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Even though I’m a stay-at-home mom and online business owner, I try to keep my days pretty simple. We generally do the same things at the same times every day. I use my planner to keep track of what I need to do, and rarely do we find ourselves rushing around. Read on to learn how to simplify your schedule and how I do it!
Why Simplify Your Schedule?
Your schedule doesn’t need to be three pages long and color-coded to keep your sanity together. In fact, simplifying your schedule will help you do more in less time, lighten your mental burden, and have fewer things fall through the cracks. To simplify your schedule, you’ll rely on habits and routines to help you do more things on autopilot! Don’t get intimidated – building habits and routines that work is easier than you think.
Habits are just actions that you do with little effort, usually triggered by something happening. For example, it might be a habit to hang your purse on the hook when you walk through the door. Or maybe you always check that your alarm is set before going to bed. These are simple habits that you probably developed without thinking too much about it. Making habits out of other parts of your day will help your simplify your schedule and spend less mental energy!
Routines are several actions you do in the same order, often at the same time of day. Perhaps you have a morning routine, like making your bed, taking a shower, brushing your teeth, then checking Facebook. Routines are so important to simplifying your schedule, because they help you put series of actions on autopilot! You won’t have to think about doing them quite as much, saving you time and effort.
My Simple Days
I wrote in depth about my morning, afternoon, and bedtime routines, but I want to explain how they all work together. Splitting my day up into sections gives my day a nice flow and keeps me from feeling rushed. I know that my morning chores will get done in the morning, so I don’t have to worry about them at bedtime. Having a simple schedule also helps my four-year-old Emma understand what time of day it is and what will happen next.
I rely heavily on habits and routines to keep my day moving and make sure I don’t forget anything. I start my day off my doing my morning chores: making the bed, starting the laundry, and unloading the dishwasher. The best part is, I don’t have to put a lot of effort into this routine. Because, after doing it every day for a few years now, it’s become a habit! It works the same way when I walk out of Emma’s bedroom after putting her to bed. I clean up forgotten toys, tidy the living room, and start on the dishes without a second thought. It’s like muscle memory!
How to Simplify Your Own Schedule
This all sounds great, but how can you use habits and routines to simplify your schedule? It all starts with the bedtime routine. Getting set up the night before will not only save you time, but mental energy too.
My favorite way to prep for tomorrow is with launch pads! If you’ve ever heard of FlyLady, this idea has probably already rocked your world! A launch pad is just a place where you set up what you need for tomorrow the night before. It sounds simple, but having everything you need ready to go saves so much time, especially with kids!
Your main launch pad should be near the door. This is where backpacks, purses, shoes, folders, instruments, science projects, and all the other stuff will go at night, just as you’d like to find it in the morning when you’re rushing! You may also want to have some smaller launch pads for each person in the house. Have your kids choose a place to set out their clothes for the next day. If your husband loses his keys and wallet often, find him a basket or wall cubby that’s just for him!
You can even take this launch pad idea and run with it! Make a spot in your fridge where pre-made lunches and snacks go every day. Clear a shelf in your closet just for tomorrow’s outfit and shoes. Make one cabinet in your kitchen dedicated to the things you use every day for breakfast. The world is your launch pad! Launch pads simplify your schedule because they make it easier to find what you’re looking for and keep your important items organized and close by!
Simplify Your Stuff
The other half of making a launch pad that works is by getting the ‘other’ stuff out of the way. If it’s not raining today, put away the raincoats so they aren’t in the way. Get those unused hair care and body wash bottles off your shower shelf! Little things like these make you stressed and clutter up your brain. Make sure your launch pad is streamlined, with ONLY the things you’ll actually need tomorrow. Read more about why having less stuff will make your life easier.
Clean As You Go
Do you find yourself with a mountain of chores to do at the end of the day? Don’t leave all the dishes and cleaning for the evening. Get in the habit of cleaning as you go! Wash your dishes throughout the day, make your bed as soon as you wake up, and wipe down the bathroom counter when you’re done brushing your teeth. Cleaning as you go means you can go longer between heavy-duty cleaning sessions, and your house will look cleaner in between!
Spending a few minutes at a time cleaning up after yourself will not only give you more time in the evenings. It’ll also make your life more peaceful – no more clutter and mess distracting you! I love waking up to a clean house (the kitchen most importantly!). It sets my day off right knowing that I don’t have to dig through a pile of dishes to find a coffee cup!
Speaking of coffee, getting your morning routine just right can completely save your sanity. I believe that just about every mom is happier when she starts her morning out slowly. I know I’m in a much better mood when I can shower, read my Bible, drink a hot cup of coffee, and start on some chores before Emma even wakes up! Sure beats getting my eyes pried open by those sticky fingers. Prioritize your morning time to make sure you’re starting your day with right intentions.
After you’ve had some time to wake up, it’s time to start smashing that to-do list! Morning is the most productive time of day for most of us. The more you can get done in the morning, the less you’ll have piling up at dinner time! The trick to getting more done and simplifying your schedule in the mornings is to put like things together. For example, I make my bed right after I wake up because I’m already in the bedroom. Or I’ll unload the dishwasher while the coffee maker heats up since I’m waiting in the kitchen. Be as efficient with your time as you can. Here’s a hint: if you find yourself in a room for just one thing, think of what else you can get done before you leave!
Another great tip for simplifying your schedule is to see what you can remove! Is there something you’re doing that you can realistically get someone else to do? My four-year-old loads the fridge with water bottles and cleans up her own toys. My husband makes his own sandwiches for lunch. Also, consider paying for outside help! Whether it’s hiring a cleaning service or getting groceries delivered, a little extra expense can pay off in the time and peace you gain.
Look at what is on your schedule that doesn’t have a reason to be there. Our last apartment had wood floors, so I vacuumed and swept every day. When we moved to this apartment with all carpet, I kept vacuuming that much for the first few weeks! Now I save so much time by vacuuming once a week, and there’s no difference in how clean my home looks. What are you wasting your time on?
The afternoon rush leading up to dinnertime is one of the most stressful times for moms! Simplify your schedule in the afternoons by working ahead and prepping. Have a healthy snack ready when the kids get home from school. For it’s homework time, make them a homework station with all the supplies they could need. That way, you’re not getting interrupted every few minutes for markers, glue, and scissors!
I strongly believe that meal prepping and bulk cooking is life-saving for busy moms at dinner time. Even if you’re not ready for meal prepping, keep some proteins pre-cut in the freezer or pre-cooked in the fridge to make dinnertime easier. I also love the idea of slow cooker dump meals. You just defrost them and throw them in the Crock Pot in the morning. But if that’s too much planning ahead for you, check out some freezer casseroles and sheet pan meals. These meals can go straight from the freezer to the oven, no defrosting needed!
What tips have you used to simplify your schedule and make your life easier? Tell me in the comments!
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