Scheduling: Three Tips to Prioritizing Your Day

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I_choose_tipsYears ago, I came up with three priorities to help me decide where I would invest the time I had each day.  Today, I use it as a guideline of sorts—a determiner that helps me choose how I will prioritize the time God gives me each day.

With 10 people in our busy household each day, the fact is: I either have a plan or I don’t.  If I don’t, chances are good that the day will run me over and leave me on the side of the road for dead.

And we can’t have that.

I am also a fan of something I call “training wheel” schedules.  That means that I start out our year with a schedule with the understanding that the job of the schedule is to help me get through the day, not to dictate my day for me.  [THIS WAS A HARD-LEARNED LESSON.]

Here are my three priorities each day:

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Now, I know that some of you can’t fathom “scheduling” something like time in the Bible, but for me, well, let’s just say it is the gas in my little Mom Car.  I need it.  As mothers, we are constantly pouring out into the lives of our children and families.  We need to recharge our batteries. For me, this means rising early (something that I don’t believe is a biblical mandate but I highly recommend it), getting dressed in my workout clothes and spending a few minutes of solitude with the Lord.

Were there seasons when this was impossible, or at least unlikely?  You know it!  After seven babies, I can assure you, there have been times when I was lucky to get OUT of bed at all, let alone get up early—but now, with our youngest at 2 and 1/2, I I have found that if I’m self-disciplined, I can do it. Most mornings, I struggle to wake up … but being up early is a gift.  The house is quiet. I can think. Pray. Breathe.  It makes a huge difference in my life, those precious few moments of quiet each morning.

I_choose2I can’t stress this enough: good marriages require nurturing.  A good marriage is like the “glue” that holds the family tightly bound together.  I know this is not always popular but at the end of the day (pun intended), your marriage is the priority relationship in your home.  Nurture it.  Protect it.  Enjoy it.

Honestly, this is an entirely separate post—I’ve written about this before—and I will again; because it’s just.that.important. Don’t sacrifice your marriage on the altar of good parenting. Your kids need your marriage to succeed as much as the two of you do.

I_choose3This is the “big one,” the one that everyone really wants to talk about.   I know it sounds boring and stuffy to some people, but here’s the truth:  iSchedule. Scheduling has saved my bacon on more than one occasion.  On days when I feel to tired to think straight, out comes the schedule—and the kids know exactly what they are supposed to be doing without me telling them over and over … and over.

On other days, we might have time and energy for some spontaneous unscheduling and I’ll ditch the schedule altogether in favor of reading longer with the children or catching my husband for an impromptu lunch date.  Either way, that schedule is there to help keep us moving in the direction we want to go.

Having a system or schedule in place allows my mind to let go of things that would otherwise drive me completely out onto a limb, such as handwriting practice or memory work.  If I have it on the schedule, I know it’s going to get done.

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Here’s the key to successful scheduling though: there’s not one right way to do it. You’ve got to give yourself freedom to try new things. Your schedule should be as unique as your family is.  One season it will work for you, and the next it may not.  That, as they say, “is life.”

I make my schedules using TABLES on my computer.  It takes some time to figure out the best way to do it—so give yourself time to play with it.  I also use planners and I’m a journaling junkie—so much so, that a few years ago, I released a journal just for busy moms like me.

The form you see above available in a editable version, too.  If you dare—download it and tweak it for your family.  Customize it!  Make it your own. You can do it!  Remember: the schedule is supposed to help you; not rule you.

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At the end of the day, busy mom, only  YOU can manage your days well.  Be intentional about your time.  See your time as a commodity—something you need to spend wisely.

Schedule—with the harvest in mind,
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Want to see more? You can find all my books, as well as CD’s MP3′s and other great things for busy moms here:

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This post contains affiliate links.

Heidi St John Guide to Daylight

Heidi
Heidi St. John has been married to her husband Jay since 1989. Together they have seven children from toddler to adult and have homeschooled all the way through high school. A favorite conference and radio speaker, Heidi approaches marriage and parenting with humor and grace. Her passion to encourage moms and set them free to be who God has created them to be will bless and encourage you.
Heidi
Heidi

55 Responses to Scheduling: Three Tips to Prioritizing Your Day

  1. Tamira Johnson says:

    Encouraging post! I’ve always felt better when things are written down and scheduled as that means things actually get done and I don’t end up feeling wasted emotionally and mentally by the end of the day. I appreciate the Godly wisdom and affirmation behind being an organized person and that it really is a valuable asset in one’s life. Signing up today and looking forward to many more encouraging moments! Blessings to you and yours <3

  2. are you always amazing thank you for your generosity.

  3. Oh hilarious. I started making mine that night, but I really liked yours so I’ll use that :) Thanks so much for this! It makes me feel a little calmer knowing that I have a point of reference…..other then my memory.

  4. You love us. We’re barely worthy. : )

  5. Can you explain what ‘notebooking’ entails? Thanks for the schedule and post!

  6. There are also programs you can buy for your computer that help with scheduling. I use one that isn’t free but it lets me schedule everything – chores, quiet time, holidays, vacations, lessons, and more. Then it takes the information I put in it to create all different types of reports – daily or weekly schedules and task lists, report cards, transcripts, and more. I used it to create a transcript for my oldest and it was accepted by every college she applied to. Three things of the many things I love about it – you can reschedule huge blocks of assignments if you get off track, it allows you to set up a repeating pattern of lessons so you don’t have to type each assignment, and you can save lesson plans to reuse with younger siblings.

