Introducing: The Schedule

schedule

noun
1. a plan of procedure, usually written, for a proposed objective,especially with reference to the sequence of and time allotted for each item or operation necessary to its completion;
2. a series of things to be done or of events to occur at or during particular time or period;
3. a timetable.
Synonyms: agenda, itinerary, lineup, list, docket, order of business
Antonym: DISORGANIZATION (Preach!!!)
I know some people don’t like the idea of having a schedule.
  • It’s too constricting.
  • It leaves me no freedom.
  • I like to be spontaneous.
  • I’d rather just fly by the seat of my pants.
WHY? A schedule is the opposite of constricting – at least for me. A schedule gives me a sense of peace. Please note that the schedule is written on a piece of paper. It has not been carved in stone. Please also note that the schedule is not full. There are empty spots. Free spots. Room for spontaneity. Room for fun. Room for rest. Room for a nap!! 🙂
And though the schedule does have times on it, most of them are pretty flexible. Unless it is a set appointment (like with the trainer at the gym at 8:30 on Wednesday mornings), most things can be moved around. I think of the schedule as more of a guideline…a general idea of how the days should flow if I want to get things done and not feel overwhelmed. It can also serve as a wake up call. If there are no empty spaces at all, busyness has taken hold of you and you have lost your margin…your free space is gone.
Now, I have two adult children and work part-time outside the home. When I worked full-time, the schedule looked a lot different. When I homeschooled those two now-adult children, it looked different. Everyone’s schedule will look different from yours. And that’s okay. It’s more than okay.
And some days, nothing on the schedule happens like it should. Nothing. That’s also okay. Probably very stressful, but okay. But if you generally keep a schedule and stick to it most days, one day will not throw you into a downward spiral toward total disarray and disorganization. You just get up the next morning and start over.
See that antonym for schedule at the top there? Disorganization. Know what the synonyms for disorganization are? Chaos. Confusion. Disarray. Disorder. Disruption. And my personal favorite: unholy mess. Who wants THAT? Not me!
I have my schedule. I have a chore chart. I use the Daily Docket which is a “to do” list. I try not to do chores on Saturday because my main work day is Sunday and I like to rest up. I usually don’t do laundry on Saturdays. Unless it was raining on Friday and is sunny on Saturday and I can hang my sheets outside.:) Some weeks things don’t go as planned and I spend the whole day Saturday doing laundry and other chores. Then I’m tired. And grumpy. And I drink excessive amounts of coffee. (Excessive even for me!)
If you work full-time, Saturday may be your laundry day. But if you can find a way to do it during the week, do. When I worked full-time and had two under the age of three and a half, I threw a load in before I went to bed at night, then put the load in the dryer when I got up and let them dry while we got ready for the day. Then I folded them after dinner. You have to do what works for you.
Every couple of months, I’ll spend part of a Saturday deep cleaning a particular room. Vacuuming blinds. Wiping down window sills and baseboards. Washing curtains. The things you don’t get to every week and really don’t need to. Occasionally, when Hubby works day shift on the weekend, I’ll have one day of a great cleaning frenzy. He usually comes home to rearranged furniture on those days. 🙂
The point is that everyone needs some sort of “outline” of their days. Some people account for every single minute. Some people just need a list that has five things that just need to get done that day, not in any particular order or timeframe. What works for you is what’s right for you.
When I started working on this new schedule a few weeks ago, I didn’t realize how much I’d missed having one. I had gotten out of the habit and I felt out of control. I was tired. I was grumpy. I was drinking excessive amounts of coffee. Then I sat down and started looking at this…at what matters to me and what I need to get done. I can’t tell you how many schedules I wrote and tossed. Lots. I really, really had to think hard about it. And these pictures show what I ended up with.
The schedule. http://highland.hitcho.com.au/schedule.pdf
IMG_3490-0
The chore chart. http://highland.hitcho.com.au/householdchores.pdf
 Chore Chart pic
The Daily Docket. http://theartofsimple.net/downloads02/
 Daily Docket pic
So here’s my challenge to you. I’ve given you the links to the schedule, the chore chart, and the Daily Docket that I use. You can Google or go on Pinterest and find many (many, many, many) more options. Find one you like. Take some time to think about it. Write down a list of your priorities, absolute must dos (like go to work!), and things you’d like to do. Make several copies of it or write in pencil.  Then make yourself a schedule. You can make your kids a schedule.
When you’ve gotten one on paper, share it with us in the comments. Or you can join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Simplify2013?fref=ts. You should join us there anyway. 🙂
I look forward to seeing what you come up with!
Blessings,
Lynne
(whose schedule indicates that it’s about bedtime!)
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Back to School Challenge: Taking Control of Your Family Calendar

Happy Tuesday!

