I've said before that I wear many hats, as lots of us do. I am a mother of 3 and a wife. I left my job teaching to stay home with my kids when I had my first. I now work at home. I write curriculum, help at my kids schools (a lot more than I should), keep our home on the path of more and more natural, dream of homesteading (and therefore have crazy goals about money that take up some time), I'm a writing a cookbook, and do the millions of things that happen when you're stay at home mom who wants to eat from the garden.
While I love my life, there are times I feel pulled in many different directions and what I should prioritize becomes confusing. I find that if I try to lay things out in order of priority, I end up never getting to the stuff in some areas and that stuff needs to get done too. If I prioritize the house and kids above writing curriculum and the cookbook, I never get the writing done. I've just figured out that I shouldn't necessarily be prioritizing one area over another, but instead addressing the highest priorities in each part on its own. So I'm currently trying a new way of organizing myself. I'm focusing more what needs to get done in a month in each area, and then trying to chunk that up into weeks. Sometimes a week will be a half and half split, but mostly each week has a theme.
The main home stuff stays the same. Laundry, food, a weekly 1 - hour cleaning routine...that stuff still happens. But in between those things are chunks of time I dedicate to whatever is on my list for the theme that week.
Here's an example in the form of my May goals and how it works out in my blocks:
On the homestead:
-Get the rest of the garden planted
-deep clean the kitchen
-make our week by week summer plans (I do these every year)
-Quarterly $ report (I should have done that in April)
-Do regular monthly things (data collection, marketing, etc...stuff I have on a list to do once a month)
-Write root beer float science lab
-Create summer planner freebie for teachers
-Re-make one cover for an existing old product (one of those I made before I knew how to make cute covers)
-continue recipes - try at least 12 more
-Get 67 of my finalized recipes typed
-Begin to develop an online presence
What it looks like on my calendar:
I have this margin thing that I just write in after I've made my list. I break stuff up into the weeks. This looks different each month. I don't always spend 1 week in each area. Right now I'm focusing more on my curriculum (TPT) because school will be out soon and I won't have much time to work on it. It's the type of stuff that needs to be done without kids around. However, I can get cooking done with the kids around so the summer months will have more of a cookbook and homestead focus. The purple in the margin on the calendar below is how I've broken down my focus each week in May.
How I chunk out the work:
This is adapted from the book The 12 Week Year, a book I highly recommend. I'll likely blog about it in some future post. It was valuable to me mostly in the motivational aspect. But this is how it looks after I've tinkered with it. I'm in week 2 of May, so my focus this week is getting projects done around the house and garden. These aren't the basic maintenance things that happen every day and every week, like laundry, etc...these are projects or yearly maintenance things.
I start by taking a blank one of these schedules. I then put in all the "hard" items for the week. By hard, I mean things that will happen at a certain time. I can't change when baseball practice is so that is a hard item. I can be flexible about when I water the garden so that is not a hard item. For simplicity's sake, I usually put all the hard items in one color. I don't color code these, I just choose one color for the week. This week purple was closest to me so all the hard items are in purple. Next week it might be a different color. Choosing a color is not a stress point here. Just seeing the division between the 'must be at' items and the rest is what I'm going for.
Once I have all the hard items, I put in my morning and evening routine times (pencil) and then start to find chunks of time I can work on my list of projects for the week. I try to look for chunks of about 3 hours. So in this example, all green items are the major to-dos for the week, coming straight from my list of 'on the homestead' items above. In an effort to be realistic about the fact that things come up last minute, I get tired, etc...I try to plan in a large rest block and a catch up block later in the week or on the weekend. That allows me to read or watch YouTube without feeling guilty, and give me a time to finish up something that didn't get all the way finished during its scheduled time earlier in the week.
I'm attaching a PDF with a blank version of this if you'd like it:
I've been doing this for about 6 weeks now. I have to say, it has given me more balance. I don't get everything done, and I let go of that expectation a few years ago, but I do feel like I'm moving forward for once in all my goal areas rather than just maintaining. Does that make sense? I'm going to try it for at least another 6 weeks before I decide for sure to keep or toss this system, but right now, I don't see it going anywhere. Moving forward actually keeps me more motivated so I waste less time and enjoy productivity more.