Time Management 101: Make a Personalized Plan (Part 2)

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.

Yes, seriously.

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

::Bedtime

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.

Helpful Resources:

Organizing Your Life as Mom

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.

Motivated Moms Chore Planner

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.

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How to Get More Done in Less Time as a Blogger (Part 1)


As part of the Time Management series, I wanted to share some productivity tips for bloggers, as many of you asked about this. All of these won’t work for you, but hopefully you can find two or three to implement and save yourself time and effort!

1) Create a Computer Time Budget

Just as I found it helpful to have a time budget for my daily activities, so I’ve found it so helpful to have a time budget for my daily computer times, instead of just saying, “I’m going to spend four hours on computer and blogging work each day.”

I currently have my computer time broken down into the following specific blocks:

45 minutes on substantive writing
1.5 hours posting time-sensitive deal posts
30 minutes on email
15 minutes on Facebook/Twitter
15 minutes on a writing project
45 minutes extra — placing online orders, reading blog posts, extra projects

I don’t always follow these time blocks perfectly. Sometimes something comes up which requires I spend extra time working on a technical issue. Or occasionally I’ll have a conference call scheduled. So I’ll shift some things around in order to accommodate these extra things.

But having my computer time all budgeted out, instead of just getting on and doing whatever seemed most pressing, has helped me to get a lot more done in a lot less time. In fact, some days, I’m able to get everything done on my list — with time to spare!

2) Do One Thing At a Time

I know, I know! Multi-tasking can be a very efficient way to do many things. However, when it comes to most computer work, if you want to get concentrated work done in an efficient manner, you need to shut out all the noise and just focus on one thing at a time.

If it’s your time to email, work on emailing. Go through your emails in order of priority and don’t stop until your time is up. If it’s your time to write blog posts, only work on drafting blog posts until your time is up.

If you’re used to trying to post or email while you have a bunch of applications open and constantly dinging at you, you’ll likely be surprised at just how much work you can get done in a distraction-free 20-30-minute concentrated block of time.

And once you get in the habit of doing one thing at a time, you’ll learn where your fizzle out point is when you need to stop and take a break or stop for the day in order to come back to it refreshed and energized. Personally, I’ve found that I do best by working in 20-30 minute blocks and then rewarding myself with a short 5-minute break to check email or Facebook. If I’m working on an in-depth project which requires a lot of brain power, I’ll often set the timer for 20 minutes and work on it and then set the timer for 15 minutes and worth on cleaning up or doing laundry.

3) Tame the Email Monster

A) Eliminate Unnecessary Emails

-Go into your Twitter account and change your settings so that you don’t get notified when someone follows you.

-Go into your Facebook settings and change your notifications so that you don’t get emailed when anyone does anything but replies to one of your posts or sends you a private message.

-Unsubscribe from all email lists which you don’t actively read the emails and benefit from.

-Turn off notifications when someone subscribes or unsubscribes from your YouTube or email newsletter service.

-Set up a very comprehensive Frequently Asked Questions page which answers a large number of questions people routinely email you about. Put this in very conspicuous places on your site including smack-dab in the middle of your Contact page. While plenty of people will disregard this, I promise that it will at least cut down on some of your email load.

-Have a search button in a very obvious place on the sidebar of your blog. This encourages people to search for that post or recipe themselves of emailing in to ask you for the link.

B) Don’t Feel Obligated to Answer All Your Emails

State on your Contact page that you aren’t able to answer much of your email. This frees you up from feeling obligated to answer every email which comes in.

C) Keep Your Inbox Cleaned Out

I shoot for having less than 10 emails in my inbox at all times. If they are in my inbox, it means they need to be dealt with within the next 24 hours.

When I check my email, I deal with emails immediately. I either respond, if I have a minute and only a sentence or two is required in response, I archive them if no response is necessary, or I file them in my “To Answer” file in Gmail if a response is necessary but I don’t have time to respond at the moment. Once a week, usually on Saturdays, I try clean out the entire “To Answer” file so that it’s completely empty.

