Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Different Way to Think About It

My husband's nature is to keep track of every little penny that comes in or goes out, therefore ever since we've been married we've used different computer programs to aid in our tracking.  We've also tried a budget numerous times over our seventeen year marriage but it never seemed to work quite right until we found, and began using, the program YNAB.  The budget is the main part of the program.  Using this program means you have to do a budget because keeping track of the checkbook and the petty cash are supplementary to keeping you on your budget.  It took us a few months to get used to it and to trust our budget.  To realize that what was listed as money available was there EVEN IF it wasn't in our wallet.  It really has been freeing.

I began to think about their first principal, "Give Every Dollar A Job" in relation to time in my life.  Why couldn't that same principal work for budgeting what needs to be done and what I want to get done?  Especially in regards to home educating my children.

So I got back out my school schedule template to revise it.  What subjects needed to be studied every day and how much practice time was needed for instruments?  I began to assign a job for each hour during the day for each child on their own sheet.  This took a little time and a lot of thought.  Because I had to make sure that I didn't schedule two kids to be practicing the piano at the same time or me to be teaching two kids at the same time different subjects.

I made mistakes, but they were easily correctable because I had decided that I would print a schedule off each week for each child.  That enables me to see what is coming in the new week that might change things, or allows me to correct something I forgot or didn't schedule right at the beginning.  So the five sheets hang on a door and as the week moves along, I write on a post-it note reminders to myself about what to add or change next week.

The kids have enjoyed being able to mark off what they have accomplished and I've heard less complaining (notice I didn't say "no") from them over getting work (school and house) done.  I have enjoyed looking at the day and asking what do I need to get done now, and then looking back over the week and seeing what has gotten done.  I also like that I can direct the kids to their sheets to see what they should be doing and if it is done, they have free time; they like that too, although I don't know if they would admit that.

My budget of time isn't perfect, but it is a good start.  It has been freeing to use it again.  It has allowed me to enjoy free time because I don't have the nagging feeling of undone tasks burdening me.  I haven't been able to sit and do scrapbooking during my free time yet, but I do hope that as I continue this budgeting of time, that will be easier too.  Now that I know how the week will go with school and housework for the most part, I think I'll be able to budget time in for scrapbooking.

One thing this budgeting of time has done for me is given me more time, which sounds ridiculous, but it has.  Now I know what I need to accomplish each day, so I don't sit and get lost in cyberspace, or in a book, or in a movie.  And when I do, it is because I have to time to do it and I'm not regretting all that didn't get done that day.  The other advantage of budgeting my time is that when life throws a curve ball, I know where to get back on track.  I can see if what school we missed is something that really should be done today during the free time, or if it can wait till tomorrow's scheduled time.

Our family is a list-making, schedule-type family to begin with, but I think that whatever your normal style, budgeting your time can help.  But keep it simple, knowing what you can handle.  My schedule is for my family, and your family is different, but we all have to eat and wear clothes and do our other duties.  So is there a way for you to budget your time better?  I challenge you to think about it and see if there is.  I know I've benefitted from budgeting my time better.


Laura said...

We are wired this way as well and I found it very freeing, too. I need to know where I am going and see what I accomplished...and I still do this....lists and goals and my mind works like this at work, too. Just wanted to share another commonality. (Is that a word?)

Susan said...

I have tried this in the past, and I've had two problems. I'm wondering if you've faced either of them, and how you've handled it if you did.

First, I could NOT make time for everything on the schedule. The schoolwork, the cooking, the errands, devotion time, chore time, etc, simply could not be fit into the number of hours in the day. So my schedule didn't even work in theory.

Second, what happens when you are interrupted by something that is clearly a priority over the things on the schedule? (And I don't mean just once in a while, but daily.)

Martha said...

An interesting and thought provoking post.

I write school plans down, but am not good about sharing it with the children. If I shared better it might make things go more smoothly.

Glenda said...


You're right you can't make time for everything on the schedule. I don't. Right now our priority is school and that takes up the biggest part of our day. Chores are minimal (basically daily dishes, bed-making) with more done on our day off. Still this isn't good cleaning, it is a weekly vacuum, dust, and pick-up, but for now, I can handle that. Laundry I try to get ahead on our day off and then do a load here and there during the week in the evenings.

For cooking I plan my meals on Sunday night. That has helped tremendously for me to know what to thaw and what I'm cooking. I also plan to fix something in the crockpot on the days I'm gone. I also have taken to fixing a huge pot of some soup and then we eat that with a sandwich for lunch or leftovers. I don't remember if you have a dishwasher (I don't remember seeing one) but I do and I use it a lot. I'm not afraid to run it several times a day nor am I afraid to leave dishes sit until I can get to them while fixing supper or even after. I know you once said that you can't plan meals because you don't know what will be on sale at the grocery, could you then sit and write something down after you went to the store?

I still haven't figured in devotions - I'm either really good at about doing them, or really bad, there never seems to be a middle ground.

My errands are done either on the days when they have piano, on our day off, or sometimes David will get something for us while he is out and about. I'm a lot more willing to say no and reschedule when I have a schedule of what I want to accomplish each day.

For your second point, I've thought about that a lot since yesterday. I really don't know Susan. Nothing has been too big that we couldn't get back on schedule somewhere and catch up in some way since we started this whole schedule thing again. And I've been searching my brain for what I did the last time we stuck with a schedule and I'm not remembering. I really can't think of something that would interrupt us daily. Would you be willing to give me examples (even privately) and I would think about how I would handle that and then answer you?

Overall Susan, my schedule doesn't fit everything into my day, but it has organized my day in such a way that I am accomplishing things and I feel less overwhelmed. I am doing the jobs assigned to the times I budgeted and that is quite freeing, and our days and weeks run a bit more smoothly.

Does this help?

Glenda said...


My kids like to know what is coming up and what is expected of them. They also like to mark things off and gain free time. What I mean by that is that if they see I've scheduled copy-work or some such thing for them, once they get that done, they are free until the next thing. Some do all those and have lots of free time, while others take the free time in little chunks. My bigger kids have fuller days, and therefore I don't schedule their "fun time" aka computer time until evening once everything is done. And not that they don't have free time during the day, it just can't be used on the computer.

One problem with so many is that I'm the one sitting at the table the entire morning while the children are the ones coming and going for my individual teaching. So the one who has the least free time is me.

Glenda said...

I don't know Laura if commonality is a word, but I like it. :-)

Susan said...

Yes, what you wrote helps. As to my first question, you're basically saying that you set up your schedule with the acknowledgment that you can't fit everything in, so you make the decisions about what will go by the wayside, and schedule the rest accordingly. I think what I do is to make the decisions day-at-a-time (or week-at-a-time) as to what becomes a priority, so that it stays in a state of flux. This has the benefit of allowing everything to get some attention, but the downside that nothing gets a bunch of attention.

You asked about examples of interruptions. Family funerals. Kids' (or my) illness. Computer virus so bad that everything has to be wiped and reinstalled. Putting in the garden when the weather allows. Dad dying. An intense stint of speech therapy. Car shopping. Sometimes I can get our version of schedule/routine going for up to 8-10 weeks, but never have I managed longer without some sort of wallop to the routine. (I almost wonder sometimes if an organized schedule is a marvelous tool for some people, but would be an idol for me, and so God will not allow me to have it in the way I desire.)