Monday, April 20, 2015

A to Z Blogging "O is for..."

"...Organizing Your Days"
From "Lifehacks for Christian Moms"
by Shelly Burke, RN, Author, and Publisher, Nebraska Family Times newspaper

Having a plan for your days can seem...well, boring. But it can also bring a sense of calmness to your life, knowing when you will do laundry, plan meals, shop, cook and even take some time to relax. 

Some moms, purposely or as a result of a lack of planning, don't even attempt to establish a daily routine. But without some sort of routine, or at least a general plan for the day or week, life can be chaos--constantly scrambling to find clean underwear, last minute trips to the store or resorting to fast food for supper, or just getting out the door in the morning. An unexpected event--a visitor or illness or last-minute event--can throw the day or week into even more chaos. 

There is no one "right" way to organize your days. Collect ideas from books, magazines, friends, and tweak them to make them
work for you and your family. The important part is to establish some sort of plan for "normal" days or weeks, as well as a contingency plan for those days that are filled with the unexpected. 

Following are some of my favorite tips. I've gathered them throughout years and from various sources. Use them, tweak them to make them your own, or ignore them all and make your own! There are no "rules" to organize your days; figure out what works for you. 

Benefits to Planning Your Day

  • You'll feel more in control of your life.
  • You'll accomplish your priorities--"home" priorities as well as "fun", "kid," and "just for mom" priorities.
  • You'll feel a sense of accomplishment at completing the important things.
  • You'll get more done when you know the basic things you'll be doing every day.
  • You'll be better able to cope with an unexpected event or crisis. 
Hints as You Organize Your Days
  • It might take several months to come up with a schedule that is ideal for your family, and the schedule will continue to evolve and change over time as the activities of your family change. DO NOT GIVE UP! The benefits of having organized days far outweigh the effort it takes to do that organization.
  • Try different calendars and techniques. 
  • Gather hints from a variety of sources--Pinterest, magazines, books, friends, etc. 
  • You do not have to use every single method in a book, article, or website. It's ok to use hints from a variety of sources. 

Steps to Making a Daily Schedule 
  • Begin with a calendar--wall, desk, paper, electronic--find something that works for YOU. (I have three calendars; a wall calendar, one with a monthly calendar and checklists for every
    day--{it's my very favorite calendar and I got it from Planner Pads}, and a calendar with large squares and just the months in it {on this calendar I record things like days I walk, my weight, etc.} Admittedly, I'm a little compulsive about my calendars, but they keep me on track! 
  • Start by filling in the things that have to be done on a certain day and time--appointments, Bible Study, classes, work schedule. 
  • Depending on their age, add kid's and your husband's  commitments (I used to color code everyone's activities and use a different color for family activities) like practices, pre-school, etc. 
  • Next, list the routine activities for the week--laundry, cooking, paperwork and bills, cleaning. Remember to include time for devotions, working out, hobbies, etc.
  • Analyze your personal energy cycle and preferences; do you prefer to get up early or stay up late to complete tasks? How much "mommy quiet time" do you need every day? Do you prefer to work for a larger block of time or take frequent breaks? 
  • Now schedule the tasks according to what you've just outlined. Some people schedule hour by hour; others list "morning" and "afternoon" tasks, others make a list of things to do during the day and do them as the mood hits. 
  • Try the schedule for a week or two and then revise it as necessary. You'll continue to revise it as you find new ways to do things, as tasks change and as your kids grow. 
Hints for Organizing Your Days
  • Don't plan too much for one day. One or two major tasks, like
    laundry or cooking, are enough. You will become discouraged if you plan too much and aren't able to accomplish and there will inevitably be something that takes longer than it should, or an added "must do" to the day.
  • Plan both "quick and easy" and more time and energy consuming tasks for the day. It's easy to fit small tasks like "schedule dentist appointment" or "write thank-you card" between larger tasks and even if your day is filled with interruptions you'll have the satisfaction of getting a few things done.
  • Plan down time. Take a break or two during the day and, if you find yourself working well past bedtime every night, or miss out on time with your kids, plan a time to be done with "home management" at a certain time, even if not everything is crossed off of your list. 
  • If you make monthly goals (for exercise, Bible reading, etc.,) consider listing them on your calendar so you are reminded of them frequently.
  • List reminders on your calendar. My sister's birthday is May 1st, and she lives in Canada, so I have a reminder to send her card tomorrow. I've also made a list of graduations I'm invited to; I will shop for all of the cards and gifts at one time. 
Congratulations! Just by reading this post you're on your way to more organized days. Commit to making a schedule and following it for at least a month, then tweak as necessary; for example, you might decide to try grocery shopping every two weeks instead of every week. 

This post is an excerpt from the book “Home is Where the Mom Is; A Christian Mom’s Guide to Caring for Herself, Her Family and Her Home” by Shelly Burke. This post is part of “Lifehacks for Christian Moms”, available for download May 1st.

I’m also blogging the A to Z Challenge at Nebraska Family Times, with the theme, “Words Matter.” 

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