This system works well for me as it helps me to not be bogged down with a lot of emails not requiring an immediate response in my inbox. And it ensures — most of the time, at least! — that nothing highly important gets overlooked or lost in a sea of emails.

By the way, if you’re going to take the time to answer a question in more than a paragraph or two, consider turning it into a post. Then, you kill two birds with one stone — you answered an email and you wrote a post!

Related: Amy shares more tips for keeping your inbox cleaned out.

D) Set Up Canned Responses

I love Gmail’s Canned Responses feature and I highly recommend using it. You can set up responses for emails you often receive and with a click of a button insert them straight into an email.

For instance, I often receive emails asking for my address or how to start a blog. I have a canned response all set up for these questions, so I just click the appropriate Canned Response and it automatically inserts it and in a couple of seconds, the email is pretty much answered.

E) Enable Send and Archive

This is another cool tool in Gmail. You can change your “Send” button to “Send & Archive”. Instead of having to push send and then go and delete the message, you can do it with one click, saving yourself a couple seconds per email. When you are responding to dozens of emails each day, those little seconds add up! See how to set up Send & Archive here.

I’ll be posting Part 2 on Wednesday. Stay tuned!

**Update: This giveaway is now closed.**

Win a free Windows Phone 7!

Would you like to try out a Windows Phone 7 for free? These phones were just released and Microsoft is giving one away to a reader here this month!

To enter, just leave a comment on this post sometime between today and November 29, 2010. Tell us your favorite tip for getting more done in less time as a blogger or in any other facet of your life.

After November 29, 2010, I’ll choose and notify the winner. See the official rules of this giveaway here.

This giveaway is brought to you by the new Windows Phone 7. Less MIA. More PTA: Learn about Windows Phone online and see it in person at local T-Mobile stores today.

photos from Shutterstock

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How to Get More Done in Less Time as a Blogger (Part 2)

mode done in less time
If you missed it, be sure to read Part 1 here.

4. Limit Time-Wasting Online Activities

There are so many ways to be productive online, but there are a thousand more ways to waste enormous amounts of time online. If you’re struggling with being distracted online with time-wasting websites and activities, I’d encourage you to consider setting up safeguards. Here are some suggestions:

::Parental Controls: On most computers, you can set up parental controls with a time limit, where say, you only have two hours a day on the computer and it shuts off when the limit it up. Or, you can set it up so that your computer will only allow you to log on for certain hours of the day.

::Leechblock: This Firefox add-on will block any time-wasting sites you choose either entirely or for designated time periods in order to help you get focused work done.

::Rescue Time: Wondering where all your time is going online and why you’re not getting anything done? Rescue Time will track your online activities and you can also set limits for how much time you can spend on individual sites.

5. Take a Computer Sabbatical Regularly

There are so many good things you can learn and read and share and do online, but I think all of us need to step back and step away from time to time and just relish media-free quiet. It clears your mind, it helps put things in perspective and it allows you to come back refreshed!

A few years ago, we implemented media-free Sundays at our house and this has been one of the best things for our family. We don’t always 100% follow it as there are some Sundays when we break at a DVD for the children while Jesse and I spend time together or we’ll need to turn the computer on for something or other, but I don’t blog on Sundays and by and large the computers stay completely shut off.

This makes Sunday a very restful day at our home and allows us to spend extra time fellowshipping with friends and family at a leisurely pace. We also often get in Sunday afternoon naps!

6. Set Boundaries for Social Media

Twitter, Facebook and Skype have made it possible for us to have discussion and online interaction with dozens or even hundreds or thousands of people every day. If used wisely, social media can be a tool which helps to grow your blog and gives you an opportunity to minister and reach a wider audience. On the flip side, social media can suck up a great deal of time if not kept in check.

I’ve definitely struggled with this. As a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom of young children, I found that the lure of social media was great. Here I could talk and interact with other moms in similar situations, we could share our funny kid stories, encourage one another in potty-training and homemaking, share blogging ideas and so much more.

The problem was, I wasn’t disciplined to shut it off. I constantly felt the need to check in on Skype to see what discussion were going on, or to check Twitter to see what I was missing out on.

