it in my efforts to blog and write books. I thought I was a loser who wasn’t cut out for writing because I couldn’t make other people’s approaches work for me. And then I tried something new. Instead of continuing to force myself to use other people’s methods, I started experimenting. In 2013, I tried a new method to help me follow through and be productive every week. In the process, I found some things that worked brilliantly and discovered others that people raved about that didn’t work well for me at all.
At the end of that year, I felt like I understood better how I worked best. I planned to write a book about my experiments and share the secret to getting more done. But months went by. And then years. And I still hadn’t written the book. During that time, however, I learned more about how I can get more done. In fact, I started becoming more productive than I’ve ever been. In fact, in addition to homeschooling and podcasting, I published The Organized Homeschool Life book and planner and three volumes of Grammar Galaxy language arts curriculum. I began speaking at homeschool conferences and running a business while still having time for my family and several hobbies.
At the beginning of my year of experimentation, I thought I would be telling people the best strategies for getting more done and following through with their plans. But five years after finishing the experiments, I understood that the most powerful strategy is to learn how you work best. I finally felt ready to write a book about others could discover their unique productivity formula like I did. It’s going to be available to you next week when we talk about how you can get more done in 2019.
But if you can’t wait until then to develop your own method of following through, you can download a free sample of the book, A Year of Living Productively, that will get you started. Click the book cover above for your free sample and productivity updates.
Next time I’ll explain how I overcome these three obstacles to follow-through to be the most productive (and happy) I’ve ever been. Talk to you then.
What’s your biggest struggle with follow through? Comment and let me know.
Spring motivates me to get things done. I think it’s the return of the sun. Whatever it is, I’m glad! These are six sources of inspiration for me now. To receive the fabulous, time-sensitive sanity savers that I share with friends, be sure to subscribe to the newsletter.
#1 Spring bucket list
Bucket lists inspire me to do the things that matter most. I love this bucket list that is part of The Organized Homeschool Life Planner, now shipping in print to the US. Grab your copy of the bucket list (no opt-in required) and start adding activities like planting flowers, visiting a botanical garden, a zoo trip, flying a kite, or nature walks.
Most of my readers are homeschooling mothers. Some of them left careers behind to homeschool. But we don’t have to leave our skills and talents behind. This classic book will give you a fresh perspective on your calling at home.
#6 A Million Little Ways
Emily Freeman’s book is a new look on this topic that can make work seem like play. And isn’t that what we all need this spring?
Want more productiviy inspiration? Check out the last list of sanity savers here.
What’s on your spring bucket list? Comment and let me know.
Sometimes it isn’t about a new app to increase your productivity. Sometimes we just need a little shot of inspiration. That’s what this week’s list of sanity savers is all about. To get access to time-limited sanity savers, be sure to subscribe.
#1 Live to your potential
I’m a fan of Jordan Peterson’s and this video about how much time we waste and how we could live instead is worth watching and rewatching.
#2 Making Oprah podcast
Oprah Winfrey is one of the people featured in the above video as living their potential. Whatever you think of her philosophy on life, you have to admit that her accomplishments are amazing. I listened to the short-series Making Oprah podcast about her rise to fame and was particularly moved by episode #3, which discusses the famous car giveaway episode. She insisted that the giveaway have intention. I want to live with intention too.
If you have a blog or business, you’ll love the Brilliant Business Mom podcast. My favorite episodes are interviews with moms who have succeeded as entrepreneurs. The podcast inspires me to persevere as a business woman.
#5 Pre-Game Routine
James Clear describes a pre-game routine as how we can get motivated to do important things: start the homeschool day, write your book, or manage your finances. In reading it I realized that I often change my routine, making it difficult to enjoy the motivational benefits.
In thinking about a pre-game routine, I remembered that exercise used to be mine. I worked out before starting my writing for the day. Now I’m working out in the afternoons with my daughter and my pre-game routine has been willy nilly. I tried ReFit at a women’s retreat recently and enjoyed it. I tried doing these dance exercises to Christian music before I started my writing routine and it worked! I did another song after my writing session to get the blood pumping again. This is something you could do with the kids.
