A couple weeks ago I taught a seminar about time management. One of the topics was 168 Hours, during which we talked about the fact that there are 168 hours in each week and everyone decides what to do with those 168 hours. While I was familiar with the number, the seminar material encouraged participants to figure out how many hours they spent doing various things.
Being a bit of an Excel geek, I created a spreadsheet that broke out 168 hours. The days of the week were across the top, and each hour of the day went along the side. For each hour, I filled in the necessary tasks -- whether it was sleep (56 hours in a good week), spending time with friends (3 hours set aside the week of the seminar), writing, preparing for classes, teaching classes, homeschooling, etc. etc. etc.
It was eye-opening and I realized why I've been struggling so hard to get everything done! There really aren't enough hours in a day (or a week) to complete all that I put on my plate. It made me look more carefully at what I can do to free up some time for different pursuits.
One thing I did was resurrect chore charts. We've tried them in the past, with varying success, but I decided that the boys' ages were well-suited to take on more responsibility. In the past, I would have them share chores (thinking that it would be easier to complete certain things with help) but these new chore charts are all about individual tasks. I thought about the things that we often ask them to help with, and simply filled in the week with necessary chores.
Each day starts with the basics -- brush teeth, get dressed, make bed. The day begins with schooling, then each day's chores are listed. For example, on Mondays, Colin is responsible for trash pickup, setting the table, picking up the hall (for some reason they tend to strew things in the hall outside their bedroom), kitchen floor and "as needed chores." Nate is responsible for picking up the living room, feeding the dog, kitchen duty (which means helping keep the kitchen clean throughout the day) and "as needed chores." The chores are balanced throughout the week between the 2 boys, so they are responsible for different areas each day, but the entire house throughout the week.
The day finishes up for them with picking up their rooms (ok, this is the ONE area that we still need more work on -- but I'm taking baby steps), getting ready for bed, brushing teeth, and going to bed.
I printed the charts and posted them on the refrigerator. There have been plenty of reminders, but they have each stepped up to their responsibilities and are doing well! They like being able to see what they are each responsible for doing, and I have been heavy on the praise as they act independently and complete their jobs well.
I need to make some other shifts throughout the week to free up some time for myself and some things I'd like to pursue, but this was a good first step. I'm going to keep reviewing the schedule and fine-tuning it to make sure I'm getting as much as possible from each 168 hours!