Making a Schedule

So, ironically, I forgot to schedule this blog post to be published. Hence me being a liar about posting it on Monday. Note that it is Tuesday today.

Here is roughly how I go about making the schedules we have in place. Want to remind you that there’s nothing magical about it. Some of these tips may work for some of you and some or all may not. I will only be embittered toward you if I find out you don’t follow my advice to a tee. So the best solution for avoiding that is to lead me on to believe my tips have changed your life. 🙂

1. Do a time budget. I was introduced to this by one of my favorite frugality blogs, Money Saving Mom. As it sounds, it’s similar to a money budget. You start with how many hours you have in a week, 168. Then you make a list of all the things you would like to include in your week, including sleep, meals, pre-scheduled obligations (job or school, meeting with church, soccer/piano/basket weaving practice) & commutes. She even recommends adding in at least two hours of marginal time a day so you don’t get so easily behind and to deal with any unexpected circumstances. Next, I try to guess how much time I would like to give to each of the things on my list and do simple math to see if I have enough hours to spend on everything, weeding as you go. This is always revealing to me because it helps me see I don’t actually have eight hours to spend cleaning the house every week and that three hours of sleep a night isn’t enough.

Now, I tweak our schedule several times a year, but I only do this first step once a year or so. It’s a big time commitment but one well worth it to help you make decisions about where priorities should lie. It can serve as a beautiful evaluating tool, but I don’t find it necessary to work through this step super often.

I was going to show you my time budget from a few months ago but couldn’t find the file. So instead I borrowed one from the Money Saving Mom blog I mentioned earlier. Hers was actually for 24 hours instead of 168, so I multiplied her times to show what this could look like as a weekly budget:

3 1/2 hours Bible reading/journaling
7 hours with Jesse [her husband]
28 hours of homeschooling, reading and playing with the children
7 hours of exercise
3 1/2 hours shower/dress
14 hours cleaning/home management
49 hours sleeping
14 hours meals/meal preparation
28 hours blogging/computer work
14 hours of extra/”margin” time

2. Begin to plug your items into your preferred schedule. Start with your pre-scheduled items as mentioned above. You have no control over these hours, so you’ll have to work other things around them. Then begin to work in the rest of the items on your list. There will be more tweaking once you see how it practically divides among your days. For example, Sundays are particularly heavy for us with pre-scheduled events, so though I would like to have two hours of marginal time per day and technically have enough hours in the week for it, it doesn’t actually work out that way on Sundays once I see it on paper.

As far as the form of your schedule, anything goes. As I’ve mentioned, mine is pretty much the extreme of details. I’ll be posting it tomorrow (if I remember to schedule it), so I won’t go into many details today. I use an Excel spreadsheet broken into eight columns, one for hours of the day and the other seven for each member of our family. I divide the day anywhere from hour-long segments to fifteen minute segments. I can’t emphasize this enough. This kind of detail doesn’t work for most of my friends. They find it stressful. So don’t think this is the bee’s knees. It’s not. It simply works for my personality.

There are many other ways you can do schedules, so I’ll just mention two other favorites. One is to break your schedule into larger time increments and list what you hope to accomplish during that time period. A good example of this was done at the Girl Talk blog several years ago. One of the authors, Kristin, listed a simple summer schedule for her boys.

A second idea is to break your day into three segments—morning, afternoon, and evening—and have goals of what you would like to get done during those times. I even know some who don’t break down their day into any time periods. They simply list the items of their day in rough order. All are good options. If you’re new to this, you’ll probably need to play for a while to find out what works best for you.

3. Let it go. I know I’ve probably gone overkill on saying something along these lines, but your schedule is a tool, preferably one that helps point you and your family to Christ. If you find yourself getting frustrated that your schedule isn’t going the way you planned, you are becoming the servant and the schedule is becoming the master. As parents, we all know that NO schedule ever goes as planned. There are explosive diapers, random tears, discipline that needs to happen, teachable moments, little “helpful” hands that seem to take everything three times as long to do. One of my favorite authors, Carolyn Mahaney, often says that all interruptions come from God. We can choose to see it as an annoyance or joyfully and expectantly go with it. Let’s hope, through Christ’s work, that we can choose the latter.

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