| Connect Two |

The Time Keeper: Part IV

“Time well spent,” Ariella says with satisfaction, looking at the neat, realistic, doable schedule. “I’m not so worried about Pesach anymore”


Ariella: I used to think a schedule created pressure, but now I see that it frees me from worrying. It is possible to get it all done.

David: Ariella needs more time? I’m happy to contribute a few hours every Sunday!

Rachelli: I don’t understand Mommy’s schedule. Only ten hours for “shopping with Rachelli”?

Last session, Ariella was stressed because she needed “more time” to get everything ready for Pesach.

“We’re going to ‘find’ you some more time,” I now explain. “The first step is to learn how to become more aware of time and how to plan anything in life so you can complete it on time.”

We take out a paper that lists all the hours of the day in 15-minute increments. Painstakingly, Ariella fills in the tasks she does every day into the relevant boxes.

9:30 a.m. through 4:00 p.m. are taken up by work. Sometimes she fills in the boxes backwards — she fills in “serve kids supper” from 4:30-5:00 p.m., then goes back to write “cooking” from 4-4:30.

“Wait,” she says, looking down at the page. “The first 30 minutes when I walk in after work aren’t really enough time to put together supper.” She moves cooking to 4:15-4:45. “But now supper isn’t ready on time.” She frowns. “The kids need to eat the minute they walk in. And how many suppers take only 30 minutes to prep and cook?”

“How long does supper take to prep and cook?”

Ariella doesn’t have an accurate sense of how long things take, so she resolves to track her time for a few days. Meanwhile, she notes that “If I know what I want to cook and have all the ingredients on hand, it doesn’t take so long [Better planning in all areas will reduce the time she’s spending on cooking — and free her up for other things]. It’s when I’m scrambling to figure out what to make from the random stuff around that it gets crazy.”

“There’s another way to find ‘extra’ time,” I tell Ariella. “There are time robbers everywhere.”

“Time robbers?”

“Schmoozing on the phone when you’re trying to put your kids to bed, for example. Looking for lost shoes in the morning. Scrambling for dinner ideas. All these things make the process take longer and ‘steal’ your time.”

“I could schmooze while I fold laundry, instead,” Ariella says. “But I do have to find the shoes and make dinner.” [In order to better manage her time, Ariella has to identify what’s nonnegotiable (food, clothing) and what’s not (speaking to each of her five sisters every single night)].

With this insight, Ariella makes a second stab at effectively plotting her day. If supper has to be on the table at 4:30 p.m., what steps do I have to take and when? Using the Ready, Do, Done model, Ariella is shocked to find herself scheduling supper prep for the night before, menu planning for the preceding Sunday, and grocery shopping for Sunday night. But better planning maximizes the use of her time, and she can get more done in the same 24 hours.

By working with a written schedule, it’s obvious to her that she should schedule clothes shopping for Sunday afternoon when the kids are home — she needs them with her — instead of trying to clean during that time, with all the kids underfoot.

It takes two consecutive sessions for Ariella to create a weekly schedule that lists all her typical tasks and allots time to accomplish each component using the Ready, Do, Done model. Then, having identified where she might have “extra” time to prepare for Pesach, we spend an entire session on her Pesach prep schedule.

“Time well spent,” Ariella says with satisfaction, looking at the neat, realistic, doable schedule. “I’m not so worried about Pesach anymore.”


Take It Home

If you struggle with planning and executing tasks, here are some ideas to reorganize the way you approach executive functioning:

  1. Think in terms of the future. When you’re planning what you want to accomplish:
    • Visualize the final result
    • Break it up into its separate components
    • List all the things you’ll need to accomplish each step

Only then are you set up to execute the task successfully.

  1. Some tasks are immediately pressing and others will become pressing in the future. Prioritize what’s immediately urgent, and use remaining time available for future needs (e.g. cook the main course before you cook an extra side dish).


  1. Time robbers steal your peace of mind. Identify activities that drain your time when you’re not looking, and make a plan to eliminate them. Some time robbers can’t be eliminated (e.g. a sick child), so pad your schedule to accommodate them.

(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 688)


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