As the school year is starting out, we all have new schedules to deal with and maybe you’re still filling yours in. A schedule can be your greatest friend if it is your servant or your most feared enemy if you become a slave to it. It is sometimes challenging to hit that place of balance as far as time management is concerned.
I have put together a few tips that you might find useful in setting up your homeschool schedule:
The first step in making any schedule work is to determine and clarify what your goals, priorities and vision for this year and beyond will be, because that will decide what needs to be cut and what remains on your calendar. It will also help you say no to so many random opportunities that will be coming your way.
Once this is determined, it becomes clearer which classes/activities are truly unchangeable in your schedule and then you can add other activities around the unchangeables.
When planning, remember to leave ample driving time between activities and make sure not to over schedule your kids and yourself.
Make sure to leave time for your own rejuvenation and hobbies, in other words, deliberately schedule down time.
Some time saving tips:
Set up your monthly bills online instead of having to write a lot of checks and mailing them. Many payments can be automatic, but even if they’re not, you can still pay it manually online within seconds. If you feel that it’s too hard to set them all up online, consider just setting up one at a time as they become due the next time.
Set up a simple filing system so that mail can be quickly sorted and you don’t have to spend hours looking for paperwork of some kind when needed. I even have a virtual filing system for my email inbox where I have subfolders for particular topics that might generate a lot of emails and then I can file the emails into that subfolder and simplify finding it later.
While you’re working online, keep all the tabs you are still working on in your web browser or those sites that you visit frequently open, so you don’t have to waste the time to constantly log in and out of e.g. email accounts or yahoogroups.
When you know you are going to be in the car frequently, consider getting Diane Flynn Keith’s book on Carschooling for some tips on things you can do on the go or just read up on it online. Also, leave some games/activities in the car that you can use when you’re stuck at a doctor’s office on in the parking lot waiting for a class to finish.
If you want to keep track of your children’s homeschool work, you might consider downloading the free homeschool tracker at www.homeschooltracker.com and if it is really helpful to you, you could buy the upgraded version with more features.
I find electronic calendars the most useful tool I have ever encountered to add all our activities and those of my kids. Color coding activities can make it easy to see who is going where and prevent double-booking. It is a life-saver for me to set the automatic reminders a few minutes before the event, so I don’t forget about appointments and activities.
Multi-tasking is any homeschooler’s best friend, so use it whenever possible. More on multi-tasking in the next article.