I get a lot more done when I operate on a schedule. Here's a scheduling resource that I really like:
(Click to be taken to the Maxwell's website)
This book is full of great tips for scheduling a busy household, though Mrs. Maxwell's recommendations for scheduling infants are a bit extreme, in my opinion--I ignored those. The key to making a schedule work is having a plan for the children, too. If I don't have Elijah and Noah busy with something while I'm washing dishes, for instance, they're bound to create interruptions. But if I plan ahead of time to have Noah playing with Legos in the living room, while Elijah sits next to me and reviews his memory work, then I have a better chance of getting the job done.
The best part of this book is the scheduling kit that comes with it. First you write a list of all the things you need to get done in a day, and calculate how much time you need for each job. Then you total up the time and realize that you've got more work than you can complete in twenty four hours. Then you grumble and think and erase and consolidate and think some more, until you finally have the activity list down to twenty four hours. Repeat for each of your children. Next you write each activity onto a little square of paper (a different color for each member of the family) and start arranging the squares on a chart until you've got everything figured out. I'm a visual person so I found this step really helpful.
I got this book and kit a couple of years ago, but sadly, haven't made use of it since I moved to Texas. But a few days ago, I finally got it out again and created a schedule that runs just through 2 p.m (our afternoons and evenings are really unpredictable, so I'm leaving that block of time unscheduled for now). Let me tell you, just since implementing that rough, partial schedule, my productivity has improved quite a bit. And the boys love being scheduled because they know that I won't neglect the things they love, like story time, outside time, and "school" time (which consists mostly of coloring and puzzles and reading aloud, nothing too rigorous).
Of course, the schedule still needs a lot of tweaking, and I'd like to expand it a bit, too. Right now, I'm trying to figure out how much time is reasonable to spend on meal preparation and cleanup. Here's where you come in. :) If you're willing to share, moms, how much time do y'all spend cooking? Do you cook from scratch at every meal? How long does it take you to prepare breakfast? Lunch? Dinner? What about cleaning up afterwards--how long does that take? Do you have help? How long would it take you if you didn't have help? Do you have/use a dishwasher? Do you like to cook, or are you just trying to get the job done as quickly as possible?
(Don't feel like you have to answer all of those questions! But feel free to ramble if you're so inclined--it's always fun to compare notes!)