THE FALLACY OF TIME MANAGEMENT
Time management in homeschooling is a popular idea, but there’s just one problem: It’s not real. When we use the word “manage,” it brings certain ideas to mind: Structure, order, delegation, task completion — and we have this idea that all of that happens in a nice, neat order without any deviations from the original plan.
What actually ends up happening is that we end up dealing with (“managing”) other issues as they arise, which is clearly an ineffective way to run a business — and make no mistake, homeschooling is a business. It is the solemn, important business of educating your children. There is nothing more important than this task; our future quite literally depends on it.
We all understand the grave importance of education — and maybe no one more so than homeschool parents, who are more likely to be aware of the ways in which our current educational system is failing our youth.
So, how do we organize our homeschool days in a way that enables us to teach our children and perform our other household responsibilities without going absolutely *insane*?
I have a few strategies that will get you organized and motivated to stay that way, while also helping you teach your kids to be more accountable with their own time!
Mind-dumping is a technique that allows you to free-write and list all of the things on your mind. Personally, I love using my Google Sheets app for this, but you can use literally anything that works for you. I create one column in my sheets app and label it with categories (personal, business, education), a second column naming the task to be completed, and the third column to name the priority level of completing the task (high-, mid-, or low-level).
Again, there are other apps you can use for this same purpose, like Microsoft To Do, Google Tasks, Wunderlist, Todoist…. I just like Google Sheets for the priority filters I can apply. #nerdmom
Once I’ve “dumped” all of those tasks onto my sheet, I will then filter the list by clicking on the little drop-down arrow that allows one to filter the results, leaving only those tasks that are a certain priority level. Next, I attack those tasks in order of highest priority to lowest, working on highest priority first.
I encourage you to teach your children to focus the last 15-20 minutes of their day on setting intentions and “road-mapping” the next day!
Think Time “Blocking,” Not Time “Management”
It’s all too easy to get swept up in the hustle-and-bustle of your to-dos, but that’s exactly what we need to consciously guard against in order to “up” our effectiveness each day.
Sometimes, a little “getting off track” is helpful for learning — for example, when your child has a great question or comment that leads into a thoughtful discussion. But the time you invest teaching each subject should be monitored and given the respect of adherence to the day’s schedule.
While your children are doing some of their work, take the time to turn on the dishwasher or start a load of laundry for the kids to fold after they’re finished with their schoolwork. (Gotta teach ’em accountability early, amirite?)
Having a timeline of the day helps prioritize the things that absolutely must get done today, and the things that can wait until tomorrow if today runs out before you can finish what you’re doing. It’s also an effective means to keeping your child(ren) on track to complete time-sensitive tasks or projects, especially if they’re involved in extracurricular activities which require their time.
Teaching homeschool time management to your children will help them become aware of how they are investing their time. Holding them accountable for the way they spend their time is a valuable skill that will empower them to make informed, aware choices about their “time investments,” and, if they are so inclined, it will prepare your children for leadership roles.
Creating Your Own Roadmap: Intentional Scheduling
Turning this tide is as easy as spending a few minutes at the end of each day outlining how you intend for the following day to play out. You’ll time-block your school day schedule and of course, you’ll work these things around any household chores, family/professional appointments or extracurricular commitments you already have.
Time management in a homeschool setting is more effective when you change the verbiage to reflect a more proactive attitude in getting things done. By referring to this time management process as “time blocking” instead, you will positively re-frame the idea in your mind, empowering yourself and your children to focus and handle what needs to be handled without procrastination.
The important thing to understand is that when you are working intentionally on whatever it is on your list that you’ve purposed to get done, you are to be focused on that one thing for the designated time period.
There are no interruptions allowed. (This is why it’s so important to equip your children to be able to handle things when you need to focus your energies elsewhere — you will really need to commit to curbing any controlling tendencies to reassume any duties you delegate to them. This will keep everyone focused and on task, and you’ll still be able to get done what you need to get done around the house!
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Outsourcing: The Smarter Way to Get More Done
If you find that there are certain time-consuming tasks that are taking up your day, it’s doubly important for you to take stock of those activities and decide which ones can be handled by someone other than yourself.
Consider everything as an investment of your time, energy and financial resources. Even though cleaning your own house is free, if you’re stressed out about finding time to do that and homeschool and be the chauffeur of the house and… then you should consider what your peace of mind is worth and make your decision based on that.
Consider enlisting a meal prep service a couple nights a week so that you aren’t overwhelmed. Taking certain tasks off of your list will allow you to focus more meaningfully on teaching the material and engaging with your children during the learning process.
Don’t underestimate the positive effects of intentionally structuring your day! It may seem largely unimportant, but I assure you that taking the time in advance to ensure that you’re on track to reach your daily, monthly and yearly business management and growth goals will be a rewarding experience. You’ll feel more in control of your own destiny when you feel more in control of your day-to-day!
What are your favorite productivity tips?