Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Where, O Where, Does the Time Go?

I seem to have something of a reputation. No, not for that. Apparently, there are some kind, somewhat deluded souls who think that I am a good time manager. Just to burst that little bubble, I'm not. I am a champion time-waster. I can spend the whole day doing a whole lot of nothing, or spend it trying to do so many things that nothing actually gets done. I do have one tool, however, that makes things happen. It's this:

In a word: schedule. In two: time budget. Use whichever works for you. This one is rather specific, as schedules go, because it's specifically designed for homeschoolers, particularly helpful for families with several children, though it can be used for anyone.

Most people look at the schedule on my pantry door and say things like: "Wow, do you really do all this?" or "Wow, do you really get up that early?" Generally the answers are mostly and mostly. The beauty of this is once you break up your day into smaller chunks, you can better see where your time is going, and you often find you have more time to do the things you want to do. Rather than spending an hour and a half killing time on the Internet (facebook, anyone?), you schedule a half hour, check out the stuff you really want to, and learn a little discipline into the bargain. This is how you find the time to do all the hobbies, projects and outings you want to do, and how it affects your family.

A common reaction is "Oh, I'd get so obsessed by it, I don't know how I'd cope with interruptions. And it looks so daunting!" First, it can be daunting, but the book is great in helping you to set it up, slowly and methodically. It's a bit of work, but worth it. Second, it needs to be treated as a tool, not a master. It's designed by you to work for you. At no point should we become slaves to a tool that is meant to help us. There are days that I completely ignore it and we all go off and do something different. And that's fine with me, because even when we do that, I'm aware that we're not drifting aimlessly. There's something in place that we'll come back to tomorrow.

So. The Maxwells do a great job with this book and their others that follow a similar vein. However, you can make your own. It's simply a matter of looking at the time you have, and carefully working in your priorities to fit. But don't forget to pray over what God would want you to have as a priority, and include your children into the schedule. That way you know that the children are resting while you sew, rather than dumping Perler beads all over the house. For example.