Heart-to-Heart with Diane

Hello and Welcome! Isn't raising a family the greatest!? I know I've got the best job in the world, just being Mom! I love sharing things I've discovered that make being "Mom" better, easier or more fulfilling, and that is what this blog is all about. Welcome!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Get Ahold of Your Time!

It's Saturday, and I'm stunned. How does this happen?

Seems it is Sunday, and I am sitting in church with the week ahead of me, and the next time I look up, it seems to be Saturday and the week has whizzed by. I've gotta get a hold of my time!

So, here's what I did. I made a random list of all the things I do everyday, every week, every month. I laid it out where I could see it and added to it whenever I thought of anything. It looked like this:

read scriptures
teach a Bill of Rights class
do my job at church
grocery shop
talk to my husband
go to the library
talk to friends
organizing teen ballroom dance class
doctor/dental appts
run my homeschoool support group
phone calls
keeping connected with my mother, sisters
training kids on life skills
put on birthday and holiday parties

After a few days, I felt my list was pretty well complete, with daily and occasional activities on my list, as well as things I really want to do, but haven't been able to get to. Next, I carefully assigned a priority number to my activities: #1 for top priority, #2 for medium and #3 for lower priority. I thought about this for awhile, because I realized I was choosing what to do with my life.

Next I made a grid of all the days in a week, from 7:00 in the morning to 11:00 at night. I blocked out the time for meals, and set a bedtime (a very hard thing for me to follow). I looked at all the items marked with #1 and found a place to put them into my week. What a revelation! I realized how much I do daily that fills up my time that is not top priority (or even medium priority). These lesser priority activities often crowd out the more valuable ones leaving me feeling less satisfied.

After I got all the #1 priorities placed on my weekly schedule, I tried to fit in the #2's. Guess what? I was out of time in my week's schedule before I could even get through half of my list. How in the world do I do all that I'm doing? No wonder I'm tired!

I got my daughter Louisa to chart out her weekly schedule too. She put her chores, her activities, her homeschool subjects and music practice on it, and it suddenly became clear why she can't get all her schoolwork done! Not having ever counted the hours out before, I was shooting from the hip, overloading her.

Then we came up with a self-correcting system. We folded a column of paper and paperclipped it next to the day on her schedule. Whenever she followed her self-scheduled time slots, doing the assigned activity, she left the "Actual Schedule" column of paper blank. Whenever she did something else than her schedule dictated, she wrote in on the column of paper. At the end of the day, she could clearly see what she did instead of what she had planned to do. Shocking reality! Instantly she improved. She could see what she was putting off, and was able to discipline herself to do it.

Just creating a plan, and monitoring it, gives one a huge sense of control! Ooh, this feels good. I have a handle on my time. I can choose what to do with it. I can make sure those things which are most important aren't at the mercy of those things which matter less. I can be realistic with what really fits into one 24 hour day, and not overextend and over-commit and end up overtired.

I'm liking this!

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  • At March 13, 2010 at 5:05 PM , Blogger Dragonrider said...

    What a great idea! I am a middle school teacher of at risk students (many of whom have illiterate parents and no written language in their native culture) and I would like to use this to help them (and me!) learn to manage their time and set priorities.

  • At March 14, 2010 at 1:53 PM , Blogger Mom2Eight said...

    Diane as always your post was very needful at this time in our home. I am getting ready to plan our new family schedule after having moved and your ideas are really helpful.

    Can you clarify how your daughter did the extra paper when she didn't follow the schedule. Something I will need for sure :)

    Wendy Roberts

    Needing help with reading to your children? Get 10 Free PDF files about reading from Author Jim Trelease

  • At March 14, 2010 at 10:23 PM , Blogger Diane Hopkins said...

    Let's see if I can clarify:

    The schedule is written out on a piece of paper, 8.5 x 11" with vertical columns, one for each day, Monday through Sunday. Now, fold a blank piece of paper fan-like into 7 vertical columns so you just have a skinny stick of paper the width of a column. Paper it clip it on top of the schedule, next to the day you are working on. So if it is Monday, paper clip the blank folded column onto Tuesday (next to Monday) and write on it (all the things you did instead of your schedule) as you go through the day. Next day, fold that Monday column under revealing the next blank column and slide it over into Wednesday's place, allowing the Tuesday schedule underneath to show. At the end of the week, unfold the fanned paper and you will have a record of the week's activities that you did instead of your schedule!

    Best success!



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