Time Management & Schedule Changes

As many of you know, my daughter is starting public school this year. (If you’d like to know a bit more about our year of home school and the public school situation check out this post.) Her beginning school means that I will be able to take a real shot at making art my full time career. I’ll have six hour days, five days a week, to dedicate to art. And that is unbelievably exciting. And intimidating. Last week, my daughter did a week of nature day camp. Every day I dropped her off at 9:30am and picked her up again at 3:00pm. It was a really nice preview of what a full day of free time would be like. And boy, was it a HUGE eye opener in terms of time management.

first day of day camp!
First day of nature camp!

Basically, I have to entirely figure out how to function productively again. For roughly the past five years, my week days have consisted of time with my kiddo. Our days were filled with playtime, adventures, visiting family, playdates with friends, and things like errands and housework too of course. What I would consider a pretty typical stay-at-home-mom life. My days were centered entirely around my kiddo. Which is exactly what I wanted. We had a bit of a switch up in September of last year when we started home schooling, but really, the focus of the daytime hours didn’t change much for me – it was still about her.

My time came after dark. I’ve always been a night owl, ever since high school. My creative aura is just in full swing once the sun sets. That schedule worked perfectly in conjunction with having a child. She went to bed, and I had around four or five hours to myself for my personal projects and hobbies. It’s been great!

So when she went off to camp last week each day, I was elated at the idea of having a whole day to myself! I could get so much done! Let me tell you, it was a slap in the face. I have ZERO idea how to effectively manage my time when it comes to projects. I know that sounds stupid. GEEZ KAYLY, JUST WORK ON STUFF. But it really is different when you’re used to one routine and you suddenly have something entirely new to work with. The hours just flew by. And yes, I got many things done, but not nearly as much as I wanted and my days felt really unorganized. It really opened my eyes to how much I need to actively plan out my days, or I will not be anywhere near as productive as I want to be.

time management - planner and notebooks

Since I’ll be going to bed earlier once she starts school (since we have to get up earlier to get her to school on time) I definitely need to be making the most of my days. I currently have a small army of notebooks + my two planners dedicated to working out the best way to schedule my time. Here’s what I have to work on balancing out:

  • Grocery shopping. I currently do this on Monday mornings each week and it takes about an hour. Do I keep doing it Monday mornings and sacrifice the hour out of every Monday? Or do I find a new time to do it that doesn’t impact my ‘work day’?
  • Keeping up with emails/blog posts. Normally, I do this in the evening after dinner if my kiddo chooses to have some TV time. Should I incorporate it into my work day instead, and spend more family time since she’ll be gone all day? Or keep it the same so she can relax with some TV still?
  • Social media. As I begin marketing and promoting my business come September, I plan on scheduling out a lot of social media stuff so I can be consistently active with it. Do I do that as part of my work day? Do I pick one day each week to work on it and schedule it for whole the week? Do I schedule a block of time each day for checking in with my socials?
  • Art. This is what I’ll be spending the majority of my work day on. But the question remains of what I should be working on. Should I spend my days only on commissions until they are done? Or work a bit on commissions each day and personal art each day? Also, what the fuck am I doing with my personal art???? (Yay creative crisis!)
  • Blogging. Currently I write up & schedule my posts for the week on Sunday nights after my kiddo goes to bed. This is only thing I can confidently say I plan on keeping the same schedule for. I really like Sunday nights as my ‘planning night’ where I plan out my week in my two planners, and write posts up.

I’m not actually looking for you to answer all the questions I have. Learning to navigate this new schedule is all part of the process. And that’s why I’m writing this post. It’s cathartic to share the process. To share about things that feel completely overwhelming. Currently, the idea of making art my full time job feels really overwhelming. It feels like I’ll be sitting around doodling all day. It feels like it’ll be a huge waste of time. It doesn’t feel like a ‘real job’.

My goal is to get to the point with the process where these posts will have actual useful advice & information to share. But for now, you get square one, which is the unknown. It’s a complete new chapter of my life. And, like all new things, that comes with a huge amount of uncertainty and fear. But I am willing to put in the work, make mistakes, figure things out, and try my best to make it happen. Hopefully, you won’t mind that I ramble to you all about it along the way. And even if you do, I’ll just keep doing it anyway. 🙂

How do you go about dealing with a huge schedule change in your life? What are your favorite time management strategies?

