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Having a plan for my day allows me to work through my tasks as a busy mom giving priority to the things that are most important and accomplishing great goals with a series of small tasks. That doesn’t come naturally to me. This series on how to create a schedule lays out my system for making it work for me.
In Part One we discussed why having a schedule was the answer for me, and why it could be just the tool you need. Then, in Part Two we learned how to determine what activities are required for your day. (WWJwmtD?)
Today, we’re putting all the pieces in place to actually build the schedule.
First, list your activities and the times required to accomplish those. You should have already done this following the advice in Part Two. Remeber to prayerfully consider your activites, and get approval from Jesus and your husband, then jot down the amount of time needed for each task.
Next, match up any activities that could be accomplished during the same part of the day once a week. For example, if you have after school activities on Monday and Thursday, perhaps you could do your grocery shopping in that same block of time on Tuesday. Or if you do grocery shopping on Monday afternoon, perhaps you couls use the same block of time on Tuesday for house-cleaning, on Wednesday for conversations with friends, Thursday for small projects, etc.
Now, you’ll need a spreadsheet or something to plan out your day. It could be a Word document, a piece of notebook paper, or whatever works for you. I use and Excel spreadsheet. After several attempts, I finally made a spreadsheet with a different page for each day of the week. If you’re interested in that, let me know in the comments. I consider that Scheduling 202: For Advanced Schedulers, Over-Organizers, and Spreadsheet Afficionados. This is Scheduling 101: Intro to Scheduling, so you’re allowed plain ol’ wide-ruled paper if that works for you. 🙂
Label each line with a time, using half-hour increments. You don’t have to do all 24 hours. Start a little earlier than you plan to get up and end a little later than you plan to go to bed. Just to give you some extra space.
Now fill in the blanks
I like to start with my children’s wake-up times.
If they attend school, you may start with drop-off time and work backward to wake up times. We homeschool and I’ve always started with when they naturally wake up, around 7:00am.
From that, I can determine what needs to happen prior to their waking. I use my PRIORITIES and PRODUCTIVITY planning to do this. I know that it is a priority that I spend quiet time in Bible reading and prayer. Writing for my blog has become a priority. My natural times of greatest productivity are early in the morning, so I schedule my waking up time early enough to accomplish those things before my children wake up. That way they can have my full attention and become the priority during their day.
(I’m gonna hop off my high-horse here and get real with you. Today, it is 10:48 am as I write this. This post should have been done a few days ago and scheduled for early this morning or at least finished by around 7:00 am this morning. My kids are playing outside and interrupting me constantly. Things don’t always go according to plan. That’s ok. We roll with it.)
Next, fill in any non-negotiables.
By that I mean, any activities your family participates in that you know are not going to change or you are not responsible for scheduling. Classes, sports practices, church activites and the like.
Now your schedule is starting to take shape.
Don’t forget to care for yourself!
When we think of priorities, we usually think of the most urgent thing. But in order for life to go on, you have to care for your physical self. Our bodies need food, rest, care. Schedule in your meals, including prep and clean-up, your times of rest, and your exercise if you do that.
A word on excercise. I used to think it was of less importance. I knew it was critical to my health, but I always assumed I would get my PRIORITIES in order first and it was not one of them. I believed that God wanted me to spend time with Him, with my husband, and in teaching and training my children. Exercise, in my mind, was a luxury. Something to keep me fit and pretty. Yes, I saw it more as a physical appearance booster than a phyisical health benefit.
BUT, my family’s health was suffering so we went on the 21 Day Fix all together and I found I was MUCH better able to care for my family and spend time with the Lord when I had exercised. I certainly don’t think it’s an issue to get hung-up on, but if you can find a way to prioritize physical fitness, I believe, your spritual, relational, financial, and household goals will benefit.
Lastly, fill in your other tasks and commitments
This is a puzzle. It’s going to take some time. You won’t get it perfect on the first try, but that’s ok. We’ll work on refining the schedule later. Just do what seems right at the time.
If you are struggling to fit your remaining activities in to your schedule, pray about it. Remember, you should have already sought the Lord’s guidance on selecting your tasks. If it’s not fitting in, you need His wisdom to pare down your activities even more, or you need to ask Jesus for the creativity to find your solution!
A Final Review
When it’s all done, ask your husband to look over it. My husband thought it was a bit ridiculous for him to look over my schedule. After all, I am a grown woman and surely I have the ability to determine the course of my day. While I am capable, I love getting his guidance and opinion. I could really go off here about respect and submission for a modern, liberated woman, but I’ll save that for another day. For now, I just want to point out that my husband is really good at noticing when I have forgotten to schedule myself a shower or time to get dressed. Seems like he prioritizes my being clean and out of pajamas a little higher than I do. 🙂
Next time, we’ll talk about implementing the schedule in a way that will not overwhelm you!