Episode 18: How To Stay On Task and Stop Wasting Time!
By: Jamie Gaddy and Homeschool.com
Not enough time to fit it all in? Does chaos rule your life? Are you easily distracted? All of these scenarios are typical at my house.
Five kids at home can make for a pretty chaotic day! Even when I plan my week – have a nice homeschool schedule – a detailed work schedule – and attempt making meal plans… somehow – somewhere I seem to derail!
And being productive is almost negated by the stress of having so many things that require my attention. What is that old saying – “jack of all trades – but master of none” I think I could relate that
It’s typical about this time of year I begin to feel the pressure of my schedule – from our homeschool schedule – my college teaching schedule – my church ministry schedule and all the other things that I do on a regular basis – forget trying to keep the house clean or make regular home-cooked meals!
It all feels so big. Way bigger than me.
I’ve gotten myself in this situation before. Feeling frustrated and maybe even close to burnout. And then what I’ve shared with you in newsletters and blog articles haunt me as I realize I need a dose of my own advice… all those helpful things I’ve said about saying yes to too much – about trying to do it all yourself – and even feeling like you are never “off duty as a homeschool mom.”
And then I think about my daily routine. Am I wasting time? How could I do this better? What can I change or get rid of that isn’t helping? Am I multi-tasking so much that nothing is getting done well?
All these questions tend to swirl around in my brain as I’m trying to fall asleep at night. Sometimes I’ll wake up and add them to my reminder list so I’ll think about them later… but sometimes even that won’t get those concerns to let me sleep!
The struggle is real. And I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. Polls say that over 40% of moms feel distracted each day – 25% feel disorganized and then do we even need to go into the number of how many hours moms spend on social media or email? So, yes, I’m not alone… and I think that you’re wanting to find some practical ways to lessen distractions and help yourself at least feel more organized.
So let’s dig deep – let’s get completely real with ourselves. Take a hard look at what we are really doing with our time.
Step 1 – Take a week to track what you ACTUALLY do each day. Yeah, I’ve got a schedule and a “loose” routine but I know I’m getting derailed and distracted. What is it that is distracting me. Keep a journal and document those distractions and at what time each day they occur.
Step 2 Analyze what you found. Look for patterns. This happens and then I do this. Be honest with yourself. Are you spending way too much time on social media? Do you click into your inbox only to wake to reality an hour later? Are you texting friends and not being present in the moment with your children? I know – it’s painful when we see ourselves in the harsh light of reality.
Step 3 Brainstorm ways to change those undesirable habits.
Just taking the time to diagnose and work through some of the undesirable habits that suck our time and distract us is a huge start to making a difference in your every day. Here are some ways to replace the undesirables with positive habits. It’s so important to make good habits stick. Take baby steps and introduce a good habit in short increments and then reward yourself. Instead of social media first thing when you wake up try 15 minutes of stretching or exercise and then reward yourself with an amazing cup of coffee. Do the same thing every morning.
Just a few things that others do that helps to increase productivity throughout the day.
- Eat a good breakfast
- Don’t get on social media or check your email first thing. When you do check them set limits. For example – say to yourself I will check my email for 15 minutes and then get a snack.
- Prioritize. Think about your day the night before. Make a list of top priorities and things that need done. Make a plan if that’s what works for you. Help your kids prioritize by laying out their needs the night before or by making them a list for the next day. Make it clear for each of you.
- Reduce distractions. If you and the kids are working silently – use earphones with soft wordless music or earphones with nothing playing. The average person once distracted takes about 20 minutes to get back on task.
- Take a lunch break. You and I need lunch, our brains need lunch! Seriously – Our brains consume 20% of the calories we eat. Some moms have found that eating lunch alone without kids around or texting friends during lunch helps them refresh and refocus. If you find that the kids enjoy watching their favorite educational video while they are eating lunch (a great one is the Drive Thru History Series!!) that’s a perfect time for you to grab a few minutes of alone time. And DON’T SKIP lunch! IDK about you – but sometimes we would be so busy doing math or some other subject that we would forget completely about eating. Not good. You may get an extra subject or two complete but you and the kids will be hangry and far less productive.
- Work in increments. Try methods like the Pomodoro Technique for homeschool. This uses a series of 3 – 25-minute work cycles with a 5-minute break between. Then after completing 3 rounds of 25 minutes on with 5 minutes off take a longer 15-minute break. I’ve used this with the kids while we homeschool and it seems to work really well for them! But if you’re working – Stats show that 90 min intervals is ideal for adults. Our minds only really work well for 90-120 minutes before they are tapped out!
- Have an end time – a time when homeschool is over for the day or when you finish working or the day. Have a quitting time.
- 3 pm slump. Almost everyone hits this. You may not be exactly a 3 pm er – – yours may hit at 4. My new goal is to try to get homeschool wrapped up before 3 pm. I know my kids hit a slump at this time of day and to avoid that we get going in time to finish before the slump gets us. With my work, it isn’t always possible, but I’m trying to stop for a snack around this time to give me a little boost to finish out the workday strong!
- Did you know that on average humans procrastinate about 2 hours? Wow. If we’re being completely honest – we all have that thing we do that allows us to check out. Whether it’s online shopping – twitter feed scrolling – whatever. We each have one BUTwhat could we do with that extra two hours if we reclaimed it?
- Use things that help you focus. Mine is music. If I play soothing word-less music I am clearly much more focused and productive when I’m working on a task. It definitely puts me in the zone – find your zone!
I know I’ve barely scratched the surface of ways that we can manage our time, rework our schedules and feel more productive in both our homeschool and work efforts! If you’ve got any additional ideas, share them with me! Or if you just want to chat or get some help with reworking your schedule… email me at [email protected] I’ll be glad to chat!
Have a great weekend –
Yours With grace and joy
Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Franklin Covey
Hubspot’s How to Be More Productive Ebook
About the Series
Where'd my instruction manual go??? I know we've all wondered that about parenting and homeschooling! Join us as we chat about the big stuff and everything in-between! Helping homeschoolers with practical teaching tips to find all they need to Homeschool and Love it!!