"We can do no great things, only small things with great love." - Mother Teresa

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Organizational Mastermind

I am a bit of an organization/schedule/compulsive freak. I find life runs much more smoothly when it is well planned and executed. Okay, in reality, I do better when I am intentional. We are happier, get more done, and the things we do are more worthwhile. And, I tire of constantly telling the kids what comes next. So, I came up with a plan. I created a board on which we plan every day. Okay, almost every day; we usually have one day a week that starts running and we don't take the time to plan. This is a Tara original, my own invention, and I LOVE it!

What's that you say? This is so amazing that you must have more details? Well, if you insist. First, click on the picture so you can see it bigger in all it's beauteous glory. Alright, now that you have seen the bigger picture, let me give you some more detail, but only because you asked. :0)
  • Each day has a column and is divided into 13 hours, 7am to 7pm. Each hour square is 2.5".
  • Activity pieces are sized according to time. Activities that take about an hour are 2.5" squares. (nap time, lessons, art time, etc.) Activities that take a half hour are 1.25x2.5" rectangles. (get dressed, eat breakfast, do dishes, read books, etc.) There are a few activities that take 15 minutes (set table, snacks) and they have 0.75x2.5" rectangles. But, usually I stick to 1 or 1/2 hour increments. This gives us leeway time for set up, pack, clean up and life in general.
  • On the far left side of the board are the hours, with clocks showing what the analog time looks like, and a digital font underneath showing the time. I have an analog clock hanging on the wall just above the clock column. I want Joy (and the boys eventually) to learn to read analog clocks, so this is a tool to that end. And, although we aren't usually completely on time, it does help a bit.
  • Down each day column is a strip of Velcro. On the back of each activity piece is another piece of Velcro. This allows us to move things easily, but they stay pretty firm, unless Hyrum gets them.
  • The arrows are time extensions. Instead of printing a million of each piece, I just made hour and half hour extensions that can be used to lengthen activities.

I have found that this really helps. We get up in the morning, have breakfast, and plan our day. When I am really on the ball, we put the big things up for the week at Family Home Evening. Here's how I have found it helpful:

  • I am more intentional about what we do in the day. Since it has to be posted, I think about what we are doing. It looks bad when there are big chunks of "watch a movie" every day.
  • The kids are involved. They have input as to what happens. They understand a little better that I have to do dishes when they see the dishes piece on the chart. They learn time better, not just on the clock, but what things take what time, and that things actually do come to pass.
  • It saves countless hours of, "When are we going to ___?" I simply refer them to the board.
  • I am more accountable. The kids know what to expect and are free to hold me to it.
  • There is flexibility. The kids learn that sometimes things change. It happens almost daily that things don't go according to plan and we have to make changes. So, we look at what is going on, and figure out how to adjust. Great lesson.
  • One of my favorite pieces are the kids' time. There is "Joy Time", "Paul Time" and "Brigham Time" - 15 minutes each. These pieces have the kids' pictures on them, and they know that, during that time at least, they get Mom's undivided attention.
  • We do more fun stuff. Because we are planning, we get more done.
  • I also have free time pieces. It is important to have unplanned time daily, and we've got that too.

Now, if this sounds like bragging, I am only bragging about the idea, and I have to admit that it is FABULOUS! But, our lives aren't perfect. We still have most of the normal problems. However, when I come across an idea that works, mine or someone else's, I want to share it. So, I am sharing with you. If you are interested in trying something similar, I would be more than happy to share what I have done. The activity pieces are all on a Word document, I just don't know how to link it to the page. Leave a comment and I would be happy to send it on.


Lyndee said...

awesome! you are so cool, someday I will be as organized as you! :)

Jennnnnna said...

You should patent it!! Very impressive.