Would you like to get more organized in your homeschooling this year? Many homeschoolers would. But where should you start? Should you start with your bookshelves? The schoolroom? Maybe the kitchen because you spend so much time there?
Organizing these spaces is a good idea. But the most important area in your homeschool to organize isn’t a space at all; it’s your time. I’ve written before about the importance of your calendar in organizing, but now I want to take a closer look at why organizing time usage should be a top priority for you this year.
#1 Organizing takes time
How many times have you said (or at least thought), I need time to get organized? However often you’ve had the thought, you were right. Organizing anything does indeed take time. Of course, we all have the same 24 hours in a day, so what we really mean when we say this is we need to take time for organizing tasks.The key is how much time and can we afford to dedicate it to organizing? We may also ask if we can afford not to take time for organizing.
#2 Homeschooling is time
In my state, I’m required to keep track of hours spent homeschooling. Transcripts for high school and college are an accounting of credit hours. And while we can accomplish more educationally in less time than traditional schools, homeschooling is still about time spent. Success in most subjects for most students will correlate with how much time has been devoted to it. Statistics comparing students who read 20 minutes a day to students who read just 5 or 1 minute a day is astounding. When it comes to homeschooling success, organizing your homeschool time will be far more important than how you organize your art supplies. We know this, yet the results of organizing our homeschool spaces are more Instagram-worthy, so we can get off track.
#3 Our time is our life
My kids don’t remember my system for organizing their toys and frankly, neither do I. (I just remember a lot of weeping when small pieces to things were strewn everywhere). My children didn’t even express awe over the binders and bins I used to keep their school materials organized. But they remember the medieval feast, the states and regions field trips, and the holiday parties. They remember time well spent. And so do we.
How to Organize Time
If we recognize that time is the most important area of our homeschool lives to organize, how do we go about it? Frankly, it can be challenging. I have spent years studying time-management approaches (better known as productivity these days). I can’t distill what I’ve learned into one blog post, but I can give you strategies that have made a huge difference in how I organize my time.
#1 Start with God
I think we have heard this so often, that it begins to be an obligation. “Oh, I have to begin my day with God because that’s the right thing. I won’t be a good Christian mom if I don’t do that. God will be mad at me if I don’t.” That sense of obligation and guilt actually works against us having time with the Lord.
Instead, time with God is for us. Time in the Word and in prayer encourages, reduces anxiety, gives wisdom, and saves time. I have had many days that were headed for disaster before my time with the Lord. I was anxious, despairing, and ready to give up teaching for the day. Then I read God’s Word and He spoke to my heart through it. Some days I found what I needed through my regular reading. Other days it came from looking for specific verses. In praying with thankfulness, in humility, and for the needs of others, I found that whatever was troubling me was small in His eyes. In praying about my overwhelm, I found God using my husband to help, tasks taking less time, and scheduled events being canceled. Beginning the day with God isn’t an obligation, but an honor and a privilege. I couldn’t organize my time without Him. For some homeschool moms, beginning the day with God means the night before or even afternoon. Early morning is not an obligation.
#2 Keep a short list
Have you ever noticed that God’s to-do lists were always short? Even in creation (an undertaking so enormous, we can’t fathom it), God’s task list was short for each day. The list of commandments is just 10 items and Jesus simplified them to just two. Jesus never gave His disciples a list of 30 things they had to do. And believers’ action list is just one item long: “Go and make disciples.” We are the ones who complicate matters. And believe me, I understand why. The Bible was written before email, Pinterest, and blogs like this one. You can come away with a list of to-do’s from everything you read or see. But here’s the thing. God hasn’t asked us to do all these things. When we’re overwhelmed, it’s so often because we’re taking on a load He hasn’t given us. Keeping a short list each day requires us to trim those unnecessary tasks, leaving just the essentials.
But I can hear you now. “That’s all I can do? Just the essentials?” Or maybe that’s my voice I hear in my head. I want to do more than the essentials. When we limit our list to essentials, we prevent overwhelm, and are likely to get these tasks done faster than if we were working from a list of 100 things. With the time left over, we can choose to do any nonessential tasks we’d like. And if we have no extra time? We have the satisfaction of knowing we finished everything that had to be done, without the guilt of frittering time away on nonessentials.
#3 Schedule time
Francis Wade’s guest post is one of the most popular on this blog. He argues for the power of scheduling when organizing our time. He won me over. I didn’t like schedules at all. They felt too restrictive. I’m a homeschooler after all! I shouldn’t have to be on a schedule (It was like a dirty word to me at one time). But scheduling allows us to make time for God, for homeschooling, and for that short list of essentials. A schedule is like a budget for your time.
I used to spend money until I got an overdraft notice. I didn’t have a budget because it was too depressing. I would see that I couldn’t get fast food because I couldn’t afford it and my rent too. We can be like that with our time. We don’t want a schedule because then we will see that we can’t sign up for ten field trips next month plus have our kids in the musical and start a podcast, while still homeschooling our kids. So we just do it all and complain that we’re overwhelmed, as though some maniac is in charge of our time. I know a maniac has been in charge of my time!
The solution is to schedule our time — not to the minute, but loosely. We must include not just time for God and homeschooling, but our relationships, homemaking, organizing, and time for things that renew us. Because I’m a rebel at heart, once I get my schedule written out, I find I don’t want to use it. I want to switch things up and I have to accommodate the unexpected. That’s fine. Simply the process of creating a schedule helps to limit our focus and serves as a reality check for our time.
The Easy Way to Organize Your Time
I’ve created a system that will help homeschool moms like you organize the most important area of their lives–their time. It will allow you to organize your time with God, develop a short list of what’s most important, and schedule time for everything God has called you to do — even the fun stuff!
What do you struggle with most? Time with God, keeping a short list, or scheduling everything?