I seem to be getting more and more “how do you do it all” questions lately. I think we’re all looking for the magic secret ingredient that will suddenly make our super-long to-do list possible. It seems like others are doing more and we feel inadequate.

Here’s the secret you knew all along: I’m not doing as much as you probably think I am. My to do list is always longer than I can accomplish. I feel the pressure of things left undone. I feel inadequate to what’s on my plate a lot of the time.

I also know that’s a misperception and bad attitude more than a true state.

Different people also have different energy levels and different operating modes. We don’t do ourselves or our families any favors when we compare ourselves to others. We each need to think about who we are, how we function, and how to arrange life in light of those realities.

I am a doer. Having projects makes me happy. I need projects to balance out the daily hum-drum because for me a regular daily routine is draining but a challenging project is invigorating.

So, I will share my weekly time budget – a strategy I recommend inside Convivial Circle – but I also think it’s important for each of us to look at what kind of a person we are rather than compare ourselves to others. Put some time into whatever you find life-giving and invigorating so you can have a replenished self to pour into the other parts of your life that require more out of you.

I think a weekly time budget is a useful exercise because we have different responsibilities and plates to keep spinning, but if we don’t budget time to take care of those things, we’ll always feel behind and like we are making judgment calls we shouldn’t have to make. A prime example of this for me last year was grocery shopping.

Groceries have to be procured, but I didn’t have a place for it on the plan. I thought I had enough margin built in for it to just happen whenever it needed to happen. I did have margin built in. But grocery shopping is rather essential and regular, and so needed a regular and reserved spot in the plan. Just as with a money budget, when I wasn’t reserving any time for grocery shopping, it always felt like I was skimping and scraping to make it happen rather than doing the right thing at the right time.

So, here’s my time budget, with all it’s color-coding detail:


Sunday is not on the time budget at all because it is a day of rest – for church, rest, and fellowship with friends.

  • pink is personal or down time
  • purple is online & writing time (productive online time, that is)
  • orange is school time
  • green is housework, errands, & meals
  • blue is margin, for hanging out or for doing what needs to be done

I’m not afraid to leave off blog posting, skip a monthly newsletter, not do this that or the other thing that was on the plan because I didn’t have the time for it. I am ok with overplanning and then reprioritizing on the fly. I rather like having the options to work from and picking and choosing.

If having something on the plan that you can’t get to stresses you out, you’re going to prefer a different set up and more culling of the list from the outset. I’m ok with deleting on the fly as well as checking off the box.

Having time blocks reserved for school allows me to shut off the mental ticker that likes to think up blog post ideas or things I might try online, having time blocks for housework makes me realize that it’s only a short bit of time I have to focus on it rather than letting it grow to be something that takes all day.

I find a weekly time budget to be a very helpful exercise, a way to wrap my mind around my responsibilities and how they fit together.

How do you plan out your week and plot out your responsibilities?

Give every hour a name.


  1. I have no secret. Only the 7-and-unders go to bed at 7. We get them ready and put them down between 7-7:30. Then the bigger boys (and my middle daughter soon) usually have their computer time (or drawing or reading or they play a board game together) until 8 or 8:30, then they read in bed until 9.

      1. Although I would have preferred to hear a super mom secret way to get everybody in bed by 7pm :-) I’m sooooo a morning person and around 7pm I’m beat.

  2. After reading this post, I have been slowly working at making a time budget, and it is truly eye opening. No wonder I feel like I can’t get it all done – there really isn’t time! This is helping me to see how much time and energy I really do (and don’t) have to accomplish my daily tasks. Thank you!

  3. I recently heard of a time budget on the Art of Simple podcast, and I think it’s such a great idea! I’ve been struggling the most with getting our mornings started smoothly every day, so I decided to put every item I hoped to accomplish on a sticky note, with the time I desired to spend on it. It shocked me! To get in the amount of exercise, devotions, and free reading I wanted, plus laundry started, and breakfast made before my husband goes to work, I’d have to get up at 4am, LOL! I’ll just say it gave me an awesome reality check, but it also freed me from so much guilt! I wasn’t failing to get everything done because I was doing bad job, but because I expected way too much from myself.
    Now, your post motivates me to try a weekly time budget, since I’ve been having the same grocery trouble. Finding a place for a bit of deep cleaning each week would be nice, too!
    I’m totally inspired to get my homeschool more organized with the great posts and scopes coming out from you Schole Sisters. Thanks, and many blessings to you!

  4. Thank you for sharing this! it is very inspirational. Do your kids play sports or have extracurricular activities in the late afternoon or evenings? I feel like it is hard to balance the activities and dinner prep in my home.

  5. Due to various circumstances, I didn’t manage to get a weekly time budget completed for last week, and it was so eye-opening for me. I was straight back to all my bad habits of trying to cram way too much into my day and not spending the time to really figure out what was the most important things to get done on a given day. I would also mentally double (or triple!) book myself, thinking that during the same time slot I could take a walk with the kids, do a bunch of computer work, and get caught up on some housework. It sounds crazy when I type it, but somehow if I’m just thinking about it I pick things from each major area of responsibility and think I can make progress on all of them at the same time! And then I’m left feeling frustrated and disappointed that I didn’t get done what I wanted to get done in that day, even though actually doing all those things was actually completely impossible.

    Needless to say, I have a time budget for this week!!

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