Monday, November 1, 2010

Operation Organization: Schedules

(originally written September 17, 2008)

This subject has been on my heart for some time now, mostly because *I* am in desperate need of some organization!  Our family has been living in temporary quarters for nearly 3 months now and is preparing to move to a new temporary place.  Just this circumstance alone can derail organizational efforts.  Half of our things are in boxes, the other half, scattered here and there.  So, for the organizationally challenged, I feel your pain!  

I have been reading a book titled The Organized Homeschooler.  When I picked it up at our monthly moms meeting, I honestly didn't expect much.  I mean, how many ways are there to organize? I suppose that in actual new ideas, there aren't many but nestled within the pages are little nuggets of quotable wisdom. This leaped off the page at me last night.  Quoted from page 87:  "The degree to which your family is organized is dependent almost solely on YOU .....If you can't get your act together, you won't be able to expect the other members of your family to get their acts together.....Orderly families are trained, not born.  [emphasis mine]

With this in mind, let's talk about scheduling.  Just the very thought of a schedule sends a cold chill up my spine. I cringe when I hear the word.  Schedule? Me? The "eclectic unschooler"?  No way!  But recently I have come to see the advantages of at least a loose schedule!  Children thrive on order.  It gives them a sense of security and belonging.  It helps them to know that this is the way we do things.  Turth be told, a schedule helps mom too!

If you're like me, you probably have no idea where to begin.  I felt the same way until a few nights ago.  I had  been praying for wisdom and just as the Lord promised, He gave it.  So, this anti-scheduling novice is about to give you the most simple way on earth to create a bare bones schedule to suit your family.  Are you ready? You'll need paper and a pencil, a comfy chair and a little quiet.

First,  make a list of all the things that need to be done in a day.  Do not go into minute detail here.  Just categories.  Mine looked something like this:  quiet time, personal care, exercise, housework, schoolwork, sleep, meals & prep, girls quiet time.   

Second, Now that you have a general idea of the things that need to get done, go back over your list and mark when they need to be done. Again, you aren't going for specific times here.  I used AM, AN (afternoon) and PM to start.  Some things, like housework, may be flexible.  Start with those things that have a definite time frame. For me, my quiet time and personal care must be done in the morning so I put an "AM" next to them.  On the other hand, exercise was flexible for AM or PM so I saved that decision till the end.

Third,  Next to each item and general time, write down how much time you think it'll take to do the required task.  Again, some of my examples are:  schoolwork, AM/AN, 3-4 hours; meals & prep, AM/PM, 2 hours.  Get the idea?

Fourth,  This is where the rubber meets the road and your 'schedule' begins to appear.  Organize your tasks within their general timeframe.  Ex: AM tasks together, AN tasks together. You may choose to highlight each block with a different color or you may re-write your list.  Whatever works for you.  Once they are divided, start with the one thing that has a definite time frame and plan your day around it. The obvious choice would be "sleep".  If you schedule in your time of rest to be between 10pm - 7am, then you know that everything else will have to fit in around that.  Let's use those hours as our example:

Sleep:  10pm - 7am
{so now we have the hours of 7am till noon, when I'm assuming you've scheduled lunch}
Lunch/prep:  11:45-12:15
{here you'll have the flexible afternoon hours, until supper}
Supper/prep:  4:30-5:30

Do you see the skeleton of a schedule taking form?  Now I have supper/prep written but I know that includes preparing a meal, eating and cleaning the table, but NOT doing the dishes or cleaning up the kitchen.  You may add more or less info as you like.  

Last, Fill in those slots between the 'absolutes' of meal and bed times.  If you have set aside five things to do in the morning and they total 3 hours - well, you can see that you easily have another 2 hours in the morning that you could use for something else.  Do you want to move something to the morning or do you want to just call it 'free time'? It's about what is going to work for YOU and your family!  What do YOU want your day to look like? 

Even the simplest of schedules will give a sense of order and direction to your day.  Try it and let me know what you think!

© Adorning Grace 2010

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