Tag Archives: plan

Avoiding the Scheduling Extremes :: BuJo Setup Mini Series

May 2016 165

Confession: I’m just a woman who learns from all my many (daily) planning failures; I’m really not a scheduling guru.

Also, I’m pretty normal when it comes to busy seasons of life – I fall into the lazy mode of letting things coast. Have you been lured into the “schedule-break” temptation too? The bait goes something like this:

“Living moment by moment isn’t so bad! Things are getting done, taking a break from writing out a ‘week at a glance’ isn’t a big deal, and I’ll remember that appointment – no need to write it down.”

After giving into these thoughts for weeks (or even months!), I wake up one day way too stressed for the level of activities in my life and way too overwhelmed by the amount of list-items swirling around in my head.

The pendulum has swung and I’ve gone from one extreme to the other – hyper-scheduling to under-scheduling.

When I swing too many times, I go a little bit nuts and start to think in extremes:

“I’ll never be able to manage our calendar.”

“I will always fall behind on laundry.”

“I never remember to take our library resources back on time.”

“I’m always running late for our appointments.”

And this is when I have to admit to myself (and others) that I need a Bullet Journal intervention. I need to stop avoiding the work, stop neglecting the truth – that organization is best in small daily doses, and stop over taxing my brain by trying to just remember it all. Just by spending 15 minutes per day, I can completely order my life and trade my crazy for calm.

Have you tried using a Bullet Journal? Do you use it for your calendar too? If so, do you copy your schedule in multiple places? Does that help? Why or why not?

I want this series to be super practical, and that means addressing potential setbacks before you even begin. The swinging back and forth between the scheduling extremes is common. Don’t feel bad about doing this in the past. Now I want to give you some ideas to think about. I call these questions The Big Jump. (Soon I’ll focus on the baby steps.)

I need to set aside an hour to have a JDM – Journal Defining Moment. This is when I decide what the scope of my BuJo (Bullet Journal) will be. I answer these questions:

  • Will my BuJo be my calendar too?
  • Do I need to write out the months in advance or just each week?
  • What other planners and/or organizers am I currently using? Are they working?
  • Am I going to include journaling space too?
  • What categories of my life will go into this BuJo? Homeschooling? Personal Growth? Family Activity Calendar? Business Goals? Etc.
  • Do I feel creative and what tools do I want to try to use? Am I satisfied with this BuJo being plain?
  • Is it important to me to be economic or visually appealing* with my entries?
  • What “Mom Bag” will I use to carry it in and will I commit to taking it everywhere? (This may seem like an unnecessary question but I will address why it’s a big jump question later on.)

* I say visually appealing not creative because even though I can create some pretty pages sometimes, my right hand tends to shake and I can’t guarantee pretty handwriting all the time. I like to use markers and larger point pens because when I write too small, the strain hurts my hand too much. SO. I will never be the person who can boast of being a closet hand-letter-er. But I do like to make my pages visually pleasing to me. Meaning: Spacious, colorful, and clearly readable. I tried being super efficient with my pages for a while – cramming more than one day or more than one list onto a single page and that made me crazy. You, however, may feel more productive setting yours up this way. You do you.

Can you think of other questions that would be important for your personality to think through before you take a big jump into a new BuJo? List it out and face it before you start! This will set you up for personal success. Many times I look at other Pinterest-worthy BuJos and think “Oh…in a perfect world, I would just copy their set-up!” But they don’t have 4 kids, or work 3 jobs, or their spouse works from home and their home set up is catastrophically different than mine!

Hear me: To successfully set up YOUR BuJo, you have to do it for YOU. Copying mine or even the expert BuJos online will only set you up to quit a quarter of the way through it.

And I bet you know what that means.

You will feel like a failure, let your scheduling slide, and wind up stressed and overwhelmed a-g-a-i-n.

And one more tip before you start the next step: don’t take the Big Jump until the timing is right for you. How do you know if the timing is right?

Easy:

  • If you are reading this post and thinking: Wow, that’s really great for her. It sounds like she’s really thought this through. I may give that a try sometime. THIS IS NOT THE TIME FOR YOU.
  • But if you are reading this post and thinking: She’s reading my mind. I need to start this process yesterday! I’m ready to do this for ME. THIS IS DEFINITELY THE RIGHT TIME FOR YOU.