Well, Boy Child has officially flown back into the nest. My sweet Mama was kind enough to remind me that I and two of my brothers did the same. She also gave me some very sage advice: Enjoy them while you have them home. Enjoy them. While they’re home. Sigh. So that got me thinking that we need to get back into the habit of having a family dinner night. Just one night a week where we all sit down at the table at the SAME TIME and enjoy a meal.

So while both of my children are adults, we still occupy the same house and have to intentionally make time for that. It’s hard because we all work – plus Boy Child is going back to school – but I’m going to try. And while we are the typical “Back to School” family with little kiddos, a lot of this post still applies. I originally wrote about this back in August, 2013, but it bears repeating. 🙂

Some of you have kids who have already started back to school. If not, it’s just around the corner. If you’re not affected by the school calendar, you can call this your end of summer challenge. 🙂 I’m going to address something that I see as a real problem with so many people today: busyness. So often, when I ask someone how they are, they respond with, “Busy.” Or tired. Or stressed. They wish they had time to just sit and relax for a few minutes each day. They wish they had time to make dinner at home. They wish they had one night a week that they didn’t have some activity or another to get to.

Guess what? YOU are the genie in charge of your calendar (and, as a result, your kids’ calendars as well, at least to some extent), so you can grant your own wish. So consider what you put on there very, very carefully. When it starts looking a little crowded, remember that it’s okay to say “no.” To activities. To obligations. Yes, even to your kids.  If you’re going to make a schedule and stick to it – not a bad idea at all – then schedule in some down time every day and aim for at least one weeknight free from outside obligations. It is good for you to have some down time. It’s good for your kids. It’s just good for your spouse. It’s good for your marriage. It’s NEEDED for your sanity.

So.. my challenge to you this week is this: Think before you act when it comes to your calendar and your schedule. First, practice saying “no.” It doesn’t come easy to a lot of us. But is really not a bad word. Doesn’t even have four letters. 🙂 Then, when you (or your kids or family) are offered  an opportunity – whether it’s sports, the PTA, a church activity, committees, clubs, etc. – tell the person who asks you that you’ll get back to them. Tell them that you have to check your calendar and discuss it with your spouse.

Do NOT immediately say “yes.” You may say “yes” eventually, but don’t say it on the spur of the moment before THINKING and LOOKING AT YOUR CALENDAR. Take some time to seriously consider what saying “yes” will mean to you. Is it one hour per week for real? Or is it going to turn into several hours per week and even on the weekend? If, after looking at your calendar and discussing it with those who will be affected (your family), make a conscious and thoughtful decision. If it’s more than you want to take on, just say “no.” Just. Say. No. The world will not end. The earth will not tilt off its axis. Someone else will do the job. Really.

If it’s something that will enrich your life in some way or something that you really want to do, then by all means, say “yes.” Just remember: Sometimes you have to say “no” to good things so that you can say “yes” to the best things. If you say “yes” to everyone and everything, eventually something you really, really feel passionate about and want to do will come along and you won’t have time for it. How sad is that?

This is something that I have struggled with in the past. Sometimes I still do. But I have gotten better at saying “no” to people and things. Sometimes there are things I’d like to do but I know that I don’t want to or can’t give it the time it will actually require. It’s better to give fewer things your best shot than to stretch yourself too thin and not be able to give your best to anything. So determine what’s best for you and say no to things that are just “good” or that will just be draining your time and energy.

Get out those calendars.  Take a good hard look at them. Don’t add anything that you really don’t want to do or that is going to be a source of stress and anxiety. With your family, choose a day that will be free of extracurricular activities. (The middle of the week is a good one for that if you can swing it, but it might be Friday or Saturday). Next, add things that MUST be done. I personally think that a great rule of thumb is to limit your children’s extracurricular activities to one – maybe two – in a season/time period, but that’s just me. I find it tiring just to hear about friends’ running their kids somewhere every day of the week. I can’t imagine actually doing it! Be selective. Be careful. Be honest – with yourself and others. Don’t take on more than you can handle. Just don’t.

“A full calendar does not equal a full life.”

Y’all have a great week! And remember: It really, really is okay to say “no.” Really.

