Each week, I share a tip about how to increase your productivity at home and in home business. Today’s tip is about the importance of planning ahead.
My son is a fairly new violin student. He loves playing the violin. I think he is as amazed as we are that the sweet sounds he produces come from his own fingers on his own violin.
You’d think that since he loves the violin so much, it would be easy to get him to practice; far from it, in fact.
I would remind him in the morning to play right after his morning list. He would get distracted, then we’d start schoolwork, then it was quiet time (definitely not the right time for music!) and before I knew it, it was almost bedtime and he still hadn’t played. We didn’t have a specific time for practicing and the result was the practicing didn’t happen reliably. We had to make a change.
What does this have to do with vegetables? Stay with me – I’m getting there, I promise!
I decided he would play in the morning before he starts any schoolwork.
A definite advantage of homeschooling is that you can make these kinds of scheduling decisions. No matter that there was schoolwork to be done or that he likes to sit in with his brother on the 7th grade DVD science lesson. The violin practice is important to us (and to him) and it needed to happen first.
It’s been about a week and the change has been a great success.
My son is more motivated to get through his chores because he knows the violin practice is waiting. He has lots of energy to play since he hasn’t used it all up on other things. He usually makes it to the science lesson in time. It’s all good. And I don’t find myself at 8pm being frustrated that we forgot again to make time for violin.
The violin practice was our “yucky” thing.
Not that my son thinks the violin is yucky – quite the opposite in fact. Once he starts playing and gets through the dreaded scales, he loves the rest of the practice time. But even though he loves to play, my son wasn’t making the time later in the day. There was always something else more urgent or more fun that pulled him away. It felt like a chore to him.
Did your mother ever tell you that you couldn’t have dessert until you ate your vegetables first?
This is the same concept. Eating vegetables might not be as lip-smacking as eating chocolate cake, but it has to be done to stay healthy. Similarly, if we only do the exciting or urgent things in life, some important things are bound to be neglected.
Gretchen Rubin calls this “suffering for 15 minutes.” She writes how she finally combed through years of digital photographs and created albums for her daughters in just 15 minutes a day. It was important to her and so she made the time to do it.
Sometimes important things get neglected because we think we will just get to them “in our spare time.”
Unfortunately, in a busy life, there may not be much spare time and when you actually have a chance to sit down, you may feel more like crashing.
So I encourage you to think of those important things like vegetables – vital to your well-being and not to be neglected. Decide when you want to do them and stick to your plan, even if other things threaten to interrupt. The earlier in the day you schedule these “important” things, the more likely you are to get them done.
What kind of “yucky” things might you decide to prioritize?
It all depends on what is important to you. Think about which tasks you have been avoiding and see if you might be able to work them into your day earlier. Things like:
- doing paperwork
- paying bills
- deep cleaning
- extra time with a child (certainly not a yucky thing but perhaps difficult to otherwise fit in)
Eating vegetables doesn’t have to be yucky.
My son loves our new violin schedule. Now that we have prioritized the music practice, it happens just like it should. The important things need to come first. Plus, once you know the important things are taken care of, you can enjoy your dessert with a free conscience.
We thought it would be fun for you to see a video of my son playing his latest piece. We are so proud of him. Here he is playing Musette from Suzuki Book #2.
[This tip is #4 in my series on productivity tips. ]
Stay tuned for tomorrow when I share with you my favorite strategy for tackling these kinds of questions.