A Year of Living Productively

A Year of Living Productively

A Year of Living Productively2


Have you wondered if a new approach to productivity could help you in your home management, homeschooling, or business? I have.

My Passion for Productivity

My life is full with being a wife of an active husband, a mother of six, a home educator, fitness enthusiast, scrapbooker, tennis player, church volunteer, speaker, writer, and more. Over the years, many people have told me that I need to learn to say no. So that’s just what I say to them: “no!”

I love everything I do and I don’t want to eliminate any of those roles or activities. What I do instead is seek to make the most of every precious day I’ve been given. That means I try lots of productivity tips, techniques, and tools. People who know me best laugh when I talk about my latest-and-greatest way of working, because they know it won’t be long before I’m on to the next thing.

Can You Relate?

My guess is you can. Posts on productivity are some of my most popular here on Psychowith6 and I couldn’t be happier about that. I have to write to you about my passion, because my friends won’t listen to me anymore!

It used to bother me that I couldn’t just stick to one approach to time management. It doesn’t anymore. As Loren Pinilis of Life of a Steward reminds us, God is okay with us finding what works for us. Doing that may require lots of exploration to fine-tune your system.

My Mission for the Year

I’ve read and heard about people doing crazy things for a year: using a crockpot every day, traveling the world with their young family, and living out old Testament laws for women. This blog is Psychowith6 and I think it’s high time I do something crazy, too. So I’m going to:

Use a different productivity approach every week for a year

I’m going to rate each method and write about it here. I know, it’s nuts. I’m sure the crockpot lady asked herself what she was thinking after the first week! But I’m going to lay down some ground rules that I think will help:

  • If I need to quit doing something because I absolutely hate it, I will. The point is not to torture myself, but to discover what works for me and maybe for you, too.
  • I won’t completely abandon strategies I’ve come to rely on. For example, I use Google Calendar alerts on my iPhone to keep me from forgetting appointments.
  • I’m committed to writing about the approach I’ll be using for the upcoming work week each Friday, but I’m more committed to my family and my sanity. If something comes up, I’ll try to let you know on the way to the hospital. Not.
  • I reserve the right to take vacations and the right to call the end of December 2013 “a year.” So I didn’t start this January 1. Sue me. I’ll return your money.

Care to Join Me in a Year of Living Productively?

If you prefer to read as you’re able and silently snicker at my shenanigans, feel free. But if you’d like to take the adventure with me, I’d love the company! You’ll have the weekend to prepare to use the given method. Come Monday, give the new approach a shot and report back on your results, rating it for its ability to help you be productive on a 1-10 scale. If you’re a homeschooler, you could even try some of these methods with your older kids and get their feedback. And if you have a method you’d like me to test for you, I will certainly be your productivity guinea pig.

Week 1

Because you don’t have much advance notice,Week 1 is going to be the Old Faithful paper to-do list. Nothing fancy! You can use a sheet of paper, a pretty notebook, or a note card–just no sticky notes. Write down anything you have to do on your list and cross it off as you complete it. There are no other rules than that.

Click Week 1 below to read my results!

Week 1: Paper To-Do List

Would you like to read all of my year’s experiments at once? Try this PDF.

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Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity… Ephesians 5:15-16

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10 Steps to Planning Next School Year

10 Steps to Planning Next School Year

10 Steps to Planning Next School Year

It isn’t even summer yet, and homeschoolers are busy planning next school year. Take these ten steps to have your best year yet.

1. Inventory

Go through all of your homeschooling curriculum, books, and supplies before you do anything else. Why? So you don’t buy something you already have and also because you will get a very clear indication of what worked and what didn’t.

2. Organize

As you review each item that you’re not currently using, put it into one of four piles: 1) Using in the fall; 2) Using another year; 3) Sell/Give away; 4) Not sure. I like to store everything I am using in the current year in plain sight and everything else out of sight. This is the time of year to sell your unwanted items at used curriculum sales or online. Put “maybe” items in a separate box and review it when your school year is over.

3. Yes

Make a list of what worked well for you this school year–even if it only worked well for a while. What was it that made it successful? Newness, time of year, your energy? These are things you want to keep, return to, or build upon.

4. No

Make a list of anything that did not work for you this school year. What was it that caused the problem? Can it be fixed or does the curriculum or activity have to go?

5. Consult

Discuss your plans with your homeschooling friends. Maybe you can create a co-op, share curriculum, or share driving responsibilities. Perhaps your friends know a curriculum that would work better for you and your children.

6. Discuss

Talk about your impressions of the year with your children. They may have a different perspective on why something didn’t work or may be willing to give up other activities in order to keep a favorite. Discuss your thoughts with your spouse, even if your spouse isn’t that involved in these decisions. Often, talking it out will give you a fresh perspective. Budgetary issues should be addressed during this time.

7. Pray

Prayer can and should be a part of the entire process for believers. I sold a curriculum book for a tiny fraction of its retail value at a used sale last year, only to have a woman tell me she had prayed that she would be able to afford that very book. Our Lord wants to be involved in the smallest details of our planning and when we invite Him to be, we are blessed.

8. Schedule

One of the most common mistakes new homeschoolers (and even veterans like me) make is assuming they can handle more than they can. You will not have time to teach every subject, or even most of them every day. If you are running several days a week, you will not be able to do justice to the core subjects at home. Creating a detailed schedule will help you determine what you can reasonably accomplish.

9. Research

Once you know you need a new approach or a new curriculum, start doing your research. Read the reviews and do your price comparisons, looking at used outlets. My favorite sites are Rainbow Resource, Christian Book Distributors, Amazon, Homeschool Reviews, Cathy Duffy ReviewsEbay, and Homeschool Classifieds.

10. Purchase

After completing steps 1-9, you’ll be ready to make your purchase, whether you are online, at a bookstore, used sale, or a homeschooling conference. As the wife of a book salesman, please accept my encouragement to buy from someone you have a relationship with or a family business if the price is at all comparable.

One final bonus tip: start enjoying your new materials now! Why slog through the end of the year with the same-old, same-old when you have inspiring new stuff to delve into?

Are you planning next school year right now? Anything you’re struggling with or particularly excited about?


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