Ready for more? The mini series will continue! Did you miss the first post in this series? Click here. Want to see what tools I use? I wrote about them here. 

A “Busy” Mom’s Guide to Weekly Homeschool Planning

busy-weekly-plan

Let me tell you about my “busy.”

It’s 11am. And even though I’ve been up since 7am, I haven’t eaten yet.

I haven’t started teaching the lessons for today yet either. I know I need to start preparing lunch instead of lessons at this point, because if I don’t eat-something-now I may just collapse.

I make a quick sandwich and begin eating.

The 3-year-old sees it and begins whining for food too (I’m never allowed to eat anything without one of the children thinking that they should be given what I have) and the baby works herself from a fuss to a full cry.

Our schedule spiraled out of control all because I was daring enough to take a shower this morning.

All of this chaos keeps me busy. Constantly fighting to keep just a step ahead of the next task, mess, or meal.

This is the type of busy that causes 24-hours to fly by and feel like nothing has been accomplished, and it is often to blame for not planning or setting goals. This is the busy that most often keeps me from my priorities: “inside busy.”

“Outside busy” can be just as troublesome; it is the plague on our culture to book our calendars with good things that take us out of the house.

So, how can I get homeschool planning accomplished if I can’t even make time to eat breakfast?

Homeschool planning guides say something like:

Set an appointment with yourself and ask your spouse to take care of the kids in order for you to focus on planning for the next week.

I tried this.

But it was discouraging because it basically never worked. The “inside busy” always distracted me, derailed my schedule, and discouraged me that I would never have a moment to restfully plan ahead.

And even though my husband is my greatest support, our “outside busy” keeps us from being able to find a concrete time that I can count on to get this task done.

Last year I floundered with our plans. We didn’t have curricula that was highly structured so I could get away with not charting our week or our days. Each day could be planned on the fly. (But I did record everything we did in our Bullet Journals.)

But not so this year. We have dedicated ourselves to a more disciplined path, and with that path comes a higher standard of planning ahead.

So, how do I manage to plan when I have to compete with inside and outside busy?

First, write!

I write down anything I can whenever I can, and it helps me get a little bit done here and there. This was hard at first because I despised having to leave the task unfinished. At first, I also struggled to pick up where I left off. But over time this became normal and helped me understand our rhythms even more accurately which leads me to the second tip for planning.

I'm writing a little bit while snuggling the newborn. It's possible; be creative!

I’m writing a little bit while snuggling the newborn. It’s possible; be creative!

Second, refuse to be distracted by bad planning.

  • Planning is not just arbitrarily writing activities and times in my calendar and then crossing my fingers that it will work.
  • Planning is not writing the same schedule over and over every week without actually using it.
  • Planning is not best accomplished the day of or spontaneously.
  • Planning is not pushing on to the next lesson. Neglecting the child’s understanding of the subject and moving on to more and more lessons without allowing time for the child to master the subject is not good planning.

Third, focus on taking baby steps toward the goal.

Like I said in the first point, writing what I can when I can is a baby step toward the overall goal of writing a weekly homeschool plan.

Start planning earlier than your deadline. I need to have all my plans laid out by Sunday evening in order to start the new week on Monday. I used to wait until Sunday afternoon to plan, but after a busy morning at church and a full belly from Sunday lunch I tend to forget how important it is to be productive. So, I finally learned to start planning for the next week on Thursday. By that time in our current week, I have a good handle on what we’ve done and what we won’t be able to do. I am able to see clearly what pace we are currently working at and adjust for the next week – either faster or slower.

Fourth, set a general plan for the month and keep an eye on it.

Before we start our 6-week term, I write out how many lessons we need to accomplish in each subject. I have already calculated an approximate number of lessons we need to work through for each term in order to finish each subject by the end of our school year. But I only write the lessons in the calendar one month at a time. (I explain this in detail in a video which I will publish soon!)

Fifth, know your week.

Remember this “homeschool stuff” isn’t just added on top of your life – homeschooling is a lifestyle. In order to best accomplish your goals for leading your child in the learning life, you need to know what demands on your time you are going to face for the week. Each week is a little bit different in every home. There are appointments, plans with friends, extra trips to the grocery store, etc. If you know in advance that any of these things are coming up, then they need to be accounted for in your lesson plan. 

