My Schedule Isn’t Working Any More!
Whether it is in homeschooling or in general life, we all know that new schedules need some tweaking. We start a new school year and hold loosely to the plan, determined to find the adjustments and rhythm that fit us best. This is to be expected, and it does not mean the schedule doesn’t work. It simply means it needs to be polished, perfected, and conformed to fit the needs of our families.
But, even the most smoothly running plan hits a snag now and then and requires change. The question we have to ask ourselves is do we need to start from scratch, or do we just need to make adjustments?
Points to Ponder
Before you choose to dive in and completely reprocess through the steps of establishing a Well Planned Day, consider these evaluation points.
Crossword puzzles come to mind when I think of schedule adjustments. Missing just one word can throw off a whole series of answers. Even a single letter can have a ripple effect!
The same is true of our schedules. Sometimes it is the littlest thing in our routine that throws a kink in the whole system. Before you throw out the whole system, take the time to look for a little piece of the day that just doesn’t fit. Has something changed since you put the schedule in place? That’s a good place to start.
Switch It Up
Because rhythm is even more important than schedule, sometimes the problem is not what you’re doing but when. There might be an issue with flowing from this activity to that or trying to accomplish a particular task in the morning when your brain is more suited to it in the afternoon.
Instead of assuming that the whole schedule is not working, take a moment to pinpoint your biggest point of struggle in the day. See if you can switch that task with something else, moving it to a time more conducive to smooth flow.
Smooth It Out
While you’re contemplating smoothness, take a moment to consider the rest of your schedule as well. Does your overall day flow smoothly and naturally, or do you find yourself jumping from one thing to the next in a disjointed fashion? Often when we create a schedule, we are more concerned with how the time puzzle flows together than with how the tasks themselves flow. So, we find ourselves needing to make huge mental shifts which consume more time, energy, and adjustment than we should have to give.
If you or your children are doing a lot of mental, physical, and even emotional jumping throughout the day, revisit your activities and see which ones work better together. Try to find ways to flow naturally from one task to the next. If at all possible, limit major jumps to times when you have natural, physically engaging breaks, such as a mealtime or PE.
Stop and Stretch
Speaking of breaks, do you schedule them into the flow of your day? I know it feels like you have to keep moving or you will never get it all done, but the opposite is actually true. We are much more productive if we schedule focused time blocks, followed by mandatory breaks.
Consider setting a timer for 25 minutes. Focus on one task at a time for the entire 25 minutes. If you finish a task, you may move into a new task that flows smoothly with the first one. At the end of the 25 minute block, spend no more than a minute finding a stopping point in what you are doing, then take a five minute break. Completely disconnect from work and make sure you physically move. Walk up and down a flight of stairs. Go have a tickle moment with your toddler. Toss a ball for the dog. Check the mail. Set out ingredients for dinner preparation. Just do something. When the five minutes are up, go back to work for another 25-minute block. After three or four of these blocks, take a 15-minute break. Then restart the cycle.
Sometimes scheduling in these breaks is all a schedule needs to start working well again.
A Few More Thoughts
There are times when a schedule really does need a full overhaul. In those cases, the best option is to grab that pen and paper and go through the steps necessary to truly re-evaluate your family’s needs and commitments. Other times, though, an intentional small adjustment is all that is necessary and, in fact, may be more effective than an overhaul.
Whenever your schedule shows signs of not quite working, start small. Check the calendar to see if it’s a temporary “interruption” phase or a true adjustment need. Then, try small adjustments before tackling a major overhaul.
Also, don’t forget to talk it out with your family. You are in this together; choose to solve it together. In doing so, you may discover that have fresh insight. Meanwhile, the process will help you teach your children how to problem solve their own needs.