Once you have some basic routines in place for your daily living , it’s time to put it altogether and devise a Daily Plan and/or Weekly Plan and then branch out to planning for all areas you’ve determined to be your priorities .
1) Daily/Weekly Plan
Now, I know some of you are rolling your eyes saying, “Oh brother. Here we go again. I bet she’s one of those fanatics trying to put me on a strict schedule for each day. That will never work for me.”
Be encouraged: I am not suggesting you need to have a very regimented, down-to-the-minute schedule which you never deter from in order to manage your time well.
Wanna know a secret? We don’t follow a strict schedule! Instead, we have a plan in place for all areas we’ve determined are our priorities and we stick with a flexible routine.
That’s what I love about the Time Budget . Always before, I’d make these elaborate schedules and then I’d never follow them longer than a week or two because I’d get so flustered because I’d crammed them so full that the whole day was thrown off whack with just one or two little interruptions.
With a Time Budget  and margin planned in the day, I’ve felt the freedom to shift things around, as needed. So, if the children are playing together really well in the morning, I might just let them play 30 minutes while I finish up a cleaning project. And then we’ll just skip or condense the cleaning/playtime in the afternoon.
I think it is really helpful to go ahead and make out a specific routine for your day or week using the time budget and priorities, but use it more as a guide, not as a hard and fast must-follow-to-a-tee slave master. It’s there to give you gentle direction and oversight, not to make your life miserable!
You can see our written Daily Schedule here . However, that’s just the written schedule. We never follow it perfectly.
In fact, if you want to have a more accurate idea of what a day at our usually house looks like, it’d be more like this:
::Get up, read Bible, journal, pray
::Check email, clean out email inbox, blogging work
::Exercise, start a load of laundry
::Get children up (if they aren’t already up!), oversee their before-breakfast chores
::Get children started on breakfast (we eat oatmeal pretty much every morning), shower, dressed, make bed, clean up room
::Quick clean up of kitchen (while the children play or finish their morning chores) and make main dish for dinner (this usually involves about one minute of pulling out chicken or fish from the freezer and marinating it)
::Baths, dressed, chores (if the children didn’t finish their morning chores yet)
::Bible Time (We’re going through Teach Me About God, a Bible story coloring book and Hymns for a Kid’s Heart right now), Art (I eat a bowl of oatmeal sometime in here!)
::Kaitlynn and Silas usually go play nearby and I finish My Father’s World  with Kathrynne (this is a unit study curriculum which encompasses almost all subjects, though it’s a little weak in some which is why we supplement).
::Kathrynne then works on her math lesson while I oversee and switch the laundry and finish any kitchen cleaning.
::Children watch a DVD or play while I do some blogging work
::Lunchtime and read a chapter from our current chapter book read-aloud
::Finish cleaning chores for the day
::Read to Kaitlynn and put her down for her afternoon nap (she sometimes just lays in her bed and looks at books for 45 minutes to an hour) or listens to a story CD. Recently, though, she’s been taking a good 1.5 hour nap most afternoons — probably because she’s been getting up earlier!
::Sing, rock and read with Silas and put him down for his nap.
::Return phone calls, extra projects or cleaning
::Clean out inbox, blogging (Kathrynne watches her school DVDs or plays.)
::Everyone help with folding and putting away laundry (I try to do at least one load from start to finish each day.)
::The children play together while I read, finish cleaning or extra projects.
::Finish dinner prep, set table and finish afternoon chores (if they weren’t finished earlier), clean up house
::Read together (if time)
::Dinner, family time, read Bible together
::Children ready for bed/to bed (Jesse usually gets the children ready for bed and puts them to bed and sends me to put my feet up and read or blog! Yes, I know, I’m very spoiled!)
::Time with Jesse
This loose schedule is only for Monday through Thursday, as we only follow the morning routine on Fridays and then leave the rest of the day open for extra projects, errands, hospitality, getting together with friends and/or field trips. We pick one “big” fun thing per Friday to do and then also usually tackle some extra loose ends.Saturdays are much more relaxed at our house. Jesse usually takes the children out for a few hours while I have my Weekly Planning Retreat and then we just spend extra time hanging out together as a family, sometimes going out shopping or on a fun outing, sometimes just hanging out at home working on projects. We go to Jesse’s family’s house on Saturday evenings for dinner and our weekly “Family Night” (when everyone congregates to eat, catch up, play the Wii and laugh until our sides ache!).
