Do you feel like you’re a total mess when it comes to your homemaking and managing your home? Do you feel completely overwhelmed with everything that you need to do and not sure how you possibly can fit it all into your schedule? If so, I have some good news…
It doesn’t have to be that way. And in this post I’m going to show you exactly how to stop the overwhelm and get a handle on your homemaking tasks, step by step, so you can finally find balance in your homemaking.
Because homemaking is a big task and, from a Christian perspective, a monumental role in the lives of our children. But it can definitely be overwhelming and things can get out of hand easily.
So let’s do this and get this thing under control, okay? You can do this! And you can be a more balanced and productive homemaker.
Step 1: Calculate how many waking hours you have in the day
Note: you must sleep! lol Be realistic here. Based on the time you ideally go to bed and the time that you ideally wake up, how many waking hours do you have to work with?
This is important because time is a commodity. And, unless you outsource help, you only have so many hours in the day. But how many hours that is depends on you. Some people can get by on less sleep, and some need more. Plus there are other factors to take into consideration. Like if you just had a baby or are dealing with sickness.
Whatever the case may be, calculate a realistic number of waking hours that you have to work with each day. Make note of this, we’ll need it later.
Step 2: Make a list of all the categories in your life that require your attention each day
Don’t get too specific here yet, but make out a list of all the categories that you are responsible for. This would look something like this:
- Spiritual Disciplines
- and so on…
Your list will probably contain about 10-15 categories, give or take. Make sure you include the things most important to you and even little things that you take for granted like self-care. Because we are going to use this list to help map out everything we need to do each day.
Step 3: Brain dump all the things that need done in each of these categories for you to feel accomplished
We all have different standards and different priorities. One person might place a higher weight on a clean home, while another person might not need their home to be as pristine to be happy. One person might want to cook from scratch while another is fine with helper meals.
We are all different.
Plus, there are some things that we just want to spend time on, but are never necessarily “finished”, like Bible study. We want to spend time in Bible study each day, so it’s more of a time requirement than a “need to get to a certain place” requirement. I hope that makes sense.
So this is a personal task. But take some time to sit down with your list of categories and brain dump everything you want to accomplish in each category on a regular basis (yearly, monthly, weekly, daily) to feel accomplished in this area of your life.
Here’s a few examples…
- Spiritual Disciplines:
– spend 30 minutes every day studying the Bible
– go through your prayer requests every day
– go to a women’s Bible conference once a year
– have dishes done every night
– vacuum every day
– dust once a week
– be ready for company at a moment’s notice
Here’s where you want to get detailed. If you need multiple pages, that’s fine. But you just want to map out everything you can possibly think of that’s been on your mind. All the things you need to do but haven’t gotten around to, and all the things you just need to stay (or get back) on top of.
Mostly you’ll want to keep this a list of routine type things, rather than one time tasks. So instead of writing down “declutter the garage” you’ll want to say something like “declutter the house once a month” or something like that.
Step 4: Set goals for each of these categories
Now that you have your brain dump for each of these categories you can begin to see your priorities forming. So have a look through each category and the things in your list that you want to regularly do for those categories and think about some goals. These can be long term goals or short term goals. But overall where you would like to be in regards to each category.
So, for example, in the cleaning category you might have a goal to have the whole house decluttered by the end of the year. And for your cooking category you might have a goal to transition your family to eating healthier. Now is the time to brain dump goals, rather than routines like you just did.
Try to be specific with your goals as far as time frames go. And be realistic with how many goals you set for yourself in each category. You don’t want to be working on twenty different goals for each category at once. But, it’s good to at the very least get them down on paper. Then, if you have too many, you can highlight a few that you want to focus on. Try to focus on just 1-3 per category at a time.
Step 5: Break down your goals into monthly, weekly, and daily tasks
Now you want to get more specific with each of your goals. Take some time to really break each one down into actionable steps you want to take on a monthly, weekly, and even daily basis. This will enable you to actually start taking strides to reaching these goals.
Plus, the daily tasks you have for each goal are going to be important when we puzzle together your daily schedule/task list.
As you break down each goal think about what you need to do to accomplish this goal. Sometimes it can help to work backwards. So, here’s an example:
Goal Example: “Have the whole house decluttered by the end of the year”
Let’s say you have 12 rooms in your house. Working backwards, you would want to get one room complete each month. Then each week of that month you might want to focus on one corner of that room you’re working on decluttering. And then breaking it down even further, each day you might have a different task for that day (like days 1-3: do a sweep of the corner and put everything into keep, donate, trash piles and days days 4-5: move stuff out of the room, and day 6: head to the donation center, etc). You get the idea.
