Prioritizing things in our life makes us conscious of what we should be focusing on instead of letting ourselves just wing it and hope for the best. As homeschoolers with many pulls in several directions, it’s essential to figure out what is important to us and what isn’t.
There is this meme that appears on social media frequently amongst my mommy friends. It’s a triangle with the words “Pick Two.” At each corner of the triangle is an option: family, clean house, & sanity. I think it feels like a fairly apt representation of life, although I probably wouldn’t use a triangle. I’d probably end up with a weirdly uneven multi-pointed shape instead. Like this:
We have so many things that demand our time and attention. Choosing the things that are the most important to us is vital. That way we don’t end up trying to do everything and fail at most things. Being intentional with our time is the best way to be successful. So, let’s figure out which things are the most important for us to prioritize.
Step 1. Make a list.
Write down all the things that vie for your time. Think of everything: housework, family time, your work, where you volunteer, homeschooling, all the places you have to get kids to, groups you belong to, self-care time, etc, etc.
Step 2. Get Rid of Extras.
Think if there is anything you can take off that list. If you are feeling overwhelmed with all the things in your life that you are trying to successfully balance, you will likely need to remove some things. Seriously consider everything you’ve written down. Is there anything you can see right away that you can (or should) cross off? Get rid of the extras that are dragging you down. It’s ok to say no and to give up things that are weighing you down. If you don’t want to do it, don’t. Cross off everything that you are taking off the list. Give yourself freedom.
Step 3. Prioritize.
Now that you’ve pared down your list to things that you have to or need to keep on it, it’s time to decide what order of importance each needs to have. I would venture a guess that you would probably put your family and your homeschooling as some of the most important things, whereas maybe housework isn’t quite as vital. If you have a job, that will probably be near the top. You need to decide what things are important for you and your family. Priorities for me might not be the same for you.
For example, in my house…. I’d say my priorities are kids, husband, homeschool, and my blogging related work. Housekeeping, on the other hand, is wayyyyy down on my list of importance.
Number things in priority order, or make stars beside the ones that are vital to you.
Step 4. Block time.
Blocking intentional chunks of time for things make sure that you put important things into your day. Before adding any extras, put things that you know you need or want to do each day / week / month. For example, homeschooling being a priority, you might purposefully set each morning aside to complete formal learning. If you have a planner for your days, you might choose to use different coloured pens or pencil crayons to block out time. Then follow the plan. This can be the hardest part, especially if you are like me and are easily sidetracked or get too focused on things.
Here is what I do, as an example (at least, what I try to!):
- Wake-up til 8:30am — Quiet time and working time.
- 8:30-9:30 – Morning Chores: dishes, laundry, cat litter, make beds / open blinds, and get supper stuff together
- 9:30-noon – School / Kid Time & their Chores
- 12-1pm- Lunch and MY chores for the day
- 1-2:30pm: Kid Time
- 2:30-5pm: I consider this free time for myself. Some days I work, other days I exercise, others I spend time with the little ones. My older boys have their screentime during this time of the day.
- 5-6pm: Supper making and eating and cleaning up
- 6-8pm: Bedtime routines with the kids
- 8-9pm: Exercise time, finish up any work from the day, etc.
- 9pm – bedtime: Chatting, TV, or computer gaming time with husband
Step 5. Use hacks, tips, shortcuts, and systems for the extras.
For the things that you don’t want to spend extended periods of time on, or can’t commit yourself to – find a way to accomplish them “well-enough” through the use of hacks, tips, shortcuts, and systems. We’ll dive into some suggestions for these in the next few days.
Step 6. Evaluate.
Use your system and see how it works. Do you find that you are better able to handle everything you need to do? Is there anything that’s not working? Have you noticed anything that was missed on your schedule or that you’ve allotted too much time to? What changes can you make? If you are finding it hard to keep on task or have something that keeps you from focusing on the most important things on your priority list – you might want to find an accountability partner. Having to tell someone what you’ve done all day can really make you aware of your flaws.
Want more tips on how to better handle the different parts of your busy life? Check out the other posts in this 10 day series: Homeschooling & The Myth of Balance.