3 Baskets

What do you put on your calendar? Does your planner reflect your time well each day?

Generally speaking, we all have three baskets of stuff to do. These three baskets need to be balanced for our time to be used well. That can be tricky! But if you make sure all three are reflected in your daily or weekly plan, you are well on your way.

Scheduled Commitments
The dentist. The practices. The work. The school days. These are things that are commitments at certain times on specific days. You don’t just stop into the dentist’s office when you are driving by; it’s a date and time. If you can’t make it as planned, you re-schedule, but it remains a specific date and time.

  • School schedule
  • Work schedule
  • Sports schedule
  • Medical appointments

These are the things that should — and usually do — go on the calendar first. They are the non-negotiables. Not that you can’t reschedule, but for the moment they are fixed. You have to work around these entries.

Priorities
What are your priorities? We all have them. Some are assigned to us, and some we take on ourselves. Either way, if they are priorities, they will show up in our use of time. So as we manage our time, we block out space on our calendars to focus on what is most important.

  • Do you have regular time for devotions?
  • Do you have time marked to just enjoy your children or family?
  • Do you set aside 20 minutes to read on a regular basis?

Tasks
The long to-do list. So much to do, but have you scheduled time to do it all? If your day is full of commitments and focused priorities, without a minute to breathe, those tasks will not get done. Tasks are the little things: errands, dishes, laundry, bank, birthday cards, etc. They also reflect our priorities, but they are 5-to-15-minute items.

There is no need to schedule time for each task on our calendars, but it can be helpful to schedule an hour or two a day (whatever time fits each one’s needs) to knock out tasks.

  • Run errands (dry cleaning, bank, pharmacy)
  • Housework (hall closet, bathrooms, vacuum)
  • Bills and correspondence

That way, time is there to address them, and we can tackle the list effectively during that time without distraction.

Clean and Organized Cars Refresh

Recently, I transferred the contents of one vehicle entirely into another vehicle. Sounds like a big job, right? Well, because of the way it was packed in the first time, the whole process took 20 minutes. It would have been even faster if the spaces in the new had not had different shapes and sizes than the old. That took a little refiguring for a few minutes.

Other than the puzzling and cleaning out a little bit of trash, the transfer was smooth and easy. It reminded me of the two posts on this topic from last year, so here they are again. And, once again — this worked, and I’m thankful.

Our Mobile Command Centers

Clean Cars

Happy driving!

Brand New Planner — Now What?

You have a beautiful, clean, new day planner. You’re ready to get your time organized. What do you do now?

First, think through your areas of responsibility. What do you have going on? Where is most of your time spent? Where should parts of your time be spent? Grab a blank sheet of paper and write them down. For example, Work, School (Class 1, Class 2, Class 3), Family (Date Night, Game Night, Housecleaning, Dinner with parents), Church (Sunday School, Bible Study), Health (Workout, Nap, Devotions), etc. These are the big chunks that you need on the page and don’t want to miss. These include both scheduled commitments and priorities.

Second, start writing down your set commitments (i.e., work schedule, school schedule, regular meetings or events). Because these things are at certain times, you need them on the calendar first. You will be working around these times for everything else.

When you are done, double-check your list from the first step to make sure you covered every area. Pull out school calendars, team schedules, whatever you need to cover all the bases.

Third, fill in time for your priorities. If you have school work, you’ll need to schedule time to do assignments, not just attend class. Map out your week, doing the hard things earlier — both in the day and in the week — so you are fresh and have plenty of time if you need more than you thought. If you attend a book club, block out time before each meeting to have the book read in time.  If you have chores that need to be done regularly and take a good chunk of time (30+ minutes), put it on the calendar. Make sure you include enough time but not too much. Your estimates need to be reasonable. Again, double-check your list to make sure you have everything included.

This is a great time to see how much you have committed to and how much time you actually have available. You have laid out your time and what you need to do with it. Do you have any margin around all that? You need room to breathe. You need room to be. You will also need time to take care of the little tasks that accumulate. Take a look again and see if you need to make any changes.

Now you have the framework for a useful calendar. You have the time-sensitive events and your priorities assigned to different parts of the day and week and month.

At this point, the key is to review often and keep to your schedule. Adjust when needed, but don’t ignore it. You’ve made the plan, now work the plan.

Consider: “How Should I Exercise Hospitality?”

This book is a quick encouragement designed to grow the practice of hospitality in our lives. Below is an excerpt from How Should I Exercise Hospitality? by Rebecca VanDoodewaard.

It also brings the blessing of skill. Practicing hospitality is the best way to learn how to do it well. As you discover what works best for your family, how to change your routine to fit food prep, how to keep conversation going…you will get better and better at it. the apostle tells us to “practice hospitality” because that is what all of us need — practice. Nobody is born a perfect host of hostess. We all have to learn. Consistent obedience is the best way to become skilled in opening your home and ministering to others… Like any skill, good hosting can be acquired. These skills can be taught; they can be learned; they can be mastered. Let’s practice!

 

These books are only set here as possibilities for you to explore. Posts and links are not endorsements or paid publicity.

Setting Up Your Home Office

You know life would be easier with a great workspace, but how do you make that happen? Here are a few simple steps to walk through when setting up a space for a home office, whether it be a complete room or a dedicated area.

Home Office DeskWhat will you be doing? What’s the goal? If you need a big workspace on which to spread papers, that will make a difference. If you just need a little bit of room for your laptop and planner, you will have more space for storage. Do you need to sit comfortably or alternate sitting and standing? Determine ahead of time what your needs are, and then your setup will be able to meet those needs.

What do you need in it? It helps to gather everything you want included in your office space before you start arranging. Similar to knowing the goal, this will help you see what needs to fit, and it will also mark your progress as you work through the pile. As you gather, think through different categories — supplies, tools, electronics, furniture, etc. — and sets of items — charge cords for each electronic piece, file cabinet for files, etc. Don’t throw stuff in that isn’t necessary, but do try to cover all that you will use.

Home Office ShelvesHow (and how often) will you use it? Just like in kitchen setup, how often and where you use things matters for where you put it. If you use something a lot, keep it handy. If you just need to access the markers occasionally, out of sight or in a drawer in the cabinet will work just fine. If you use something every time you sit down, go ahead and make a place for it on your desk top.

Notes:

  • When you are putting stuff away, sit down often and test your reach. It may look convenient when you are standing there, but it may not be so helpful when you actually try for it.
  • Contain like things, i.e., one box for pencils, one box for notepaper, one drawer for tools and another drawer for files.
  • Consider whether access or aesthetic is more important to you. If you can’t stand the sight of many things, go ahead and cover up as much as possible and keep your surface clean. It will be worth the extra reach for you. If you can handle a limited amount of visual clutter, pin things up and use open bins that are easy to get into when needed.Home Office Cords
  • If you don’t use it, don’t include it.
  • Use charge cord clips to keep cords neatly within reach, and use twist ties or velcro strips to coil power cords on the floor. This keeps cords usable where you need them but out of range of your feet.