schedule your day

I am a planner who gets sidetracked.  If I am on my way outside to take out the garbage, and I happen to walk by my flower garden and see a few weeds that need pulling, my kids will find me in the garden thirty minutes later. Not good. This type of boomerang behavior could go on all day for me unless I intentionally map out a daily lineup.  I need to plot out my day, very much the same way I plan my garden in early spring. When I plan my garden, I keep in mind that unforeseen circumstances, like weather, will thwart my intended course of action.  The same goes for etching out a to-do list. On occasion, something will hinder you from checking off items on your list.  That’s okay.

schedule your day using a to-do list

A daily schedule is NOT to throw you into bondage or burden.  Constructing and following a to-do list should serve as a tool, not a law. If you happen to one day or even two days veer from your planned day, the schedule police will not show up at your front door with handcuffs and shackles.  Your identity is NOT defined by how closely you adhere to a daily schedule.  Before reading any further about the benefits of a daily schedule, please remember the following:

God is the master of your schedule, not you.

Consider these wise words that Elyse Fitzpatrick conveys, ” advice has the potential to help, it also has the potential to harm. Advice becomes unhelpful when it is elevated to the level of inspired Scripture.  Advice is no longer beneficial when women are told that they can earn merit (blessings and goodies) from God by following it.  Advice is hurtful when we get our identity from the rules we keep rather than through the work Jesus has accomplished for us.”

Your presence is more important than productivity.

Your relationships with the people you live with trumps how many chores you accomplish in one day or how closely you adhere to your schedule.

American writer, Annie Dilliard asserts that ” A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days.  It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time.”

Now take a deep relaxing breath and read on.

1.  Map out the framework of your day the night before so that you scaffold your day with your schedule moving from one task to the next.

At some point in the evening, gather your calendar and find a quiet corner to sketch out the plan for the next day.  If you follow a daily schedule, refer to that as you create your daily docket.  Remember not to stuff your day so full of tasks and activities that you feel overwhelmed before the day even begins.

Da Vinci knew a thing or two about the value of time.  Using his inventor’s curiosity, he tinkered with the design of the clock enough to improve its functionality. He also maintained a steroid injected to-do list.  By no means am I suggesting that you recreate Leonardo Da Vinci’s daily docket, NO.

As you plan for the day, allow the inventor/artist’s words inspire you to manage your time well, “Time abides long enough for those who make use of it.”

to do list


A daily lineup offers a bit of structure and visible accountability with flexibility.  Flexibility is key when women are dealing with children because your presence is more important than productivity.  With that in mind, we still want to make the best use of our day.

Items to include in your daily lineup:  Click here for a free daily lineup template

  1. Inspirational Quote or Bible Verse
  2. The Most Important Duties(MIDs)
  3. Meal Plan
  4. Water/Food Log
  5. Extended To Do list
  6. General Plan with analog times

2.  Avoid Over planning

Tsh Oxenreider, author of Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living and blogger at The Art of Simple, instills in moms that, “the number one enemy of productivity in any adult’s life—especially when she has very small children at home—is trying to do too much.”  So if you have a yardful of littles, then focus your to-do list on the Most Important Duties for that day. Remember your daily lineup should not look as though you are inventing the flying machine or painting the Last Supper.  Keep it simple.

3.  Compile Your Daily Lineup in a Notebook or Binder

This is not an area of weakness for me because I live for the “back to school supply” specials. I was the geeky kid who trekked to Ben Franklin with crisp birthday money in her pocket and spent it ALL on new floral design spiral notebooks, binders with David Cassidy’s face plastered on the front, and the 64 count box of Crayola crayons with the built-in sharpener.  My struggle is deciding which binder to purchase because I want them all. You may be the girl who grabs your preschooler’s crayon nib and scribbles your to-do list on the envelope from last month’s utility bill.  Frugal and practical move, yes, prudent, no.  Take the time to assemble a purse size binder that houses your to-do list and carry it with wherever you go.  Go crazy and fill your binder with the  pockets to store receipts.

Avery 5-1/2 x 8-1/2 Inches Mini Durable Style Binder with 1-Inch Round Rings, Bright Floral (18447)Avery Mini Binder Pockets, Fits 3-Ring and 7-Ring Binders, Assorted, Pack of 5 (75307)

4.  Record SMART Goals on your daily lineup

It wasn’t until I started blogging that I actually knew about SMART goals.  I knew about goals, but maybe my head has been buried in domestic life so long that I missed the memo on SMART goals.  So here they are:

S – Specific

M – Measurable

A – Achievable

R – Realistic

T – Time-based (weekly, monthly, yearly)

When writing a goal, apply the SMART goal technique.  Let’s say that one of your daily goals is to do devotions every day.  Rather than write a cloudy goal like “do devotions every morning.”  Rewrite the goal as a SMART goal:  For the next thirty days, get up by 6:30, five days a week and spend 45 minutes doing personal devotions, which includes Bible reading and time in prayer (with extra bold coffee, of course).

5.  Include Building Memories in Your Daily Lineup

Yes, most of us must be reminded to include building memories in the scheme of scheduling.  A human flaw, I know, however weak, memories must be made and traditions established.  Therefore, sprinkle your to-do list with those memories that must be made that don’t cost a fortune!  A few ideas:

  • tea party beneath an old tree with your husband or your kids or both
  • read aloud on a blanket or on a porch
  • take a nature walk and gaze in wonder at the very signs of a Creator that we take for granted
  • slow down the speed of life long enough to visit with a friend who really needs that visit
  • attend a free, local activity

As you complete your to-do list, check with your local library or Chamber of Commerce for frugal or free local events.

Find out from each family member exactly what activity that will lead to building a memory.

6.  Find an Accountability Partner Until the To-Do List Becomes a Habit

I know the dreaded “A” word. I am an introvert and comfortable being one, so I am the LAST person to want to tap on the shoulder of a friend and ask her to help me to be accountable to her as I master a new habit.

Benefits of personal Accountability:

  1. Offers Insight: Helps you to see your areas of strengths and weakness in managing your time.  A friend who excels in time management or organization will see potential pitfalls and lovingly redirect you.
  2.  Strengthens a relationship: You are willing to be vulnerable and transparent with this friend
  3. Supports:  Most of us will get support and encouragement from our family, but an accountability partner will see the new habit building endeavor from a fresh perspective that maybe someone you live with can’t.

Use a to-do list as a net for catching your day rather than watching your day nose dive into a sea of purposeless and random activities.

Where do you struggle most with using a to-do list?  What prevents you from building a habit of using a to-do list?

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  1. Ashley on August 5, 2017 at 9:41 am
    Thank you for sharing this! Definitely giving that daily lineup template a try!
  2. Wendy on August 5, 2017 at 1:01 pm
    Tip# 2 is golden! I happen to be guilty of this, regularly. Really good post.
  3. Robyn on August 12, 2017 at 9:00 am
    Great tips, I need to be better at this!
    • Denise Sultenfuss on August 13, 2017 at 7:25 am
      Me too! I just spent my weekend updating my planner. I am constantly working on managing my time.
  4. Krista on August 12, 2017 at 10:13 am
    Great tips! I'm highly into routine for my own organization so this post is very helpful!
    • Denise Sultenfuss on August 13, 2017 at 7:25 am
      So glad the post helped.

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