Have you ever wondered how to get more hours in your week? In a helpful series called The More Organized Me! During the month of January, I’ve been writing various posts on goals, mistakes I’ve made in finding “the sweet spot” of organization, and how I schedule my day and my home. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve not arrived in this area – I’m still a work in progress. But I think I’ve learned a few things over the past 30 years of marriage, raising 7 kids in all sorts of situations, and I’ll be sharing them with you! If you missed any of our posts, you can find it here!
I remember one particularly busy year, one of the kids asked me the inevitable Christmas question, “So, Mom, what do you want for Christmas?” While most people instantly think of things like new phones or a Kitchen-Aid, I thought to myself, Should I tell her that what I really want is 4 hours to sit by myself and do nothing, or to hide in the bathroom for about a week? Nah…too hard to explain. Finally I replied, “What I could really use is about 15 extra hours in my week!”
I used to think that it would be great to have more hours in my day, but I think Parkinson’s law would come into effect: “Work expands to fill the time allotted for it.” If I had an extra hour, I would still fill it up with even more activity, and STILL end up being late for church!
To get more hours our week, there are a few solutions. I’ll just rattle some off:
1. Seek the things of God first. (see Matthew 6:33) God promises that as we “acknowledge Him, He shall direct (our) paths.” As much as we are able, we should begin our weeks with God, and our days with God, spending time in His Word and prayer. One of the things I’ve found particularly helpful is to “acknowledge Him,” or verbally and in my heart set Him as the top priority of my life and day.
2. Trim down the amount of activity we try to accomplish. Sometimes we need to understand that it really is ok to say No. For me, I often have to say No to myself, and tell myself that I need to keep focused on the task at hand – building my family. Because of so many fun and interesting things to do or learn about (and because I’m terribly curious) it’s easy to get bogged into interesting projects or activities, which only serve to take me away from my real priorities.
3. Carefully plan our days. This is a two-part point.
a. A flexible schedule is very important. When I just “let the day happen” and not do things according to schedule, time just slips through my fingers. So I’ve learned to schedule my days, but to keep the schedule flexible, to allow for all the wonderful things that go along with home education, like impromptu field trips, etc.
b. A planned week is very helpful also. I try to group projects into blocks, so two days of the week are devoted to one activity, two more days to another, and one day entirely for family, and 2 days for home and church. In each day, I have the normal round of daily activities which are scheduled in – the meals, laundry, and school. These things are more hard-and-fast, and are on the daily schedule, while the weekly plan rotates in its activities.
4. Stop multi-tasking. Studies show that when we multitask to try to get more done, we actually end up truly accomplishing less. And when little ones are demanding our attention, focus is extremely important, and multi-tasking is useless.
5. Work in 15-minute time blocks. Whether it’s writing a blog post, cleaning the house, or teaching math, I actually get more done when I set my timer and concentrate on that particular job for only 15 minutes. Maybe I have adult ADHD or something, but for some reason, it works. I suspect it would work for a lot of folks, as well.
6. Do mental work during your most productive times. Are you more productive in the morning, evening, or afternoon? I’m a morning person (much to my family’s chagrin) so I’m much more creative in the mornings. I try to schedule math class and writing for mornings, and things that require little brain work for afternoons and evenings when I’m out of it.
7. Plan your next session before walking away. At the tail end of a 15 minute math lesson, it’s very helpful for me to take a few seconds and jot a post-it-note that tells me what to do next. That way I don’t waste a lot of time at the beginning of a session, just to orient myself as to what’s going on. Maybe you could write a small post-it note, or just leaving the proper window up on your computer screen, so that it’s readily available to you as soon as you sit down again.
There’s a ton of things I could add here (I haven’t even mentioned those time-suckers, electronics!) but I think this will get your brain churning just a bit, and hopefully you won’t be hiding in the bathroom wishing for just a few more hours in your busy week!
Question: What do you do that helps you save some time? Are there any other ideas you can think of?