For a person who craves structure, the lazy, free days of summer scare me.
I know myself, and I know that the less structured my day is, the less I get done and the worse I feel. That is why this summer I developed a summer schedule for kids to better organize our days.
This is not to say that every day has to be productive, but I feel much better if, at the end of most days, I can feel like I accomplished something. Last summer was my first summer off with my children, so I am new to this whole 2+ month off thing.
I am not complaining that I have these months off, not at all. In fact, getting this time off was one of the main catalysts for switching jobs, even though it meant a pay cut.
If you are like me and need some structure to your summer, you have come to the right place.
I will share how I am handling summer planning to better structure our summer. This is a new plan, so we do not know how it will work out in the end. I’ll be sure to recap in August whether creating a simple, summer schedule was successful or not.
My oldest, Cassidy, is similar to me and craves structure. In fact, for the second summer in a row, she has asked that we have summer school. If I left it up to her, we would have a set schedule that we follow every single day down to the minute. We agree to compromise because I think some flexibility and laziness is important as well.
In the spring I started a folder titled “Summer” in our HOPE file. Anytime I saw something relevant to summer planning such as camps, classes, fun activities, summer learning or a place we might like to visit, I put the information in that folder.
In the middle of May, I had Cassidy look through the folder and pick out which places and things she would like to do this summer.
Next summer Amelia, who is only three now, will be old enough to give feedback as well, but we know this year she would say the pool and the park which are both automatically on the list.
Whether you want to start up a successful business, run a marathon, climb Mount Everest, or learn to cook a 7-course gourmet meal, there is one surefire way to improve your likelihood of success. And it’s not difficult.
You MUST learn how to time block.
Time blocking is simply the process of setting aside time in your day and week for specific activities to happen at specific times.
I have found this trick to be absolutely imperative to my success in juggling my full-time job along with my side hustles, blogging, and teaching.
Advantages to Time Blocking:
Increased Focus: When your most important work is scheduled into your calendar you can focus on one thing at a time. You don’t have to worry about emails while you are playing with your children because you have blocked a specific time in your day to handle emails. Time blocking will allow you better focus in all areas of your life.
Increased Productivity: When you have a specific time blocked for a specific activity, barring any true emergencies, you will be more productive. You will not be distracted and your productive increases. Additionally, you will be able to schedule certain activities at certain times of the day to reflect your most productive times. For example, I know it takes less mental energy for me to respond to emails, yet for years, that is how I would start my day. My most productive time of day is in the morning so to give that time up to an activity that doesn’t require as much mental energy was not good planning. Now, I schedule my content writing for the earlier hours of the day when I am most alert and focused. Emails can come later at night or during my afternoon slump.
I am more productive because I multi-task.
Why multi-tasking doesn’t work
I am a great multi-tasker.
Not a badge of honor
The ability to multi-task used to be a great attribute that employers were looking for in their employees. Now we are finding out that people are not, in fact, more productive when they multitask. In fact, research has found that people are less productive when they multitask.
For years people, myself included, have touted themselves as being able to multi-task. It was seen as a great attribute because you could get more done than people who couldn’t multi-task.
What research has proven is that you can actually only multitask two things at one time and to do so one must involve the body and one the mind. For instance, you can run and plan your grocery list in your head or clean your house and listen to a podcast, but you cannot listen to a podcast and plan your grocery list. Well, you can, but it will take you longer than if you had planned your grocery list when you weren’t doing another activity that requires mental energy.
I LOVE a to-do list.
I almost always have a daily to-do list. It might be scrawled on an old envelope, on a large Post-It, or most recently in my bullet journal, but a list is a constant.
Honestly, I think a to-do list is what helps me stay organized. I will confess I’m one of those crazy to-do list makers who has been known to write something on my list just to cross it off.
I get a natural high from crossing things off my list. I’m not alone in this obsession.
As a natural list maker, I have no problems with daily to-do’s, but as my life has gotten more hectic, I didn’t have a good way to keep track of monthly and weekly to-dos. These would be the things that should be getting done every week and month.
Confession time: This may be shocking to some of you, but there a lot of things that I am certain you do every month or even more frequently that I do not. We all have to prioritize, and some of my prioritization is probably questionable to a lot of you.
For instance, I do not change bed sheets in my house every week. Ha, I don’t even change them every month. I don’t sweep every day, even with small kids. I don’t clean all that often.
In three simple words…… I HAVE GOALS.
That is the simplest answer to why I schedule everything into my calendar.
I’ve maintained some sort of calendar since I began working at 15. Knowing me, I probably had some sort of schedule even before that, but I can’t remember that long ago. My calendars have always included work schedules, appointments, upcoming events, birthdays, etc. The fundamental purpose of my calendar was to keep track and not forget important things.
That is pretty much all my calendar included for decades.
Now my schedule on Google calendar has a lot more in it. I’m not talking about all of the activities of my children; I’m talking about just my schedule.
Does your email inbox permanently have over 100 messages and you’ve just accepted that as your fate?
Is email taking up too much of your time
Are you overwhelmed just looking at your inbox?
Then take a few minutes to read these few tips and you might just find that there is a solution and it’s not that hard or time consuming.
Go to https://unroll.me and create an account. Trust me you will love this. (it won’t work for some email addresses. It sadly does not support my work email)
Follow all of the instructions on unroll.me because it will show you all of the subscriptions you have and for each one you get to decide whether you want to leave those emails in your inbox, include them in your roll-up email or unsubscribe. If you include them in the roll-up email you will receive one email daily from unroll.me that you can scroll through to see which subscription emails you want to spend time opening or not.
Google calendar is amazing and helps to keep our family functioning well.
I have tried many calendar systems over the years—notebooks, organizers, day planners, palm pilot – yes I’m showing my age again etc. For one reason or another I always seemed to struggle with them.
I really love paper calendar systems, because I love to write things down. I also believe that the human brain remembers more of what we physically write down. However, paper calendars are not always with you and I found myself having to wait to schedule things until I was near my calendar.
Now that I have a smartphone –6 months now and I still wonder how I functioned before it – I always have my calendar with me now. We actually started using Google calendar before I got a smartphone.
It’s amazing to me how busy and confusing the schedule for one family of 4 can be—and we only have a 6 year old and a 23 month old.
I can’t even imagine families with 5 kids in school with extra -curricular activities survive. (Shout out to my mom!)
When Brian and I were first married our calendar consisted of one of those free calendars (small squares to write in) that we got from church every December. We would put it on the refrigerator and jot down important things either of us had coming up that would impact the other (dates with friends, traveling, etc.)
Once Cassidy entered the picture we continued with this calendar for a while, but our needs for a bigger more robust calendar system grew. It wasn’t until Amelia joined our family that I knew I needed a different solution. By this time Brian worked shifts, overtime and attended trainings—his schedule constantly changing. This in turn made the girls’ daycare (each of them going somewhere different) schedule fluctuate and then of course there were all the other things each of us were involved with.