Every goal is different, but this is just to give you an example of how to break it down backwards in order to get a daily task list. It might even help if it’s a really long term goal to use a calendar.
This step will take some time, but it’ll be worth it to see how you can start working towards each of your goals in a very real way.
Step 6: Make a running list of your daily tasks
Looking through your brain dump lists from step 3-5, create a running list of tasks you need to accomplish each day.
Pay close attention to things that need to be done everyday or groups of things that need to be done everyday. For example, you might not clean your windows everyday, but you can set a time frame that you want to spend cleaning in general everyday. And for goals, you might not have recurring tasks everyday, but rather have a set amount of time you want to spend on goal tasks each day.
Also be sure to include anything else that didn’t make it into these brain dump lists. Things like grocery shopping and even taking a shower. You don’t have to include bathroom breaks though. 🙂 Although, it is pretty amazing how much time is spent changing diapers, huh? lol
Step 7: Estimate how long each daily task takes you
Now that you have your master list of daily tasks, go through and estimate how long each task takes you to complete or how long you want to spend on each task every day. Some tasks might already have time frames. That’s okay, just re-copy it into a running list so you can get a total.
If you’re not sure how long something takes or how long you want to spend on something, just do your best to estimate. This will be something that can (and will) be adjusted and re-evaluated regularly as your life and needs change. So just estimate the best you can and then you can always change it later.
Step 8: Balance the books
After you’ve got your total for how long your daily tasks take, balance it with the total waking hours you have (from step 1). Are you in the red or in the green? If you have more tasks scheduled than waking hours, it’s time to do some adjusting. Because you can’t get more time, you have to decide what can be done in less time or cut out altogether.
Where you adjust will be completely up to you. But be realistic with yourself. Also be sure to include some margin in your days. Because, unfortunately there are things in the day that tend to take more time than we anticipate, and also those things that we don’t even count on as being apart of our schedule that actually suck up a lot of time each day (*ahem* diaper changes lol).
I’d recommend giving yourself a margin of at least 30 minutes to 1 hour of open time each day that can be used as a cushion for all those time suckers and tasks that take longer than you anticipate.
As you make your adjustments, consider if you are spending too much time on one thing. Like maybe you’ve designated 1 hour to cleaning everyday, when you can try to get everything you need done in 30 minutes. This is just an example, but work with your tasks like this until they are equal to (or preferably less than) the amount of time you have in your waking hours.
Step 9: Find a planning system that will work for you and your personality
How do you prefer to structure your day? Do you like having a strict minute-by-minute schedule. Or do you prefer something a little more loose form, like having a simple list of daily tasks to check off throughout the day?
Now is the time to figure out what kind of planning system will work for you personally. If you’re not sure then start doing some testing. Try out different planning methods until you find just the right one for you.
It’s also worth noting that even if you think you know what is best for you, it might not be. 🙂 You might think you like to have a loose form schedule with just a task list in hand. But if you’re not actually getting stuff done, then it might be time to re-consider how you plan your day. Try out something a little more structured. This is just one example, but try to step back and be honest with yourself about what’s working and what isn’t. So you can make strides to finding something that will work great.
Step 10: Determine what apps, planners, and format will work for you
This step might take some time and trial and error, but finding the best format of planning for you will make all the difference in the world. A perfectly laid out plan is great, but it means nothing if you never actually look at it or use it.
So now it’s time to have some fun hunting down the perfect planner, planning app, etc. First determine if you will be most effective using a digital or paper format, or maybe even a combination of the two? Try out different things to see what will work for you.
Even after you determine if you want to do paper or digital, there are lots of different options for apps, planners, etc. So take some time on this step to really find the perfect system for you. And don’t be afraid to combine systems or even tweak systems as best as you can to make it work for you.
Step 11: Setup your new planning system with your daily tasks
Since you’ve been testing out different planning systems, you might have already done this. But if not, take some time to sit down and fit your daily tasks into your planning system. If you’re going with a more structured schedule then think about when the best time to do things would be.
For example, if you want to have quiet time with the Lord, the best time to do that would be during a time when the kids are asleep or doing something else. Fit it into your schedule where it makes sense.
Go through all of your daily tasks and do this. Only plan out one week (at the most) at a time. The reason being that you want to be able to adjust your schedule during the next period if there are things that aren’t working. If you plan too far then you will get discouraged when it’s not as easy to change things.
Step 12: Be sure to plan for planning time!
As you sit down with your tasks to fit them into your schedule, be sure to leave a little time each week to spend on getting your planner setup for the following week. It’s hard to say how long since everyone is different. But at least a 30 minute block would be a good idea.
