rebelling against low expectations

How do you stay self-disciplined when your schedule is inconsistent?


DANNY WRITES: How can we be effective at being self-disciplined in time management when we physically cannot have a semi-consistent schedule?

About 2.75 years ago, me, my sister, and my mom were in a car accident. My mom received a TBI (traumatic brain injury) and has a lot of medical issues that we attend to, which gives one aspect of not being able to have a regular schedule.

About a year ago, we began constructing a new wing of the house to make it handicap-accessible, and that took up most – to all – of my time. Now that that is winding down, we only have infrequent projects that are often done almost sporadically.

When I asked about the possibility of making it more regular, I was informed of several things that limit that capability, and therefore we cannot have a regular schedule. I find myself to be much more effective when I have a regular schedule because a schedule helps enforce time management and efficiency. I’m wondering how I can have the same results when my activity is very much on a day-to-day basis and I don’t know what I will be doing within the next day.

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  • I’m so sorry about your accident. I don’t have much of a scedule either so I can relate. Depending on the day, I usually have a vague idea of what I’d like to get done and then just work around what ever comes up. I also try to fit little stuff in when I have minute.(like doing the dishes, laundry, reading, cleaning, or school work.) I don’t have it all figured out, but hopefully this’ll help some.

  • Its great that your helping so much with your family. Keep your head up and never stop praying. And that’s really good advice about doing things here and then every chance you get. Time management is hard as it is for people that have a schedule. I can’t have much a schedule either even though I am a junior in highschool and would think I have a more set schedule. I’ve experimented with different methods but haven’t gotten to an ideal one yet. Best advice I can give is to prioritize. Think of the things you must get done that day in based on importance, when you can get things done and deadlines. Every day we wake up we have to remember what the purpose our existence is; be God’s sons and daughters that worship and love Him. So with that mindset we can then take care of our responsibilities and goals as work and worship unto God. With an irregular schedule I have found that it is very helpful to start my day early in the morning. If its lack of time to the point where you get through your day and you don’t know where it went, which happens to me quite often. Keep some sort of mental record of how much time you spent doing what, roughly, and try to see what you could have gone without doing or a different way to go about something that you do on a regular basis (like washing dishes and daily norms as such) that allows you to finish faster in the future and gives you more time to do other things. I am not the best at time management either and it would be awesome to hear more advice on time management! I’m praying for you man. God give you wisdom in Jesus’ name and don’t forget that we live by His Holy Spirit! That’s power we got right there!

  • Great question! I’m not the best time manager, but the most productive days for me–whether or not my schedule is crazy unpredictable or I’ve got nothing scheduled–is to make a list of everything I’d like to do that day, as some people have already suggested! 🙂 Then I like to prioritize them from what I most need to get done to what I’d like to get done. It helps me stay focused and on track.

    Also, sometimes putting the “fun things” toward the end of the list can keep me going through the the not-so-fun jobs! 🙂

    Hope that helps! 🙂

  • I’ve tried different schedules and such, and none of that has seemed to work for me. I eventually just started making a to-do list. It really has helped me to prioritize and get more things done. I often times will have multiple to-do lists: things that I have to get done today, school-related things, things that I would like to do at some point, etc. Most of the time, I will glance at my list throughout the day and work on things when I have a free moment. If I know that I have a lot to accomplish or I’m running out of motivation, I will set a timer (say for 30 minutes) and work specifically on things off of my to-do list until the timer runs out. Setting a timer helps me to stay focused and not to get distracted.

    The biggest thing though that helps me to stay focused on what I need to do is reading my Bible and praying. When I start off the day by strengthening my relationship with my Savior, it helps me not to get distracted by things that won’t matter in eternity (for example: checking my Facebook timeline constantly). When I’m not distracted, I tend to get a lot more accomplished.

    Hope this helps!

  • I have trouble with this one, too! (Actually I was going to send it in as a DQ!) I love schedules so when recently my schedule has been all over the place, it’s been very hard for me to keep myself disciplined.

  • Hmmm. I don’t think i can help with this one! My problem is that i hate routine…which makes it hard for me to get things done on a regular basis (i.e. Bible reading, spiritual goals, school etc.) But i have to change things up, or i get in a rut. Sorry i can’t help much! I’m praying for you, your family, and especially your mother, Danny. Keep fighting the good fight! God bless!

