2 Simple Solutions for Those Who Struggle to Keep Schedules and Routines

schedules and routines (green)A few weeks ago, I opened up a folder titled “time and task management” in my personal computer, and I was amazed at how many different schedules and routines that I had saved there!  Later, I pulled out a hanging file folder labeled “time management,” and was amazed at what I had also collected there.  (The picture to the left is a sample so you can see what I’m talking about.)*  This is very tangible evidence to me of the efforts I’ve been making (for years!) to become more organized about how I spend my time.

And yet, I’m obviously not where I want to be or “manage my time better” wouldn’t be one of my 2014 goals.

Yesterday I wrote about how I was so discouraged with myself for not doing the “weekly review,” and how I prayed for help with my tendency to not do the things I plan to.  When I prayed, the first thing that I noticed was that I began to feel more peaceful in general.  Then my mind became a little more clear, and I had two thoughts that were helpful:

#1.  Don’t over-organize my day.  Keep the systems that are working for me and add new ones very sparingly. The exact thought I had as I prayed was that I need to stop trying to put my life in a box.  You see, when organizing a space, most people find it helpful to group similar things together in some sort of container – a box, basket, drawer, etc.  Doing this creates order, and speeds up the process of getting things out and putting them away when finished.  Schedules, routines, and lists are designed to do the same thing – to group similar tasks together, and create efficiency in accomplishing these tasks.

But with time as well as with space, it is possible to over-organize.  When we start to become too exact in our placement of stuff, then the organizational system becomes a hindrance instead of a help.  And I think that this is what I’ve been doing.  I already have some routine and schedule in my life that helps everything stay orderly and keep moving the way it should.  So I guess I keep trying to get the rest of my life orderly with the same method.  Only, it starts to feel too restrictive and that is why I don’t want to follow through.

#2.  When I’m feeling non-motivated or distracted, work for short periods of time and reward myself with a break.   The second thought that I had was that I should set my timer for 30 minutes and get to work on something – anything.  It didn’t matter what as long as it was productive.  When the timer went off, I could take a break and do something that I wanted to do for a little bit, but then set the timer again for 30 more minutes of productive work.

A lot of time management experts will talk about finishing a job before moving on to the next one.  But on this day, I completely ignored that advice.  My only goal was to stay productive.  I picked a few things off the floor of my girl’s bedroom and put them away; I sorted some laundry; I washed some dishes; I put away some clean clothes; I pulled a few items out of my in-box and wrote down what I needed to about them.  I finished nothing 100%, but I stayed productive, and I felt like I had accomplished a lot by the end of the day.  (And I really enjoyed my guilt-free breaks too!).

So, that’s pretty much it.  But that’s not all that I have to say about this subject.  David Allen’s book has some really good information about the negative emotions that I was feeling.  I think what he has to say is insightful and relevant, so I will share that in my next post!

*(Just a note:  All of the routines and schedules that I’ve created over the years were inspired by other people.  So, to be fair to them I’m including the source of inspiration for each of the forms in the picture above:  top left, top right (inspired by a friend), bottom left, bottom left middle, bottom right middle (inspired by a different friend), and bottom right.)
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10 thoughts on “2 Simple Solutions for Those Who Struggle to Keep Schedules and Routines

  1. Good ideas. Keep the stress level down and accept the fact that you won’t get everything done. A suggestion: Your two oldest are old enough to take responsibilty for their own rooms. Time spent training them to do it is more productive, in the long run, than time spent doing it for them.

    • Right – you just hit on a weakness of mine. Delegating and training are definitely part of a smart time management program. I’m having trouble teaching my kids how to be responsible for their rooms because it looks overwhelming even to me. But we’ll get there. I’m thinking that I should sit down with them to discuss what can be done to make it simpler for them to do. Thanks for following along, Dad – I really do appreciate it!

  2. Agree with your tip #2. There would be nonproductive days of work but the way you make use of those odd times is something to really look out for. Try in some areas like declutter your desk, draw your ideas.

  3. LOVE it! I think my sister is a GENIUS! Teaching the kids has been hard but Randall gave Seth and Aryel their own chores to do. (Empty the dishwasher and clear the table). I am AMAZED how those two chose make my life SO much easier. They don’t always do a perfect job and sometimes they need help, but it’s AWESOME!

  4. Some great points in this blog, it is important to remember that not all Time Management strategies work for everyone, for example most people’s first port of call is to make a list, but lists don’t work for all – as an additional thought would you like to guest blog on my Time Management website?

  5. Pingback: One Source of Negative Emotions (in regards to work) | littlemissdebbie28

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