Scheduling is an important tool in any homemaker’s arsenal. When it works, it really is like magic, the way stuff happens.
It’s a way of making sure nothing gets missed, and will save huge amounts of time and money. Why? Because you won’t have to put right what went wrong.
So today, we need to talk about calendars. Useful ones. Not the sort with beautiful pictures and no space to write anything.
1. You need to find one with good big squares. I have even used the ‘Family organiser’ type with a separate column for each person. Great if you have more than 1 child, but I find that the more usual type with the squares parcels the month off into weeks and that makes it easier for me to visualise what needs to happen.
2. Use a pen, not a pencil, you want to make sure you can all read it from a distance. Tie a pen to the calendar so you’ve always got one handy.
3. Location, location, location. Put the calendar near the phone, somewhere handy to where people are getting breakfast, or even in the toilet – well everyone has to look at it then, don’t they!
4. Train the family. The golden rule is this: If It Doesn’t Go on the Calendar, It Doesn’t Happen.
You need to lead by example, so all your stuff goes on there too. Then if they want to know when you are working next, don’t tell them the answer. Just say “It’s on the calendar”. In no time at all, they will go there as a first step.
5. Cross off the days (small children love to be assigned this job). If something is going to happen on the 1st of the month, write it on the previous month’s page, so you don’t get any nasty surprises. For big events write ’20 days to go’ etc so that you really are focussed on how much time you have left. You may have to reprioritise.
6. Due dates for bills. Yes it’s unpleasant to look at bill reminders, but if you miss a due date, you’ll end up paying more. What could you have bought with that extra $20? I use internet banking and I schedule bill payments for a few days before, and then I write on the calendar to check that important ones (like the car registration) actually went through. It’s a double check that’s worth doing.
As a bonus, you will find that family conflict is reduced, since people tend not to schedule things together if there is another option, and if there is a clash, it is obvious and you have time to make alternative arrangements. eg. “Well since you have art on Tuesday, let’s put the car in for service on Wednesday” OR “Since we’re both away at different things on the long weekend, I’ll take the kids to my event since it’s the most child-friendly”.
A word of warning: this magical system only works if there is one calendar ONLY in a central location. Duplicates will cause far more trouble than they solve.
Scheduling doesn’t get simpler than the humble Calendar. It’s a powerful tool.
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