Blessings,

Lynne

It’s Back to School Time!

Good Monday morning!

Or not, depending on whether or not the students in your household are cooperating. 🙂 It’s back to school day for many of my friends – whether homeschooling or not. My youngest just left for her day of the semester at Aiken Tech. Being driven by her father, no less. It is so not cool to have to be driven to college by one of your parents. But two months from today, it will have been six months since her seizure and once again – the Lord willing – she will be able to drive herself places. (Please, Lord, be willing!) My older one starts classes tomorrow, hubby starts his rotation of three night shifts, and I have three days of work this week. So it’s a week of adjustments. Alarm clocks. Homework. Summer’s lazy days are officially over, even if summer isn’t. Sigh. But hey, football season is upon us so it’s not all bad!

This week will be challenging for everyone around here, so I’m making the weekly challenge relatively easy. It’s all in how you look at things, right? Here is a list of things to do this week to keep you on an even keel. I hope. 🙂

1. Plan a menu for the week. Cook 3-4 meals and have leftover nights. Get out the slow cooker. (If you do not have a slow cooker for some strange reason, get thee to the store and get one! Pronto!) Slow cooker meals are AWESOME! Throw everything in before you head out in the morning. Dinner is done (or nearly done) just in time without a lot of work on your part.

2. Keep up with your laundry. A load per day. A type (darks, towels, lights, etc.) per day. One kid’s laundry per day. Whatever works for you. Write up or type up & print a laundry schedule and post it where you and your family can see it. Try and limit the amount of laundry you do on the weekends if you can. Unless you enjoy spending your Saturdays doing laundry. I do not.

3. Establish a bedtime routine. If you spent the summer staying up late and sleeping in…well, this morning might have been a shock to your system. So you’ll probably want to get to bed a little earlier tonight. If you kept to a routine even over the summer, kudos to you! But figure out a bedtime routine that works for you and yours and then stick to it as much as possible. Earlier bedtimes certainly make for easier mornings.

4. Get out a big calendar and start writing things down. Practices. Football games. Dance classes. Etc., etc. When the calendar starts looking crowded, start thinking before writing. Reread some of our posts on schedules and busyness. Don’t let yourself get bogged down so much that you spend more time on the road than at home. Really, that’s not good for anyone. Remember: It’s okay to say “no” – even to your children. They will survive. Promise.

5. Set aside 15-30 minutes per day for yourself. If you’ve gotten out of the habit over the summer, get back into it. If it means getting up a few minutes early, staying up a few minutes after your little ones are in bed, or sitting down for a few minutes before you go get into car line, find 15 minutes to be still, be quiet, and just breathe. Actually, sometimes car line is a good time for this. YOU need to do this for YOU. No one else can rest for you.

Y’all have a blessed week!

Lynne

Back to School Challenge Week 2: Schedules & Calendars

Happy Monday!

I’m back from a wonderfully relaxing few days at the beach with great friends. Ahhh….now that’s the life. We parked the van when we got there and didn’t get back in it until we were ready (well, maybe not really ready) to come home. Maybe one day I’ll be able to wake up to the sound of the ocean every morning. A girl can dream, right?

Some of you have kids who have already started back to school. If not, it’s just around the corner. If you’re not affected by the school calendar, you can call this your end of summer challenge. 🙂 I’m going to address something that I see as a real problem with so many people today: busyness. So often, when I ask someone how they are, they respond with, “Busy.” Or tired. Or stressed. They wish they had time to just sit and relax for a few minutes each day. They wish they had time to make dinner at home. They wish they had one night a week that they didn’t have some activity or another to get to.

Guess what? YOU are in charge of your calendar and, as a result, you kids’ calendars as well to some extent. So consider what you put on there very, very carefully. When it starts looking a little crowded, remember that it’s okay to say “no.” To activities. To obligations. To your kids even. 🙂 If you’re going to make a schedule and stick to it – not a bad idea at all – then schedule in some down time every day and aim for at least one weeknight free from outside obligations. It is good for you to have some down time. It’s good for your kids. It’s just good for everyone.

