The To-Do List – Getting Started

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Part 2
If you’ve missed the beginning of this series, start with Part 1.
Find all my printable cleaning schedules and routines on the Home Management page.

OK, we talked about whether you are a Scheduled Family or a Routine Family.  Now, for some ideas to get you started in making that work for you…

One option for Scheduled Families is a simple Daily Planner.  These work great for older children and parents alike, and they are compact enough to go wherever you go.  Simply fill in each time slot with your to-do’s for the week (I suggest weekly for the Scheduled Family rather than daily because you naturally prefer your week to have a nice flow or pattern to it).  As you develop a workable schedule, you will need only to transfer the previous week into the new week.  Leave the planner laying open on the table during the day for quick glances at what is next.  Anything out of the ordinary (ie. school projects, urgent repairs, picking up your mother from the airport, etc) can be penciled in without too much disruption to your daily schedule.

courtesy of my friend Ashley

Another great option for Schedule-lovin’ families is something like Managers of Their Homes.  This type of schedule is put together in 30 minute blocks of time.  You have a neatly set time for nearly everything you would like to accomplish throughout your day.  You are able to schedule in everyone else’s day as well.  All of this is put into a color coded wall chart with blocks that can easily be changed and moved around.  If you find something that does not work well in the time frame you originally placed it in or something in your life suddenly changes, you simply move it. (The Maxwells have a whole section of their site dedicated to their different schedules.  Take a look at it.)

But, if you are a Routine person, MOTH (Managers of Their Homes) is more than likely NOT for you.  In fact, I would gently suggest that it could quite possibly make you feel very badly about yourself and your ability to run a household properly.  Mrs. Maxwell never intended for this to be the case, so please do not think I am suggesting she believes her schedule is the only way to run a household.  She is merely trying to help other mamas out there manage their day with something that worked well for her household.  But, the fact of the matter is that some of our lives do not fit neatly in 30 minute boxes.  My life being a case in point.

So, what are some things that a Routine family can try?

A Daily Planner may work for you too (or just a piece of notebook paper for that matter) but with two differences from the one kept by the Scheduled Family.  Yours should not be marked with times.  The other difference is that when you are first getting started your routine should be written out DAILY, not weekly.  You simply take everything that must be accomplished during that day, write it down in a good working order, and cross it off as you go.  (In the next post I’ll show you how I set up a routine that stays fairly consistent so you don’t have to always be writing a huge daily list).

Another suggestion comes from my friend, Sarah.  You can read about it HERE.  The basic idea is that you write everything down on separate notecards.  When you have accomplished the item listed, you move it from the TO DO section to the DONE section.  This is a great option for the children.  Even those who can’t read can have picture cards that tell them what to do next.

I’ve used this method for myself before by putting two magnetized clips on my refrigerator…one is TO DO and one is DONE.  It feels so good to move the cards from one side to the other.  I used this mainly as a way to remember all those daily things that if allowed to become sidetracked, I will simply forget to do:  taking vitamins, giving the kids their vitamins, switching over laundry, thawing dinner, etc.

Another method that worked well for our family for a long time was using a dry erase board in plain sight.  I wrote my name and my two older children’s names with our chores for the day divided up between us.  We erased chores as we went.  Once chores were done, we moved into school work.  It was a quick and satisfying way to get things done.

Ultimately, the name of the game when getting started with finding something that works for you is to brainstorm.  Only you know the real inner workings of your family.  Only you can look at your day and decide what might work and what definitely won’t.

There are a million different methods.  You could literally get lost in a sea of schedules.  You also don’t have to stick with one set routine or schedule for the rest of your life.  My routines and schedules have changed over the years depending on my current life circumstances.  I would highly suggest you take a look at other people’s schedules and routines, but always with the thought in mind that what works for others will have to be tweaked for you and your family.  You can see more of our routines and schedules on the Home Management page.

The last post in this series before we move on to homeschool scheduling will be about going beyond the basics and fitting in weekly and monthly chores, so stay tuned!

The To-Do List Posts:
Part 1-Schedule or Routine?
This is Part 2 – Getting Started
Part 3 – Beyond the Basics

17 Comments on The To-Do List – Getting Started

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17 thoughts on “The To-Do List – Getting Started

  1. I think I’m more of a routine mom than a schedule mom. I try to be a schedule mom, but the routine fits my family better. Great post. :)

  2. The first time I looked at MOTH a few years ago I almost broke out in hives! :) Even though it was like swimming upstream, I tried to make it work for me, but it just didn’t…that’s when I realized I’m a routine lady.

    I did feel kinda guilty for not finding success with it…It’s good to hear that I can still be a successful planner but not be scheduled!

    I am a week by week person, so I’m also interested in hearing your advice for working in weekly/monthly chores! I don’t have any working rotations like that right now.