About five months ago, God really convicted me of the need to do a better job of prioritization and I realized that I was spending too much time online social media. So I took some drastic measures: I disabled my Skype account and disabled my Tweetdeck account.

I set up my posts to auto-tweet to Twitter and now only check Twitter.com once or twice a day and respond to any messages on there, usually spending less than five minutes a few times per week on Twitter. I’ve found I’ve had a lot more time to focus on higher priorities now that I’ve really limited social media in my life — and it’s been a good thing (though I do miss the fun conversations and comradery!). I’ve also found that by limiting social media, I’ve been a lot more apt to pick up the phone or spend more time on real-life relationships, which should always trump online stuff!

7. Get Enough Rest

I used to think that burning the midnight oil would make me more productive, but I’ve actually found that I’m much more productive if I get at least seven hours of sleep almost every single night. I usually am most productive in the mornings so I make it my goal to go to bed by 10 p.m. and get up between 5 and 6 a.m.

It’s hard for me to shut things down at night but I’ve found that I’m much more prone to dawdle and waste time at night than I am in the mornings. You might be the other way around. Do what works best for you, but whatever you do, put getting enough rest high up on your priority list.

You’ll feel better and more energetic and I’d wager to guess that you’ll also find an extra hour or two of sleep at night helps you to be more productive than if you spent that time trying to pry your eyeballs open with toothpicks and get more work done.

{And to be brutally honest here, I wrote this a few weeks ago and I’m not preaching to myself as I’ve not done a good job of this the last few days and I’m suffering for it. I’ve been a ton less productive, more irritable and walking around like a zombie the last few days. Time to get back to early bedtimes — starting tonight!}

8. Say “No” Often

As women, we’re often afraid to say no. We fear we might miss out on a big opportunity and we worry about what other people might think of us. I know, because I’m there a lot.

I just want to encourage you (and myself!) to guiltlessly say “no”. If an opportunity is going to require time you don’t have or going to oblige you in a way you don’t feel comfortable with or is just not a good fit for you or your blog, say “no”.

Before committing to anything, count the costs. What are you going to have to give up in order to do this thing or attend this event or write this post or participate in this series?

Is it worth what you’re giving up? If you’re not 100% sure that it is, than say “no”.

The final installment of How to Get More Done in Less Time as a Blogger will be posted on Monday.

photos from Shutterstock

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How to Get More Done in Less Time as a Blogger (Part 3)

If you missed Part 1 and Part 2, be sure to read them first.

6. Work Smarter, Not Harder

I’m a minimalist at heart and believe there’s no reason to make blogging any harder than it needs to be. So I’m constantly looking for ways to be more efficient and work smarter, not harder.

A few things which I find helpful:

::Use Google Calendar — I find it very helpful to have a plan, but I rarely stick completely to the plan. With Google Calendar, I can map out the posts I’m planning to run during the upcoming week, but if something else comes up and they don’t end up running, I can quickly and easily drag and drop things to another day or week or month.

Google calendars are also really helpful for planning out series, giveaways and blog projects. In addition, we use them for our family calendar and my husband’s work calendar. It helps to be able to see both of our schedules at a glance!

::Use Email, Rather Than the Phone — Advertisers and other people often want to set up conference calls to discuss potential opportunities. I’ve found that you can spend a lot of unnecessary time on the phone only to discover that the opportunity isn’t a good fit.

If a company contacts me and wants to set up a phone call, I email back and say that I prefer to correspond by email and if they give me more details on the proposal, I’ll be glad to see if it’s something I’m interested in. In most cases, they will send back the proposal and instead of having to have a 20-minute phone call, it will instead only take me two minutes to review and respond.

I only set up phone calls when it is really merited and I feel like it’d be more productive and efficient to hammer out details by phone.

::Set Up WordPress Templates — I just recently discovered Article Templates, a WordPress plugin, and I’ve been blown away by how much time I’ve wasted by not using these!

