In any discussion about creating a schedule, there are always reminders to re-evaluate the schedule regularly just to make sure it’s still working and relevant. But, sometimes we revisit the schedule only to find that, no matter what we do, it just doesn’t work. That’s when we need to change our focus and instead look at evaluating interruptions to the schedule.
In other words, are we handing control of our schedule over to random interruptions, or are we keeping our boundaries firm so that we are the ones in control?
When creating a schedule or a plan in the first place, we have to learn how to plan for interruptions by setting boundaries and restricting the presence of things that we know will cause unnecessary interruptions if we let them.
But, there are always things we can’t anticipate, and even the best laid plans and the best formed boundaries have some gaps.
This is when evaluating interruptions is the key. So what does that mean? Let’s take a look.
Evaluating Interruptions by Writing it All Down
The first step in evaluating interruptions is to see what the interruptions actually are.
If you’re getting to the end of the day and realizing that you couldn’t stick to your schedule or get even half of the to-do list accomplished, but you have no idea what actually happened to your day, chances are you don’t have a good grasp on what’s interrupting you.
Acknowledging the “what” of your interruptions can often make it very clear where the changes need to be made! It can also help you see if you’re just in a stage where there aren’t any changes possible.
Sometimes it’s just that you need to be aware of the fact that you had unavoidable interruptions so that you can give yourself grace. This is so important! Go ahead and recognize that it was one of those days (or weeks), and move forward from there.
Other times you’ll find that you’ve allowed interruptions instead of maintaining your boundaries. Again, don’t beat yourself up. Instead, give yourself grace to reassert your boundaries and start fresh tomorrow. The key to this activity is not to give yourself a guilt trip. It’s to give you awareness.
Evaluating Interruptions by Adjusting Your Rhythm
Sometimes when you write down your interruptions, you clearly see where your time is going, what you need to tighten up, and whether or not you need to make some schedule adjustments to get it all straightened out.
Other times, though, evaluating interruptions shows you that you can’t really change those activities right now. The interruptions are your life.
For instance, maybe you’re in a season where feeding an infant and changing countless diapers every day is taking up far more time than you expected. Or potty training. Or dealing with the time it takes to make it to speech therapy multiple times a week. Or dealing with needing to keep the grocery costs down, leading to meals needing to be extra creative and more cost-effective — which means more time-consuming.
The list goes on!
If you’ve written the list down and you see that there are changes you can make, then make them. If not, consider evaluating whether these are truly interruptions or if they should be activities that need to actually be worked into your rhythm. Be realistic about your season of life, give yourself grace, and let your family’s uniqueness be okay.
Evaluating Interruptions by Rethinking the List
When evaluating interruptions, it’s also important to not get so caught up in what didn’t get done that you miss acknowledging what did get done!
It’s true that sometimes interruptions set us behind on things that have to get caught up. We have to get back on track with homeschool progress. We have to sort through that pile of clothes so we’ll know what the kids have and haven’t outgrown. The refrigerator is still overflowing with old leftovers that must be cleaned out. And so on and so forth.
Other times, though, the interruptions are actually part of an unexpected productivity. A spontaneous field trip covered what you were planning to read about in science. Don’t hesitate to mark that assignment done and move on!
A neighbor dropped by for a quick visit about the time you were heading out to the grocery store to get what you needed for the menu plan. She dropped by, though, because she’s going out of town and wanted to know if you could use the perishables that would go to waste while she was gone. A quick change to the menu plan means the grocery “shopping” is done!
Be creative when evaluating interruptions, and make sure that everything on the list still has to be done.
Ultimately, the goal when evaluating interruptions is to see what’s actually causing the interruptions, determine what needs to be done with them, and move forward. Be gracious with yourself and be intentional about retaking control!