Sundays are extremely laid back — well, apart from the last-minute rushing around to attempt to get to church on time! (One of these days we’re going to master getting three children out the door and everyone looking presentable at an early morning hour. We’re still getting the hang of that… and it seems like every time we’ve almost mastered it, we add another child to the mix. :))
We usually hang around church until we’re the last ones there and then we head to Cracker Barrel or head home for a very simple lunch and afternoon naps. We spend Sunday evenings at my family’s house (usually all the extended family comes over and we eat, talk, laugh some more and just catch up on the past week). The only project I do try to accomplish on Sundays is a quick clean-up of the house and organizing my coupons (which I do while we’re at my family’s house).
And that’s that — at least for now! Our schedule is always evolving and changing as our lives change, our children’s needs change and as new responsibilities come along and old ones are set aside.
I share these details with you just to give you an example of how our family operates (and because so many of you begged to see our daily schedule).It goes without saying, but I’m still going to say it: please, please, please do not try to copy our schedule or feel like you have to do something similar to what we are doing.
What works for our family will not work for you. Find what works for your family — be that a full-fledged schedule, a simple routine, a different schedule for each day of the week, a different schedule for each week of the month, something in between or something totally different — and do that.
The key is to make a plan and loosely follow the plan. Because a plan doesn’t work unless you do!
2) Homemaking Plan
In addition to a Daily/Weekly Plan, I’ve found it very helpful to have a Homemaking Plan. You can see my current homemaking plan here . There are also sheets available to download (for free, of course!) to create your own plan .
I don’t always get to everything every week, but by getting to most things most weeks and keeping our home pretty streamlined of clutter, things stay in fairly good shape around here most of the time. (Now, if you drop by, I can’t promise there won’t be crumbs or fingerprints or toys on the floor, but our home usually can be “company-ready” in about 45 minutes. And I’m happy with that for now!)
You can see my Daily Docket  that I print and use each day here. I normally print these on Saturday for the following week and keep them in my home management binder. I try to keep it simple and only assign five to eight things (or less) on the to-do section and one to two projects/ministries per day. Whatever doesn’t get accomplished in a given day, either gets bumped to the following day, or I decide to just cross it off the list.
I try to never have more than eight items on my daily to-do list, otherwise, I find that it can be discouraging and overwhelming from the get-go. I’d rather just have three items on the list and actually get them all finished, than 30 items and overwhelm myself and finish none.
3) Blogging Plan
During my Weekly Planning Retreat on Saturdays, I map out the blogging projects and posts for the upcoming week on Google calendar and prep anything that I can. I also prioritize things by posts and projects which must be done and those which I hope to get to, but aren’t quite as imperative to write/finish.
To be honest, up until about six months ago, I mostly just blogged by the seat of my pants — without clear plan or purpose. Setting goals for my blogging posts and projects each week and then revisiting them on Saturdays has helped me to be much more intentional in my blogging. And hopefully, this has also allowed me to do a better job at the actual act of blogging. In addition, it’s helped me to actually follow through on my promises (most of the time, at least!).
4) Other Plans
Ministry Plans: On Saturdays, I also map out plans for ministry opportunities for the following week — picking out at least one to three different ways that I feel God wants me to serve or reach out to someone in our church or community. I don’t always get to all of it, but having it planned, helps me to be more purposeful in exercising hospitality, serving and meeting needs.
Homeschooling Plans: Our homeschooling curriculum doesn’t require much extra planning and preparation right now, but there are times when I spend at least a small chunk of time on Saturday planning out the projects, printing worksheets and getting things all ready so that come Monday, we’re not scrambling.
Menu Plans: Since we’re eating really simply right now, I just make sure that we have the ingredients on hand to have oatmeal for breakfast every morning, and simple lunches and dinners every day. I pick one meal off the list for dinner each night and write it on my Daily Docket  the night before.
Plan XYZ: For me, I’ve found that if I have a good Daily Plan, Homemaking Plan, Menu Plan, Blogging Plan, Ministry Plan and Homeschooling Plan, life flows along fairly smoothly and doesn’t usually feel too stressful or chaotic (though there are definitely those moments!). This is what is working for me at this season of our lives. I encourage you to examine what areas in your life could be benefited by regular planning and to set aside a small time block each week to plan. At first, it might be rough going, but over time, you’ll likely really start to reap the fruit!
It’s well been said that 10 minutes of planning can save you 20 minutes in execution. And it can also save your sanity and lower your stress levels, too!
On Monday, I’ll be sharing some time-saving tips for email, blogging and the computer in general, since many of you have requested this.
This 125-page ebook walks you through how to create a personalized household notebook. It includes:
- worksheets to help you think through your jobs at home
- calendars that cover all the bases: daily, weekly, monthly, yearly.
- planning sheets for the holidays, your budget, your mealtimes — your life
- Download a free 15-page sample here .
This chore planner tells you exactly what you need to do each day to keep your home organized and running smoothly. There are a few different options to choose from and you can purchase the chore planner for November and December 2010 to try out for only $1 right now .