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Back to the basics: create a weekly routine

One of the great things about working from home — whether it’s soley focusing on home management and your kids, or if it’s to bring in additional income alongside your work at home — is that you can set your own schedule.  No clocking in, no hectic board meetings, no fighting traffic.

But the flip side of that coin is that your work at home can unintentionally take a back seat with too lax a schedule.  Or no schedule at all.  Waking up with no agenda can all too easily mean a day spent in your pajamas, with no aim and no direction.

That’s why I think it’s incredibly helpful to create a loosely-held, penciled-in routine to my week at home. On Sunday evenings, I like to sit down with a cup of tea and, with my husband, chat about the week ahead — what’s on our dockets, what errands need running, and a quick financial update.

From this discussion, I then create a basic routine for my week.  I say basic, because it is so important that I don’t hold this schedule as gospel.  Things change, lunch plans are forgotten, and kids need last-minute doctor’s appointments.  But if I know there’s a basic routine to my week, I can approach my days with purpose and direction.

Write down this week’s routine, so that you can start the habit of making a loosely-held schedule each week.

Mostly you, since it’s your routine. But check with your spouse to see if they have any appointments that affect you, and if there’s anything you can add to your week that can be of service to them.

Not too long; around 30 minutes or so. You may fiddle with a program or outline at the beginning, but once you find your groove, you just fill it out each week, and you’re good to go in a matter of minutes.

Chatting with your spouse about your upcoming week, and then crafting a basic routine for your week, either with pen and paper, or on the computer.  Then hang it somewhere where you’ll see it often.

A do-able, flexible, predictable flow to your days, so that you have purpose and vigor in your work at home, and so you’ll know each morning what your day is about.  Also, it’ll help you have more quality down time, because it will be intentional.

Ideas for creating a weekly routine at home

I like to carve out my day in chunks of activities, rather than set-in-stone blocks of time.  I do my best to wake up around the same time every day, and we do our best to eat breakfast at the same time so that my husband can start his work, but after this, we prefer to stick to a flowing routine rather than a specific schedule.

• I use my weekly checklist to check off things that need doing for the week.  Then, when I pick out a few tasks for each day, it’s less overwhelming than looking at one big list with a lot to do.

It’s good to eat your frog first thing.  I also like to schedule in tasks that require more energy when my body has the most energy — soon after breakfast, in my case.  Then I focus on lower-energy tasks in the mid-afternoon, when my energy level is at its lowest.  Basically, I work with my natural rhythms, instead of fighting them.

I “clock out.” A mom never stops being a mom, of course, but once the kids are in bed, it’s good to have a little quality down time with your spouse or by yourself, so that you’re recharged for the next day’s work.  It’s hard to do, I know, when you finally get some free time to pick up the mess and finish folding the laundry.  But have a cut-off time, so that you don’t lose your mind with your never-ending to-do list.  The laundry can wait for tomorrow.

• Write it down. You can create your routine in Google Calendar, in Excel, or on a scrap of looseleaf paper.  Whatever you choose, though, keep it visible throughout the day, and keep it user-friendly.  Don’t make it so complicated that it’s unreadable.

• Hold to it loosely. Be flexible, as your schedule will almost certainly change a few times.  And that’s okay — it’s there to serve you, not the other way around.

A typical week for me

Below is a screenshot of my weekly routine I have in my Google Calendar.  Yes, it has times attached to it, but that’s just because of the particular program.  The only times I adhere to are the items in brown.  You can click to enlarge it, if you like.


Your assignment

Before the end of the day, craft out a simple schedule for this week.
Include all your work responsibilities, and perhaps add some personal things you want to make sure and do (exercise, free reading time, or a particular bedtime, perhaps).

Do you enjoy having a predictable routine?  What makes your days at home run smoother?

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Reading Time:

3 minutes





  1. Debbie

    Thanks. The kids and I were just talking about this very thing!!

  2. liz (

    I love it! My schedule’s a bit different since I work outside the home, but I cannot agree more that it is vital to schedule your time. I also agree that days spent in pajamas with not much accomplished are easy to come back if you don’t have a schedule. 🙂

    I split my tasks for the week up, i.e. laundry on Monday, clean bathrooms on Tuesday, etc. I also have a list of tasks I complete every day and check off when done. Thanks for the ideas!
    .-= liz (´s last blog ..summer pesto =-.

