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By popular request….my new schedule/routine

Last week, I shared how I’d gone away for 24 hours all by my lonesome not lonesome self, and that I’d used some of that time to rethink our schedule. A number of you wanted to take a peek at that, so this post is for you!

I’ll share my actual schedule in a minute, but first I’ll share how I came up with this plan.

Last fall, I bought Amy Andrews’ ebook Tell your Time (right now it’s on sale for $9), which introduced me to the whole concept of time budgeting. She suggests approaching time the same way a lot of us approach budgeting. When we make a budget we write down how much money we have and and then we list all of our expenses, and figure out which can stay, which can go, and which can be reduced.

Time is a limited resource, much like money is (well, at least it is for most of us!), and so budgeting it is a really brilliant idea!

So, to begin with, I figured out how many hours I had in a day. Mr. FG leaves for work at 5:15 and we go to bed at 8:30, so that gives me about 15 hours to work with.

Then I made a list of the things that I need to do each day (things like school, laundry, cooking dinner) and the things that I want to make time for (like spending time with Mr. FG), and assigned hours or half hours to those tasks. I also scribbled down some ideas I had about areas where I could do some smart multi-tasking.

Now, that was a good start for me, but I know myself well enough to know that I function better when I make a more detailed schedule for myself. I need to see where I can plug these hours and half hours into my day so that I can see what works and what doesn’t.

So, I took a piece of paper and put all my tasks/activities into a hourly schedule, which looks like this.

In case you can’t read my chicken scratch on that piece of paper, here’s how my day breaks down.

5:15-5:45-read Bible and pray

5:45-6:15-shower, get dressed, put on makeup, tidy up my room, and start a load of laundry

6:15-7:15-blog, read email, etc. (the kids’ alarm goes off at 7:00, at which point they get up, make their beds, get dressed, and read their Bibles)

7:15-8:00-breakfast, breakfast cleanup, think about dinner (i.e. does something need to be thawed? Started early?) Often during breakfast, we listen to and talk about music from a particular classical composer that we’re learning about.

8:00-8:45 (really, this has become more like 9:00 most days)-Joshua and Lisey practice the piano, I supervise, some days more than others, and I do some odds and ends type of chores. I often fold laundry, dust, or do some kitchen cleaning while they practice.

9:00-10:00-school with Sonia and Zoe. During this time, I am unavailable to Joshua and Lisey because it is waaay too frustrating to be interrupted multiple times. If we focus for an hour, we can get all of Sonia’s necessary schoolwork done (that’s because homeschooling is pretty darn efficient). In that time we do math, flash cards, handwriting, reading practice, catechism, science, and we read a nature library book plus some kind of fiction book. Zoe’s not officially doing school yet (she just turned 5 last month), but she does math, flash cards, reading practice, and she listens to everything I read out loud.

10:00-11:00-I check the schoolwork Joshua and Lisey have gotten done in the last two hours and help them with anything they’re stuck on.

11:00-12:00-lunch and lunch cleanup.

12:00-12:30-we work on our geography together. We’re doing a study of the 50 states currently and all four kids participate.

12:30-1:00-quiet reading time for the kids (Zoe just looks at books since she’s not able to read much other than Bob Books at the moment). They can read pretty much whatever book they want…the important thing is just that they’re reading. I’m pretty much the world’s biggest fan of the educational power of recreational reading.

While the kids read, I try to use the time to get a quiet task done, like updating my Quicken files, moderating blog comments, or working on a montly money email.

1:00-3:45-this is the most unscheduled part of my day. I wrap up school with Joshua and Lisey, do dinner prep (important on the days that I go to the gym), make sure the kids clean their rooms after school, and I usually have some time in there to spend on things that aren’t entirely necessary or that don’t need to be done every day, like decluttering a drawer, working ahead on blog posts, taking pictures, planning a menu, and so on.

3:45-4:45-I go to the gym. It takes about an hour to drive there, work out, and drive back home. I only go 3 days a week, though.

5:00-6:00-I finish making dinner and try to get it on the table before 5:30.

6:00-6:30-dinner clean up, pjs and teeth brushing for Sonia and Zoe

6:30-7:00-family worship. We sing, read the Bible, pray, and read through a novel out loud (right now it’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe).

7:00-7:15-get Sonia and Zoe tucked into bed.

7:15-8:15-free time to spend with Mr. FG. Sometimes we play music together, sometimes we read together, sometimes we decide to go to bed nice and early ;), or sometimes we get distracted and end up doing separate things during that hour (sometimes Mr. FG has stuff he needs to get done or one of us gets a phone call or something).

8:15-8:30-get ready for bed, and hit the hay. Because that pesky 4:40 alarm comes all too soon.

Putting it all that down on paper was really good for me, just like putting a budget down on paper is good. For instance, the paper schedule told me that I cannot expect to get my morning tasks done if I stay on the computer any later than 7:15 am…that’s just a fact. It’s a lot like looking at a budget sheet and realizing that you really cannot expect to pay your mortgage if you get takeout twice a week.

I know some people can’t abide a detailed schedule (so you should do what works for you instead), and I’m certainly not one to freak out if we eat lunch 15 minutes later than I planned for us to eat. But having a goal time in mind for certain activities/work helps to keep me on track.