This week I’m sharing my favorite sanity-saving books from the past year. I’m a sucker for nonfiction and if it changes my life? All the better. Remember that if you want all the time-sensitive sanity savers too, you’ll need to subscribe.
#1 Sidetracked in the Wilderness by Michael Wells
I read this book by the late Michael Wells and discovered that I was trying to live like Jesus instead of letting Jesus live through me. I can tell you that it’s exhausting to try to live like Jesus. If you read one book this year, this should be it, in my opinion. I wrote Homeschooling Where Strivings cease in response.
#2 My Weakness for His Strength by Michael Wells
I wanted more of Michael Wells’s grace-affirming writing and I found it in this devotional. I love these devotions so much that I alternate between reading several at once and saving them because I can’t bear to finish the book. I am so thrilled that there is another volume. These devotions remind me of one of the best sermons I heard at church this year, on New Year’s Eve. Essentially, the message was I didn’t have to change. I was already loved. The change had already been made — not by me but by Jesus’ finished work on the cross. Hallelujah! That’s worth celebrating for this woman who is always trying to be better in her own strength, for all the wrong reasons.
#3 Deep Work by Cal Newport
I owned Deep Work on Kindle for a very long time and didn’t make time to read it. The irony. I got the audiobook and devoured it between working out and getting ready in the mornings. The book doesn’t tell you what your deep work is. In other words, if you’re a blogger, finding content that could go viral on social media may be deep work for you. Instead, deep work is important work that requires focus. The book both inspires us to pursue deep work and makes suggestions for finishing it for lots of different styles. I love the idea of going away to write, but most likely my deep work will happen in the mornings before the kids are up.
#4 Overwhelmed by Kathy Lipp and Cheri Gregory
Overwhelmed is another book I listened to in audio. I loved it. It’s not only helpful but hilarious. The narrator’s comic timing is wonderful. I wasn’t that overwhelmed when I listened to the book. What I appreciated most were the get-real stories from the two women in the book. They battled signing up for too much, difficult people, humiliation and more. A godly perspective with plenty of humor helps the listener feel like she can survive just about anything. Highly recommended.
I’m recommending this book even though I haven’t finished it yet. It is not only a fascinating look inside a chef’s world but an uber-inspiring manual for becoming more productive in your life and work. I plan to write about how to apply the principles to homeschooling. In the meantime, I am lining up my toiletries in the morning, mise-en-place style!
#7 Organize Tomorrow Today by Jason Selk, Tom Bartow, and Matthew Rudy
Organize Tomorrow Today is like having a coach in a book. The chapters are chock full of inspiring real-life examples of achievement and a practical exercise. I incorporated some of its excellent principles into my Organized Homeschool Life planner.
What should I be spending my time doing and how can I get those things done? As a mother of six with four children I’m still homeschooling, a blogger, a podcaster, a curriculum writer and business owner, a wife to a self-employed salesman who always needs technology assistance, a tennis player, and scrapbooker, I have struggled to answer those questions. While I am by no means a master, I do have answers that have made a huge difference in my life. I can’t wait to share them with you.
The first question we have as busy homeschoolers is what should I be spending my time doing?
This is the first question because it makes no sense to improve our ability to get the wrong things done. What are the right things? As you would expect, there is no one-size fits all answer. To find the answer for you, you need to look to the Lord and look at your life.
First we should look to the Lord. If we spend time looking to God first, we can save ourselves a lot of time and confusion.
Ephesians 5:15-16 reads:
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”
I pray over this Scripture daily. I recently learned that the phrase “the days are evil” means that everything outside of the Lord’s path seeks to take us off His path. The path is His will for us. But that’s confusing, isn’t it? No matter how much I’ve prayed, God has never given me a complete 5-year plan or even a schedule for the day!
