Posts Tagged ‘schedule’

As springtime activities get into full swing, are you busier than you’d like to be? Do you find it difficult to get everything done on your to do list? Even more importantly, does your calendar match your priorities in life? If not, maybe it is time to de-clutter your schedule and reestablish your priorities.

planner on table with vase of flowers and jar of sidewalk chalk

Many of us wear our busyness like a badge of honor when maybe instead it’s a burden that needs lightened. Organizational and time management skills can help you be more efficient. But even the best time management strategies aren’t enough to tackle a schedule that is just too full. We tend to over-estimate what we can accomplish in a day, and under-estimate the amount of time a certain task will take. Maybe we need to observe our patterns, acknowledge our limits, and clarify the values that add meaning to our lives. These principles apply to both work and personal life.

There is no easy checklist for finding balance, but here are some things to consider:

  • Set priorities. Sometimes that means making tough choices… letting some thing(s) go. Before committing to yet another project or volunteer opportunity or an activity for your child, ask yourself if it fits into your priorities.
father-figure blowing bubbles with 2 little girls on grass
  • Get on the same page. Make sure your family agrees on priorities. Before you add a big commitment to the calendar, check with your spouse or partner to avoid unnecessary time crunches.
  • Acknowledge your limits. As much as we try to do it all, we have limits. Be realistic with your calendar and your energy level on the number of commitments you have, and do the same for the other members of your family to avoid having overscheduled kids.
  • Say no. We probably kick ourselves more often for saying yes when we should have said no (than the other way around). No is such a little word, and yet it holds so much power to free up the schedule.
  • Keep your focus. Reestablishing priorities is a cyclical process as we go through life. Make sure those priorities show up on your daily to do list, as a way of being intentional about keeping your focus on what is most important.

For more information, check out these blog articles about how to create margin in your life and find balance.

Writer: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County, carter.413@osu.edu

Reviewer: Jenny Lobb, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, lobb.3@osu.edu

Carter, S. “Creating Margin in Your Life.” Live Smart Ohio blog, Ohio State University Extension, August 2017.

Carter, S. “Overscheduled Kids.” Live Smart Ohio blog, Ohio State University Extension, May 2017.

Price, R. et al. Time Management: 10 Strategies for Better Time Management (C 1042) University of Georgia Extension, April 2020.

Treber, M. “Balancing Act – Helping You Find Your Balance.” Live Smart Ohio blog, Ohio State University Extension, September 2015.

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A few weeks ago, I ran into a colleague and asked, “Hello, how are you?” My colleague enthusiastically responded, “I’m great!”

This response caught me off guard. It was not what I expected. I was used to hearing tired and busy. To be honest that was the response I was used to replying with as well.

Have you noticed how tired and busy are becoming a common response when asked how are you doing? I understand it. Those two words rule my routines some days. How can we move past tired and busy?

It’s possible that a medical condition may be contributing to your tired. Allergies, depression, sleep apnea, low iron, thyroid issues and more can increase fatigue. If a possible health condition is causing your fatigue, extra sleep or exercise may not be the answer. A conversation with your family doctor can rule this out and help you make the changes you need personally.

Looking at your sleep health and hygiene may help reduce your tired. According to Harvard University, adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. Nearly 50% of Americans get less than the recommended amount. When sleep is reduced or cut short our bodies don’t have time to complete what is needed and the result is that we wake up unprepared for the day.

Coffee, sodas, and energy drinks are often the first line of defense to combat tired, but these common solutions may be contributing to feeling tired. Caffeine is a stimulant but can have an opposite effect. Studies show that while some energy drinks may increase alertness for several hours, participants were often more tired the following day. Too much caffeine can contribute to insomnia or make it difficult to fall asleep. Caffeine is also known to increase anxiety, nervousness, stress levels, and jitteriness. Studies have shown that it is safe for most people when consumed in low to moderate amounts.