  3. Micha

    I always try to have a little bit routine in my week. Mondays and Thursdays are laundry-days, Friday or Saturday we go to the supermarket, Tuesday I do the bathroom…., but all that might be change in the holidays (that we have right now). Next week my youngest daughter will start going to the Kindergarten, so I’ll try to create some kind of new schedule – so thanks for the inspiration.
    .-= Micha´s last blog ..Jamie =-.

  4. Catherine

    Really appreciate this, plus the google calendar example. Many thanks!

  5. Shannon

    This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while now. Is your morning chore block the time you set aside for laundry, food preps, etc.?
    .-= Shannon´s last blog ..Fermented Foods for Beginners: Kombucha =-.

    • Tsh

      Yes. I have an always changing list of chores that need doing (don’t we all?), so I just leave a block of time open for chores at the moment. I don’t specifically have a laundry day, a bathroom day, etc. I used to. Now, I just do a chore that needs the most doing.

      This also includes things like updating our bank accounts, organizing, meal prep, etc. Not just cleaning.

      • Cheri

        What ideas do you have for keeping your kids busy doing while you are doing your morning chores?

        • Tsh

          The chore time isn’t just for me, it’s for my kiddos, too. Well, the younger one mostly pretends to help by putting things in and out of cabinets, drawers, etc. (yep, it’s pretty much two steps forward, one step back). It can get frustrating, but it helps remind me what’s more important during my day — my main job is to parent my little ones. I’m teaching them how to take care of our things, how to be good stewards. The main purpose of my job is not to have a spotless house.

          But my 4.5-year-old has actual chores, and she does them at this time, too. She helps empty the dishwasher, sort laundry, clean her room, make her bed, etc. etc. When she’s done, she plays.

  6. steadymom

    I have found this really helpful as well. I have a Steady Routine that is a general flow to our days and I update it around once a month. It brings a sense of peace to know there is a time set aside for most of the things that need to be done.

    .-= steadymom´s last blog ..Blog Hop 2009 =-.

  7. heather g

    Thanks so much for sharing this…I was just thinking yesterday that I need to be more intentional with my time with the kids and with my downtime. You already inspired me to Eat the Frog, so I’ve been doing great w/ exercising for over a month now–praise God! But I just created a google calendar–thanks! Quick question, how do you get the different events in different colors? I can change the color of everything, but not individual events.
    .-= heather g´s last blog ..I quit… =-.

    • Tsh

      My oldest is 4 1/2, and my youngest is 19 months. Hence the three hours a week of school… we don’t do too much yet. 🙂

  8. Tsh

    The color coding is actually completely different calendars. You can create them on the left-hand side column. I have a ton, because you can click and unclick them to show and disappear. So I have a menu plan, a homeschool, a personal time, a blog writing schedule, blog advertising, etc. etc. calendar. It works well because you can hide all but the one you want to see. So it sounds visually cluttered, but it’s not.

  9. Amy Reads Good Books

    Thanks for posting your calendar! That helps give a good sense of your week. I’m impressed by how little time you spend running errands. I feel like I’m doing something every day. I need to cut down on that!
    .-= Amy Reads Good Books´s last blog ..The Unlikely Disciple =-.

  10. Kate

    This is SO timely for me. I am a SAHM and have been really struggling with the lack of routine in my home. I almost feel like the more “free” (unscheduled) time I have in the day, the less I get done!

  11. Stephanie@Geezees

    Great post and great reminder to us work from home moms…so hard to find balance at times….

  12. Sherry

    Tsh~could you do a “google calendar” series. I started using it for my meals but you have so many different events..are you using a different calendar for each event?

    Thanx for all you do to help so many of us!!

  13. Julie

    Thanks for posting this! I’m definitely going to work on this today. 🙂
    .-= Julie´s last blog ..I don’t know why but…. =-.

  14. Molly

    @heather g – congratulations on exercising for a month! That’s wonderful!

    @Tsh – thanks for sharing your weekly routine. I love how much time is set aside for story time – that’s my favorite part of the day.

  15. Jessie

    Although I tried to get myself to stick to a schedule before, it is sooo much more important to me now that I have a baby. I have a specific list of tasks for each day of the week, so whenever I have free time (ha!) I pick something on that day and get to work. For instance, on Mondays I wash diapers, write a menu, and mow the lawn (or make sure my husband does!). Tuesdays I wash clothes, dust, clean up clutter, and write a blog post. Other things come up and get put on the day’s list. This has been a great way for me to be able to get things done while still dealing with the vagaries of a 3-month-old’s schedule.
    .-= Jessie´s last blog ..Blog mentions =-.

