#1 You’ll Remember Appointments
If you want to be organized, remembering appointments is your top priority. At one time in my life, I missed appointments all the time. It was so humiliating, I was temped to lie about it! How could I forget the same appointment even when it was rescheduled? The reason was two-fold:
First, I sometimes didn’t write appointments and the location of the appointment down on my calendar. I either thought I would remember, was busy doing something else, or I wrote it on a piece of paper that never made it to my wall calendar. I once had a speaking engagement on my calendar, but didn’t write the location down. I barely made it in time after a frantic search for the right place. I was speaking on organization.
The second reason I missed appointments is because I’m a highly distracted person. I could look at my calendar in the morning and completely forget that dental appointment for the afternoon.
Today my iPhone’s Google calendar alerts keep me from missing appointments. I schedule events on my iPhone immediately and carry my phone with me at all times (even from room to room in the house).
I no longer appear disorganized because I’ve learned how to use my calendar in a way that works for me. Using your calendar to track appointments and events immediately and checking your calendar frequently (or using alerts) will keep you organized, too.
#2 Tasks Are More Likely to Be Done
Most of us use our calendars for appointments and events and a to-do list (paper or digital) for tasks. If you’re organized using that system, there is no reason to change. But research shows you are more likely to complete a task when you make time for it on your calendar. Francis Wade wrote a super popular guest post on Why CEOs and College Students Manage Time the Same Way. You guessed it! They use their calendars, going so far as to account for time in 15-minute increments.
I schedule my time using an app called Skedpal because I try to make the most of every bit of my day. However, simply scheduling time to complete a few important tasks will make you a more organized person. Do you have a vacation or a party coming up? When are you going to plan it? Schedule time on your calendar and you’re more likely to get it done.
#3 Homeschooling and Work Can Have Protected Time
When I started homeschooling I felt like I didn’t get any teaching in at all. I was too busy doing laundry, nursing babies, and chasing a toddler. I didn’t have a schedule for my homeschool. I figured I would teach when I could. Unfortunately, that meant almost never!
Once I adopted school hours during which I had a routine (a series of activities done in order, but not to the exact minute), homeschooling actually happened. Not only did having school hours help me get more done, it made me more confident as a homeschooling mom. Skeptics always asked me when I taught. I didn’t want to see them roll their eyes when I said, “Oh, you know, whenever.” I once sent my son to a science class held over a few days that I paid quite a bit of money for. He told me that the teacher spent the whole time using her iPad. If that irritated me (and it did), I felt I shouldn’t do the same thing by not devoting a certain part of my day solely to homeschooling.
I have been writing as long as I’ve homeschooled. It was tough to make time for that, too. It’s only when I scheduled the time that I’ve been consistent. When you have time allotted to working (if you work at home), you’re more likely to get things done. Your family will respect the time and so will you. Just as you wouldn’t want someone to bill you for work they hadn’t done, you want to use your calendar to protect and use your work hours. In doing so, you’ll be a lot more organized because you won’t constantly be trying to work when you should be spending time with your family.
#4 You’ll Make Time for Important People
I’m so busy as a homeschooling, blogging mom that it’s easy to let family time and time for my husband go. It just kind of happens. That’s why it’s important for me to schedule family time. We have family events and movie nights planned so nothing else takes over. Scheduling time for devotions that I do with my daughter has finally allowed me to do them.
My husband loves to entertain and come summer, he was always begging me to invite people over at the last minute. That drove me a little batty as I like to plan for guests. So at the beginning of summer, I asked my husband to list all the people he wanted to have over. I started booking dates with them and it was amazing! We had more people over than we’d ever had before, but I was more organized.
When you schedule time for important people in your life, you feel organized and the people you love are happier, too.
#5 You’ll Achieve Your Goals
It’s amazing how long three months seems until you plan using a calendar. “I have plenty of time!” you tell yourself. Whether you want to do a home project, meet a financial goal, or lead a ministry event, you’re more likely to succeed if you use your calendar.
We always tend to think we’ll have more time later. One reason is because we haven’t scheduled things far in advance. The calendar looks clear. One thing I like to do is to have recurrent events scheduled all year. That way I can see that while I have fewer appointments scheduled three months from now, my son still has drum lessons, my daughter still has gymnastics, and I still have to do the grocery shopping. I’m less likely to rest on my laurels like the hare and lose the race to completing my goal.
Our calendar can also help us achieve our goals by setting mini-milestones. It has taken me a very long time to complete the language arts curriculum I’m writing. But I was able to stay motivated by setting a completion date for each unit and adding it to my large wall calendar. A wall calendar is a great visual that can help us see how quickly the time goes.
Finally, you can use your calendar for the technique Jerry Seinfeld made famous called Streaks. Maybe you want to spend a little time every day decluttering. Every day you do so, put an X on that day for the calendar. The more days of decluttering you string together, the less willing you’ll be to skip a day–especially if this calendar is posted for your family fan club to see.
