Front-loading Your Day
Updated: Dec 9, 2018
Front-load: to assign costs or benefits to the early stages of a contract, project, or time period. Transitive verb. First usage as described above in 1976.
I’ve been on the hunt for making my days, weeks and life better through time management for a long time. I think this has been a part of my life since I was a child: at age 10, I loved cleaning our family’s entire three bed-room, 1500 sq. foot home in one fell swoop and I discovered through careful use of flow and a well-developed strategy, I could shave the time down from an hour and a half to 58 minutes. I included tidying, dusting, vacuuming, mopping, etc. and it gave me a thrill to see the time shortened for the same job each week. My mom was (obviously) glad too and I always appreciate that she let me treat our home like my home, too. (I mean, she let me cook, clean, decorate, experiment with teaching methods with my younger siblings, run a piano studio out of the house with 25 students in and out each week, make messes with handiwork projects...control freak she was not and I AM SO glad – I learned so much through my growing up years from hands-on, real life experience.)
But we are talking about time management. Ahem.
It seems like you find something that works really well for a while and then things change and you need to find a new schedule again. I am both frustrated and invigorated by that. So I’d like to offer a way to live that has been working great for me… for now! Maybe it will be good for you, too - or simply cherry-pick something that might help.
Front-loading Your Day starts with:
Knowing what items need to be accomplished each day in order for you to meet your BIG goals. So, while, yes, buying groceries and picking up dry cleaning and sweeping the kitchen floor and making the phone call you need to make ALL must happen at some point, these may not necessarily move you towards your biggest goals of all. They might, but you need to know if they do or not.
And ends with:
Getting them done by 2:30 p.m. each day. (Noon would be better but work with the idea.)
That’s it. Here’s what it looks like for me these days, so you can get an idea of it might lay out like in real life.
First off, each day, I know I must:
Hug, kiss my husband and children and listen and talk without distractions.
Read challenging books for 30 minutes
Write to learn and write to think for 30 minutes
Exercise for 30 minutes
(Those are my top four things which I hope to do in the love and joy of Christ Jesus. I don't ever want to put my faith in the "check that box" category so it's not on here. I just am His child and disciple.)
I have lots of other things I want to do each day (like connecting in some way with a friend or two) but truly, if the day ends and I have done these things, I am feeling great because I am moving towards my biggest goals in life. Which are simply to have a wonderful marriage, good relationships with children, have a thinking, well-trained mind that’s been fed good mental food and a strong body.)
I front-load my day by scheduling these top things to happen by 2:30 p.m. each day. Of course there are days where I do not get them all done – even by bedtime – but I’m aiming for that to only happen on rare occasions. I want to habitually prioritize the small things that build to an amazing life.
So my day looks like...
5:48 a.m. alarm goes off, I snooze until 6
I start my day reading. I just stay in my pajamas, grab a cup of coffee and settle in to my reading routine for as long as I can get (most mornings I read for 45-60 minutes) and hit my one of my big targets – the reading one.
I always make sure (if physically possible) to hug and kiss and look my husband and children in the eyes before breakfast. If this is my last day, I want to let them know I LIKE them so, so much and love them even more. Obviously I’m going to love them all day but once the day starts, it gets busy and this way, I KNOW we had a few minutes together. Another big target hit.
I’m writing in the afternoon from 1:15-2. So that’s another target hit.
After that I exercise for 30 minutes, either running or doing yoga. 4th target hit.
Man, it feels so good when I hit that 2:30 moment and I’ve made these big goals. Of course there is a lot left to do before the day is done but my stress levels are way lower when I know that I got done what really mattered to me.
I’m not cleaning the entire house in one fell swoop these days like when I was ten, if anything the house is messy, but I have made that choice to let that “go” a bit in this season of toddlers. I know that it will get easier to have a cleaner house soon (I'm training those kids to clean) but the habits of mental and physical front-loading will be paying dividends for the rest of my life. (If you're wondering "WHERE ARE HER CHILDREN WHILE SHE'S DOING THIS?????!!!!??" I've got a post on this titled "Schole Talk: What to Do With Your Toddlers" that covers this. I promise they are OK.)
As a side note, for the days that are out of control, I heard someone say recently that it helps to look at everything outside of our control as entertainment. That’s brilliant.
How are your days looking overall? Are you able to front-load in order to make life better?