I know we've all got a lot on our plate right now. - I mean I know we had a lot on our plate before, but many of us just quadrupled the number of hats we wear AND are having to wear more than one at a time.
From now on when someone asks me what I do, I can literally say I do it ALL. I'm a business owner, content creator, teacher (both to my decorating course students and my own children), cook, playmate, referee, nurse, household manager, and…. you get the point.
I'll admit when I first got the call that my kids would be out of school 2 weeks before spring break, I was like… no biggie. - Then the first day of "home school" started and I about lost my sh**.
I'm just gonna say it… I don't like homeschooling, and I'm not very good at it.
Hopefully if you're feeling that way too, this makes you feel better since I am an actual credentialed teacher.
But you know what I am really good at?
Time management. - Like, really good in fact.
I built this business while my kids were small and it was only this school year that both of my kids had full day school, so after that first Monday of home school being awful and feeling frustrated, I sat down and got organized to ensure that...
- I get my work done
- my kids get their school work done
- we all get exercise
- and have time to play
Our Home School Schedule
The schedule I came up with worked like a charm.
My kids got their assignments done, I had uninterrupted time to work, I had dedicated time to help them with assignments they needed me for, and we had lots of time to play and exercise.
A few things to note…
- Even when my kids were small at at home I kept to a strict work schedule to ensure that I was fully present in my time with them. I worked while they napped, after they went to bed at night, or when I could arrange with my mom or my husband to be with them, usually one morning per week. - Not allowing work to bleed into play or family time is a must if you want to feel fulfilled in both parts of your life.
- In case you're wondering where my husband in this scenario, he's a first responder and still going to work. On his days off he's finishing up his college degree and will be graduating in just a few weeks, so the finish line is in sight! - He's also our designated grocery shopper.
Okay so let's get to it…
How To Block Schedule Your Time And Keep Your Sanity
Grab a few sheets of paper and click below to download your free block schedule sheet.
Step 1: List out task categories
The first step to any good plan is to figure out what needs to get done, so we're going to start there.
In my case I made a list of things I need to get done in a week and another list of the things my kids need to do. - My kids are 7 and 10 so their schedule is similar. If you have different age kids, you may need to create more lists.
Here's my example:
- Me: get ready, work, help kids with school, meal prep, chores, exercise.
- Kids: exercise, independent school work, teacher assigned work online, sports practice, chores, play, creative time.
Tip: Don’t get too specific here. What happens in those blocks of time will change a little from one day to the next because right now we need to be flexible and do what we can.
Step 2: Create time blocks
Next to each category you'll want to consider how much time getting the tasks in that category will take.
For example: get ready -20 min, work (uninterrupted 3 hrs., + 2 hrs.), help kids with school - 1 ½ hrs., meal prep 1 hr. for dinner, chores - 30 min., exercise - 45 min.
Step 3: Think about your ideal weekday
This is important. You're going to be attempting to do your normal amount of work in less time so you need to think about when you do your best work.
- Are you a morning person? Then try to get your 2-3 hours of uninterrupted time in the morning.
- Do you have meetings you have to attend at specific hours of the day? You'll want to make sure your kids are doing something that they can do on their own (and hopefully quietly) during that time.
- Do your kids wake up with tons of energy? Then you'll want to plan an energy busting activity first thing.
Point is, think about how you want your day to flow and plan accordingly.
Step 4: Block schedule your days and plan tasks within your blocks
Each category that you created is essentially a block.
It's best not to get too hung up on exact times, cause that will only set you up for failure. However you'll want to puzzle piece your blocks together taking into consideration how long each block will take and your ideal workday. - Don't be afraid to change things around if needed. This has to be a decently fluid plan or you'll drive yourself bonkers.
In each block you'll want to think about the specific tasks that need to be completed.
Here's ours as an example:
Some key things to point out about our daily schedule
- If I'm going to expect my kids to do their independent work calmly and quietly so I can go in my office and get my work time in, I need to provide them with a way to get their energy out first. This is why I put exercise in before we all do our independent work time. For us this is usually a 30-45 min. walk or scooter ride around the neighborhood and it works like a charm.
- I made a simple chart in Word for each of my kids with specific tasks they need to complete during their independent work time, chore time, and online assignment time. - I even included "ask mom if she needs any help" in their chore section and it's been amazing!
- I also provide them with a timer so they can keep track of their time for each of the independent learning activities and move on to the next one easily. **Remember, kids love to hear how responsible they are, so definitely thank them for being responsible and taking ownership of their learning.
- When they're done with their independent learning time they get to play until lunch. They love this because it's an immediate reward for them being responsible and allows me to keep working without interruption putting me at about 3 hours each day of uninterrupted time.
How to get the most out of your work time
It's really important that you be strategic here. You know which tasks or projects take your full concentration and which ones can be done with interruptions.
Use the first part of your uninterrupted work time to work on the things that need your full attention. Focusing on these bigger tasks will set you up to not feel like you're always behind.
For me I set a weekly goal for a bigger project or goal I'm working on and keep it as a priority and don't let myself get distracted. - Closing all other tabs, setting a timer for an hour, and putting on instrumental music all help me stay super focused.
I also keep a running list of my next 6 things and list them in priority. I don't make a new list until those 6 things are done.
What if I have young kids that don't or can't work independently?
This situation is definitely more challenging, but I know you can do it.
Two of my best friends have babies and toddlers at home and both work full time (now from home) so I touched base with them to see what's working and what isn't.
Here are the best tips based on what's working for them now and what worked for me when I had my kids home with me while building this business…
- Try to get 2 hours of work in before they wake up or after they go to bed (depending on if you're a morning or a night person.)
- Tag team with your spouse. One of my friends has a schedule of 2 hours on and 2 hours off with his wife. Meaning he gets 2 hours of uninterrupted time, then she gets her 2 hours. They repeat this 2-3 times per day. - They also note that being super focused and knowing exactly what you're going to work on during your 2 hour block is essential. There's no time to waste poking around a to-do list or the internet.
- If at all possible, you may want to have 1 day each week where you get the entire morning to work while your spouse takes over all kid duties. Then you give them the entire afternoon. Then set aside these days to do those big project tasks all in with no distractions.
One final game changing tip that skyrocketed my success
Schedule one time block each week for catch up.
I know time is tight, but you are less likely to succeed if you feel like you're always behind.
So at the end of each work week, schedule in one time block of an hour or two to play catch up. Moving things OFF your to do list will allow you to start the next work week with less stress and allow you to focus instead of feeling scattered. - An immediate side effect will be less stress, less anxiety, not snapping at your kids or spouse, and feeling a bit more at ease during your off time.
If you don't need all of your catch up time, use it to work ahead in case everything doesn't go according to plan the next week or take an hour to go on a walk, listen to a podcast, or read a book. - You deserve it!
Remember, you got this! And I'm rooting for you!