  • B.

    I have zero advice about time management! But it sounds like you have the tools to get the job done and you’re asking yourself the right questions.

    • Kay

      I’m hoping so! So much to prepare for, and so little time!

  • I’m not a stay at home mother but I’ve been working from home the last few weeks due to renovations at work. I say keep things like food shopping in that one hour a week on Mondays – you will need to break up the monotony of your days working from home and get out of the house. Allow yourself those breaks – even if its just to run out to get coffee for 30 minutes to get a break and some fresh air. 🙂 And good luck! PS Love those notebooks in the top right corner of your pic!

    • Kay

      Thank you! Randomly, Marshalls had a bunch of cute notebooks in three-packs earlier this year and I went so overboard in buying haha! But I like having each one have it’s own purpose – helps keep my brain organized.

      That’s a really good point about breaking up the day. Thanks for the tip! It’s nice that the post office is in walking distance, so I should schedule a mid-day walk to check the mail too. Plus, then I can get a little Pokemon GO in right?! 😀

  • I know what you mean! When I’m at work during the week I end up thinking of all the things I would totally get done if I had the day off but then the weekend comes around and I still end up not getting even half of my daydream tasks accomplished. I would do the blog reading / commenting during the day so you have more time together at night! Good luck figuring out your new schedule!

    • Kay

      Good point, thanks Kristin! And it’s so crazy how fast the time slips by during the day.

  • Yes, PLEASE continue to share your time management journey!! I’m struggling with it myself. As a total outsider, I would think it would make more sense to work on both your commissions and your personal art. It seems like a good balance so you don’t get bored with either!

    • Kay

      That is a really good point! I’m pretty sure that’s the plan. And I’ll definitely continue sharing!

  • Every Sunday, I schedule my social media for the whole week. I mean, that doesn’t include my random Facebook posts or actually engaging in conversation online… but it helps me make sure that I got the bare minimum done and out of the way so that I can focus my efforts elsewhere. It usually takes me 1-2 hours to do this because I also schedule out daily posts for a group I admin on Facebook. If you aren’t already… check out CoSchedule. It’ll make your life so much easier…omg

    • Kay

      I’ve heard of CoSchedule but have yet to look into it. Is it free? I really need to start with a free option (I’ve heard a lot about Buffer as well, which has free options) simply because without a steady income from me, I really want to put as little money into things as possible. But I will definitely look into it!

      • They have a free trial and a lot of opportunity to cut down the price. Seriously… just for blogging about the plugin, you get 50% off. It’s awesome.

        I bought into a bigger package they made last year that includes access to a Chrome extension that they made… so you can schedule social media from anyone’s page. It cost me $54 for the year.

        You also get 10% off for every person you refer. Sooooo Shameless plug: http://coschedule.com/r/9027

        • Kay

          That is really affordable! It’s definitely something I’m going to look into. And if I go that route, of course I will use your link! Thanks Kimi!

  • I am always struggling and trying to find a good system for keeping up with my time management. That’s why I have created so many planners! Ha ha. But seriously, please keep sharing your journey!

    For me, I’m a big rewards-system type of person. If I have a block of time that I hadn’t really planned on having, I’ll say to myself “Ok, if you do X (whether it be work or house work) for 30 minutes, then you can treat yourself with Y (usually some time spent watching YouTube videos).” This helps me feel more motivated.

    • Kay

      That’s a great way to look at it! I definitely think that would motivate me as well. I also need to work on removing distractions for myself. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve just wasted away 30 minutes on Twitter or Instagram or something when I meant to pop on and just check ‘one thing’. That’s got to be reigned in!

  • gamerwife

    I can totally relate to this. I find that creating rituals around certain things really helps with making them habit. Like, every morning I know that after I work out I can relax with coffee and Youtube videos before I take my shower. Just sprinkling in little treats for myself really helps with my mood and productivity.

