My problem with schedules, routines, and general task management systems is this: most of them feed into my tendency to prioritize getting stuff done over building relationships. It’s the nature of a list of tasks to put priority on the doing, and my git-‘er-done personality tends to take that up a notch.
Looping is my antidote to steamrolling over everybody in my zeal to check everything off my list. That’s something I really struggle with. The concept is simply this: instead of assigning tasks to certain days of the week, list tasks and then tackle them in order, regardless of what day it is.
Looping can be used wherever there is work that needs to be done regularly. We started talking about looping here a couple of weeks ago, so I thought I’d share how I use it in various areas of my life. I use a looping schedule in our homeschool, for my housework, and for my own projects.
Note: My friend Pam and I help you get started and walk you through all the dirty details of loop scheduling in a free video workshop, and we’ll give you a loop schedule planning form, too. Click here to watch it.
Looping in the Homeschool
I already told you a bit about how we loop subjects in our homeschool. There’s so much room for variation here!
At one point, this is how I scheduled our morning time read-alouds. We were reading All the Swords in England, St. Patrick’s Summer, and various plays by Shakespeare. Those were looped during the morning read aloud time (with Shakespeare having a more prominent place on the loop- twice for every once that we’re reading the others). The following term that loop changed, because I wanted to read Father Brown, Bible stories, and Our Mother Tongue during morning time.
Another way you could use a looping schedule is to loop various activities within a subject. For example, many homeschoolers have “Fine Arts Fridays.” Picture study, composer study, crafts, art instruction, and poetry could be looped to offer a little variety while still making headway through a particular book or curriculum.
Basically, take anything you would otherwise be inclined to schedule into certain days of the week (Monday: history, Tuesday: science, Wednesday: literature…. etc.) and put them on a loop instead.
…Now instead of feeling behind when the baby gets sick or you are running around putting out life’s fires, you still make progress across the curriculum.
This, I’m convinced, could do wonders for homeschoolers who value poetic knowledge and want to embrace real, engaged, beautiful, messy life without feeling slave to a curriculum or traditional-school type mentality. It keeps the curriculum in its place, so to speak- it is our servant, not our master. (I wrote a bit on that kind of learning here.)
Here’s another area where I have implemented a looping schedule with some success. The basic idea is to loop tasks that don’t need to be done every day.
For me, making my bed, tidying the kitchen (approximately 3,000 times), wiping down the guest bathroom, doing laundry, and preparing meals are all done daily. I mop the kitchen floor on Saturday evening (for some reason having a sticky floor puts a damper on my Sunday mood, so that one stays where it is.) Those do not go on my loop.
These tasks are on my Loop:
Clean a bathroom
Tidy & vacuum master bedroom
Wipe down kitchen and clean out fridge
Clean a bathroom
Declutter an area that’s driving me nuts
I simply list tasks that need to be done more often than others (cleaning bathrooms, watering plants) on the loop twice for every time the other tasks are listed once. It’s a ratio thing.
If I was doing other vacuuming or dusting around the house, those would go on my loop as well. As I have my own child-labor unit at the ready, I don’t do such things; they do. :) My loop is just for my own housework. The children work chores on a more traditional looking schedule. They don’t have my problem of putting chores ahead of people, after all. (Okay, one of them does.)
Keep in mind that I’m definitely not winning any awards for keeping a clean and orderly house, so if you are really good at keeping house, this might not work for you. This system just helps us keep things clean-enough to be tolerable for our current crazy season of life.I recently had the idea to start looping meal plans. I don’t know what that would look like, exactly, so if you want to help me brainstorm in the comments, we could have some fun there.
Looping my art:
This could be applied to whichever art you engage with for your mother culture.
Please tell me you engage with some kind of art or mother culture. What’s that? You have a zillion kids and too many life responsibilities to feed and nourish your soul with a hobby of some kind? Yeah, I get that. But logistically speaking, you simply can’t continually pour out into your family if you aren’t filling up your own pitcher.
Fill ‘er up.
Do something. Pick anything– it doesn’t matter if it’s gardening or painting or reading or sketching or writing or knitting or scrapbooking or journaling or blogging or baking or cake decorating or blogging or jewelry making or candle dipping or or or.
I’m talking about soul-food here, about creating art and making something beautiful for God.
Some overarching principles to remember when you create your loops:
- Don’t loop core tasks that need to be tackled every day. In the homeschool, that would be subjects like math and reading, for example. In housekeeping, that’s laundry, dishes, and meal prep. Remember- the loop is for tasks you don’t need to do every day, but you want to tackle with some regularity.
- Alternatively, you can loop within a daily task to offer some variation. For example, prayer time needs to happen daily, but one could loop the rosary, spiritual reading, Lectio Divina, the Divine Mercy chaplet, etc to offer some variation within that daily prayer time. In fact, that’s a darn good idea- I might start doing that, myself.
- This may be just a personal preference, but I find that shorter loop schedules are more effective than long ones. Having three-five items on a loop is more satisfying to me than having ten. I get to each task more often, which helps me feel like I’m actually being productive. It also makes me really prioritize what goes on the loop, rather than just throwing stuff on there willy nilly. Our homeschool loop changes every 6 weeks. My other loops are more static than that.
You always have better ideas than I do, so tell me- how could you (or are you already?) use looping to simplify your tasks and put people first?