  16. Lisa

    I love routine as much as my children. But, I am not too good about writing it down. I plan to start every evening before bed writing out a brief agenda for the next day,
    .-= Lisa´s last blog ..Twitter =-.

  17. Meg

    Thanks for the Back to the Basics theme. Although my children are a little older (7&9), I have always worked outside the home until very recently. I have found myself frittering away time because my days don’t have the externally-imposed deadlines of the school-day/work-day. I also feel better knowing I’m not the only one out there who needs to consciously plan 🙂

  18. Chloe Alice Wilson

    I find I get nothing done without a routine. This is especially true now it’s the school holidays. I want to fit in my few hours of work and the chores and spending quality time with my son. I had to do a chart too to schedule it all in! It does a bit stressful though if you oversleep and start missing your slots!
    Cheers, Chloe
    .-= Chloe Alice Wilson´s last blog ..Bumblebee Helmet Review – A Transformers 2 Toy =-.

  19. Rana

    This could not have come at a better time. I’m feeling like a chicken with my head cut off right now. We are going out of town sooner than I realized and I’m just trying to get it all together. I have a loose schedule that works pretty well. I just need to to the weekly checklist of things that need to be done and put a couple of things for everyday instead of trying to do it all in one day. I needed this Tsh! Thanks!
    .-= Rana´s last blog .. =-.

  20. april

    I agree with the “clocking out” When I first started to stay home, I was doing things nonstop until bedtime….now, as soon as dinner is done, I put other chores off until the next day(minus a quick pickup after the little one is in bed)
    .-= april´s last blog ..All YouWeek 2 and Menu Plan Monday =-.

  21. Amy Sinclair

    Our family just recently started to create roughly outlined schedules to ensure we all keep track of each other. Life gets too hectic without a somewhat organized calendar, and lucky for me, my family truly respects what’s on our google calendar (most of the time!). Google calendar is a life-saver and I suggest it to everyone! Anyone in your family can access it from any mobile device, which makes it not only convenient, but an integrated, working calendar that keeps us all updated and on track.

  22. Lisa Lynch

    I live off a schedule myself, I work part time away from home but basically work the way you do, I LOVE the fact that you have scheduled date night into your routine, that is SO important! Good Job Simple Mom!

  23. Melissa Rodriguez

    As someone who works TWO full-time jobs, I really need a schedule like this for keeping my home office organized and for scheduling time to spend with my family! Thanks so much for the inspiration to start one. I definitely need the routine so I know when to turn work off!

  24. Alissa

    Since I work part time outside the home, the schedule is critical! Of course, I find it’s most needed on my “at home” days. Like you, I try to avoid exact clock times, but instead focus on blocks of our days – after breakfast, before lunch, during nap, after nap, etc.

    For some reason, it never occured to me to do this on Sunday nights to kick-off the week. I find I spend my Wednesday morning breakfast frantically writing down what needs to get done that day at home. I REALLY want to get a small white board to post in the kitchen, so I can jot down the weekly activity list.
    .-= Alissa´s last blog ..Keeping us Smiling =-.

  25. Tasra Dawson

    Thanks so much for this amazing list and inspiration. Found your free downloads and am snagging those as well. Blessings to you for your generosity!

  26. Coleen

    I’m curious how much time you spend with kids’ friends, etc. (I don’t see anything on your schedule for the week.) “Play dates” are definitely what looks quite different on my mental schedule–maybe *someday soon* I’ll get a written one down than yours.

    Just curious. 🙂

  27. Gabrielle Valentine

    I loved this post. Actually, I love this blog and your design!
    I’m a SAHM. But I do A LOT. We’ve been through a lot and a recent house fire. My husband is going to school and working. So it’s stressful and on me often to keep the order amid the chaos. I’m going to try to do this on Sunday evenings to help.
    .-= Gabrielle Valentine´s last blog ..Sometimes We Drive. And Sing. And Pretend To Be Oompa Loompas. =-.

  28. The Family Chef

    This post is exactly what I needed. I’ve been slacking a bit this summer, and it’s been nice at times, but everything is catching up. I need to get the household back on a routine. Thanks for the motivation…I like to wake up at least 30 minutes before the rest of the family. This time allows me to get my head together for the day.
    .-= The Family Chef´s last blog ..My savory invention =-.

