As a homeschool parent you juggle teaching, housework, cooking, shopping, loving your family, and working from home daily! Perhaps you want to be better at time management, but you don’t know where to start. Time management is not as far out of reach as you might think. Here are a few tips you can implement into your routine to help you manage your schedule better.
1. Get in the Right Mindset for Time Management
If you’re like me, you may see time management tips and roll your eyes, thinking, “Yeah, I’ve already tried that, and it didn’t work!” I’ve learned that when strategies don’t work or stop working, it’s often because I have the wrong mindset. Instead of following a formula, time management is about committing to change. Learn to recognize patterns that don’t work for you and your family and remove them. Be prepared to make mistakes and take the time to learn what is best for your situation.
2. Spend Time Getting Organized
Taking time to organize your home and your schedule is an investment that saves time later. Begin working on one thing at a time and don’t get distracted by everything else that needs to be organized. Setting realistic expectations for what you can get done alleviates discouragement and frustration.
When it comes to your homeschool, you may want to work with one child at a time to figure out an organizational plan that works for that child. Another approach could be organizing the plan and materials for one subject at a time. Involve your kids in the process! Make it fun by color coding subjects or types of material. Giving everything a proper home and labeling it will help the kids know exactly where everything belongs.
3. Use a Calendar
A calendar can help you visualize in advance what the schedule for a day or week will be so you can avoid overbooking. You can use a weekly or daily calendar to create cushions between tasks and events. Generally, plan for things to take longer than expected. It’s better to plan ample time between events rather than having to rush if things don’t quite go as planned.
Consider the amount that you can handle and work around that. Being a rushed and overwhelmed parent does not benefit your children. This principle applies to your kids’ homeschooling as well. Evaluate the amount of work and assignments your kids do each day. Having fewer subjects or homework assignments in one day may mean that your kids can then spend more time working on difficult concepts or the most important projects. Be flexible!
4. Write Everything Down
Practice starting new months, weeks, and days with a list of things to accomplish. Write them in a journal or in an app so that you can reference them later. Once you’ve written everything down, prioritize your list. Put them in categories such as “urgent,” “to do later,” and “if there’s time.” Writing things down frees up your mind to not have to worry about remembering them later.
As your kids grow older, encourage them to keep lists of their own assignments and chores for the week. Keeping track of their own work fosters children’s independence and their ability to prioritize and schedule their own workload.
5. Don’t Multitask on Important Things
If you have work to do that requires concentration, find a block of time in your schedule to do uninterrupted work. When your mind jumps between work and homeschooling and what to plan for dinner, you won’t be productive! Designate focused time for each significant task. Set a timer and work until the timer goes off. If things pop into your mind that you need to do later, write them down, move on, and address them when you finish.
Setting focus time for lessons and assignments will also help your children’s work. Encourage them to sit down and work on one thing, without doing anything else, for a set amount of time. Doing this helps them learn to focus and gives them independence so you can work on your own tasks.
6. Plan for Rest
Rest is just as important to plan into your schedule as anything else. God intended rest to be a regular part of our rhythm of life, and He modeled it by resting on the seventh day of Creation. Times of rest are reminders to enjoy life, and to let God be in control. Resting is a practice that is important to teach your children. Times of fun and play and relaxation help reduce stress and make the brain more profitable when you return to work. Set regular times in your schedule to take a break on a daily, weekly, and yearly basis.
The most important thing to keep in mind about time management is that it is not about doing more. Being so busy you do not have time for one more thing does not necessarily mean that you have mastered time management. Learning to manage time wisely is learning when to say “no” so that you can say “yes” to more important things, like enjoying family time and being available for your kids when they need you.