So.. my challenge to you this week is this: think before you act when it comes to your calendar and your schedule. First, practice saying “no.” It doesn’t come easy to a lot of us. But is really not a bad word. Doesn’t even have four letters. 🙂 Then, when you (or your kids or family) are offered  an opportunity – whether it’s sports, the PTA, a church activity, committees, clubs, etc. – tell the person who asks you that you’ll get back to them. Do NOT immediately say “yes.” You may say “yes” eventually, but don’t say it on the spur of the moment. Take some time to seriously consider what saying “yes” will mean to you. Is it one hour per week for real? Or is it going to turn into several hours per week and even on the weekend? If, after looking at your calendar and discussing it with those who will be affected (your family), make a conscious and thoughtful decision. If it’s more than you want to take on, just say “no.” Just. Say. No. The world will not end. The earth will not tilt too far on its axis. Someone else will do the job. Really. If it’s something that will enrich your life in some way or something that you really want to do, then by all means, say “yes.” Just remember: sometimes you have to say “no” to good things so that you can say “yes” to the best things.

This is something that I have struggled with in the past. Sometimes I still do. But I have gotten better at saying “no” to people and things. Sometimes there are things I’d like to do but I know that I don’t want to or can’t give it the time it will actually require. It’s better to give fewer things your best shot than to stretch yourself too thin and not be able to give your best to anything. So determine what’s best for you and say no to things that are just “good” or that will just be draining your time and energy.

Get out those calendars.  Take a good hard look at them. Don’t add anything that you really don’t want to do or that is going to be a source of stress and anxiety. Try to schedule a “down” day. The middle of the week is a good one for that if you can swing it.

Y’all have a great week! And remember: it really, really is okay to say “no.” Really.

Blessings,

Lynne

Back to School Challenge – Week 1: Revisiting the Laundry Monster

You’ve seen them already, haven’t you? The back to school commercials? Seems like just the other day the kids were getting out for the summer. I do believe summers lasted longer when I was younger. That may not be entirely true (though I don’t think we started back to school until after Labor Day), but we made our own entertainment and stayed outside until after dark. We were outside from morning until night – no sleeping late, no lazing around inside where it was air conditioned (if you were lucky). I loved those long summer days, playing with my cousins. Spending time with my grandparents. Working in the garden. Cutting grass with a non-motorized lawn mower. (Hey, I didn’t realize it was work then.)

The fact remains: school is just around the corner, whether it’s for little ones, high schoolers, teachers, or college students. Even if the actual fact of going back to school doesn’t affect you, now is as good a time as any to get a couple of projects tackled, don’t you think?  I hear from people most often that they have trouble with the following: keeping up with the laundry; planning and preparing meals; keeping a handle on the papers/mail that make it into the house; and general clutter control. So, since that’s four things, we’re going to address one each week for the next four weeks. That way, by the time school starts back for you and yours (or not), you’ll be organized and ready for whatever that brings. 🙂

I have addressed the laundry situation a couple of times. I know some of you have gotten control of your laundry and stayed on top of it. Some of you had it handled for a while, but it’s starting to take over again and you’re spending whole days catching up with the “laundry monster.” Some of you are new to Simplify 2013 and weren’t following when we first addressed laundry. So I am going to just copy and paste the original post today, along with some pictures to show you what the “laundry monster” looks like.

This was originally posted on January 7, 2013.

So we’re just going to jump right in and start paving the way to an organized, well-run household. Having talked to many women over the past few years about what household chore most often overwhelms them, I have learned that laundry is a problem for many people. In fact, there are people whose laundry pile could be measured and it would be taller than they are. They could get lost in the laundry pile and not be found for days. Did you know that there are people who don’t do their laundry for weeks at a time? That spend entire weekends “catching up” with the laundry monster and not enjoying their days off? Well, I am here to help you not only catch up with him (the laundry monster has to be male, after all), but to kick him in his rear end and defeat him once and for all. You will not miss him! At all.

Now, I have had a laundry schedule for many years. When I was working and then homeschooling, I did one type (not necessarily one load) of laundry each day. It was whites (towels, underwear, socks) on Mondays; towels, dark socks and underwear on Tuesdays; darks (jeans, t-shirts, sweats) on Wednesday, delicates (generally, things that don’t go in the dryer) on Thursday, and sheets on Friday. I also usually washed another load dark clothes on Fridays because my husband (and now my son) have “work clothes” that their coworkers probably appreciate being washed before they wear them again. Just saying that their work clothes tend to be a little stinky. Now that I am “retired,” I have changed my schedule to whites/towels/underwear on Mondays; darks and delicates on Wednesdays; and sheets on Friday. Still occasionally doing the work clothes thing on another day as needed.

