Thursday, August 20, 2009

Scheduling for Success

By the title of the post, I am not suggesting that I experience total or even frequent success. More often I look wistfully at my schedule before I go to bed and see how my day should have gone. Many people, at times myself included, don't see a schedule as anything but bondage.

"I'm a free spirit. I don't follow a schedule."
"I don't like anything telling me what to do. I do my own thing."

I completely understand the sentiment as I like to control things myself when possible. Which is the beauty of a schedule--I control it--not the other way around. A schedule is to a successful day what a budget is to a successful financial life. It's a little harder to control your own schedule in the workplace unless you work for yourself, but for the home-keeper (full-time or part-time) it is not only possible but essential!

I wrote here about how we need to keep the proper perspective and here about not going to extremes. Now dare I write about the actual scheduling? Such a novice as I am, tell you how to schedule your day? Actually, no. I will tell you just the opposite. Decide what kind of day you want and plan for it. Yep, it's that simple. Now you have your schedule. Making it happen is another story, of course. Motivation, interruptions, change of plans: all these affect our plans. However, many of us need to just figure out what we want out of our days and start there.

There are myriad things that we women do in a typical day. I could never begin to plan your day for you nor could you plan mine. However there are some essential elements for all of us.

Time for God.
If you are a Christian, you know that your time with God often affects the dynamic of your entire day. In the book, It's About Time, that I reviewed last month; the author says that if we tithe our waking time (figuring on an 8-hour sleeping period each night--don't you wish!) at 10%, we will give 11.2 hours a week to the Lord for Him alone. For myself, I am at church roughly 5 hours a week giving my time to worship the Lord. That leaves about 6 hours. If I spend one hour a day with the Lord, I have given Him the smallest amount of time that He deserves. This is obviously not a rule we have to live by, but I find if I do give the first hour of my day to God when possible, my day goes so much better!

Photo by asha susan

Time for Health. This is something relatively new that God is adding to my life. We all know we are to be healthy so we can live longer, but do we realize how important our health decisions are? Being healthy gives us more energy to devote to our families and friends not to mention more years with them and serving them. It is also our duty before God to care for the temple He has chosen to dwell in--our bodies! After I've spent my time with God, which is my first priority, I like to spend the next hour taking care of the body He has given me. I know, an hour seems like a lot, but you probably already spend some time caring for your body already when you get dressed, take a shower and brush your hair. I tack in my exercise time, too, and it figures out to about an hour. If I don't do this right away in the morning, I will get interrupted by the other duties of the day and it won't get done!

Time for Relationships.
Not all of us have parents, husbands or children. Perhaps some of us may not even have many friends. However, everyone has someone in their life with which they must maintain a relationship. People are very important and should be a priority for all of us. Of course, the people in your house should be your first priority. Hopefully there is still time in your schedule left over for others outside the house--friends and other family members. I have no specific measure for this, but I try to spend time each day alone with each member of my household and time each week with other nearby family members.
Photo by Robert Crum

Time for Work. God created us to work and to enjoy it and be fulfilled by it. Every woman (and man, for that matter) has something she must schedule into her day designated as work. The Bible tells us women to "be busy at home". There goes the soap opera and bonbons idea if you don't work outside the home! For most of us, work takes up the bulk of our schedule. If you work on your own as I do, some boundaries must be placed on it so it doesn't consume your entire schedule. Carefully planning our work times can be very freeing and allow us to truly rest when work time is done.

Time for Rest.
Yes, we need to schedule rest, especially as busy mothers, or it just won't happen. I like to take a 15 minute or so rest time when my baby is napping and the kids are having quiet time. I also like to rest by reading in my bed for awhile before turning out the light. Rest is ordained by God since He rested on the 7th day of creation. We shouldn't ignore that weekly rest period, either. If we ignore one special day set aside only for spiritual rest and renewal, our week will go badly just as a day without time with the Lord goes badly.

Photo by Micky

So there you have it, all the essential elements for your schedule. Add in the elements that are unique to you and you are done! See how easy that was? And don't you feel so much more free just for having figured out in advance what your day will be like?

What scheduling tips do you have? Are you more of a "free spirit"? If so, how does that change your planning times?

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