Watch this video to see what I mean.

I use my Bullet Journal to chart my week. I write out each day of the week on the left hand side of the page, and then I list the events of that day along with what meal I plan to make for dinner.

These are the 2 major variables: where we need to go and what will be for dinner.

These two parts of my day account for the bulk of what consumes my time. If we have a doctor’s appointment for example, it isn’t just that time of day that we are “busy” but at least an hour beforehand in prep to leave the house. Also, we require a transition period once we get home. I have to be prepared for what I’m going to ask my children to do when we arrive back home. This has to be flexible and take into account their energy level, hunger, and time of day. It’s important that I don’t push them too hard nor neglect them because I failed to plan. (Let me know in the comments if this is confusing and I can explain more about how I plan for our transitions.)

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The same idea is true for dinner. Writing out that we will have pork barbecue sandwiches on Monday night requires more than just 30 minutes before 5:00pm to assemble. Every single dinner meal goes through a thorough “how long will this really take to make” process. There are days when I know I will have time in the morning to prep a crock pot meal and mornings when I won’t. I chart out our Outside the House appointments and then factor in how much time each meal requires. (Again, if it would be helpful to have this explained in more detail, I would be happy to share.)

Finally, always think a day ahead.

Because of the lessons in the evening and morning courses by Crystal Paine, I have been trained to plan ahead. I can’t tell you how life changing this little shift has been! Instead of packing the diaper bag on our way out the door, I pack the night before. Instead of writing the agenda the morning of, I write it the night before – this helps to double check our week’s plan one more time too. I take account of our daily timeline for the next day but this time with a lot more perspective. For example, on Monday evening I look at the Week Plan and see that I want to run a couple errands before the library for our “Tuesday Plan.” But Monday was a very tiring day. We had a busy Sunday and needed more rest Monday to recover which means that we didn’t finish our Monday household chores. So, I move my errands to the next opening in our schedule and try to lessen the amount of time out of the house because I know 2 things: #1 we won’t have the energy to run around town, and #2 if we don’t make time for our chores then our home gets out of balance.

The bottom line is that planning requires consistent, daily management. If you will do the daily work of thinking through your responsibilities, then the weekly spread will come together quickly and practically.

Practice makes permanent! Keep planning and it will become a habit regardless of how busy you are.

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Why I’m Thankful for Black Friday.

I have to admit that for years, about a decade, I avoided Black Friday and wouldn’t have anything to do with it. I couldn’t believe the things that people would do to ensure they were first in line for their favorite deal. Because I associated Black Friday with acting crazy – the way people trample others or the mass consumption of completely needless stuff – I felt like I couldn’t take advantage of any sale for fear that I was condoning the craziness.

On Thanksgiving, I wouldn’t even look at the ads because I felt like the whole thrust behind the sales was eclipsing a day of family, gratitude, and contentment. How could I feverishly engage in gathering all the things I want and still maintain a spirit of Thanksgiving?

A few years ago, my family had multiple family gatherings to go to on the weekend of Thanksgiving and I found myself at our local Meijer on Thursday evening getting a few ingredients for a dish to pass the next day.

I could not believe the deals.

Christmas lists and presents aside, I felt like I would be a fool to not buy the things we normally buy in order to stock up.

The next year, I got the Meijer ad before Thanksgiving and planned ahead for what we would want to purchase for our family both for New Years (we have a tradition of exchanging presents on New Years and not on Christmas Day) and for everyday. Raising kids means buying lots of shoes, socks, pants, etc regardless of the time of year. And living in a cold weather state, we need lots of hats and mittens – so I would be a fool not to buy them for $1 rather than the full price.

Last year, I also stocked up on yoga pants from Meijer – the deal is the same this year too – buy one pair of pants get two pairs for free. And this year they’ve added the same deal for leggings and a whole 3 more pages of the ad of items with the same deal.

Starting to plan for Christmas in August this year also has saved me a lot of money and energy.

So as a homeschool mom, I have to take our budget into consideration and plan well in advance to take advantage of these sales in order to best provide for my family’s needs year round. And I’ve also discovered that I like to be done with Christmas shopping before December begins so that I only have to go to the store for my normal grocery shopping.