Since I post a lot of deals on my blog, I often have the same photos and wording in some posts each week. For instance, every Saturday evening, I post the best deals at CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens for the upcoming week. I used to have to upload the image into the post and copy and paste the information about linking up at the bottom of the post.

Not anymore. I now have templates set up for Walgreens, CVS and Rite Aid and with just a click of a button, the photo is uploaded and the wording for the link-ups is there and I just have to add in the new deals for the week and the post is ready to go.

If you have regular features on your blog, this can be a great timesaver for you!

::Have a Weekly Planning/Writing Retreat — It’s been said that one minute of planning saves you five minutes in execution. And I’d pretty well agree with that statement. Making time to plan ahead, instead of living by the seat of your pants is critical if you want to manage your time well.

So I set aside a block of time on Saturday to have a mini “Planning Retreat” while my husband takes the children out to to run errands or doing something fun. During this time, I plan out our upcoming week, map out my blog posts for the next week, tie up any loose ends on projects, place online orders, clean out my email to-answer file and just generally get things in order so that I can rest on Sunday and start with a clean slate on Monday. Taking this time to plan makes a world of difference in all areas of my life!

Next Monday, we’ll talk about Time Management when it comes to homemaking, laundry and household chores. And then I have an amazing line-up of guest posts from women in all different walks of life to share with you!

What are your best tips for saving time and staying organized as a blogger? I’d love to hear as I’m always looking for ways to streamline and be more efficient!

photos from Shutterstock

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Time Management 101: Home Management (Part 1)

I wanted to end this series on Time Management with some thoughts on managing your time when it comes to homemaking. I’m still learning right along with you, so I hope you’ll chime in and share some of your tips and ideas, too!

1) Streamline Your Homemaking Routines

Most of you know that my mantra is, “Keep it simple.” There’s no need to have an elaborate system if something really basic works for you (though, if an elaborate system works for you, more power to you!).

And there’s no need to feel like you have to scrub every little nook and cranny of your house all the time. Give yourself grace to let some stuff go.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, stick with the basics. In our house, if we have clean laundry, sufficiently picked up rooms, clean bathrooms, the dishes are loaded into the dishwasher and the floors are swept, I consider things to be in pretty good shape.

I aim to complete the tasks on my Daily, Weekly and Monthly checklists, but I don’t always get to all of them. However, I’ve found that if I shoot to get them done, even if I skip a few things every few days, the house stays in pretty good shape. It’s never perfect, but it’s usually 45-minutes to Company Ready. And I’m satisfied with that at this point in my life.

2) Take Time to Plan

I touched on this before, but I’m going to talk about it again. Without a plan, you don’t know where you’re supposed to be going. You’re aimless and purposeless and you’ll usually be more apt to just run around in circles putting out fires.

Planning one cleaning project to do each day and actually doing it, is much better than waking up with 447 projects in your head you feel you really should do but you’re so overwhelmed that you end up doing nothing.

I encourage you to set aside time in your schedule each week to make a simple plan of action as well as goals for the coming week. I usually make out this list for the upcoming week on Saturdays and then try to review my list the following Saturday bumping whatever didn’t get accomplished during the previous week to the next week.

Reviewing this weekly list of goals is always so encouraging to me because even on those weeks when it feels like nothing really got done, when I review my list at the end of the week I’ll realize that yes, I really did accomplish some things — despite what it may have felt like!

I use a list similar to FishMama’s (above), only mine’s not so detailed. It just has sections for Home, Jesse, Children, Personal, Ministry and Blogging. I try to set 3-5 goals for each section each week.

In the home section, I might write an extra organizing or cleaning project and two cooking projects. In Jesse’s section, I might write to set a goal of writing him one note, doing something fun with him and a specific prayer request to pray for him daily. In the children section, I might set a goal to finish a book we’re reading together, do an extra craft project and plan one fun outing.

In the personal section, I usually set goals for Bible memory work, a book I want to finish and some other area I’m working on improving in (such as going to bed on time!). For the ministry section, I might set a goal to have a friend over, write a card to someone and make food for someone. And in the blogging section, I’ll usually set goals for whatever posts or projects I’m hoping to finish that week.

