Monday, May 12, 2014

The Great Scheduling Experiment

Have I ever mentioned that I SUCK at time management?  No?  Ok ... well ... let me explain.

I.  SUCK. At. Time. Management.  ;)

For years I've battled deadlines and trying to get things done, and feeling overwhelmed, and disappointing others.  This year seems to be worse than ever, but I'm going to blame that on the additional stress and moving and insanity.

I've tried two different methods in the past: to-do lists and time scheduling.  The to-do lists just kept getting longer and longer because if I didn't get something done today, I would just move it tomorrow.  I was feeling defeated and overwhelmed, and like I would never accomplish anything EVER.  With specific time scheduling (think hour increments), I would pack my calendar solid, then if I ended up having a sick kid, or running an errand for my dad, or something else, my entire week would be sunk.  I'd end up watching netflix the rest of the week.  This would totally screw me over time and time again.  I needed a REAL solution.

A couple of weeks ago, I attended the Exponential Conference for pastors and church planters.  I am neither one of those, but I got to volunteer and it was AMAZING!!  I will be writing a separate blog on that here shortly, because it was *that* level of life-altering.  My very own pastor gave a workshop on managing time and he discussed this little trick to scheduling out time, and let me tell y'all:  IT BLEW MY DANG MIND.  I couldn't wait to try it.  I toiled and played with it for a few days, and then took my creation to the pastor on Sunday.  I'm all, You have to tell me if I did this right because I'm freaking out and I'm not even sure I could do this and now I'm freaking out because I'm not sure I can KEEP doing this and what about Hubby's schedule - he works at a THEME PARK with NO absolute schedule how do I MAKE THIS WORK?!?!?  Yeah, I'm sure my kind pastor will tell you I didn't sound like that ... but that is TOTALLY how I sounded in my head ;)

Sooooo ... essentially, you chop your week up into blocks.  There are 3 of them each day, each one is 4 hours a piece.  You assign each module (mod for short) a task, and that's what you accomplish during that time.  This type of schedule is flexible enough where you lump things together, whether those things are meetings with CEO's or housework.  Hubby and I sat down and decided how many blocks I need for what, and then I based those blocks around his work schedule.  Anything empty would automatically be family time, altho some of you might have to actually schedule that.  A couple of rules to remember:

1.  If you have to move something, make sure you make up for it somehow.  I tend to have life happen when I'm in the middle of something, so I walk away from it.  The problem is, I just drop it and never go back to it.  When you leave some blocks intentionally blank (non-family blank boxes), you have an escape hatch!  So, let's say I have homeschooling scheduled on Tuesday from noon to four, and Sir Smiley falls and cuts himself and I need to take him to get stitches.  Normally, this would leave my whole week blown up and I wouldn't be able to recover.  Using this system, I simply move homeschooling from Tuesday to a blank mod on Thursday - and I'm covered!  Holy cow!

2.  When you have a mod you can't move - especially mods with family - and someone asks you for time during that mod, don't feel bad about saying no.  You don't have to hem and haw whether or not you should ask your honey to cancel date night this week (because ... NO), you just tell that person, "Sorry, no can do, I have something scheduled."  Even if that something is binge-watching Grey's Anatomy.  (Nope, don't know ANYONE in my house that does that.  Huh-uh.  You're delusional.  LOL)

3.  Be forgiving of yourself.  We can be strict with ourselves, and hold ourselves accountable, but let us try and remember that we're humans.  We're going to have sick days, and unexpected things, and days when looking at the schedule makes us angry.  It will happen.  Jump off the horse if you have to, but leave it saddled, so you can jump back on asap!

4.  Take it for a test drive.  Try it for a week, see how it works for you, make adjustments and do it again.  This thing is flexible!  That's what I did, and I saw a lot of things that had to be fixed right away.

Last week was my first attempt.  Check out what I did ...

I couldn't find a ready-made calendar that I liked, so I opted for making my own.  (If you feel I'm the most creative genius in the world and you want nothing more than to have one of your very own, let me know and I'll email it to you lol)  I essentially needed to add Hubby's schedule (oh, check it out, now y'all know his name is Dave), and what we're having for dinner, and then my blocks.  The lines are sharpie, because the visual change helps me, and I'm too cheap to buy THAT much ink.

This is a close-up of one of the days:

See my empty block?  I moved stuff there later on in the week :)

A couple of rookie mistakes I made:  1) Starting my day at 8am.  We are slow risers around here.  Truthfully, I'm usually awake before 7, but we like to chill and take our time.  If you had a "real" job (lol) and had to be at work early in the morning, the 8am thing works.  2)  Doing stuff first thing on Monday morning.  As if THAT ever happens!!  Our Sundays tire us out way too much, we never start bright and early.

I made those changes for this week, but this week is going to be kind of crazy because we're meeting friends at SeaWorld one day, and Thursday is SirSmiley's birthday, so we're heading to Magic Kingdom that day.  We'll see how this one goes ;)

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