If I know that being done with blogging by 7:15 will help our morning to go smoothly, I’m motivated to be efficient with my computer time.

If I know that I need to get dinner on the table between 5:00 and 5:30 in order to keep our evening on track, that helps to organize my day.

And if I know that we need to start family worship at 6:30 if I want to have an hour to spend with Mr. FG, that keeps me from wanting to go get sucked into the internet vortex after cleaning up dinner.

It’s about choices, really, and putting it all down on paper helped me to see those choices more clearly.

The other large benefit I’ve seen is that when I budget time for things, I’m less likely to be distracted and/or crabby about having to spend the time (and that’s so similar to the benefits of a monetary budget for me).

For instance, since I know I’ve budgeted the 10:00-11:00 hour for helping Joshua and Lisey, I don’t feel irritated when they have a pile of questions for me. A financial budget does the same thing for me…if I set aside money for a date night or for a vacation, I don’t feel uncomfortable or worried about it like I would if it wasn’t planned and budgeted.

Of course, not every day goes according to schedule…things like grocery shopping, doctor/dentist appointments, and piano teaching (which is just one day a week) all throw us off to some degree. Despite that, having a plan in place and goals in mind has most definitely helped me to be more efficient, and it’s also helped me to make more room in my life for things that aren’t urgent but are important (like time with Mr. FG, time in prayer, and so on). I highly recommend giving it a try!)

(disclosure: After I bought Amy Andrews’ Tell Your Time ebook and found it to be helpful, I signed up to be an affiliate. If you buy the book though the link in this post or through the ad in my sidebar, Amy shares a percentage of the sale with me. As always, though, I only recommend products I personally find to be valuable, and I would only encourage you to buy the book if the $9 price fits into your budget. )

Today’s 365 post: This is the coveted Yesercise mug

Joshua’s 365 post: This might be true!

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Tuesday 15th of March 2016

Thank you so much.I am really encouraged with this post.


Wednesday 8th of October 2014

Hey I am new to your blog! I am thinking and praying on homeschooling our kids. I just feel a tug in my heart that it's best for them. I honestly feel very overwhelmed even starting the process though and if I would be good enough. I love how your family reads the Bible and prays together every day and reads the bible in the morning. I would love to start better habits like that in my young children. My husband and I are both in college again so I notice myself getting stressed out and ending up surfing the internet. Your webpage is a blessing because I am reading all about managing time and now listening to the series online at the Anyways just wanted to say thanks for sharing all your tips! I also love that you wrote about listening to a composer at dinner whatever you are learning about at the time. That is so neat. Did you find it hard at first to homeschool? - Kelly


Wednesday 8th of October 2014

Well, to be honest, there are days when I find it hard to homeschool every year! It's a tough job and it's a lot of work. I do think it's worth it, of course, or I wouldn't be doing it, but yes...there are tough days for sure. :)


Saturday 8th of February 2014

I know this is an older post, but maybe the conversation is still active...

I like doing values-based time management for myself. I also teach it to my students (I teach college freshmen) and to the confirmation class at church. Here are the basics: you figure out the three or four virtues/qualities that are most valuable to you. Certainly, lots of things are valuable, but what are the three or four things that are MOST valuable?

Like, for me, responsibility, teaching, learning, and creating are four things that make me who I am. Music and athletics are not that important to me. Now, music is a wonderful thing! Athletics are a wonderful thing! They might be important to other folks, but they just aren't part of *me*.

So then, I write down all my activities, and I figure out if I was "doing" one of my virtues... grocery shopping is not very exciting, but I feel *responsible* and competent as I gather up what my family needs. Teaching confirmation class is a *teaching* bit, and I also *learn* a lot about myself and my faith. I love to cook and to knit, and I'm happy to *create* things.

Those are just examples. But I look through my calendar and I ask myself: am I spending my time being who I think I am? Am I living in what I hold valuable? If I am, well done. If not.... then how can I?


Monday 28th of March 2011

I like it, and it does make sense that if listing your spending works for money then listing your time should work with time too. More than enough times have I found myself still on the computer 20-30 minutes after I "wanted" to stop, by that time the next thing on your list is behind and the rest of the day follows. Before you know it, whole weeks/months have gone by without certain tasks being touched. So as much as I like and use GTD, it is also time that needs management too.

One question. I know you home educate and so you are not stuck with school times which allows possible freedom on a lot of things. What is it like, social wise, going to bed mid evening instead of the more "traditional" 10, 11 at night? For us, we might be eating at 8.30, or doing things with friends, or about to watch a movie etc... or on the odd occassion be asked out with friends or asked to baby sit. ie, our friend's free time is the evening and so simple things like phone calls etc.. would not be possible if we went to bed early or got up early.

That is in no way any critisism or anything at all like that but instead interest. For me, I work better in the early morning before people/world has woken, but it would be hard for me to wake at 4 and go to bed early as everyone around me would be on different time. Mind you, I did do that during my time at university and it was a great feeling to have done most of a day's work when everyone else was just waking up. But uni days were more flexible than "normal" life.

Amy Lynn Andrews

Thursday 24th of March 2011


Thank you so much for the shout-out. I'm always so encouraged to know my little time management system has inspired someone else. And wow, you are rockin' it!! Way to go!

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