Monday, August 31, 2009

Brainstorming to Ease Your Fall Schedule

Summer's sprinting away. I can see the dust trail left behind and I'm waving--a sad, mournful little wave--as it disappears. Sigh. See you again next year, my playful friend.



And here comes fall, brisk and welcoming. I stand a bit straighter, gird myself for productivity. But fall is no slave driver. Fall knows how to have fun too.

Heather Sunseri wrote a comforting series about the seasons of the writer's life over at her blog, Balance with Purpose. Here's the link to her take on fall: Seasons of the Soul, part 4, Fall. If you get a chance, read through the entire series--it's very reassuring.

With a new season, comes a new schedule. I have to adapt to a frantic pace as soon as September hits. I rise earlier, cram more in during the day, and am bound to a variety of late afternoon activities. Over the past week, I've brainstormed ways to keep my sanity with the new schedule. Here are a few things I'm doing:


  • Wake up 30 minutes early for Bible study, prayer, and a quiet time before I have to get up.

  • Simple wake up routine with minimum fuss.

  • Pack snacks, drinks, and reading material for my never-ending car time. Sometimes I think I spend more time in my mini-van than I spend at home.

  • Take an hour on Sunday to plan the week's meals and create a shopping list. (I've been doing this for years. It saves me so much mental stress!)

  • Deal with incoming paperwork (mail, children's homework, permission slips, etc...) immediately.

  • Shorter, realistic exercise routine. I know I can fit a 20 minute walk in my weekdays, whether on the treadmill or outdoors, but a 50 minute yoga DVD will only collect dust.

  • Continue my fall/winter weekly writing session with a dear friend. I can't tell you how much I've missed our sessions this summer!
I'll admit the one item on the list that gives me the most grief is exercise. It's the first thing I give up when I'm busy. But I don't want to. I'm a nicer person, not to mention healthier, when I exercise regularly.
Also, the packing of snacks, drinks, and reading materials each morning for my mini-van time has kept my stress levels low. We're always hungry and tired in the afternoon, but due to activities, we can't go home. I feel guilty if we head to a drive-thru, but with snacks in the car, there's no need. And I can catch up on my magazines or read a few chapters of a book while I wait. I always, always, pack snacks and books!
What challenges do you face as the new season arrives? Can you let a few of your summer routines slide until next year? Is there a way to adapt your morning routine or your exercise routine to fit in your life better?
Join me on Wednesday when we'll dive into a new month with a new topic: career planning!

38 comments:

  1. I love fall and the routine it brings. Summer is so out of whack and with teens, the late nights are a killer. At least in the fall I can get to bed at a decent hour and feel more rested. I also get up 30 minutes earlier to have my quiet time. It is the only way to keep my sanity and stay focused. :)

    What do you do with your friend during your weekly writing session? I am so curious!

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  2. Oh, Jill. I love this post! (And not just because of the mention. Thanks for that!!!) But I, too, have adjusted my fall schedule so that I can fit in things that mean so much to me. I get up an hour before the rest of my family so that I have quiet time to hear myself think. And guess, what, I actually crave that hour now. I'm really upset when I don't get that hour. And the cooler temperatures hitting KY now make it even more fun to enjoy quiet time with that warm cup of coffee.

    Happy Monday!!

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  3. It's a great list of helpful hints!

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  4. Since my oldest is in kindergarten, that's changed things a bit. Wow, you guys must have a lot of activities. I'm NOT looking forward to that someday. But I'm glad you're prepared and ready to go! :-)

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  5. You have a great plan, Jill. Exercise is hard for me too, but since getting my laptop table at our treadmill, I'm doing much better.

    I have one week left before school starts, so next weekend I'll be working on my priorities and coming up with a new schedule too.

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  6. I have ONE week left of summer break! Then I'll have to figure out how I'm going to fit everything in. I'm just not sure how I'll manage. But during this week, I'll try to figure out a workable schedule!

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  7. I thought about doing Sunday (meals and schedule for the week) planning and since you say it lowers your stress I think I'll actually implement it and see how it works.

    Great post. I need to set Fall goals.

