I’ve talked block scheduling before, but the thing with any schedule is that things can get in the way real quick. There’s always something that will come up unexpectedly, and often things that will take precedence over everything else in your schedule. So, how do you make sure the most important things get done no matter what? In comes front-loading. You can think front-loading your days whether you are thinking about your life at home, your life with children, or your life at work. Quite simply, it is putting the most important things first. So, at work that likely isn’t email. At home, that likely isn’t checking social media. And I know it’s easier said than done, but I have a few ways you can look at front-loading. And, I can bet that once you put it into practice how it works best for you, you will be amazed at how the overwhelm of your ‘to do list’ will slip away (or at least a little)…
Is there such a thing as back-loading your days?
People have asked me if there is such a thing as back-loading your day. I know many people like to get their kids to bed and then do the dishes, laundry, tidy, food prep, and all the things, and of course this is also wonderful, and if it works for you, great! What I would say is that even though I like to do those things too, if I wait until then, it is much more likely to slip away from me, for reasons such as my daughter’s bedtime is at 9pm – what if she doesn’t go down right at 9 that night? What if she has extra wakings and I need to tend to her? What if I’m pregnant and exhausted by that time? What if other things come up during the day that now I need to accomplish? And because the wind down period before sleep is very important, if you are amping up your energy with all of these things, your body is more likely to be go-go-go, rather than resting, relaxing & winding down, which could impact your sleep. I’m not telling you not to do any night prep, as I also believe it is beneficial, and again if it works for you, keep doing it, I’m just sharing why front-loading is a key to success in our household! I advocate for front-loading, because I want the things that are important to you (and to me) to not get pushed off. This is a key reason I always suggest to my music students who say they are having a hard time finding time to practise, to try find 5, 10, 15 minutes in the morning to get some music time in – before anything else sneaks up!!
Front-Loading Mornings at Home
I like to make sure I’m up 2 hours before we need to leave the house. I have always been this way – even when I commuted into an office and didn’t have kids at home. Now, with kids, I think I could use even more time, but I guarantee myself those two hours. Those two hours allow me to do some food prep, so I know we are well-fed for the day (ie. veggies washed and chopped, or something started in the crockpot), get a load of laundry going, and get some quality time in with my daughter (usually doing something like reading or a quick craft). Those are my top 3 priorities in the mornings to front-load my day, in addition to making us breakfast and getting ready for the day. Before having kids, my priorities would have likely been a workout, meditation, and giving myself a warm beverage!
So, what I suggest is you making a list of up to three things that would set you (and your family) up for success during the day, would help eliminate stress, and that are very manageable when you have peak energy before getting out the door (or not out the door…whatever your commute or day looks like). And maybe adjusting your wake up time will help (but please do not limit your sleep).
Here are some ways people shared they would want to front-load at home:
- Food prep
- Yard work
- Empty dishwasher
- Take time for self-care
- Make music
- Grocery shop (online order)
- Meal plan
- Make beds
- Go outside
- Get ready
- Walk dog
- Run an errand
- Make breakfast
- Farm chores
Front-Loading Days at Work
When it comes to work, it’s the same deal. Decide what your top 3 most important things are – you may decide this at the end of your week for the next week, at the end of your day for the next day, or however it suits you best. Then get right to those things first. Usually you will be most productive at the start of your day (and possibly even the start of your week), so don’t waste that productivity on emails (unless that’s in your top 3) or checking social media, etc. Get a jump on your top things. Then, when you have a lull in energy later in the day or week, you can do your less demanding tasks, your “tick it off the list” items, or whatever else is required!
Here are some ways people shared they would want to front-load at work:
- High engagement tasks
- Taking clients
Front-Loading Time with Kids/Family
This very well could have been in the section of front-loading mornings at home, but for some people who live alone, it may not be a consideration. For some people, the time it takes to get their kids off to school or daycare may not allow for bonus family time, or whatever the reason is; however, for some people, front-loading mornings with family time may be a really good way to sneak in that extra quality time. Quality time can often be hard to find after school and work, when you’re trying to get dinner on the table, get everyone ready for bed, or head off to extracurricular activities. I love guaranteeing some quality time with my daughter in the morning when there are less excuses, and setting us up on the right foot for the day! You can even set a timer if all you have is 10, 20, 30 minutes!!
Here are some ways people shared they would want to front-load with kids/family:
- Time together
- Write notes to kids
- Do an activity together
So, basically front-loading is great. Front-loading is life changing. Front-loading may change your whole mindset. You can even work front-loading into your holidays – what are your MUST do’s for the trip? Help make those things happen first.