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Do you feel like you’re always behind? Is your to-do list overwhelming? Summer is the perfect time of year to make some changes. Keep reading to learn how to streamline your life this summer.
You can’t build a house without a strong foundation. Likewise, you can’t find time to start and grow a home business unless you have a solid time management plan in place.
If you try to add a business without streamlining first, you may get discouraged. Or overwhelmed.
The good news? You are capable of streamlining your life. And if you successfully do this, you will have more time for the things you want to do. Like starting a home business.
I’ve found summer is the perfect time to make changes and streamline life. The kids aren’t in school, so they have more time to learn new chores. And, you can get the whole family on board with the changes before the hectic schedules of fall.
What to Streamline During Summer Break
I personally use the month of July to streamline things each year and do some in-depth planning.
During this time, I:
- Work with the kids to make an annual meal plan
- Assign each of my kids a different day of the week (they’re like a “special helper” on their day and get different benefits and responsibilities)
- Create a master shopping list to go with the annual meal plan
- Assign new morning, table, and afternoon chores for each child
- Provide instruction in the new chores and help kids learn them
- Assess my business and progress toward goals
- Unsubscribe from email lists that I no longer read
- Evaluate our routine blocks from last school year and reassess as necessary
- Look for bottlenecks in our schedule and brainstorm ways to fix them
- Make decisions about the upcoming homeschool year and get basic planning complete
It seems like a lot, but by taking it one task at a time, I’ll have the majority of the upcoming school year planned by the time August rolls around. And that saves a ton of time in the long run!
Let’s look a bit closer at each area.
Make an Annual Meal Plan
An annual meal plan cuts out any “What’s for dinner?” questions. It eliminates unnecessary cupboard rummaging.
I’m able to memorize recipes, and look for efficiencies in the kitchen.
I love it! And so do the kids. In fact, I think they’d be pretty happy just keeping the same menu all the time. But, I like to switch things up a bit each year.
We recently updated this plan, and if you’re interested, you can find all the details here on my other blog. I can’t believe this is our eighth annual meal plan–time sure does fly!
Create a Master Shopping List
I don’t like sitting down to make a shopping list before I head to the grocery stores each month. But, if I don’t, I end up spending way too much money guessing what I’ll need that month.
My master shopping list works in conjunction with my annual meal plan. It has every ingredient I could possibly need. I also included prices and quantities for a month.
To create it, I look at my meal plan and start writing down ingredients. I use Excel, because I can filter out duplicates and easily sort by store.
Then, before I shop each month, I just take a quick look at my list and update any quantities. Then I hide any items that I need “0” of, and hit print. My shopping list is ready to go!
And just in case I forget to actually bring the list, I keep it saved in Dropbox. That way I can pull it up on my phone if needed. (Not that I’d ever actually forget that list :D)
Another benefit of doing a master shopping list?
By adding prices to the spreadsheet, I can keep track of the budget. If I get to the end of the list and it’s too expensive, I go back and tweak the annual meal plan. Then we keep tweaking until we have a meal plan that is on budget. This has saved so much money!
Assign & Teach New Chores
My kids each do chores every day. We do chores for a couple of reasons.
- Keeping the house takes many hands.
- Chores develop a good work ethic in my kids.
- I’m not really raising kids, my goal is to raise adults who know how to function in society. Being able to keep their own homes is a huge goal.
I’ve learned that a year is the perfect amount of time for the kids to have the same chores. During the year, they really learn the skill. They become expert sweepers, wipers, and washers.
And I never have to guess who does what. By the time August rolls around, everyone has the chore chart figured out. When school starts back up again, it’s one less thing I have to worry about.
If something is undone, I don’t have to try to remember who I asked to do it. We all know and can easily ask the person to go get their chores done.
Here’s a look at the chores we use:
- Gets dressed.
- Brushes hair.
- Makes their own bed.
- Picks up a certain part of their shared bedrooms.
- Completes a bathroom chore.
My school aged kids and I tackle these. We do table chores three times a day, after each meal. These chores have made a huge difference in the state of our home!
The table chores are:
- Putting food away
- Unloading dishwasher
- Loading dishwasher
- Wiping the table
- Cleaning chairs
- Wiping counters
- Sweeping kitchen & dining room
- Washing large dishes by hand
With all of us working, the kitchen is restored to order quickly after each meal.
These get dropped during crazy times of life, but it’s definitely time to reinstate them. We’ll be working on the following deep cleaning tasks (one per person per weekday):
- Cleaning the fridge
- Organizing a kitchen cupboard/drawer
- Wiping the stove
- Cleaning the microwave
- Wiping cupboard faces
- Wiping kitchen stools
- Washing windows
- Cleaning the ceiling fans
- Wiping off walls
- Decluttering surfaces
- Organize toys
- Organize clothes
- Trash dump
- Book duty
- Decluttering (*2)
- Straightening books
- Cleaning the game shelves
- Toy duty
- Strip bedding (*3)
- Gather rugs
- Dirty clothes sweep
- Wipe washer & dryer
If we keep up on all of our chores, and do one 15-minute cleanup each day, our house stays in pretty good shape. It’s not beautiful, but it’s maintained and good enough for company. A decent house is a lot less stressful, and way easier to work in!
I make it a point to spend time teaching the new chores. The first few weeks everything takes a lot longer than normal. I’m teaching, helping, and watching the kids as they work.
Once the kids have their chores down, I just have to worry about mine, and doing basic supervision. My time requirement is definitely lowered at that point!
Assess Business Goals
Each January, I set some goals for my business. Since the year is half gone by summer, it makes sense to revisit those goals and see if I need to adjust.
This refocusing helps me reprioritize my work schedule and streamline as much as possible. Batching works well for some tasks, so I can look for additional tasks to batch. I also revaluate my posting schedule on each of my blogs.
During this time I also reflect on my client work and make any changes that need to be made. This could include sending out more pitches to land more work, renegotiating pay for an existing client, or dropping a client who I no longer enjoy working with.
Setting aside time for this type of planning and reflecting has been huge in helping me create a home business I love.
Unsubscribe to Declutter My Email
I wind up subscribing to several feeds throughout the year, but they don’t always wind up being a good fit for me. Or perhaps the focus of the newsletters has changed.
Taking time each day to delete a bunch of unread emails adds up. So, I streamline by unsubscribing from ones I’m frequently not reading.
Now that I know more about how bloggers and companies typically pay more the more subscribers they have, it doesn’t make sense for me to have someone paying for me when I’m not actually reading what they send.
And if you’re subscribed to my blog, but find yourself not reading, please don’t feel bad about unsubscribing! I totally understand.
Reevaluate Routine Blocks
Routine blocks build our flexible schedule. We have blocks of time dedicated to:
By teaching the kids what to do in each block, I can then mix and match our schedule as needed. The blocks can be rearranged to fit in an appointment or extra work hours, or a fun project.
I’ve learned that teaching flexibility through these blocks helps my kids learn to be flexible. That’s important!
Since homeschooling isn’t the point of this blog, I won’t hash out all my plans for next year here. If you’re interested, check out my Maggie’s Milk blog, where I frequently post about homeschooling.
Streamline During Summer Break
Taking time to streamline during summer break cuts back my daily decisions. I free up brain power, and have extra time to work.
It works well for us, and if you’re struggling to do it all, I’d recommend seeing what you can streamline.
And if you need help streamlining, check out my coaching services. I’d love to help walk you through the streamlining process to help you carve out time for a business.
Lisa Tanner is a former teacher turned homeschooling mom with 11 kids. She's also a successful freelance writer. Lisa enjoys helping other busy moms find time to start and grow a side hustle of their own.