Another note about the time you set aside to plan. Make sure it’s a time that you can focus. So during naps, early in the morning before the kids get up, or some other time that you can find a few minutes alone would be best. Maybe you can do this while the kids are up one day, but at first you are really trying to focus and think about what’s working and what isn’t. So you’ll need to be able to do this during some alone time.
Step 13: FOLLOW the plan to the best of your ability
I don’t want you to think that if you don’t follow your plan one day that all is lost. But it’s important that you discipline yourself to follow this new plan. If you are finding it hard to do that, it might be time to sit down and re-adjust what you’re doing. Maybe you need to schedule things differently or use a different planning format.
It will be challenging to do this at first, though. The reason being that you are teaching yourself a new habit. They say it takes 3 weeks of consistently doing something to form a new habit. So you need to stay consistent in order to make this work for you. If you’re adjusting things as you go, that’s fine, so long as you stay in the habit of actually looking at, and following, your schedule.
The reason we added in those margins of time earlier is because there will be unexpected things that happen, and you want to plan for that as much as possible so you’re ready.
Step 14: Realize that there will be a period of trial and error, don’t give up!
It’s tempting to think that if you set all of this up and think you found the perfect system that all will be smooth sailing from day one. But that’s just not true. Even the most productive people in the world went through a trial and error period. A time when they were searching for what was going to work for them.
There’s nothing wrong with this, it’s all apart of the process. God made each of us different and so you need to find a customized solution that will work for you. The only way to know for sure what that is, is to try something out.
The important thing is not to give up. Accept the fact that you might spend money on a new planner or phone app that you find doesn’t work for you and you need to try something else. That’s okay. I know, it’s not fun to waste money like that. But the end result will be completely worth it. And it’s not really money wasted, it’s money send finding what DOESN’T work for you. Think positive. 🙂
Step 15: Give yourself motivation to sit down with your planner each week
As you work into the habit of planning each week, you might want to consider giving yourself rewards or motivation of some sort for doing this. You might not love it at first because it’s new and it will take some work. Maybe you’ll love it, but either way it’s not a bad idea to help with programming this new habit into your brain with some positive reinforcement.
What you do will be based on what will motivate you! Are you the creative type? If so, consider getting really creative with your planner pages. There are countless websites, YouTube videos, and more that are all dedicated to decorating your planner. Get creative with it and have fun with it. But don’t forget the planning part too!
Or maybe you can just look forward to the alone time. Make yourself a cup of tea, turn on some nice music and enjoy the time you have to plan.
The idea here is to just make it fun and something you can look forward to. The positive reinforcement will go a long way to help with turning this planning thing into a regular habit in your life.
Step 16: Give yourself GRACE, and don’t be too hard on yourself
This isn’t an easy thing. All of these steps will take longer than a day, a week, maybe even more, to get fully to a place where everything comes together in a smooth way. You have a lot of work ahead of you here, but don’t let that discourage you. That’s why I’ve broken it down into steps. Take it step by step and day by day.
And remember to give yourself some grace. None of us are perfect, and this is a hard thing to do. It’s hard to create any good habit in your life, and life is exhausting as it is. But you can do this. You just have to keep on trying and don’t beat yourself up if it’s not clicking right away.
Remember, God’s mercies are new every morning! (Lamentations 3:22-23)
Bonus: Be aware of time suckers
As you work through these steps and working on getting your planning system just right, be aware of the time suckers in your day. There are those time suckers that you can’t change like diaper changes (seriously, when both my kids were in diapers it was like every 10 minutes lol). And there are those time suckers that you CAN do something about (*ahem* Facebook *ahem*).
Keep a separate sheet of paper handy and just make note of these as you notice them. Then, when you come to plan for the following week, take them into consideration. What adjustments do you need to make to your schedule? Or do you need to work on giving up these time suckers?
The more you can refine and define how you’re spending your time, the more productive you can be.
You can Find balance in your homemaking, it just takes planning!
When you have a job that you go to each day, you plan out your day. You determine what tasks you need to get done by what time and you (typically) work hard to get all of those tasks done every day. The same goes for homemaking. This is a job, but of course it’s much more than that, which is all the more reason to do it with all your might (Ecclesiastes 9:10).
Finding balance in your homemaking will transform your days and your life. You will feel more accomplished, less stressed, and more successful as a homemaker.
Just remember to lean into God for this monumental task. He will give you the wisdom and strength that you need to get through all these steps and come out on the other side a more productive and effective homemaker for the glory of God!