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I cannot count the number of times I have designed a beautiful schedule for my family and then not even gotten through a day of it! The fact is, the tyranny of the urgent oppresses us all, if we let it. As we already talked about, a schedule helps to combat that overbearing ruler, stress.
We also discussed ways to tweak and adjust your schedule if it isn’t working.
But what if your schedule is beautifully designed and it STILL isn’t working?
What other barriers keep us from managing our time, and what can we do to overcome them?
Waking Up Early
Every time I design my schedule with my optimum times of productivity in mind, I am astounded at the time I should be waking up! I know I do my best work early in the morning. That means I need to put my top priorities in place then. I also know my children do best when they start their day with the top priority (school) so they need to have that at an early point in their day. If my kids naturally wake around 7:00am, then I need to start school no later than 8:30. Before that, we need breakfast and morning chores. If I want to have my quiet time before the house is noisy, I have to plan it before that as well. If I want to write a blog post before they get up, I need to start even earlier!
When I first began scheduling, 6:30 was my ideal wake-up time. 8:00am was my natural wake up time. That difference seemed insurmountable. I struggled to make it happen. Now I am able to wake at 5:30 if I make sure a few things are done
Go to bed on time!
The beauty of scheduling is that you plan your days according to your natural rhythms. Night Owls can get their chores done at night. Personally, I turn in to a pumpkin at 9:00pm no matter how late I slept in! That’s my productivity cut-off time. If I have stuck to my plan, all my tasks should have been completed by that time and I can enjoy a time of rest with my husband, some tv, or a good book. Then we can go to bed at a reasonable time.
Turn off the TV!
We’ve noticed, however, that when we watch television, it is not as restful as other activities and we are much more likely to stay up later. Watching television feels like rest because your brain is not doing any work, but getting engaged in a story, especially a dramatic or emotional one, activates the brain. Often, we need a few moments to decompress after watching some of our favorite shows. Have you ever experienced that?
Research shows us that watching television, or scrolling through Facebook, or any sort of screen activity actually messes with the chemistry of our brain. When our eyes detect light, the brain reacts as if it is daytime. Looking at a bright screen actually prevents your brain from releasing the melatonin it needs for a restful sleep. How to overcome it? If you are going to watch television in the evening, be sure to turn it off well before your bedtime.
A lot of exercise advocates recommend planning your workout for the first thing in the morning. “Get it done before your body knows what’s happening!” I’ve heard said. That’s a good reason, but we also know that exercise wakes the whole body up! Getting your blood pumping first thing in the morning can be a great way to increase your productivity (and metabolism) for the rest of the day. And for moms of little ones, working out before they wake up may be your only option for getting your physical activity without tiny tots playing London Bridge with your downward dog!
Wake up with something you look forward to!
This could be your exercise or your daily devotions with God. For me, the key to waking up early was to plan something I wanted to do for ME. I knew I wouldn’t be as happy if I missed my morning quiet time or my exercise (ok, currently I am not exercising, but when I was, it was something I looked forward to.) Right now, I know that the best time for me to write is early in the morning. Some days, I practically jump out of bed because I am so anxious to get to do my thing.
One more thing can help you wake up and start your day as you desire: accountability. If you know someone else is expecting you to be somewhere, you have almost no trouble at all waking up. That is the reason my sleep-in husband is able to wake up well before dawn on days he is scheduled to work early. There may be a consequence if he is late. Just knowing that is enough to kick in some adrenaline and get him moving!
But for stay-at-home moms, that can be almost impossible to capture. As I mentioned earlier, fear of missing out on my favorite activity is what gets my adrenaline rush going.
You may need someone to keep you accountable. If your husband has to get up early, ask him to remind you and encourage you to wake up early to. Or maybe you have a friend that could check in with you. A quick call or text from a friend may be just what you need to make sure you get up and get started.
Maybe I could be your accountability friend! Have you tried Periscope yet? It’s an app that allows users to broadcast live-streaming videos to their followers. I have considered starting a 6:00am wake up call and Bible reading. If you would be interested, please comment below. And be sure to follow me @MarthaMarthaBlg (notice that says blg not Blog. Blog was too long. I am working with Periscope to get it changed to @StinaMaloney but I’m not sure if that will work.)
There’s one more thing that can help you wake up that you may not have considered.
Take a Nap!
Yes, I’m serious. It’s ridiculous and genius at the same time, right? As a mom of four kids of varying ages and stages of development, I have found that no matter what age they are, they benefit from a quiet rest in the early afternoon. My youngest needs an afternoon nap and the others are able to remain in their beds and have a quiet rest/reading time. I make no requirements other than they stay in their beds and stay quiet. Sleep is completely optional. Sometimes they fall asleep, sometimes they don’t.
When I started this, I had to keep them in separate rooms and keep the preschooler with me to make sure she followed the rules. Having no nap requirement means they are more likely to comply though. No one seems to mind a bit of peaceful reading.
When you find yourself too tired to wake up in the morning, just knowing that this moment of rest is coming can be enough to get me going. I can overcome the tiredness for a few hours until my next rest.
And after a rest, I am much more productive again.
It’s natural to think, “I have too much to do to rest!” I have found the opposite to be true. I have so much to do, therefore I need to make sure I am at my optimum energy level while I am working so I can be most effective! Days when I have taken 45 minutes to rest are often more productive than days I don’t.
For extensive help with scheduling and loads of ideas on overcoming specific obstacles, I recommend Teri Maxwell’s book Managers of Their Homes. It’s an easy read with tons of practical advise specifically geared toward homeschooling moms, but beneficial to all stay-at-home moms.
Next, I’ll be wrapping up the scheduling series with a post I am most excited about: Scheduling and Jesus; Beyond Quiet Times
I hope you’ll come back for that final talk.
And please do tell me what your thoughts are about the Periscope wake up and Bible reading!