Do you ever have one of those days where you somehow don’t have any deadlines pressing in on you, nothing urgent on your to-do list, and you can just sit down on the couch for a little bit, relax your shoulders, let out a sigh, and maybe even smile a little?
Yeah, same here. It doesn’t happen very often, does it. And when it does, you almost can’t relax because you feel like you’re missing an opportunity to like… work ahead… so that maybe next week’s days won’t be as full as this week’s were.
Sometimes I wonder why on earth I’m so busy. I mean, how much time can it really take to homeschool four kids, shuttle them each to a couple activities, exercise daily, run a business and a household… oh, and sleep at night? Surely there’s enough time in the day for that, right?
Well, yes, in my case I believe there is… as long as I manage it properly. By “managing it” I don’t mean “multitasking more.” In fact, I’ve spent the last couple months trying to multitask less — to undo the habits that keep my mind busy with one thing when it should be available for another.
Instead, I’m working on managing my time by using my minutes more intentionally. Here are some of the attempts I’ve put in place to help me do just that.
1. A Daily Schedule for Me
If I’m being honest, I don’t love being tied down to a minute-by-minute schedule, and really, I don’t entirely abide by one; but I DO benefit from at least having a template of how my days need to go in order to fit it all in. And scheduling it all out helps guarantee it does indeed fit. If it doesn’t, something has to go.
To schedule my days, I created an Excel spreadsheet with 15-minute time increments listed down the side and the days of the week listed across the top.
- First, I blocked off the non-negotiables that can’t flex — things I have to do at a certain time. This included things like church, soccer practice, dance class, and yes, homeschool (because for me, school needs to be a fixed and protected part of the day).
- Then, I added the non-negotiables that can flex — things I’m determined to do but I have some say over when I do them. This included things like my Bible/prayer time, my workout, meal preparation, household chores, and work responsibilities for my part-time jobs.
- Last, I filled in the gaps with other activities that realistically need an “official” claim on my time. This included things like personal care (you remember — showers, makeup…), family time, husband time, and flex time.
2. Chore Charts for the Kids
To stick with the theme of honesty, I’ve never been a chore chart kind of mom. I’m not a fan of stickers and stamps, I don’t do well with relinquishing control, and I kind of just like to “do it myself.” Well, the truth is, life has gotten to the point where that’s not doing me or my kids any favors. They need to learn practical life skills and basic responsibility, and let’s face it — I need the help.
In creating a chore chart for my kids, I wanted to keep it simple. I searched Google for a free printable chore chart, printed and laminated four customizable ones, and filled in the blanks for the week with a dry erase marker. To my surprise — and I don’t know why, because I’m the same way — my kids are loving having things to check off a list! They don’t fight me about doing their chores. Rather, they look forward to the sense of accomplishment and pride that comes with marking it off when it’s done. Plus, having duties physically assigned to the kids has helped me to be consistent with holding them accountable.
3. Limits for the Smartphone
Can I just be honest here, too? All those little dings and notifications that beckon me to distraction? They work. How those things can hold so much power is beyond me, but DID YOU KNOW there’s a way to beat them?!
Okay, so my family took a Wyoming vacation this summer, and for most of the trip, we had little to no mobile data and very limited time in places with Wi-Fi. It was… well… it was kind of wonderful. Our phones were constantly searching for signal that wasn’t there and eating battery as a result, so we had an epiphany: TURN OFF the mobile data and the Wi-Fi! I know, right?! Genius! When we were able to check our various online accounts, it was because we were intentionally logging in to do so — not because a tiny ding had left us mindlessly scrolling.
SO… it occurred to me — this is a habit I can take back home! Turn off the mobile data and Wi-Fi on my phone when there’s no time for distraction, and then utilize it later on purpose. It’s amazing how much time you can find in your day when you’re not checking the phone every few minutes.