So looking to the Lord leads us to another question: How can we know God’s will? There are more ways than what I have listed here, but the first way we can know His will is through the Holy Spirit. He teaches us all things. He is the inner voice, the feeling deep in our souls that tells us we’re on the right path. Have you experienced this? The second way is through His Word. It’s a light to our path. Being in the Word daily allows the Lord to give us specific direction. It’s amazing how often the book we’re in relates to the place we’re at. The final way I want to share that we can know God’s will is through other people. At one time I was praying about whether I should do a mom’s Bible study. That day a friend asked if I was going to do one because she hoped that I would. When the Spirit and the Word and other people’s advice come together, we can be fairly certain that what we’re doing or considering are God’s will for us right now.
Well that’s just clear as mud, right? We’re not going to be 100% certain of God’s will for us because He gives us the wisdom we need for today — not for the week, this month, or this season. What we CAN be sure of is that if we get off track, He will take great pains to bring us back.
Isaiah 46:11 says, What I have said, that I will bring about; what I have planned, that I will do.
We simply aren’t powerful enough to ruin God’s plan for our lives, so we can relax. We can know what to spend our time on by looking to the Lord.
We can also look at our life. Psalm 90:12 says, Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Mandy Kelly‘s death at 34 was a stark reminder to all who knew her that our time here is short. Mandy was committed to leaving a legacy behind for her children. I know that if you’re reading this post that it’s your desire, too. When we number our days, we realize that the spilled milk really isn’t worth crying over.
But it’s hard to keep that long-term perspective in mind. I spoke at the 2:1 conference for homeschooling bloggers on time management using an object lesson that proved to be very powerful. I want to share it with you. You’re going to want to download the free worksheet I have for subscribers as you complete the following exercise.
Imagine that I hand you 24 $1 bills. Each dollar represents one hour in a 24-hour day.
I’m going to ask you how you want to spend those dollars with a couple of rules. First, you can’t spend less than a dollar. And second, you have to spend the same amount every day. So when making decisions, average the time and select based on an ideal school day.
The first thing I will ask you to spend your money on is sleep. Sleep is like taxes. It comes right off the top. How much sleep do you need to be at your best? Not how much do you get, but what would be ideal? Write that amount on your form.
The second thing I will ask you to spend your money on is God. We won’t include Sunday time because Sunday isn’t a typical school day, but any time you spend in devotions, worship, Bible reading and Bible studies, church service, or charity work apart from Sundays should be averaged to come up with the amount. Write that amount on your form.
The third thing I will ask you to spend your money on is your husband if you’re married. For this category, I’m not asking you to include family time or meal times. This is time alone with your husband each day. The time could be divided, like a half hour in the morning and a half hour in the evening. Put that amount on your form.
The fourth thing I will ask you to spend your money on is your kids. This is likely to be a large category, though it does not include homeschooling time. Here you would include meal time, family time, child care time, time in the car, time spent at kids’ activities, appointments, etc. Average this time out to come up with an estimate and write it down.
The fifth thing I will ask you to spend your money on is personal time. This includes hygiene time, exercise, and any appointments you have for your own care averaged out. Do not include leisure time in this category. Write it down.
The sixth thing I will ask you to spend your money on is homeschooling. Do not include time that you are not actively teaching or tutoring. If your kids are working on their own, that isn’t included. How many hours do you ideally need of your teacher time to homeschool a day? If you teach in a co-op setting or volunteer for a homeschool organization, average that time out and write down a total.
The seventh thing I will ask you to spend your money on is homemaking. This is the average amount of time ideally that you would spend on meal planning and preparation, grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning, chores, bill paying, running errands, and organizing. Don’t include time that your husband or kids spend, but only what you spend. Write that amount of money that stands for hours down.
The eighth thing I will ask you to spend your money on is friends and extended family. In this category, include face-to-face friend and family time, phone calls, texting, and social media that is purely relational. If you provide care for someone outside of your immediate family, add the time here. Average this time per day ideally and write down the amount.
The ninth thing I will ask you to spend your money on is hobbies. This includes reading, surfing the web, television, crafts, sports, and optional shopping. Add this amount to your worksheet.
The final thing I will ask you to spend your money on is work or potential work. Do you work or have a business in addition to homeschooling? The number of hours you are committed to would go here. If you have considered working or starting a business but aren’t yet doing so, now is the time to total up the hours you’ve written prior to this category. Do you have time left for work or a business? If you already work, do you have enough hours left over?