#6 You Can Get Organized One Day at a Time
I have written before that the best homeschool hack is organizing all year. Getting organized isn’t a two-week event in the summer, nor is it this mammoth beast of an undertaking that we tend to think it is. Organizing happens in the little steps we take today and this week and this month.
But what if you don’t know where to start? I know that feeling. When there are so many things that need your attention, so many parts of your life in CHAOS, so many projects that you don’t even want to face, it’s easy to want to go back to bed and figure it out tomorrow. But you know what will happen tomorrow, don’t you? Yeah, we know how that goes.
Even as far as I’ve come in getting organized, I need help deciding what small step to take today. That’s why I created calendars with daily 15-minute missions to organize every aspect of your homeschooling life. They’re a bonus for purchasers of The Organized Homeschool Life from Psychowith6 or for anyone who sends a screenshot of their review on Amazon to Psychowith6 at Gmail [dot] com.
Start Using Your Calendar to Get Organized Today!
Pull out those appointment cards from your purse and add them to a calendar you know you’ll use. Schedule time to complete a few tasks that are coming due. Create homeschool and office hours and put them on your calendar. Put a family game night, date night, or dinner party on the calendar. Put a mini milestone for an important goal on your calendar, too. Finally, pick up your copy of The Organized Homeschool Life and do today’s mission. You’ll be well on your way to an organized life.
Also Join us for the “How to Organize your Life in 30 Days” Challenge!
Do you feel like you are drowning in to-do lists, laundry, and dishes? Does lack of organization cause you to lose your patience or avoid having people over? Are you often late because you can’t find what you are looking for? As moms, we all have a lot on our minds and life is busy. In some seasons our mind becomes so full that we become less productive. I am teaming up with some amazing bloggers to bring you 30 days to an organized life! All you need to do to join the challenge is check out the landing page HERE and start working through the challenges. You can join in at any point, there are no rules! Share your before or after pictures on Instagram and use the hashtag #30dayorganize for a chance to win a $10 gift card to Hobby Lobby (3 winners)! The more your engage on social media, share the graphic below, etc. the more entries you’ll have! The winners will be announced on Instagram so stay tuned!
Francis Wade is guest posting today. I was a fan of his time-management novel and he became a fan of A Year of Living Productively. If you’re a busy person, I think you’ll be rewarded by reading.
Top college students and CEO’s share a few things in common. They both lead time-starved lives which are filled with short-term deliverables. Furthermore, in both professions, the penalties for failure are high. A meeting with a shareholder that is forgotten can cost a CEO his/her job, while a college student can flunk out of school by handing in a term paper only five minutes late.
They are not alone, of course, in being time-starved. While he was President, George W. Bush managed his time in sharp 15 minute increments. Like many people who are time-starved, his most frequently asked question each day was “What’s Next?”
Some other symptoms these very hard-working people share are:
– a tendency to give up personal time to do work
– a need to be available 24×7 to respond to emergencies
– the real likelihood of skipping meals, sometimes without realizing it
– having the experience of moving from one thing to another without having time to breathe
– finding they have not time to “do nothing”
– a restless feeling when, after graduation or retirement, the number of time demands is radically reduced
– a willingness to work at extreme hours, either late at night or early in the morning
– a difficulty in maintaining a balanced life
Obviously, this kind of life isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Nor should it be. Those who choose to live this way are part of an exclusive club whose members place results at the forefront, while everything else follows behind. The demands they place on themselves are tremendous.
What are the techniques they use to cope with the pressures they face each day? My research shows that their primary tool is their personal calendar as shown by the following video which shows a student building her weekly schedule in real time.
Notice how packed her schedule is with activity, and the care she takes to include items like eating and bathing that she’s likely to forget. She obviously takes her college success seriously and isn’t willing to leave her schedule to chance.
Here on the Psychowith6 blog, Melanie did a monumental job in 2013 of trying out new time management techniques and sharing the results. In week 11 she wrote a post about her experience using a daily calendar entitled “Could Scheduling Tasks Help You Get More Done?“
Her positive findings echo those discovered in academic research performed by separate researchers such as Dezhi Wu, Christine Bartholomew and E.J. Masicampo/Roy Baumeister. Their separate studies have shown that maintaining a schedule of activity results in greater productivity; notably, the first two researchers did their work with college students.
Furthermore, there is anecdotal evidence gathered by Mark Horstman at manager-tools.com that the vast majority of executives he’s worked with use detailed calendars such as the one developed in the video. He has completed a number of podcasts on time management which can be found here, repeating this finding in a number of episodes.
All the evidence, however, doesn’t mean that you should use this technique. There are other alternatives.