The older I get, the more anti-shopping I’ve become which is why I’m glad I’ve started to use Amazon more. I used to be the type that would want to see it and touch it in order to sense if it was the right gift. I thought I was being careful and thoughtful by trying to control the process of purchasing a gift by being so picky. But no, I was just adding more stress into what should be a joyful occasion. I’m learning to narrow down ideas of what I’d like to find, search for them, create a wish list (if necessary) and trust my gut. I’ve been able to buy almost 100% of the presents we will buy this year completely online.

This year, I’m hoping to finish up our Christmas shopping by November 30th only using 2 stores: Meijer and Amazon.

Christmas shopping can be simple. 

Here are the lists I’ve created for my kids:

Don’t forget to Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial! Now is the best time to take advantage of their 30-day trial of Prime. You get 2 day shipping for free and a whole host of other deals specifically for Prime Members (like free unlimited photo storage in the Amazon Cloud). There’s an option for sending a “3-days in advance” reminder email to cancel the membership before you are charged so you can fully enjoy the benefits this time of year without having to pay for a whole year of Prime.

Check out the Meijer ads here. I prefer to shop at Meijer for a lot of reasons, and I can say from experience that the sales are similar each year, so if you haven’t had enough time to budget for extra spending now then plan ahead for next year. This is when you’ll want to stock up on kids shoes, coats, sweatshirts, etc.

How do you plan for Black Friday? What deals are most important to you?

Homeschooling & Adult ADD: Building a Stronger Brain

Homeschooling & Adult ADD Building a Stronger Brain

Most moms agree, the work within the home is never finished. Even on our best days when everything has been clean, cleared, and decluttered – just wait until the next meal or snack time and there are more dishes, dirty clothes, and tasks that require more work.

The cycle of this work isn’t worth resisting. I’ve personally tried, and I can testify that the attitude of acceptance is the better mental path. Because I know from experience that even on a good day, I may have at least 6 things going on all at once:

  • Unloading and loading the dishwasher
  • Starting or switching a load of laundry
  • Supervising math lessons
  • Writing plans in my Bullet Journal
  • Listening to a podcast
  • Reading a recipe for dinner and/or baking a snack

There’s nothing wrong with this on days when I’m fired up and bouncing from one thing to another – productive, producing, and purposeful.

But then there are days when it feels like everything is wrong with this.

Those days when all the unfinished projects make me feel like I’m working in a dozen different directions all while getting nothing accomplished. Good intentions, starts in all directions, distractions, and burn out can make my home and my heart look and feel like a mess. 

Most times, even though I had checked a dozen boxes and started a lot of great projects, I still felt like a failure at the end of the day. Somehow starting a lot of good things didn’t feel good enough. I wasn’t satisfied with my work. I didn’t feel accomplished. I wasn’t satisfied with myself – who I was or who I was becoming. I felt stuck in action mode, constantly starting things and rarely being allowed to finish them in one setting.

Feeling torn by distractions, demands, and disasters made my brain feel over stimulated and under rewarded. 

Adult ADD is a powerful thing, and I’ve learned that it is impossible to harness this power by ignoring the urges or by giving into each impulse. Instead I learned a way of life that both harnesses my impulse and embraces the way my brain works by making little good decisions in the same direction over long periods of time.

In building a stronger brain and embracing my ADD moments, the following 7 things make all the difference:

Learning to plan. Does it really matter if I leave the dishes half loaded into the dishwasher to run downstairs to throw a load of towels into the dryer from the washer? Nope. There are no “universal household chores laws” stating clearly that all household chores must be started and completed in singular focus and without any distraction. (If that law existed, then I would all be guilty of breaking it every day. I have a toddler. The end.) I know this to be true, yet I have lost my mind over too many things started (by me, I take the blame) at one time. I’ve beat myself into a shame-crushed-pulp for my lack of ability to get things done by the end of the day.

Have you ever started so many tasks in the day that you’ve stayed busy and even productive all day long but by the time you’re ready to go to bed – nothing is completed? I get so angry with myself when I live like this. I don’t want to lack self-control. I don’t want to bounce from one thing to the next – constantly pulled, distracted, demanded, or tempted to change course. So I have to physically write out a plan. I budget my time and choose only the things that I can reasonably finish while factoring in all the real life stuff that has to happen. Learning to plan well has been a life saver for me – not because I never planned my days before – because I have learned how to feel time by using a time budget and therefore I can set myself up for success. This success allows me vision and patience. The ability to see where everything fits and the understanding that I can’t get to everything in one day.

