(Adapted from Home Education 101: A Mentor’s Manual © 2003 by Vicki Bentley)
Set up a command center. Remember The Bridge on “Star Trek”? This should be an area close to your family’s activities in the house, not totally isolated – you want to actually use it! This is where you will have your calendar, to-do list, action files, and basic supplies; it can be computer-based or paper-based. Mine is a desk with:
- daily schedule on a small easel-style flip chart (one page per day)
- to-do list
- file drawer with weekly action folders & projects-in-progress folders
- office supplies drawer
- mailing supplies/envelopes/stamps
If you don’t have space for a dedicated desk, you can keep most of the essentials on hand in a basket, caddy, or binder.
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Time invested in planning, preparing, organizing is a vital key to making the most of your time. Some sort of planner, calendar, and/or note system will be helpful. Because our family tends to be predominantly visual, I find it helpful to use lists like the Before School Checklist and the Tidy Room checklist. I also have a weekly chore chart system that incorporates child training with housekeeping. (See The Everyday Family Chore System for charts and checklists.)
Make lists (on paper, if necessary!). If you are easily overwhelmed by details, list out exactly what needs to happen and post it to help keep everyone from getting sidetracked (or at least help you get back on track more quickly!).
When I have a project, I break it into steps to check off, starting at the end and backtracking, and leaving extra time for unexpected delays. When we have company for dinner, I start with the serving time, then make a cooking/decorating list by moving backward from the “on the table” time.
Make a list – in one place! – of things that need to be done (outdoor chores, indoor chores, maintenance, etc.). That way, when you have some free time, you can look in the book and work on something instead of spending time thinking of what needs to be done! My notebook has pages for outside chores, inside chores and room by room (or just call it all Stuff to Do Around the House).
I carry a purse-sized loose-leaf notebook in which I can jot ideas, items I remember we need, calls to make, etc. while I am out. Then I transfer them to my main planner upon my return home.
For more on schedules and routines, see “How Does A Busy Mom Spell Relief? R-O-U-T-I-N-E!”
Copyright 2006, Vicki Bentley, Family Resources