Redeeming Your Time: How to Make the Most of Every Moment as a Homeschool Mom
I’m a time management/productivity enthusiast, which you know if you have my book, A Year of Living Productively. That book is the result of my experiments with more than 80 different productivity approaches. I did the reading and the experimenting to make the process of creating your own productivity formula faster. What I’ve discovered about has enabled me to write, speak, run a business, homeschool, maintain relationships, keep a home, and enjoy hobbies. But I’m never done wanting to improve.
Every season of our lives presents new challenges for using our time. I have just two high school students at home now and they both work. I’m done teaching public speaking at our local homeschool academy. Now I want to provide YouTube videos to help homeschooling parents. So it’s a good time for me to reevaluate how I’m doing things.
That reevaluation led me to read the book Redeeming Your Time by Jordan Raynor.
Honestly, I was prepared to be disappointed. Most time management books are basic. You know: Your time is valuable. Have a morning routine. Plan your day. Christian books about time typically emphasize spending time in prayer about your priorities. These practices are so important, but they aren’t new to me after years of focus on productivity.
So I was surprised by Jordan’s book. I needed it. Maybe you do, too. So I’m going to share six lessons from Redeeming Your Time that will help you make the most of every moment as a homeschool mom.
#1 God will finish the work we leave unfinished
Too many time-management teachers imply that we can get it all done. Just say no to things, trim down your extracurricular activities, use practical curriculum and you’ll finish your homeschool plan early. Yeah, right!
This idea has left me feeling like a failure. Sometimes I give up. I quit putting effort into activities or I stop using the curriculum. Other times I try harder. I commit to getting up earlier, being firmer with my kids about meeting deadlines, or working faster through lessons. Because that’s a recipe for joy, right?
There are so many lessons and subjects I wanted to teach my kids before they went off to college but didn’t. I have honestly schemed about how I could talk them into doing the lessons when they’re home for college. “Hey, guys, let’s watch this amazing video together. Here’s a fantastic book that I’m going to read aloud to you.” Yeah, that won’t happen.
As a writer, I have so many ideas for books. I want to write them all! Truthfully, I’d like to write them all this year. But Jordan gently helped me see that I won’t write them all this year. I may not write them all in five years. I may not write them ever.
But it’s okay. God knows that we won’t get all the work done even if we’re still in denial about it. He will finish the work that He wants done. Our kids will learn the lessons they need to learn without us. Hard to believe, I know. They’ll hear a message in church, get it through experience, or will seek the knowledge themselves because we have taught them how to learn. I have seen this in my kids time and time again.
So, take a deep breath, and know that God will finish everything on your to-do list that He wants done, even if He uses someone else to do it.
#2 We aren’t obligated to be productive
Jordan didn’t put it quite this way. Instead, he said, “God loves us no matter how productive or unproductive we are in this life.” He isn’t sighing in disappointment when He sees me chatting with friends instead of teaching a lesson on research paper writing. He isn’t rolling His eyes when I’m looking at clothes on Pinterest instead of making a faith video to share on Instagram.
Jordan explains that no matter how much we accomplish, it isn’t possible for God to love us more. And no matter how much we mess up, it isn’t possible for God to love us less. He reminded me of a blog post I wrote years ago on obligation-based procrastination. We strong-types don’t like feeling like we have to do things. That’s why I never practiced piano when I had to practice for my teacher each week. As soon as my parents gave me permission to quit, I began playing an hour a day–simply because I wanted to.
What this means is that God doesn’t require us to check off a long list of tasks. We aren’t required to do them to earn His love. Suddenly, we are free to do them simply because we want to.
What tasks can you let go of that God isn’t requiring you to do? Let them go and rediscover what you’re passionate about.
#3 Take time to think
When I had severe shoulder pain, sitting in our hot tub was one of the few things that gave me relief. But that time had an added benefit. I had nothing to do but think. I already knew what a blessing thinking time was for me. I love driving long distance alone. I talk to God, work through emotions, and come up with my best ideas. I had the idea for Grammar Galaxy while driving.