  29. Shannon @ AnchorMommy

    You know which idea hit me like a ton of bricks? Hanging up the schedule! That simple act would help me so much. I keep way too much stuff in my brain as it is — I should get it on paper and up on the fridge!

    And with my freelance writing deadlines coming up, I sure need a little more scheduling to get everything done right now…thanks for the great ideas.
    .-= Shannon @ AnchorMommy´s last blog ..Sneak a “peak” at this =-.

  30. My First Kitchen

    I finished my home management notebook a couple of days ago. I feel like crafting a rough daily schedule (I work at home) will be much easier now. You’re a schedule saver!
    .-= My First Kitchen´s last blog ..Ten-Minute Burrito =-.

  31. Kristen

    I have been working on getting a routine in order this summer. We are starting homeschooling in the Fall, and I feel like we would all do better with a schedule of some sort. I have read Managers of the Home by the Maxwells and it has some good ideas, although maybe a little too regimented for me??? I’m still trying to find that right balance for our family. One thing that really helps me get a start on the day is getting up early and have time before the kids wake up.
    .-= Kristen´s last blog ..Between Big and Little =-.

  32. Jaime

    Thank you so much for this post. I had a schedule in the past, but had abandoned it. I did a schedule for this week, and already life seems easier.

  33. onemotherslove

    Boy, I needed this post! I was just playing with the Google calendar. How did you get different color blocks on there? I’d like to color code our calendar.
    .-= onemotherslove´s last blog ..Tiny Talk Tuesday =-.

    • Amy Sinclair

      To get different color blocks on Google Calendar click on the little down pointing arrow next to your subcalendars’ name on the left hand column and choose your color. To add another subcalendar click the word “create” below the list of subcalendars on the left. I hope that helps!

  34. Fabiana Lima

    THS, I love your blog and the series “Back to the basics.” I want to translate these articles into Portuguese and published them on my blog, you authorize that? They are very practical and I would like to help other women here in Brazil to be more organized.
    A kiss and thank you!

    (translated by Google… 🙂

  35. PS~Erin

    Wonderful tips… Very inspiring.

    Penciling in my daily schedule is essential for me, especially in the summers when our routines are looser. I think planning the week would be quite helpful. I will take on the challenge.

    .-= PS~Erin´s last blog ..Learning to Pick My Battles =-.

  36. Down Comforter

    This is a great idea. Do you follow this schedule on your weekends as well? or is it main yor workweek? I was thinking I might do this for Sat/Sun because they seem to go by so quickly and I feel like there is never enough time to accomplish everything…

  37. shelle

    I try and plan the week but to keep it fluid. Monday is wash day and muffin day, Wednesday is water day. We just fell out of schedule and we are suffering. Time for me to take charge and get back on track for smoother sailing. Thanks for the great tips!
    .-= shelle´s last blog ..this one goes out to the one i love =-.

  38. Heather

    I like to call my weekly routine a weekly Rhythm. My rhythm is different than my schedule because like your routine…it flexes. It’s like the skeleton to my week. It gives me direction when my schedule is not taken up by appointments or meetings. I also like to re-evaluate my weekly rhythm every three months or so as the seasons of life change.

    Also, I am NOT a schedule freak, though I find much freedom in a weekly rhythm.

  39. Carrie K

    Thanks Tsh! This is just what I needed today… I am working on our fall school schedule and routine. Blessings to you and your family!

  40. amanda

    Thanks so much for this post. I’ve lurked on Simple Mom for a while and this is my first comment. I just love all your info and how you lay it out and inspire us to be better moms. I’ve been using google calendars awhile, but this post inspired me to really get organized and on a routine. Thanks so much!!
    .-= amanda´s last blog ..Creating a Schedule and Meal Plan with Google Calendar =-.

  41. Diann

    Scheduled routines have become my biggest nemesis lately! Our life was dramatically changed about 4 years ago and then a year ago, it totally changed again. And I have been struggling to find balance in our life.
    We have been on vacation the past 2 weeks, during this time, my husband and I really had some time to discuss our life and the need for a routine. We haven’t worked it out completely, and it will never be perfect, but it is a start.
    .-= Diann´s last blog ..Dinners: Planning ahead = Thrifty and Frugal =-.

  42. Jennifer

    Hey Tsh,
    I was reading this post today and noticed the link to see the weekly checklist doesn’t work. I have been comparing different ones to get a complete idea of what will work for me. Maybe you could email it to me, or if you have time to fix this that would be great, if you don’t get to it, that’s ok too. I was just curious to see your checklist since I admire your organization.

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