Part of a series that starts here. We're coming up with resolutions -- not in honor of the new year, but instead of a new baby's arrival and consequent disruption of all the routines that had been serving us well.
Resolution zero: to acknowledge our family's most important priorities and give each their due
Resolution one: of these, designate four as "all-the-time" intentions:
- Serve God
- Show love, interest, and delight in one another
- Model reason, generosity, and kindness to resolve conflict
- Teach diligence
Resolution two: Simplify the list of things we must "make time for." I got it down to this:
- Learning time (since we're homeschoolers)
- Work (a.k.a., the to-do list)
Resolution three: to accept the limits on my time, spending it on a few choice tasks and letting go of the rest of the to-do list
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In the last post I calculated that, on a typical weekday, I have somewhere between 4 and 5 hours to accomplish tasks of the sort that I might put on a to-do list.
I don't say, "I have 4-5 hours to knock all the items off my to-do list." That's because Resolution Three requires me to accept that I will never get them all.
(I'm thinking that the "to-do" list needs a different name. "Could-do" list? No, still implies possibility of completion. "Might-do" list? "Task menu?" Will have to think more.)
This kind of work includes
- work for the children's schooling including long-term planning, yearly curriculum selection and purchasing, weekly lesson preparation, evaluation and record-keeping
- work for the familyincluding laundry and clothes-buying; dishes; tidying; meal planning and grocery shopping; cooking dinner; and maintaining the family appointment calendar
- work for others including volunteer commitments, helping friends, and any paid work;
- creative work including hobbies, blogging, self-improvement, and other satisfying personal projects
When I made schedules in the past, I thought I had to "do everything" at least once in a while. That meant that I had to find a time for each task on my list. If there wasn't enough time to do each thing as often as I needed, I would just have to do everything less frequently: instead of mopping every week, I'll mop every two weeks.
I did all this by slotting many tasks into specific times of the day or week or month. For example, Thursday mornings between the end of breakfast and the start of co-schooling was Time To Put Away All The Accumulated Clean Laundry. Time For Weekly Lesson Planning was Wednesday evening while the children were at church for catechism class. Set Up All The Week's School Materials Time was Sunday night right before bed. Blogging Time? Mornings, before kids get up.
But I didn't always do what I said I was going to do, either because another task felt more urgent or because I thought of some other task I preferred.
And then I would berate myself for departing from the schedule, particularly later when I couldn't find any matching socks or graph paper. I would do this even if it turned out to have been a good trade-off. There wasn't any room for flexibility or forgiveness.
I'm just not a flexible sort of person; I'll probably always feel kind of bad about changing my plans. I therefore conclude that I ought to make less specific plans. If I don't get around to a particular task now, because it's not so urgent, well -- sooner or later it will become urgent and command my attention.
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But I don't want to get carried away doing only housework, or only school planning -- the two categories that often masquerade as SUPER URGENT MUST DO for days at a time. I need to use some of my time for creative outlets as well, so I can stay recharged and sharp. Also, I owe at least a little bit of work to other people.
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Resolution Four is about the moment of choosing which tasks will and won't happen in the four hours and change that I have available for it every day.
I resolve to regularly choose tasks from the categories of creative work, work for the family, work for others, and work for the kids' school.
I'm not promising equal time for each category and I'm not promising to hit every category every day. But I am resolving to hit them all in their turn, each day choosing what makes the most sense for that day, and -- what's harder -- letting go of what doesn't.