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  8. I CANNOT WAIT for school to start. LOL! (One more week! Woo-hoo!)

    I have NO routine in the summer and I hate it. I'm definitely a schedule kind of gal.

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  9. I'm clinging to my writing, hoping with the new schedule I won't lose chunks of time, but gain chunks instead. I'm liking the word chunks today. :D
    Heather's blog has impressed me, as well.
    ~ Wendy

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  10. Great post. Readjusting our schedules with the seasons is sort of like a personal 'fall cleaning'. I'm trying to adapt as well and can't wait for Thursdays!

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  11. I find I'm much more productive in the fall. I'm like you, though, in that exercise is the first thing to go when I'm busy. I also make that list of meals on Sunday.

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  12. Good Morning!

    Sherrinda: I'm so glad August is over for you! Now you can sit back and exhale. My friend and I meet at a coffee shop. We chat a while, get out our laptops, and write. It's the best!

    Heather: I love my quiet morning time too. I need it. Enjoy your morning coffee! I'll bet the fall colors will pop through soon.

    Janna: My life changes every few years and right now it's hectic, so I'm constantly looking for ways to make it easier!

    Jessica: Congratulations! Kindergarten--aww! I cried all day when my youngest went to Kind. And yes, we're busy, but it's honestly fun. I'm very involved in their activities and I wouldn't have it any other way.

    Eileen: Laptop table--I've heard of those. What a great idea! Walking and typing. I could do that!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  13. Jody: The first few days are always the roughest. Then everyone calms down and knows what to expect. Enjoy this last week!

    Regina: Meal-planning feels awkward at first, but it's amazing. I don't worry all day about what we're going to have for dinner, because it's posted on the fridge. And I have all the ingredients because when I make the list, I jot down everything I need for the meal. Easy!

    Jennifer: I know! Same here. It won't be long until your schedule is back--yay!

    Wendy: I love the thought of gaining chunks of time. Summer gobbles it up, doesn't it? Good luck!

    Connie: I like the idea of "fall cleaning" with our writing! I'm counting down until Thursday...

    LazyWriter: Exercise--uggh! I feel so good when I'm doing it. Why do I let it slip? This fall, I'm not going to. I'm going to keep at it. You can yell at me if I don't!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  14. I'm loving having the kids back in school for the tiny bit of freedom it gives my day

    but I'm struggling with the early mornings. I'm up at 5:45 with my oldest. I'm committed to getting up and making her a hot breakfast every morning but man am I tired! She goes to bed earlier...I need to do the same :)

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  15. Great idea. You seem very motivated. I need to make out a list like this. I have some contest entries to prepare and a manuscript to finish. Hopefully this will be a very productive fall. It's my favorite time of the year!

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  16. Hi, Jill! This is a great idea!!! I'm definitely going to use it in scheduling for the next few months!

    I have the strange feeling that my current WIP will mostly come to me at night. It just has that "feel". Anywho, we'll see how that makes things more interesting....

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  17. OMGosh I got lost in that amazing picture! I love your newfound schedule. I def. have to get up much, much earlier. WElcome back t reality, right? I don't mind too much, I'm just not so good at getting to bed early. Bleh.

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  18. Tess: The words "5:45" make me cry inside :( I can't imagine getting up that early!! You poor thing! But kudos for keeping your kids healthy!

    Stephanie: Isn't fall lovely? Good luck on the contests! How long do you think it will take you to finish up the ms?

    Kristen T: I'll do anything to make life easier! Night seems to bring out great ideas. I think you'll zip right along!

    T.Anne: Yeah, the alarm goes off earlier, but we don't go to bed earlier? Why is that? I'm the same way! Terrible!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  19. We're into our third week of school, and are just getting into a routine that will be blown apart next week when we have company. :)

    The shopping list/menu thing is a MUST for me. It has saved me so much trouble these past three years I've been dedicated to implementing it.

    My biggest challenge? Waiting until too late in the day to exercise, when I'm tired and I realize my to do list is still longer than the hours until bedtime.

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  20. I'm a teacher's wife, so my schedule changes drastically when he returns to school in the fall. I look forward to having more time for my writing, but I have to make wise use of the hours I'm home alone.