    • Kay

      That is definitely a system I think would work for me. I don’t want to fall behind with blog reading and YouTube, and using them as a rewards system is both rewarding, and keeps me from falling behind on them. Thanks Mariko!

  • I can relate to this. Yet, we are going to continue with homeschooling, so I think my schedule is going to change more dramatically, since we are starting on official preschool. I have no expectations going into this but I’m excited about the journey. I’m sure my blogging will take a hit unless I get my time management in order.

    • Kay

      That’s awesome that you are still homeschooling! My only advice if you’re starting something more structures is PLAN. I did my daughter’s lessons a week at a time, and used the weekends to get everything ready for the following week. It is so much easier having everything ready to go than trying to wing it every day. And while blogging is great, some things are definitely more important. 🙂

      • Absolutely! I’m finishing up school and going to take a hop to another island and learn about volcanos to break into our solid schedule. I think my little guy needs it more than ever now. Only a couple more weeks of “summer vacation” I’ve been saving is Koala Boxes too in order to use them for school.

  • I realize I spend more time deciding how to manage my time than actually managing it! So, I started just doing the first thing that came to mind when I was free. That’s probably not the most effective way to schedule things but it really got me out of my indecisive zone!

    • Kay

      Oh my gosh, I totally relate to that first sentence haha!! I am constantly making lists and trying things out and realizing wow, I’m spending all my time PLANNING how to plan! This past week I did the same method as you – I made a list, and just picked stuff off it to do when I felt like it, in no particular order. And it was a productive week, but I know it won’t work for me long term. I’d slack off too much!

  • Eesh, you sound like a real grown-up with all of those responsibilities! All I ever worry about is getting to work on time then getting home and playing video games until I go to bed-_- I guess I always knew that having a child really changes your life, but I never thought too hard about what the impact on my day to day life would be like! Anyway, I’m excited that you’ll be able to commit to your art full-time now, and I totally understand how that could be intimidating! You’re going to rock it though, girly<3

    • Kay

      Yeah, I 100% did not appreciate my free time until I had a child. But also, I chose to be a stay-at-home mom because this is how I wanted to raise my kiddo! I wanted all this time together, and I certainly don’t regret it. But it is going to be so weird to go back to having days to myself again! I already told my partner that I’m spending the first two weeks doing ‘nothing’ by which I mean literally doing whatever I want all day. I haven’t had any type of staycation like that in five years….I’m totally taking one haha! We’re getting a PS4 at the end of the month as well so my current plan is to binge Deus Ex: Mankind Divided like no tomorrow!!

      And thanks!! I’ll definitely do my best!

  • Danette Perez

    Ah, what an exciting time! Your comment about art not being a ‘real job’ reminds me of Amanda Palmer’s ‘fraud police’ thought. Hah. Have you listened to Neil Gaiman’s commencement speech ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ikAb-NYkseI )? It’s about doing art, and feelings around it. I think you’ll find it useful- it’s definitely a go-to for me when I need some kind words and direction. Sounds to me like you’re going on a good path though, and I’m looking forward to watching you walk to brand new places 🙂

    • Kay

      Dude, I live on planning ahaha! And yes, I totally know what you mean about step one being PANIC!! I’ve definitely got step one down pat. xD So much journaling lately to just pour out the feels. And I haven’t watched this speech yet but I’m about to right now! I’d give anything Neil Gaiman says a listen, and I can imagine it’s a good one! 😀

  • I was unemployed for awhile and stayed at home to work on some digital art, and let me tell you… it is tough. It’s tough because you have the entire day, just you, and you’re “supposed” to be working on digital art but you also want to be lazy and just be on twitter or blog all day. That’s what ended up happening, lol. I was just blogging alllll the time. Ugh, I had horrible time management. But you will be just fine… it may just take awhile to figure it out.

    • Kay

      It will definitely take time, but I agree, I’ll find a way that works! It helps that I’m not diving right in – I’m giving myself two weeks once she starts school to have as a ‘vacation’. A staycation really haha. I’ll work on scheduling and such, but also do a LOT of vegging out and playing loads of video games on our new PS4 haha!

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