A Time to Clean

owl-house.jpgHomeschooling and working from home take up the lion’s share of my time and creativity.  But that doesn’t mean they’re the only things I am responsible for.  And they thing they have in common?  Both happen at home.

Gretchen Rubin says that outer order contributes to inner calm, and I am learning how true this is for me.  Keeping up with housework is an essential part of our schedule; these three things help keep us moving in the right direction.


When we lived in a small house, I had a strict one-in/one-out policy.  If we got a new book, one had to go.  There was just no room for accumulating new things.  We’ve got more space now, so the rule isn’t quite as strict.  Another thing that’s helped–thinking of toys as consumables.  They have their day in the sun, but then it’s ok to let them go. But I’m what Rubin calls a finisher, so there’s a special joy for me in using things up!

Everything Has a Place

This one comes via Mystie Winckler (free webinar today!).  She calls it EHAP.  If things don’t have a home–a place where they can go reliably–then they can’t get put away.  Even things like library books that are only around temporarily need a place to live or else they can’t be put away.  Clearing the decks for the next event–clearing off the table so we can have dinner, then cleaning up from dinner so that there are clean dishes for the new day–creates a sense of expectancy and deep care.  Get ready!  What we’re doing here is important.

A Dependable Rotation

I discovered this list from Apartment Therapy a while ago, and it’s working for me.  It’s not just a daily upkeep list.  But it also doesn’t send you on esoteric missions to clean the chandelier.  Ok, there is Wash the Windows on Day 8, but I just use that day to catch up!  For me right now, it’s got the right mix of upkeep and special attention.  We’re not just treading water by only hitting the dailies, and we’re not falling behind on the dailies because we’ve been re-organizing the spice cabinet.

What are your favorite tricks and tips for keeping house?

Homeschooling and Working from Home with Ease

Planning Becomes Essential

Usually, my day is so full that I’m simply moving to the next thing, but yesterday was different.  School went a lot better than it had the day before.  That meant I had a little extra time and mental energy yesterday morning.  But I didn’t really know what to do with it.  I needed a plan.

Homeschooling and Working with Ease

So, I’ve got my time budget.  I can see the hard lines of the day–when I working, when I’m homeschooling.  I’m managing my expectations with a tiny to-do list.  But how in the world am I supposed to fit everything in?  Planning becomes essential.  I’ve got to know what we’re having for dinner before our day begins.  And there has to be time in the schedule for mundane things like cleaning the bathrooms.

For the past few months I have been slowly working through Simplified Organization: Learning to Love What Must Be Done, an e-course created by Mystie Winckler.  She talks about all the practices of an organized life: the brain dump, de-cluttering, keeping a calendar.  But what’s different about this course is that she is giving me tools to organize my attitude.  She is helping me to think rightly about interruptions and the demands on my time; they are God’s work for me.

Work the Homeschool PlanDon’t forget about the free webinar tomorrow at 1:30!  You can register here…and then watch the replay if you can’t make it live.  But the chat box is going to be a fun place to exchange ideas in real time and start to work out the ideas and principles that Mystie and Brandy will be sharing.

Homeschooling and Working from Home with Ease


What Can Get Done In a Day

At the start of the new week when I’m planning what it will hold, the possibility seems almost boundless.  168 hours!  I can get so much done!  Managing my own expectations of what I can get done in a day has been huge in creating a sense of forward momentum.

Homeschooling and Working from Home with Ease

When every day ends with a long list of things that never got crossed off the to-do list, it’s hard to feel like anything is being accomplished.  For her daily list, Mystie uses index cards, and Jessica uses a 3 inch square sticky note.  I have gone micro and use 2 inch sticky notes.  In the picture of my September calendar spread, there’s a larger sticky note that I got from the library–I had to section it off so that I didn’t get carried away!  Even with my small handwriting, there’s only so much I can fit on there.  There are real limits to how much I can put on the list.  I’ve got a physical reminder to give myself margin and grace because there’s always more that needs doing.

On the homeschooling front, on days when school is going well, it’s always a temptation to push a little more, to cover more ground.  Instead of a daily list, I keep track over a week.  We need to hit math 4 times a week, but it doesn’t matter which 4 days.  Having a weekly checklist let’s me see at a glance if we really need to push on.  I also like having a record of all we’ve accomplished.  Even though we do short lessons, I can clearly see our progress over time.

What do you use for your daily list?

Homeschooling and Working from Home with Ease

Hard Lines :: Work When I Work

One of the biggest challenges for me as I work from home is The Creep!

Homeschooling and Working From Home with Ease

Work tasks slowly creep into my day.  Because I work online, any time I pop in to check email or Facebook, I can come across a work task.  It doesn’t even matter if it’s urgent.  If I don’t take care of it right away, it weighs on me and makes it more difficult to be present to my children.  If I do take care of it, it feels like I’m putting out fires all day long.

The solution: to work during work hours.  Even though I have the flexibility to work anytime, I have set work hours.  There are predictable blocks of time in my day for me to get work tasks done.  There are busy seasons when a project is due and I might need a few extra hours in the evenings or on the weekend.  But for the most part, I try to work when I work.  And when I’m not working, I close the work related tabs and windows.

This small shift keeps work from slipping into the rest of my life.

Homeschooling and Working from Home with Ease