  3. As a routine family, I am enjoying this discussion! I look forward to reading more.

    One thing I’ve done is take mini-lists of things for my kids that ARE the same every day to help them with daily tasks. I have two ‘Have you?’ signs on the way out the door to their bedroom with their basic care/chore responsibilities for the AM (mounted on yellow) and PM (mounted on black) things like brushing teeth and washing hands and face, along with putting away clean laundry, making their beds, and other daily tasks that don’t change.

  4. This is a great post!

    I’m a scheduler, and used to be one of the craziest you’d ever meet.

    Two years ago, I took the time slots out of the equation to eliminate MY anxiety when things take longer than expected. We still get everything done that we need to, just not with predetermined time allowances. Works great now!

    Lord bless you Amy!


  5. Amy,
    Thank you SO SO MUCH for the “to-do” and “done” card system advice. My husband has been trying to get me more scheduled in our home for the last several months and as much as I try, I can never keep to the time slots I create and dread going back to my list to see how far behind I am in the day. Therefore, the to-do list is not kept and my day gets away from me, etc. So discouraging.

    I’ve implemented this card system since you posted this. I have 3 envelopes on the fridge now. “Weekly chores” (every day of the week has different colored cards that I slip into the to-do envelope when that day arrives), “to-do”, and “done”. I used white cards for daily chores and those never leave the to-do or done envelopes… except on Sunday when I don’t have to do a load of laundry or check email! I love having less cards on Sunday!!!

    The first card of the day for me is “put these cards in order of priority.” I do that, and the rest of the day I just keep going back to the fridge to see if I can move another card over. I’m loving it and my husband is too. Thank you, again. Great advice.

  6. Dear Anonymous,
    God bless your candidness. It’s so tough to never feel “good enough” and it is a lie from Satan that we women are so quick to buy. {{HUGS}} to you. You just start where you are. If the Lord is with us, who can be against us?!
    May the Lord bless you today,

  7. WoW Has God ever led me to your site. Thank you. Presently, my 7 children (the 8th is five weeks and sleeping) are watching Spongebob. We’re Australian BTW. I homeschool, sometimes and my parents (or his) are always on my case. I feel like a failure everyday. I feel like a terrible witness. BUT, I am encouraged by a lot of what you’ve had to say. It makes me feel like I’m on the right path. I have thought of picture cards. I just never seem to have time to get everything done. I hardly ever surf the net anymore (I used to years ago…lots of me time then.) I never feel comfortable when my husband tells me to go out to the coffee club and have a coffee or something. I don’t even drink coffee LOL. A friend from a while back, said I needed me time and that by not having it I was being selfish to my family. I’m 31 BTW, and I feel now like there is someone out there like me. You’re so strong. Well done. I have trouble with the way I view God. Like he is always angry at me and pushing me away. That’s probably not the case, I suspect; just the way I feel. I also feel like that from my dad; so that’s probably it I guess. Anyway thank you for all the practical tips. And that it’s ok to not be able to schedule etc. I finally feel like maybe it’s ok to be me, just less selfish. I was reading some of your posts and thinking “I was already thinking this about myself and here is someone who can put it into words and understands.” Not that it makes it alright. Just that it is something that can be overcome, Praise God. I’ll buy your book when I have time, hopefully tonight.

  8. Pingback: The To-Do List – Beyond the Basics | Raising Arrows

  9. Pingback: The To-Do List Schedule or Routine | Raising Arrows

  10. Hello I guess i am in somewhat the same boat that many families are in I work a full time job and my husband stays home with my 6 children. I miss being home and have grown rather far away from the mother i used to be. and that could be good and bad. sometimes this schedule works and some days i come home to a holiday house.Just wanted to get an opinion on how to get the subjects in after i get home. thanks

  11. I use the dry erase board method too. I’ve recently had to expand it a little into categories: “Today”, “Soon,” and “Someday” (haha) – Today’s list is things like make bread, chop veggies for freezing, etc. Soon’s list is something like “clean fridge”, “sort papers,” etc. And Someday’s list is things that need to get done, but aren’t a high priority – maybe going through and getting rid of the baby stuff in the attic. I love crossing things off the “today” list, and I can see at the end of the day what I’ve accomplished. It makes me feel better about myself!

  12. EXCELLENT!!!!

    “A Daily Planner may work for you too (or just a piece of notebook paper for that matter) but with two differences from the one kept by the Scheduled Family. Yours should not be marked with times. The other difference is that when you are first getting started your routine should be written out DAILY, not weekly. You simply take everything that must be accomplished during that day, write it down in a good working order, and cross it off as you go.”

    This is sooo how I do things! I now realize that this is OK! Used to feel so guilty for not being able to stick to a timed schedule! Thanks! :)

  13. Thank you for your post.. I am just starting out and i have had difficulties but i didint know why. With you explaining some things gave me a much clear perspective and also gave me some insight of what to do in some areas. I will try some things u posted and hopefully I can have a set plan!!