If you’re like most people, you will be out of money before you get to the work category. Is all hope lost? No. Now you know, however, what sacrifices must be made in order to continue working or in order to add something else to your life. Talk over your worksheet with your spouse and with another homeschooler if you don’t know how to make everything fit. I recommend listening to How to Homeschool in Less Time if you suspect homeschooling is taking too much of your time. If homemaking is taking too much of your time, could you delegate or hire out some of these tasks? These are just a few examples of where to free up time. Pray about your use of time and you may gain wisdom for what to change.
Be aware that I put the categories roughly in order of importance. If you don’t get adequate sleep, everything else will suffer. If you aren’t spending time with God, you won’t have the spiritual strength and wisdom to do everything you’re called to do. If you neglect your marriage, your homeschool will eventually suffer. If you don’t take care of yourself with exercise, you won’t have the energy you need to manage your responsibilities.
Once you have balanced your time budget for an ideal day, you are ready for a schedule.
Of course, in real life we can schedule half an hour for things, we can combine things, and we may do some things just one day a week. But now you have a guide for creating your schedule. I recommend that you schedule blocks of time.
For example, in the morning, I have blocks of time for my time with God, my personal time, time with my husband, business, homemaking, and homeschooling. In the afternoon I have blocks for kids, friends, homemaking, and business. On Thursdays I have a combination of friend and hobby time in the afternoons. The evenings are for homemaking in the form of meal prep and clean-up, kids, husband, and hobby time in the form of reading. I sometimes spend time with God in the evenings as well.
Any schedule you create for yourself should be considered a draft. You can constantly work on improving it. If you discover a way to combine more things, you can free up time. You may discover that you have scheduled activities at times that don’t fit your energy levels. Move things around and experiment.
I had such success with doing this personally and with the bloggers I spoke with that I decided to do the same thing with my kids. The final category for them was screen time. I asked them how much time they needed to do their schoolwork and chores, and to have time with friends. The result was a schedule that has helped them a lot. It’s even resulted in them having regular game time with their siblings.
The Problem With Schedules
This just sounds great, doesn’t it? You should have a schedule you can use to accomplish all the important things in your life. There’s just one problem. Schedules are like diets. As soon as you’re on one, you resist it. When you’re scheduled to do something, it’s suddenly the last thing you want to do. It’s just like when you’re on a no-sugar diet. Then sugar is all you can think about.
When you eat the donut that isn’t on the diet, what do most of us do? We say, “Oh well. Might as well eat everything because I’ve already blown it.” We do this with schedules, too. “I was supposed to be teaching math for the last hour and I’ve been on Facebook instead. I’ve blown it, so I’ll get on Instagram next.” If we didn’t have the “I’ve blown it” mentality, we wouldn’t binge on things that aren’t the best use of our time.
So here’s what I recommend:
Create a schedule. It can be an ideal schedule and even a detailed schedule for today. I have an ideal schedule but I also create a schedule for each day to help me see exactly what I can get done. I use the Panda Weekly Planner for this that is informed by Skedpal. But then I put the schedule away. I give myself permission to go off schedule without guilt. If I’m supposed to be teaching history and get caught up chatting with a friend instead, I don’t feel guilty. I don’t rewrite the schedule. If I’m not sure what I had planned to do when I’m done chatting, I’ll refer to the schedule again. But only if I want to. The more guilt I feel, the fewer important things I will do and the more I’ll resist the schedule.
Jesus said the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath. I think the same is true of the schedule. We make the schedule for ourselves. If it isn’t serving us right now, it is okay to override it. I prefer to teach my kids at the same time each day. But I might end up chatting with a friend instead. If I find that I’m spending more time with friends than I allotted on a consistent basis, I’ll need to reevaluate. Even with a great schedule, I’ll never be perfect in how I spend my time. But I can feel good about it and I do. I believe that if you follow these steps, you can be successful with your schedule, too.
How many hours did you have left over when you did the exercise? Let’s chat about it on Facebook.