Can the way we look at things contribute to our “tired and busy”? I think so! For example,

instead of looking at a long to-do list as something you HAVE to do consider the perspective that you GET to. Look carefully at your list. What are you busy with? Sincerely, the answer to “busy” may be doing less. It is hard to slow down when there are a million things to accomplish. A long critical look at a calendar and to-do list can be influential in what to keep and what can go. A slowdown may also be the answer in the way you do things. Slowing down could mean being present, and being mindful of whatever you are doing at that moment.

In addition to examining my schedule and lifestyle, I promised myself that I would focus on a positive aspect of my life when responding to the question, “How are you?” 

I probably will be tired or busy every time someone asks me that question, but shifting my focus when responding will help me. Will you join me in responding with something besides tired or busy when asked how you are doing?  

MedlinePlus. (2019, April 30). Caffeine. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/caffeine.html

Phillips, D. T. (2016, April 27). Slow down to get ahead. Retrieved from https://www.mindful.org/slow-down-to-get-ahead/

Sleep Foundation. (n.d.). How much sleep do we really need. Retrieved from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need

Author: Alisha Barton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Miami County, barton.345@osu.edu

Reviewer: Amanda Bohlen, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County, bohlen.19@osu.edu

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There are varied findings on the effects of clutter in the home or workplace. According to a study published in 2011 by the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute, the more visual stimuli in our environment, the less we are able to focus. According to this research, an uncluttered and organized home and office will help reduce irritability and distraction.  It will also promote productivity and better information processing. Clutter can drain us of energy and interrupt some of our daily processes, like getting to work or school on time. For some, however, a messy desk can spark creativity, according to a recent study by Kathleen Vohs and colleagues at the University of Minnesota. Results from one of their experiments showed that participants in a disorderly room were more creative than participants in an orderly room.

So if your clutter doesn’t bother you or anyone else… embrace it! If it does bother someone, read on…

Have you ever been frustrated by not being able to find a bill or invitation?  Does your child frantically rush to find his backpack, shoes or library books in the final minutes before the school bus comes? Is it a challenge to coordinate your family’s many activities on a central schedule? My recent frustration with all of these scenarios led me on an organization journey for a few trouble spots in my home, namely paperwork and the family “drop spot” (where everyone dumps their belongings once inside the house).

There’s an old saying that still rings true… have a place for everything, and put everything in its place. The first part of that takes some trouble-shooting; the second part takes forming a habit to maintain the organization.

To help create a “place for everything,” I conducted an online search using terms such as ‘family command center’ and ‘family launch pad’ and collected a lot of ideas and pictures. Then I figured out where the problem spots were in my home and what organizational tool or process might help with that. With concern for saving space, time, and money, I was able to solve most of our issues by adding a few cubbies and hooks where needed.


Putting everything in its place… ah, this is a continuing adventure, one that I’ve brought my whole family on. Sometimes we need to remind each other to put our shoes away instead of in the middle of the floor (myself included). Overall, the time and effort put into organization has made a big difference in keeping our living area more tidy.  It has also helped us in getting out the door in the morning with a little less chaos.

So if you notice clutter becoming a frustration, steps to tame it for your situation may start you on you a journey of your own.


McMains S, Kastner S. “Interactions of top-down and bottom-up mechanisms in human visual cortex.” Journal of Neuroscience. 2011 Jan 12;31(2):587-97. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21228167

Doheny, K. “Clutter Control: Is Too Much ‘Stuff’ Draining You? Get your clutter under control, and your attitude and health just may improve, too.” WebMD Feature Archive, Reviewed on June 19, 2008. http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/features/clutter-control

Vohs, Kathleen D., Joseph P. Redden, and Ryan Rahinel. “Physical Order Produces Healthy Choices, Generosity, Conventionality, Whereas Disorder Produces Creativity.” (2013) Psychological Science, 24 (9), 1860-1867. http://www.carlsonschool.umn.edu/faculty-research/facultyPM.aspx?x500=vohsx005

Written by: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County, carter.413@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Cheryl Barber Spires, SNAP-Ed Program Specialist, Ohio State University Extension, West Region, spires.53@osu.edu

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