I’m delighted to welcome Jennifer Landis back to the blog today! Jennifer first joined me during the Week of Well-being and Inspiration with a wonderful post about mindfulness and writing. Jennifer now writes a column for the blog on mindfulness and related topics. I find Jennifer’s posts fantastically helpful and I hope you do too!

How to Plan Your Writing Schedule for the Summertime

Summer is nearly here, and that means school is ending for the year and all the kids will be home for three months, driving their parents crazy.

No? Just me?

Hourglass on a beach right at the water's edgeAs a writer, I have the option to work from home, which is a lifesaver — especially when you consider the cost of childcare — but it presents a whole new slew of challenges when my little pre-K student is home and wants to spend all her time with her mommy. During the school year, I cram all of my work in during her school hours — or occasionally after bedtime if my workload is particularly heavy. During the summer, I’m ashamed to admit I’ve dropped my 5-year-old in front of the electronic babysitter for hours at a time in an attempt to get some work done.

This summer, I’m not going to spend the entire school vacation running around like a headless chicken trying to keep up with work and an endlessly energetic 5-year-old. I’m planning my writing schedule down to the minute. Here are some of the tips I’ve found along the way.

1. Know Your Work Schedule

For me, this is easy. My work schedule doesn’t change much, regardless of the time of year, but I know that’s not the case for every writer on the internet. Take the time to figure out your regular work schedule for the week. If it varies, figure out the amount of time you spend during your busiest weeks and use that as a baseline to create your schedule.

2. Write Everything Down

Multiple Post-Its and sheets of blank notepaper pinned to or stuck to a corkboardIf you’re trying to keep up with one or more energetic children during the summer, don’t trust yourself to remember every work day, doctor’s appointment and event. Write everything down, and I do mean everything. If you’re planning on going to the park a couple of times a week, add it to your to-do list. Grocery shopping once a week? Write it down. Working out three times a week? I think you get the point by now.

Heck, I write down the days where I need to take the trash to the curb for pickup, because I know I’d forget otherwise. Which brings us to our next point.

3. Use the Calendar

If you have a smartphone, you have a calendar in your pocket. Take advantage of it, as well as a planner and a monthly dry-erase calendar to keep track of everything. It’s easy to ignore one calendar, but if you’ve got three different sources, plus Google or Apple sending you alerts to remind you of everything, it gets harder to ignore.

If you’re putting together a summer writing schedule, whether you’re working as a freelancer or working toward summer college credits, a calendar is your best friend. I’m serious here. I’ve even got a separate calendar for tracking my workouts.

4. Create a Daily Schedule

Planner with purple edges and some sticky tabs at the side. A red pencil rests on top.Making a schedule is probably the most challenging part of this system, but it’s worth it in the long run. Now that you’ve got your calendars, planners, daily schedule and list of things to do, it’s time to use all this information to create a regular schedule. You’ll need to account for everything, from the time it takes you to get up and get your morning influx of magic bean juice to how long it takes you to put your little ones to bed at night.

My daily schedule includes everything from brushing my teeth to cooking meals and making snacks during the day, so I can be sure I get all my writing done on time without neglecting my other duties as mom and wife. We’ve got park trips scheduled in nearly every morning when my daughter has the most energy, and I dedicate my afternoons to working when she’s napping or at least slowed down a little bit.

This practice isn’t just good to keep me on track — it also helps prepare my older daughter for the sort of schedule she’ll be looking at when she heads to kindergarten this fall.

5. Be Flexible

While a strict schedule might work well for me, my husband and my older daughter, I have an infant to take care of, too. If you’ve ever tried to get a baby on a schedule, you know it’s an exercise in futility. That brings me to my penultimate point: Be flexible.

Picture of the rain and a pair of empty pink wellington boots and a pink umbrellaThings won’t always work out the way you want them to, even if you have them scheduled down to the minute. A morning rainstorm might ruin your trip to the beach or the park, or an injury might leave one of your family members sidelined from summer activities.

Stick to your schedule as much as possible, but be prepared to be flexible if something changes unexpectedly. Plan some rainy-day activities you can hold in reserve in case a summer storm throws a wrench into your carefully designed schedule.

6. Enjoy the Vacation

The final thing you need to do is sit back and enjoy your kids’ summer vacation. I love spending time with my two girls outside when the weather is warm — especially since we spend so much time trapped inside during the cold Pennsylvania winter. You can do it all — it just takes some careful planning.

About Jennifer Landis

Jennifer LandisJennifer Landis is a mom, wife, and healthy living blogger at Mindfulness Mama. She loves yoga, distance running, peanut butter, and spending the small amount of free time she has watching Netflix with her husband.

Follow her on Twitter: @JenniferELandis.