I don’t get everything done, but I do a lot. I have been homeschooling for twenty-nine years so I have had a lot of practice and with age comes wisdom. Below I give you what works for me.
Anything I accomplish is by the grace of God. Commit your ways to Him and He will direct your paths. Nothing works out properly unless you put God first.
Begin each day by praying before you open your eyes. Give the day to God and ask Him to lead and guide you. I have to let my dog out every morning, so I use it as my prompt to look up in the heavens and give my day to God. It makes a huge difference to start the day with your priorities in focus.
I am fairly organized. I was not born organized. I learned to be by necessity and I am growing to be more organized a little each day. It’s an ongoing process. I spend time each week learning how to be better organized in home and business. Not being organized leads to stress, frustration and anxiety. I read a few books on organization every year.
I make a list every day. I have ongoing list, homeschool lists, grocery lists, etc. My second daughter Rebecca Keliher has published The Well Planned Day Planners. Check them out.
How you keep track of your schedule is a very personal decision based on your family demands, but everyone needs to start each day devoting the day to God. Purpose to put the Bible first daily. If I don’t, I end up walking in the flesh and everything goes downhill.
I have a basic housework and school work schedule and adapt as the day goes on. I work hard for six days and make it a top priority to rest on the Sabbath.
My homeschool goals are dictated by God. I don’t worry about what the state thinks. The time I spend homeschooling has changed drastically over the years. I used to be rigid and scheduled, but now we focus on the Bible first, then math, phonics and reading aloud. I don’t sweat it when we miss a few days. Farm life and play time are learning adventures.
I use the Workbox System. This organized, structured system helps me save time and we get more done in our day. I tweaked it quite a bit for our family but I love the planning methods. Follow the links below to learn more.
- Need to Get Organized? Check Out Homeschool Workboxes
- A Peek into Our Homeschool Day: Workboxes
- Workbox Directory (see 50 other users)
Getting rid of clutter and keeping an organized home is critical to getting other things done. This is a message I feel passionate about and the reason I started Heart at Home homemaking blog. Blogging about housework helps me stay organized and passes on useful hints.
When my oldest children were toddlers I used to say “God should give us an extra pair of hands for each child.” Later I realized He did. We just have to train them.
I delegate housework. I worked my way up from laborer to manager. I did all the housework when the children were young. When they were old enough I assigned chores. Then my girls married and abandoned me ;). I had to do all the housework again. When we could afford it, I hired someone to come and clean once a week for several years. It was very nice. Since we moved, I’m on my own again. Once I get my new home organized to run smoothly I will look into getting weekly help again (at least to help with the barn mucking).
I cook ahead a lot! I firmly believe if you want to feed your family healthy it has to be convenient, so I make meals ahead and prepare once a week salad I can dip into every day to make it convenient. At least three meals a week have been pre-made and frozen. I buy in bulk because it saves money; then I cook in bulk to save time.
I bake bread about three times a week using the Artisian Bread in 5 Minutes a Day recipe. The secret is keeping a one- or two-week supply of dough made in advance and stored in the refrigerator. Actually it only takes about 15 minutes to mix the recipe. The daily process takes only five minutes of prep work to slice off a hunk of dough and shape it into a loaf. Add 20 minute resting time for the dough and 30 minutes for baking.
Update: I rarely bake bread anymore as we are avoiding gluten. Now I make Flaxseed wraps.
I delegate business responsibilities. It has taken MANY years to reach this goal, but I can now run Heart of Wisdom by overseeing all projects in a few hours a day (by the grace of God). Hubby helps with administrative duties and I have great assistants for bookkeeping, ordering, emails, phone calls, proofreading, etc. A fulfillment company handles all shipping. I oversee book layout and printing with a designer and printing company. I use freelancers for web design, development, etc.
Writing (Books and Blogging)
I’m no super homeschool mom just because I’ve written a few books. I just write about things I’m passionate about. Most of my books were written while nursing babies and typing one-handed. Later I had a long periods where I had three teenage girls to do all the housework. During those years I produced most of my work. Now I write blog posts in the evening. I love to write. I write to learn, to praise, to share, and to organize my brain. Blogging is cheaper than therapy.
My sewing, quilting and smocking have been replaced with writing and scrapbooking. I miss sewing things but there is only so much time in a day. When I write and scrapbook I am creating a different type of heirloom to pass down. Update- I’m quilting again, and boy, did I miss it! Piecing by hand is so relaxing.
I get a lot done in bursts. I have had a lot of health issues in the last few years so I learned if I have the energy I had better put it to use. Earlier this evening I organized our linen closet and my youngest boys’ dressers (purging clothes). Tonight I’m writing a few blog posts ahead for days when I won’t have time.
Time Management Tips
- Make lists: If you make a list before bedtime you know what your most important task is the next morning. I can’t function without my to do lists. If I don’t know what I should be doing, how can I manage my time to do it? My lists include: To Do, Honey Do, Urgent, HOW, Homeschool Schedule, Blog Ideas, Educational Links, Read Later, etc.
- Consider dual screens: If you need to get a lot done on the computer consider using two screens. Survey after survey shows 20 percent to 30 percent productivity boost using two computer screens. I’ve been using two screens for over five years and I love it.
- Utilize the Internet: I use several online tools to get organized and save time. Check out Trello.
- Compare lists: I frequently schedule time with hubby to compare lists and make plans for action items.
- Don’t waste time: Most TV watching is wasted time. I limit my viewing to Charles Stanley and Kay Arthur Bible studies, educational shows with the children (pre-recorded) and home organization shows that encourage productivity.
- Get up early: Jesus got up early, a great while before the day. I get up early, pray, read my list and hit the ground running.
- Multi-task: I multitask all day, such as listening to Bible studies on MP3 while doing housework, listening to a child practice reading words while peeling potatoes, catching up on personal calls while mopping or cleaning out the fridge (I use the speaker phone for two-handed chores) etc.
- Limit phone calls: I have had to learn to politely end phone conversations. When a conversation gets exciting and interesting it can go on for an hour or more. I force myself to send a time to go signal like, “I would love to keep talking about this but I’m going to get way off schedule.”
- Be Prepared: Use waiting time effectively by taking books or writing tablet everywhere. I carry books or my Kindle and a note pad everywhere in case I have a few minutes to read or work on my lists.
- Unplug the phone: I unplug the phone during school work and complete tasks for a deadline.
Sometimes I Don’t Get it All Done
Many times I don’t get it all done. Some days I get overwhelmed. I fall behind on deadlines, get behind in housework or school work, and we go out for fast food more than I want. As I write this I am way behind on laundry because the dryer broke Friday. Stuff happens.
Sometimes when I’m behind I begin to walk in my flesh (not pretty). When I recognize myself getting into this state (or have it pointed out when I hear our six-year-old saying “Mommy is being crabby.”) I try to get into the Word. Prayer and the Word are the only things that snap me out of walking in the flesh. If it’s a really bad day, I call friends and ask for prayer.
The preventive approach is to begin each day in the Word, surrendering to being led by God’s Spirit. Then, and only then will we produce the fruit of the Spirit: true love, joy, peace, kindness, gentleness and self-control, no matter what the day brings.