When I was training seriously, I’d start most seasons with 13-weeks where I would “stay put and roll the week.” Having a simple, basic week is a powerful tool for getting stuff done and avoids the cost of variation.
The cost of variation is the energy required to consider alternatives, to choose and to negotiate for “space” for ourselves.
When you are at the limit of your ability, patience or capacity to recover => eliminating unnecessary variation (and associated conflicts) can be a big help. I’ve brought a similar approach to my family.
I’ll use my son’s schedule as an example, here’s what he’s doing November to April:
- Monday – school/soccer
- Tuesday – school/water polo
- Wednesday – choir/school/jiujitsu
- Thursday – school/swim lesson
- Friday – school/go to mountains
- Saturday – ski group/movie night
- Sunday – family ski/back home
Every-single-morning, he’s going to read for 20 minutes before doing anything. He is usually reading by 6:31am.
Despite everyone “knowing” the schedule, we write it out and place it on the kitchen counter. This lets everyone have a look and get comfortable with the plan.
There is variety between the days, but little variation between the weeks. For example, I don’t need to worry about what we are going to do on a rainy February weekend.
The bulk of my “life” fits into the time before my kids wake up, when they are at school and my “days off.” In the winter, many weeks, my wife handles the kids from end of school Thursday to Friday evening.
Bedtimes, my own included, are set so we can wake up and keep the week rolling. When we start to get run down bedtimes move earlier and earlier.
I give myself zero flexibility with my own wake-up time => “no excuses wake-up” eliminates energy spent on choice.
Some principles we use.
Sleep, school work and healthy eating is our highest priority. Create the habits and energy to outperform.
Kids don’t know what they want. Our minds are hardwired to complain about every single change and variation => just look inside! Absent a repeating schedule, you are certain to have endless negotiations. Exhausting, when you don’t have energy to spare.
My kids want: love, to demonstrate competence and acceptance => the schedule needs to provide everyone with a chance to meet their basic human needs.
Clear ownership of responsibilities. Who is doing what? The kids are hardwired to compete for your time. Lay out the mommy/daddy times, make it equitable. With our preschoolers, showing them their “mommy days” was very important to reduce conflict and let mom see she was doing enough.
Keep it rolling at grade level. I do not care about the relative performance of my kids. I am most interested in identifying holes. If you have a future Rhodes scholar in the house then it will become apparent in its own time. However, if you miss the fact that your little one doesn’t know how to read then it will severely damage self-confidence, their attitude toward education and their capacity to teach themselves.
My constraints are extremely useful as they keep me from over-doing-it. I have a track record of burying myself with fatigue.
My goal is to do what needs to be done, strengthen my marriage and have peace of mind => to know I am executing to the best of my ability, most days. I know what I want.
Because I witness my internal dialogue, I am constantly reminded of my shortcomings!
Meeting a reasonable basic week gives me an anchor and avoids the temptation to increase my expectations of myself.
Simplicity and repetition.