  7. I know a lot of homeschoolers balk at the idea of a hard and fast schedule. Without my schedule I never could have effectively educated my children when my mother was dying from cancer. She passed away August 20, 2009. I couldn’t have kept up schooling while dealing with my grief that fall without the schedule.

  8. I’ve seen notebooking mentioned several places… I’m sure someone knows what this is. My kids just stack them… they don’t write yet. : )

    • Melissa says:

      Erika, notebooking is a method of recording what your children have learned. Instead of just completing a worksheet, you could give them a blank piece of paper to draw a picture of the frog they saw at the park or a chart and they draw the three stages of the life cycle. You may make some pages of minit books (maybe they made a little 3 page book of the life cycle instead). Then you compile those pages in a notebook. It allows them some open ended opportunity to share what they learned as opposed to just filling on blanks on an adult directed worksheet.

  9. Jackie Scott says:

    Christina South…Will you share the name of the program you use? Thank you!

  10. Thank you so much for sharing! This is exactly what I needed today! Blessings from Alaska, Jackie

  11. Lauren says:

    Since we had #4 in December, our schedule is never the same! I’ve learned to roll with it :D But I do so love me a good list/ schedule to follow! Do you have any more info on your kids and their “zones”? We’re changing how we’re doing chores and looking for some fresh ideas!

  12. Holly Spence says:

    I am new to homeschooling this fall, my son is 7 (1st grader last year in public school) – Would anyone happen to have some resources that could help me to decide how many hours/days per week to devote to our schooling? I have read that it is unique to every family but I’m really needing some guidelines. I love to read and study so any websites, articles etc. that have helped you please share! :) Thanks so much.

  13. Susan says:

    I like the master schedule that you’ve used. What program did you use to make it? Is it mac or windows excel or something different?

  14. CarolynMillen says:

    Heidi, What is Zone Check? Pick up area in different areas of the house? Just curious as to how you run your household:) Thanks!

    • Heidi says:

      Zones are places in our house—entryway, bathrooms, upstairs hallways and stairs, etc. I’ll be posting more about it in the days to come. Welcome to The Busy Mom, Carolyn!

  15. JulieWard says:

    How do you keep your kiddos on schedule? Any type of reward system for getting things done on time or punishment if they take forever?

    • Heidi says:

      Julie, this is the struggle of every mother. Keep.On.Keeping.On. We have used both rewards and consequences—letting the punishment fit the crime if you know what I mean! Set a timer. Create rewards and consequences. The hard part is being consistent. Change it up when you need to. Don’t give up!

  16. Dhyana Kluth says:

    So need this. Thanks.

  17. have I told you lately that I love you?

  18. At what age do these charts actually start working. As of now, they do not :( (ages: 7,6,3,10 months)

  19. Mike Ruth says:

    Ahh but their future spouses will!!

  20. Natalie, I love this schedule she’s done….and I’ve got one started. But I’ve played with it a bit, and what I’ve found that works right now with mine since they’re younger, 5,6 & 7….is one sheet up for each week. Week 1 and then 3 names, and under each name I have wake up tidy room and make bed, then a “morning chore” and an “afternoon chore”….I do it with them the first day or so to learn, and then just have to say “morning chore time” and everybody goes there way….I’m doing a chore at the same time:) This is working,(this week) BUT, I’ve been working with this for a while to figure out what works for us, and for us the key was smaller chores that took 5 minutes or so but still helped :) 1/wipe down bathroom counter and sink. Or Vacuum under kitchen table. All 3 of mine do this and its quick and easy, with one of those almost cordless little vacuum cleaners, they have even learned how to wind up the cord themselves and put it away! Boy, this post is long. LOL Sorry. My Mom thinks I have a little work camp going, but they are totally capable and these are little future adults we’re raising!

  21. I do the same but on paper! I love how your’s looks.

  22. You are such a blessing!

  23. That’s exactly how our homeschool schedule looks. I love it!

  24. Jenni Shaver says:

    Does anyone have a template for a bigger family? (mom, dad + 7 children)

  25. I made one similar for my 3. (Ages 2, 4, and 6) I love it! They put check marks on what they’ve done. The subjects and chores are much more simple such as working on colors, letters, and numbers. I incorporated “jobs” also such as taking your shoes to your room, feeding the cat, and putting sippy cups in the sink. It works great!! Soo helpful to keep on task :)

  26. Your link doesn’t work to print unedited version? it shows your version then only top line of next unedited version?

  27. We have 6 boys ages 9-23 & they’ve all gotten to “help” the family straighten up. We always told them they knew they were growing up some more when they were given more responsibility. Our 9 yr. old takes out the trash, puts a new bag in the can, puts silverware away from dishwasher, vacuums his room (he has a vacuum his size $30 at Walmart), straightens the couch cushions, & wipes down the bathroom counters & sinks in the morning with a wipee. It’s all in your perspective & approach.

  28. Thank you for this. I was wondering what to use – this is perfect!

  29. Love you! Hugs from Washington!

  30. Great post, thanks for sharing.

  31. glad we’re not the only family who’s kids don’t like the chore chart/cards. ;-) time to work on the school schedule.

  32. Rachel says:

    Heidi,
    What is “zone check”?
    Thanks!

    • Heidi says:

      Hey Rachel! We do “zones” in our house—they are areas of the house and each person has a particular “zone” assigned to them. For example, the entryway, downstairs hall and front porch are all part of “zone 1″. :) HTH!

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