NOTE: I do everyone’s laundry in my house. My kids are certainly old enough to do theirs and they do know how. If not, there are instructions printed and laminated and taped on top of the washer. In case I am unable to fulfill my task as laundry goddess, someone else can do it. I don’t do all the laundry because I’m oh so nice, but because I don’t want to run the washer and dryer for small loads if everyone does their own. I also use a clothesline instead of dryer whenever weather permits.

This week I “took one for the team” and didn’t do laundry all week. On Saturday, I dumped my hamper into the middle of my bedroom floor. I had both my kids dump their hampers onto the pile. Oh. My. Gosh. The pile was HUGE! And there are only four of us in this house. I can’t imagine if there were more. It overwhelmed me and I was only doing it for the experiment. So that I could help you. You’re welcome. :)

So. I looked at this laundry pile. I took pictures of it. I stood in awe of it. I saw the laundry monster lurking in there and I said, “Oh, no. I don’t think so. Out!” Can I get an “Amen!”?

If this is you…if the laundry monster lives in your house…please serve him his eviction notice. He will be out by Saturday. If you are not on a schedule for your laundry and there is a huge pile of it just waiting on you, let me show you how to show him the door. (If you are on a laundry schedule, God bless you and keep up the good work!)

There are several ways to conquer your laundry pile, but the first step for any of them is to put all your laundry in one place…one pile. One big old giant pile. Gather the laundry from wherever it may be in your house and bring it all together in one place. Everyone throw it all on there. Then look at it. How do you feel? Overwhelmed? Frustrated? Anxious? Don’t be. Like everything else we’ll do, we’ll take it one step at a time. I know you’ll see it and want to get the whole thing out of the way. Today. But then you’ll be so tired, you won’t be good for anything else. The key here is to establish a workable schedule and then stick to it. If not, the laundry monster will move back in when you aren’t looking. He’s very, very sneaky.

Here’s what I want you to do.

Monday: Put all your laundry in the pile in a place where it can hang out for the week. Take a picture of it. We will not judge. We’ll just applaud your awesomeness at the end of the week when there is no pile. Sort the laundry into smaller piles – however your mama taught you to sort. We all have things we wash together and things we don’t; my sorting may not be the same as yours. Then pick a pile, any pile. Start with the smallest or the largest – whichever pile you think you can get through today or whichever pile you happen to need the most at the moment. Take that pile, walk to the washer and get to washing. You may have more than one load from your pile but only wash one pile per day. Yes, that’s right. One pile per day. Ignore the other piles. Step around them if you must. You are going to wash, dry, fold and put away one pile today.

Tuesday – Friday (or Saturday) – Wash, dry, fold and put away another pile. One pile per day. You may want to document your diminishing piles with photos. And share them with us at the end of the week. Please. We love before and after pictures. Love.

ANOTHER NOTE: If you are not home during the day, you can start a load of laundry before you leave for the day and finish it after you return (don’t do this if there are things that will fade on to other things), or you can run the washer at night and throw the load in the dryer (or on the line) first thing in the morning and let it dry while you are getting ready to head out. Do NOT leave your dryer going if no one is going to be home. The goal is to completely finish one pile per day. Any “new’ dirty laundry goes to the hamper if you’ve already washed the pile it would go in. (On? Whatever.)

When the last pile is gone, take a picture of the spot where it all started. Wow! Don’t you feel a great sense of accomplishment? Do you feel the urge to sing the “Hallelujah Chorus”? Go right ahead. We’ll sing with you.

Then…take pen and paper in hand. On the top of the paper write “Laundry Schedule.” Write down what type/load of laundry you are going to do on each day. Post it where you can see it. (You can get all fancy like me and type up a laundry schedule.) Then – and here’s the kicker – do what it says. It will do you no good if you don’t stick with it. But if you do, you will not have a giant pile of laundry waiting for you on Saturday mornings. So you can sleep in without feeling guilty! Post your “before” picture with it. That should keep you motivated! You don’t want to go there again.

At our house, there is a laundry hamper in each bedroom. Also, I have a small laundry basket for everyone in the house. When the laundry is done and folded, I hand each family member his or her basket and have them put their laundry away. Then they can put whatever is needed for the next day’s laundry in the basket and return it to the laundry room (or laundry closet, if you’re like me).

We are going to talk a lot about scheduling this week. You will be amazed at how great you feel with a schedule or routine. Amazed. I promise. Now…get to washing and have a great day!

Blessings,

Lynne

Laundry