There are so many things that can–and do–get in the way of a productive day. I know that is true for me! So I have come up with a few tips for helping to stay on track and focused for the day ahead:
1. Write out a to-do list. I am a list person, so this is second nature for me. I love writing out what I have to get done on a particular day and then seeing the line of check marks as the day goes by. I find that I also forget about certain things I have to do sometimes, so writing it down is a must to make sure I get it all done. Set your list out somewhere you will be able to constantly refer to and add stuff when you remember something you have to do or even if something new comes up.
2. Prioritize what needs to be done daily. While I have my to-do list of things I need to remember to do–like write a paper or bake a batch of cupcakes for someone–those aren’t things I will be doing everyday. I make a list of things I must do every day like Bible reading, straightening my bedroom, and helping my siblings get dressed and ready for the day. This isn’t so much an actual list as it is a mental one; however, I do keep a list of things I strive to accomplish daily in my journal. Everyone will have different priorities, but you should make it a point to get those things done first before your to-dos for that particular day.
3. Set aside time for your social media (ex. Facebook, Twitter, etc.). Yes, I am adding this one because I know for mostof us this is the BIGGEST obstacle we face in having a productive day. We have all said, “I just need to check something real quick,” then an hour or more later we finally realize that we actually have other responsibilities to take care of that day. I know. I’ve fallen into that trap. I also know that giving yourself a set time out of the day to check up on your social media can really help. It’s hard to get into that groove, but if you stick to it and focus on your responsibilities, you’ll be too busy to think of it. I have wrestled with this one for a while, trying to figure out the best fit for me personally. Usually during my family’s “quiet time” (nap time) or at night after my family has gone into the showers-and-pj’s stage of the night is the best time for me. I am still trying to work it all out. I really don’t like the idea of totally unplugging from social media–which is how I keep up with many dear friends from all over the country–but sometimes it is such a time-waster that I know something must be done. This has helped, though, and I hope you find a time of day that works best for you.
4. Get an early start to your day. I know there are many people who are not going to like this idea. But it’s just that: an idea. A suggestion. I know for me, personally, I function much better if I get up early–before all of my siblings–to get my quiet time in with the Lord. I will usually get up at 6 a.m. to start my day with Bible reading, prayer, journaling, and coffee!(I have an emotional attachment to that liquid substance.) Being raised in the homeschool community, I know that there is such a wide variety of folks–some who like to get up early (6-7 a.m.), and some who do not. I would encourage you to give it a try, though. For me, it is one of the biggest keys to a productive day.
5. Have a morning routine. Sounds weird? Maybe a little, but it helps you get going, wake up, and get you “in gear” for the day. Like I touched on in that last point, have a routine you go through in the morning. For me, I make my bed and read my Bible, make a pot of coffee and go through my prayer journal. After that, I will get dressed and get ready for the day. By then, it’s about 8:30 a.m. and it’s time to help my siblings get ready for their school and keep the babies occupied for a while. This is not how every day goes. But for the most part, I try to stick to this as much as possible. And it will look different for each of us, but I hope this gives you some sort of starting point if you’ve had none.
And last of all…
6. Make loving others and focusing on God your daily goal/priority. Last, but not least, remember that people are more important than things… and yes, “things” includes check marks on your to-do list. I fall into this trap far too often. I will get so frustrated if someone does something to mess up the day I have so carefully planned in my mind. That will happen. More often than not, in fact. The most important “to-do” we could ever have is just simply to love. Be flexible. Maybe God has a bigger plan for you than you’ve put on that to-do list. Spending extra time letting your baby brother splash around in the bathtub after you have finished washing him might not be ideal in your mind, but loving, caring for, and cherishing that baby brother is more important than to finish organizing your shirt drawer. In the end, checkmarks on a to-do list will be meaningless. But reading an extra chapter to your sister is showing her that you value spending time with her. In the end, how you treated your family matters more than how organized the house is.
So, as much as I hope these tips will help you manage your time well, I thought it was just as important to tell you that to-do lists are wonderful–and something that I encourage–but the love you show for others when they get in the way of that to-do list is even greater and more wonderful.
Maiya is a homeschool graduate currently pursuing a life as a stay-at-home daughter. She enjoys her days teaching piano, volunteering at her local crisis pregnancy center, taking hold of opportunities to encourage and minister to younger girls, doing projects with her seven—soon to be eight—siblings, and writing her blog at Blessings, Bliss, and Bedlam! Follow her on Pinterest and “like” her page on Facebook.