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How to Create an Activity Schedule for Your Family

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Time management is a skill we often need to learn to use in the office, but sometimes we forget that we can take this skill home as well. In this chapter you'll learn the details of breaking down an event into its components and putting them in your schedule in a way that makes efficient use of your time, with a focus on the tasks of home life.
This chapter is from the book

In this chapter

  • Scheduling essential preparation time for activities
  • Learning how to estimate the length of time you'll spend on any scheduled event
  • Planning for necessary follow-up time
  • Scheduling a to do item from start to finish

It took me twice as long as I thought it would!" "I thought we'd be home two hours ago." Do these expressions sound familiar? So often our schedules get turned upside down because we haven't allocated enough time to the things we're going to do.

"I would have been on time, but I had to stop to put gas in the car." "We'll have to go out to eat because I forgot to take the meat out of the freezer." Often we're thrown off course because we forgot that we needed to take a preliminary step.

"We've taken a lot of great photos of the kids, and someday we'll put them in albums." "Sure, you have clean shirts; they've been in the dryer for two days." Sometimes the last step of an activity just escapes our attention.

Everything we do in life can be divided into three segments: preparing, doing, and wrapping up. If we want to establish a successful schedule for life's activities, we need to make sure that we don't overlook any of these components. In this chapter, you'll learn how to plan for all of the time and tasks involved in participating in scheduled activities. You'll learn how to schedule time to get ready to participate, estimate how much time you'll spend on each of the scheduled items, and plan for and accommodate unscheduled events that can throw your schedule off-track. Finally, you'll look at the issue of follow-through; your activity isn't over until all of the necessary wrap-up components are completed, so you'll need to include time for those details in your schedule, as well.

Preparing for an Activity or Event

Some people thrive on anticipation and preparation. They don't have too much trouble handling this part of the scheduling. Other people focus on the event itself and often find themselves running around at the last minute. A smooth-running schedule must allow time for all of the preparatory activity.

You may not be aware of it, but getting ready for even the simplest of activities is really a complex series of decisions and events. Some of them come very naturally to you, so you won't need to schedule all of their details separately. For example, when you set aside a half hour to shower and get dressed in the morning, you probably don't have to break down the process minute-by-minute into all of the following components:

  • Take off pajamas.

  • Adjust water in shower.

  • Lather.

  • Rinse.

  • Turn off water.

  • Dry off.

  • Apply deodorant.

  • Put on clothes.

  • Comb hair.

On the other hand, you may have more success with some other activities if you take the time to schedule their various components. For example, if you've received an invitation to a birthday party that you plan to attend, you'll probably remember to put the party on your calendar. But you should also consider scheduling the following preparatory activities:

  • RSVP.

  • Buy a present.

  • Buy a card.

  • Wrap the present; make sure you have

  • Wrapping paper.

    Ribbon.

    Tape.

  • Select what you'll wear; make sure

  • It fits.

    It's clean/pressed/mended.

  • Make sure you have

  • Transportation to the party.

    Directions to the party.

  • Arrange for a babysitter (if necessary).

In general, asking yourself the following questions will go a long way toward making sure that you schedule all the preliminary steps to make the main event happen stress-free:

  • Do I have the necessary information to do this?

  • If not, how can I get the information, and how long will it take?

  • Do I have what I need in terms of tools, equipment, ingredients?

  • If not, where will I get them, and how long will it take?

  • Do I need to do anything in advance of the activity?

  • If yes, when do I have to do these tasks, and how long will they take?

  • Do other people need to be involved in preparing for this activity?

  • If yes, when will they be available?

  • Is there anything else I must do to be ready for this activity?

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