Now obviously, I don’t always do everything in every section every week. In fact, some weeks I only get a few things off my list done. But planning these at the beginning of the week and then referring to my list of goals as I make out my short daily to-do lists helps me to be a lot more purposeful in living my life.

3) Involve the Family

My husband and I are firm believers in families being a team. No one person in a family was designed to carry the load of everything; it should be shouldered by each individual member to the level of their ability.

Now, I know I am very, very blessed to be married to a man who doesn’t shirk when it comes to work — whether that’s in his professional role as an attorney or when he’s at home changing a dirty diaper. He works from sun up to sun down and then some and I’m constantly challenged by his discipline and work ethic. [I often tell him, "Would you stop making me feel so lazy?!" :)]

My husband and I are a team through and through and we both contribute to our family economically as well as keeping up our home, training our children and doing the myriad of tasks, errands and chores which must be done to keep a home and family humming along. While I know our particular family dynamics wouldn’t work for everyone, I do encourage you if you feel like you are shouldering too heavy of a load to talk openly with your family members about how to shift some of that load elsewhere so that it doesn’t crush you!

We’re also in the process of training our children to also be assets to our family. While we very much want them to enjoy their childhood and just revel in that carefree state, we also feel like one of the greatest gifts we can instill in them is a strong work ethic.

No matter where you end up in life, a hard-working, persevering attitude is always going to be a huge benefit. Plus, I believe it is so much more fulfilling to live a life of service, rather than a life of selfishness.

We have found that modeling hard work and servanthood before our children is one of the best ways for them to learn, as well as encouraging them to work alongside us from an early age. And we give them age-appropriate chores to accomplish each day, as well as encouraging them to take initiative in helping outside of their daily chore list. (By the way, you can download some fun and free printable chore lists here, if you’re interested.)

We are still learning the practicalities of imparting this to our children in a Godly and balanced manner, so I won’t give you any tips for what works. But ask me in about 25 years from now, and hopefully I’ll have some words of wisdom to share. :)

On Wednesday, we’ll talk more about clearing out clutter, taming the laundry monster, simplifying meals and letting go of the myth of a perfect balance. If I have time, I’m also going to do a little video blog tour of my extremely simple homemaking binder for those who are looking to set up a simple home organization system.

How do you encourage your children to help around the house and develop a strong work ethic? I’d love to hear your ideas and suggestions!

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Vlog: My Very Simple Homemaking Binder

I was first introduced to the concept of a “Homemaking Binder” when I first started reading blogs almost seven years ago. I read about all these incredible and massively-detailed binders other women had put together and thought, this is it! This is going to solve my homemaking issues and help me have a beautifully organized home and life.

So I tried to make up an elaborate system but quickly discovered there was one major problem: The system wouldn’t work unless I worked the system! And because I had bitten off more than I could chew and was trying to make someone else’s system work for me, it left me more frustrated than ever. To be honest, I even felt like a failure when I just couldn’t make a Homemaking Binder work for me and it seemed it worked flawlessly for everyone else.

Over time, I’ve learned that it’s okay to do what works for me — even if it’s much different than what works for other people. So instead of trying to conform myself to another person’s system, I’ve set out to create my own.

This video tutorial walks you through what I’ve been using for the past four months. It’s working really well for us right now, though I can’t promise that it will be what I use for the rest of my life. I’m learning that tweaking and overhauling things as seasons and needs change is what works best.

But I share this in hopes it might inspire some of you. Please don’t copy mine — because it likely won’t work for you! — but I’m hopeful maybe those of you who are struggling with home management might be able to glean a few ideas from it.

By the way, all of the pages I use in my binder can be downloaded for free here. You can also read more details about our daily schedule here.

Do you use a homemaking binder or another system to keep your home and life in order? I’ve love to hear what works for you!

Next Monday, I’ll share the final installment of the Time Management series and then I’ll be posting at least 10 incredible guest posts on time management from readers here who are in different seasons and situations of life than me.

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