Planning series: Schedule your day

Today I am writing about one of my favorite things, which is scheduling, organizing and getting more out of my days.

It looks like you have lots of free time being a stay-at-home mom. And it is true, you have more time and you are much more flexible compared to the person who goes to the office every day. However, very often you come back home from the school run and in a blink of an eye half of the day is gone, you still have all the home chores to do and you have no idea how you just spent all of that time. And it applies not only to moms. Recently, I heard exactly the same observation from one of our friends who has just decided to take a break in his career. After a week at home, he was wondering how each day flies by even faster than when he was in the office, and he has nothing to show to his working wife except dirty latte cups.

When my kids were born, I felt that I am losing control over my days.  I had no idea how my days were gone, and I had no time not only for the things I love, but for home chores as well. Once I got a question from my friend that was supposed to be funny but was rather insulting: Does your sofa have a hole already from you sitting on it all the time?

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Becoming a mom made me realize that I need to schedule my time in order to do everything that is important for the family, for the kids, for me, and at least something that I enjoy.

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I find that having a schedule of the day is very relaxing. If I stick to the schedule that I made, I usually find more time for the things I like: exercising, playing piano, reading, cooking, crafts…

Planning your day helps you to find out what all the unnecessary chores or routines are that you should probably be turning down. For example, you might realize that you watch too much TV long, or that you are browsing Facebook far too long.

Everyone plans differently. For some people the calendar on the smartphone works best, for others notes on the post-its or notebooks, or planners. For me personally, planning on the phone was not effective. I find that writing everything on a piece of paper works better. I find that a nice good quality planner makes a difference. It is much nicer to open a planner that lifts your spirits, or that has some personal touch.  A couple of years ago I discovered a planner that perfectly meets my needs – LifePlanner from Erin Condren. It is beautiful, colorful, personalized. I just love it. It has my name on the cover, it has my family’s photos, lots of inspiring and motivating quotes. Planning with this planner is not just scheduling your days, it’s a fun and relaxing thing to do.

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If you are new to scheduling, I would suggest starting by thinking what you would like to accomplish and what things are important for you or make you happy. Maybe you would like to spend more time with your kids, or to learn to bake cakes, or to read more books, or maybe you would like to meditate, but usually you cannot find time for these activities.  Start with writing them down. You can break them into monthly goals later and then into weekly goals as well. Think what could be the minimum time spent on it that would be sufficient during the week to make you happy, and schedule that time. Then, plan everything else.

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You need to find out where you waste your time. Trying to record everything you do for a couple of days can help you to find where your time is spent ineffectively.

Try to wake up and go to bed at the same tame. Try to follow as many routines as possible and you will be surprised how many things you can accomplish. If you write down even very simple routines you would like to follow, it helps you not to forget about them.

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Schedule your day with the tasks you need to do at a particular time and then just incorporate other tasks having time blocks to stick to in mind. You need to plan the exact meeting times, but it is enough to plan shopping time just for morning or evening time, without setting an exact hour.

I am not a fan of planning everything at a particular time. I like the to-do lists more. I found out that it is not so disappointing to skip something from your to-do lists than from the schedule with minutes’ accuracy.

At the end of each day review your day – tick or cross out everything that was done. Go through the list and make sure you have got pretty much everything done. If you have not, think: why didn’t I get this done, why was I interrupted, is it a regular trend and how can I prevent it from happening tomorrow.

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Once you start scheduling your days and you stick to the plan, you will find that you are able to find time for activities that you want to do and also you would have more time for projects that you are working on.

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