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Scheduling My Life

Taking a look back at this now I am so glad I decided to put myself on a schedule. Just because I am a work-at-home mom doesn't mean that my life needed to be such an unorganizezd mess! So I took control.

© 1999, by Amanda Formaro

I looked at the computer clock and much to my dismay, it was 3:25 p.m. My 7 year old son would be home in five minutes from school and I had nothing done in the house. I had intended to do three loads of laundry, clean the bathrooms and straighten out my daughter's closet. All that aside from the regular everyday housecleaning and meal preparation. Dinner was still unthought-of and rock solid in the freezer, and homework hassles were right around the corner.

Taking a look back at this now I am so glad I decided to put myself on a schedule. Just because I am a work at home mom doesn't mean that my life needed to be such an unorganized mess! So I took control. How?

Grab a piece of paper. Think of the things that you do every day or would like to do every day. Write them ALL down and assign a time frame to each one. This time frame can be how long you actually spend or how long you would like to spend on each one. I will list my tasks to use as an example:

    Shower, make coffee.....30 minutes
    Get breakfast ready, make lunches.....20 minutes
    Get kids ready for school.....20 minutes
    Take kids to school.....10 minutes
    Clean the house, laundry.....2 hours
    Walk the dog.....20 minutes
    Work on website & check email OR run errands.....1 hour 30 minutes
    Homework.....30 minutes
    Monitor chores.....10 minutes
    Lunch for kids at home.....10 minutes
    Work on website, networking and other computer tasks.....3 hours 30 minutes
    Prepare dinner early.....30 minutes
    Make dinner, do dishes, kids watch TV, make phone calls.....2 hours
    Bathtime, stories.....1 hour

The next step is add up all those time frames. In the example above, the total comes to 13 hours. Now figure out how many hours your day actually consists of. So for example, I get up at 5:30 a.m. and put the kids to bed at 8:00 p.m., so my day consists of 14 hours and 30 minutes. So essentially I can get everything done each day and have an hour and 30 minutes to spare. Phew! The question is can YOU fit everything you want or need to accomplish into your day? Most certainly!

Now it's time to work the above tasks into the daily routine, routine being the key word here. First you may need to ask yourself some pertinent question.

  • When during the day do you spend the most time at home?
  • Do you tend to run your errands in the morning or in the afternoon?
  • When does the baby nap?
  • Do you have access to a vehicle all day or do you share with your spouse?

All of these come in to play when planning your schedule.

In my situation, it is most convenient for me to run around in the morning and stay home in the afternoon. The baby naps just after lunch so this is an ideal time for computer work or house cleaning. Let's use my actual schedule as an example to show you how this can be done.

5:30 Make coffee, shower
6:00 Computer work
7:00 Walk the dog
7:30 Make breakfast, make lunches, get kids ready for school
8:45 Drive kids to school
9:00 Email or errands
10:30 Prepare dinner for the evening
11:00 Make lunch, computer work
1:30 Clean house, do laundry
3:30 Homework, monitor chores
5:00 Dinner, dishes, TV for kids, phone calls to contacts
7:00 Bathtime, stories
8:00 Bedtime for kids

Once your schedule is in place you will find that you will become so proficient at what you do that you will actually end up with time left over! Usually in the morning I can get in an extra 15 or 20 minutes on the computer and am usually able to get the kids ready for school a little quicker as well. It actually helps the kids to be more consistent because it is so routine. I am focusing on the task at hand, not flying in three different directions. It is a much more orderly way of doing things. The children can sense that and seem to be better behaved because of it.

I would like to point out a couple of things. One being the 9:00 a.m. portion of my schedule. I do not necessarily have to work on email everyday. This spot can be used for running to get milk or taking that needed trip to the post office.

You may have noticed that I have dinner listed at 10:30 in the morning. The reason for this is to prepare most of it ahead of time. That way all that is left to do is heat up the main meal and add a side or salad. This makes for a much smoother evening, which tends to be one of the most hectic times of the day!

Lastly, I am sure you are saying to yourself: What about things like doctor's appointments, haircuts and other out of the ordinary activities?

Depending on your tasks of the day you may be able to allow for extra time on one or two areas. Mine is in my computer time. If too much of my computer time is eaten up, I will work after 8:00 p.m. to catch up. This I don't mind doing because I enjoy my computer work. There will always be things to disrupt your schedule. Just prioritize your activities and work around it when necessary.

Another nice thing for me is Friday night is pizza night. I don't have to cook, hence leaving a gaping hole at 10:30 a.m. and again at night when dinner is served and dishes are done. I often use this time to catch up on any time that had been lost in other areas.

Scheduling is an important part of time management. I see so many people carrying day planners around just so they can erase all their tasks from that day that did not get done and move them to the next day. What's the point? Stay on schedule whenever possible. If it doesn't work for you right away then you may need to rewrite it or eliminate any unnecessary activities.

There are ways to do this successfully, but you must be willing to put forth an effort and discipline yourself. You will be happy you did.

Amanda Formaro is the mother of four children. She and her husband live in Kenosha, Wisconsin. She is also the owner of The Family

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