  • What a great question! It’s something I’ve been thinking about this year as my family is travelling and every day is different and unpredictable. I usually schedule whenever my time whenever I can, so it’s been a challenge. I’ve found it helpful to get up earlier before everyone else is up to get through a bit of work, and also to use every bit of spare time I get, even if it’s only a few minutes. Your life sounds busier than mine, though!

  • I am similar to you in that I like routine because it helps me to stay on track. A few months ago, I read “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” (good book, by the way) and they suggested looking at your to do list in the context of a week, rather than a day. What I do is look at my schedule for the week and write down all the preplanned things that I have to do (a doctor’s appointment, youth group, etc…). Then I write down all the things I want to get done that week (run 4 times, go to the library by Tuesday, spend time with my sister, etc…). Then, as I go through the week, I cross off the stuff that I get done. This allows me to stay accountable to my priorities, while still giving me flexibility in my schedule. I have a lot more free time than you appear to, but I would still highly recommend giving it a try. Best of luck!

  • I think Paige covered it for me!:)
    I will say though that I understand the frustration of not having a regular schedule, my family has been in a lot of transition lately and there hasn’t been much of a schedule, I’m homeschooled which makes it even more difficult at times. I just have to set my own schedule and be diligent with my time, cutting out things that waste time and energy.

  • Hey Danny! Lots of advice already given here! I too really like what @disqus_fC8GCknioC:disqus said!!! I, like you, find that a routine REALLY helps me stay focused and feel like I’m accomplishing more! At the end of each day, I ask my parents what’s going on the next day and a lot of the time they say they don’t know…(They aren’t the type of people who need a schedule) We don’t have a super consistent routine either. We live in Zambia where the Pastor being 45 minutes late to his own service is completely acceptable…So, even it we have a routine it never EVER works out that way… =P Our plan may be to stay home all day, but we end up having to run a girl to the hospital. Or our plan may be to bake a cake for a party but the power goes off…So I REALLY know your pain!!! (different reasons, but same scenario)
    So, going along with what Paige said, when you have free time, look back at your list or just think of different things you could be doing to be productive! Also, by your question, it seems like even when you don’t have a plan, you’re still being productive!! Your are helping your mom physically and by making your home more easily accessible to her! I’m not trying to denote your question at ALL, but just bear in mind that those things are important!!!
    Also, asking your dad or mom what the next day’s plan is might help you! Maybe, like my parents, they won’t always know, but sometimes they might! Or, if there are certain things you want to be sure you have time for each day, (studying, Bible reading, exercising, etc) you could either get up before everyone else and make sure you work that into your schedule. You could also ask your dad if there is a certain time of the day he knows will usually be free for you to do that certain thing.
    Lastly, I want to tell you the I am sorry that you were involved in that accident and that if affected your mom so greatly!!! I will be praying for all of you!

    • Hey Megan, sorry I haven’t gotten back to you on your blog, but I have been praying for you! I just started band camp which takes up A LOT of time, and when I’m not at home I have no wifi so I can’t look online 😛 So anyways, I should reply on there in a few minutes, but just in case I have to get off my phone I wanted to let you know! 🙂

  • My schedule is crazy too. I have a ton to do every day and I never know how much homework I’ll have so that’s difficult. In the summer my family is busy all the time, and schedules are impossible to predict. Some days I have to eat all my meals in the car between destinations. I’d say the one thing that’s helped me the most is that my parents have me go to bed at 9:30, but let me do my quiet time until 10:30 in my room. That set time, reinforced by my parents, has been really great for winding down and reading my Bible. It’s not in the middle of the day, so it doesn’t conflict with other stuff that’s scheduled or random. I would get up earlier to do a devo if I could, but I already get up around 5:30 every day, so that would be bad for my sleep. 😛

  • What helps me is to do my Bible-reading before I check my emails or go on the internet. That way, the important stuff gets done first; it is priority. Another trick to wake up an hour earlier in order to get in time with God before the hectic day starts. If you’re too busy to have quiet time, you’re too busy.

  • Even if I don’t have a permanent schedule, I find that taking a bit of time each day to make short-term schedules is well worth it. These can be based around the demands of the day and whatever you need to get done. And, as other people have already said, be sure to spend time with God.

rebelling against low expectations

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