But I needed the reminder to take this time even when I’m at home. The popular practice of meditation is not what I’m talking about here. Secular meditation is chasing thoughts away by focusing on the breath or repeating a phrase. I think that’s the opposite of what we need to do. We need to let the thoughts come so we can acknowledge them and learn from them.
Jordan makes the point that we have so little quiet time to think that the thoughts come in a rush when we step into the shower, are having a conversation, or try to go to sleep at night. We have blocked them by reading, listening, and watching constantly.
The first time I practiced this after reading Jordan’s book, the answer to a question I had about how to spend my time came to me so clearly that I was dumbfounded.
After having time to read God’s Word and praying, sit and think. Notice what comes to mind without trying to block the thoughts.
#4 You don’t need to know
I told you about the lessons I learned doing a social-media fast. So I was surprised to learn more on this topic.
Jordan called me out on some of my reading habits. He writes, “We love being the first to know something…There is ego in trying to stay up on everything…in trying to appear the most informed person in the room.” Ugh. Then he quotes Jen Wilkin: “Our insatiable desire for information is a clear sign that we covet the divine omniscience.” In other words, she’s saying I’m trying to be God. If I were God, I would need to know all the things.
After reading the book, I moved some things out of my inbox. What’s funny is that my husband and friends are always repeating what I read anyway. But I apparently really like being in the know and I’ve started reading them again. Preparing this podcast is a good reminder to me that I don’t need to know.
Jordan says that we weren’t created to take in information like it’s coming out of a firehouse. I remember getting a 75-page homeschool newsletter in my early homeschooling days. The number of decisions I had to make about homeschool activities each month was so overwhelming that I stopped reading it. Instead, I told my friends to tell me about anything I shouldn’t miss.
If you’re drowning in information you don’t need, consider having your friends and family keep you posted about what the critical and letting the rest go.
#5 Choose goals for your priority roles
Jordan’s roles as husband, father, and entrepreneur guide his goals. I believe in the priority of marriage and talk about it. But I realized after reading Jordan’s marriage goals that I don’t have any goals related to my marriage. That’s in part because we have a healthy marriage. My business is also doing well. Yet I have many goals for it. There is clearly a mismatch between my marriage priority and my goals.
Jordan has date nights as a goal. I don’t need that. My husband and I both work from home, go out on dates regularly, and spend focused time together morning and evening. Then I recalled what Sandy had said about doing good to her husband all the days of her life. I shared this in a previous episode that I’ll link in the show notes. Now I had a goal. Each day I would look for a day to do my husband good.
The first day my husband was asking me what I would make for dinner and he suggested pork chops. I wrinkled my nose. Pork chops are just okay for me. Then I remembered the goal. Making pork chops would be the good I would do him. But that’s it. That’s all he gets. I’m kidding!
What are your three top roles in life? Choose a goal that matches each role.
#6 Manage interruptions in batches
Most people check their email and text messages many times a day. Jordan’s metaphor shows us how ridiculous this is. He writes, “I want you to imagine something. Instead of delivering mail to your home once a day, the mailman has started making deliveries one hundred times a day. And he no longer stays at the curb. With each delivery, he rings your doorbell and you get up from whatever you’re doing, open the door, take the piece of mail, and open it…That would be insane, right?”
Yep, insane. I realized that although I had my phone on silent while I was writing, I kept being interrupted by the tap of my Apple watch. A friend sent a news article for me to read. Even when I didn’t stop to read it, I was distracted. It took time for me to focus on my writing again.
You may not have a problem with email or messaging but with children interrupting you. You’re tutoring one child and two more come to you asking for help.
After reading the book, I started using the Focus setting on my phone. I couldn’t believe the difference it made to get no digital interruptions during my writing. My next step is to put a “recording” sign on my door so my family knows not to interrupt my podcast and YouTube sessions.
Consider set times for checking your email, messages, and your kids’ schoolwork. Take advantage of apps that will block non-emergency interruptions.
There is so much more to Redeeming Your Time. He is writing to a business audience primarily, but it’s a worthy read for a homeschool mom. Let me know what you think of it and your results with the tips I shared.
Join me next time as we discuss how to homeschool if your child won’t listen.
Have a happy homeschool week!