Exercising self-control in noticing the things around me. I wish I could turn off my brain for how much the things around me stimulate me, but since I can’t I have to learn how to talk to myself above the stimulation. When the little things around the house, clutter, dirt, kids toys, books, papers, etc. all scream for my attention, I have to choose to take control of the outcome of the thought before I become overwhelmed. Self-control is calm and allows me to think reasonably about the one thing I should stay focused on. It helps me to not spiral out of control because that’s how I feel when it seems like everything is coming at me.

Allowing interruptions to have a small place in my plan without spending too much time recovering from starting another task. Interruptions come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes I’m the one to blame for interrupting myself by noticing everything around me and deciding at random that now is the time to take action. A couple Saturdays ago, I was in the bathroom when I looked at my glass shower doors and thought today’s the day those things are getting clean. Cleaning the shower doors was not on my agenda, and I was in the middle of several other things. But even though starting a task like cleaning glass shower doors interrupted my plan, I allowed it only because I was committed to getting right back at my original task.

Learning how to enjoy real rest. This has been a long work in progress. I don’t think I would have been able to learn as much about hard work over the past few years if I hadn’t first learned to discern truth from lie with regards to rest. The ADD brain is a tired brain for all the distractions, demands, and decisions constantly coming at it, and a tired mind doesn’t make wise decisions. Without truth and wisdom, my mind is an unhealthy, unhappy place to be. Learning to rest from ADD is a discipline because rest isn’t just sleep. To be able to cease from work and just enjoy the company of my family or the leisure of a good book without my brain firing in all directions is another layer of self-control. One that brings great reward for my tired brain.

Trusting my inner creative to be able to accomplish what I want to without having to follow the set of “rules” that I normally try to follow. Often I feel like my ADD brain wants to attempt a task from a weird angle and my fear of failure also fires and tries to correct this attempt which causes me to feel at odds with myself. I’m learning that if I trust my gut in how I want to approach a task then the fruit will be not only productivity but also a greater sense of self within the task. And if I do indeed fail at my attempt because of the way I went about it, then I’m learning to own it and quickly start over without allowing for regret.

Seeing the bigger picture. Before I started to harness my ADD, I couldn’t see the big picture in my life at all. I thought that was just a personality limitation; I could see the details very well and assumed that not seeing the big picture was just a weakness of mine. But as I mentioned that making little good decisions in the same direction had a profound effect on my ability to make wiser choices and balance my ADD, it also allowed me to see real progress and gave me hope for more and more finishing in my life. I look back now and see that my lack of ability in seeing the big picture was mostly due to my lack of ability to finish anything. I couldn’t step back and get a view for where anything was going because I didn’t understand what follow through in anything really looked like. But when I began to practice follow through in the little things, over a long period of time, I eventually began to see how I could incorporate that same self-control in other areas and eventually over my ADD.

Staying off social media when my ADD is at its worst. When I start to feel like I’m losing my grip on the order and purpose of my actions, I need to avoid social media because I get lost in it. This “getting lost” feels like a break; it can feel like relief in the moment, but it isn’t. Social media is a tool not a replacement for rest. When I’m feeling overwhelmed by all the starts, projects, chores, and demands in my life I want relief but I need vision. And I’ve seen that when I have the other 6 helps for my ADD in check then I can enjoy social media in healthy ways and at appropriate times.

As a homeschool mom, I’ve desperately need to intentionally do what I can to strengthen my brain and harness the power of my ADD. My hope in sharing these helps today is to encourage other moms who are feeling lost in their starts, attempts, and tasks that you can make progress too. Homeschooling can exasperate my ADD and make my parenting purpose feel muddled, but homeschooling isn’t to blame. I can testify that all things in life are benefitted once I help my brain in these ways.

This post is not intended to diagnose or treat any mental conditions. Reading this post does not equate to seeing your doctor, counselor, or pastor if you believe you have the same struggle with ADD that I have. 

More Helps:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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