    When possible, I break up my day with a walk. The time away from the computer recharges me. I return refreshed and ready to write with ideas flowing.

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  21. You have some great survival ideas. Planning groceries and other things ahead is the only way I can make it.
    One thing I will change for the busiest fall days, moisturizer and blush and pull my hair back.

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  22. There are some good tips in this post I might have to incorporate into my own routine. The hardest part for me is finding what works, what's efficient, and then sticking to it. Once I've done it for a few weeks, I'm fine. It's getting into the routine, making the adjustment that's hard.

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  23. I am so ready for fall. It's much easier for me to be on a schedule when my kids have to be at preschool at certain times and etc. My goal for this fall is to finish our WIP by mid-October. Would love to start submissions in November. We'll see.

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  24. Jill,
    I saw your comments on Nicole's interview with Angie and wanted to let you know I have an interview with Nicole on my blog today.

    http://warrenbaldwin.blogspot.com/2009/08/truth-or-dare_31.html

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  25. Erica: Labor Day weekend was invented to explode our schedules! And I agree completely with the menu-planning and exercise issues.

    Keli: As a teacher's wife, you must have more time by yourself in the fall and winter months. It can be difficult to make wise use of the hours! I know you will, though!

    Nancy: I hear you--pull that hair back! Barrettes, ponytails, and headbands are essential for busy days.

    Cindy: I know. And it's hard when you get one routine mastered, only to have to modify it because life changed again. These transition weeks are always tough on me.

    Lisa and Laura: The busier my schedule, the more I accomplish, sadly enough. Having to transport the kids forces me to be on top of things. Good luck getting your wip done by mid-October--I know you can do it!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  26. Warren: Thanks for letting me know! I'll stop by and check it out.

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  27. Fall is my favorite season of all. I really don't have any schedule changes since I homeschool year round, so I can just enjoy the sights and smells. :D The only quibble I have is the shorter days. This is good for bedtime, but not so fun during the evening.

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  28. Going back to work was rough...and anticipating the conference is sort of throwing me out of whack. I'm hoping, once I return from the conference and I get to know my students better, that I'll get into more of a groove when it comes to family, writing, and working.

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  29. Danyelle: I'm nervous about the shorter days too. It's always colder and I feel lazier about exercising when it gets dark out at 5:00!

    Katie: I'm sure. I think some years are just easier to handle than others. When you get back from conference, I'll bet life will settle down some.

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  30. Jill you are such an organized person! It brings back such memories when I read about all the school stuff:) No real fall changes here --but it does get a bit cooler:)

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  31. Jill: I admire your list, especially the quiet time with God first thing. I have noticed my whole world looks brighter and spins smooter when I focus on the Lord first thing.

    My biggest challenge right now is exercise. Because I'm writing more, I have to force myself to walk or go to Curves. But I always have a better outlook afterward.

    Great post!
    Jen, Audience of ONE

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  32. Terri: I love this time of my life. I know I'll miss it when the kids are older!

    Jeanette: I agree--the day is so much better when I spend quiet time before it starts. Good luck with the exercise!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  33. Great post! I feel like there are definite seasons in my life. I think it's great that you are laying everything out to see where you're at, even if you know you struggle with some of those things.

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  34. Lady Glamis: Oh yes! I'm in a busy season and I love it. I get so much more done! Of course, there are drawbacks, but that's life, you know?

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  35. There are always drawbacks, yep! I'm always more productive when I'm busy. :)

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  36. I am determined not to let the exercise slide for all of the reasons that you mentioned. I'm at a different stage of life now; there are no long hours waiting in the minivan or dance waiting room. Still, I find it hard to balance family time (including elderly parents), writing time, chores and work time.

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  37. while you are going into fall, we here on the other side of the world are awaiting our summer. bring on the heat I say. I love that photo too by the way.:)

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  38. Lady Glamis: Me too!

    2nd Cup: Each phase of life brings another set of challenges, doesn't it? It's kind of fun figuring out how to squeeze it all in!

    Tabitha: Oh! That's right! I forgot you're just finishing up winter. Enjoy the gorgeous weather coming up!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

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