Another very popular approach is to place most tasks on a list, while only using the calendar for appointments. (The only other alternative – to use memory – is widely held to be ineffective.) Incidentally, Melanie has also experimented with using a To-Do list and found that it was difficult to be effective without one.
The key here is to understand that there are benefits to each approach and that there’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all. You are the only one who can decide how best to proceed. Here are some guidelines.
1) Never rely on memory
Both list and schedule-based approaches are built on the philosophy that trying to use your memory to manage the demands on your time is a poor practice. While it may work for a teenager, it fails miserably when the teen becomes an adult with a wide range of responsibilities. When the adult enters middle-age and his/her ability to recall short-term memories diminishes, the problem only gets worse, making the use of memory the least effective technique (although perhaps the most common.)
2) Start by making lists
If you are making the transition from using memory, it’s best to start by learning to use a single list. It’s a relatively easy new habit to learn, although it might become hard to manage as you get busier. This happens because lists require constant checking throughout the day, and when they grow past a certain length, this routine becomes tedious.
The remedy is to find a way to avoid having to look at the entire list, and instead focus on a subset. There are a number of techniques that one can use, but the first approach that people try is to tag or categorize each task in some way, and then use the tag as a way to filter the list.
There are any number of tags that can be used, but some popular categories include physical location (e.g. home vs. office,) person (e.g. spouse, boss, coach) and equipment required (e.g. desktop computer, printer, scanner.) The choice of tags is up to each person – there is no perfect system. In general, however, people choose tags that represent their scarcest resources.
3) Upgrade to a single calendar
If, like a CEO or college student, you are time-starved, then you might consider a major upgrade: using your calendar instead of lists.
A calendar of tasks differs from a list of tasks in two important ways. When we use a calendar we are adding three pieces of information, in a single step. By placing a task on a calendar we are giving it a start time/date and an expected duration. We also show, in graphic form, the relationship of that task to all the others around it. A calendar is a rich source of information.
For CEO’s, college students and other time-starved professionals, this information is critical to have in front of them as they attempt to make the most of their scarcest resource – time. Their calendars are usually electronic and mobile, synchronized between several platforms including the cloud.
For them, their calendar is their central point of control and they only use lists in conjunction with their calendar in the cases where it’s a practical add-on: such as a grocery list, or agenda.
To repeat the point – this particular approach isn’t for everyone. It’s not easy to learn and it requires constant practice and a high degree of discipline. New, fancy technology can make the learning curve a bit easier, but the underlying practices to be mastered remain the same.
This challenge reinforces the point – one size simply doesn’t fit all. Each of us must choose the approach that fits our particular needs and consists of habits that we can learn successfully. The decision to use one approach or another is up to you, and hopefully you can use these insights to make a choice that allows you to live a life that’s as productive as it can be.
Like this post? Be sure to read Francis’s follow-up guest post.
If you’re anything like me, you find dozens of great ideas you could use to get and stay organized in your homeschooling and life. The problem is overwhelm! Where do you start? It often feels like you aren’t organized enough to get organized.
I’ve been there. In fact, when I gave homeschooling a try by teaching preschool 14 years ago, I was convinced I had to quit because I was so disorganized.
- I was constantly forgetting appointments
- I couldn’t find anything
- The laundry piled up
- I didn’t follow through with my curriculum
- The stress made me short-tempered with the kids
Little did I know that homeschooling was the perfect remedy for a disorganized mom like me. I saw how incapable I was of doing what God had called me to do. It didn’t happen overnight, but today people consider me an organized person.
I’ve come a long way, but I still seek ways to make our homeschooling, home life, and work function as efficiently as possible. I’ve noticed that there aren’t a lot of organizing missions tailored to families who homeschool, and that’s too bad. We have specific organizing needs.
If you can relate, I invite you to join me for a year’s worth of challenges that will help us get organized enough to do all God has called us to do.
Find all the challenges at the Organize Your Homeschool page and get all the free printables you need here or by clicking the graphic below.
On Mondays, you can read the post, then do one 15-minute mission each remaining weekday, do an hour session over the weekend, or anything in between. One thing I forbid you to do is beat yourself up for not doing every mission. I’m telling you right now that I’m not going to do every single mission as scheduled! There are more important things in life than organization.
But if we do even a few of these missions this year, we will have a better homeschool than we had last year! That’s something to be excited about.
Please also follow the Organized Homeschool board on Pinterest for up-to-date great ideas for each challenge. Be sure to tell your friends about the challenge, too. Getting organized is always more fun with friends. If you haven’t already heard it, I invite you to listen to the Easy Way to Get Organized podcast on The Homeschool Sanity Show. I share ideas for how to get the most out of this challenge and share my fellow homeschoolers’ and podcasters’ best organizing tips.
I’m looking forward to getting organized with you this year!
Please share your organizing progress, tips, or related blog posts in the comments or on Facebook.
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