Anchoring: An Organizational Tool

Written by Simple Homeschool contributor Renee Tougas of FIMBY.

We all have tasks in our days that are important and require diligence. Homeschooling, homemaking, family life, health, creative pursuits, and employment are just a few priorities that you might be juggling daily.

Consistency in some of these areas might come more naturally than in others. My strong suit is homemaking. Maybe that’s because I’ve been at it for well over a decade. Staying on top of meals, laundry and bills is nearly second nature.

But homeschooling is harder for me–especially now that I am making a more disciplined effort to build a foundation of reading, writing and math for our elementary aged children.

This year I am challenging myself, more than ever, to stay on top of our daily homeschool priorities. We are now a couple months into our school year and experiencing success with a particular technique that is helping us meet our goals.

I call this technique anchoring.

What is anchoring?

Anchoring is simply attaching the most important tasks or those most difficult to do (sometimes these are one in the same) to the foundational pieces of our daily life: getting up, meals and bedtime.

Have you noticed that no matter what else happens in a day we always get up, we eat and go to bed?

So what I’ve done is attached or “anchored” important tasks to those daily immutables.

girl steering boat
Photo by Renee Tougas of FIMBY

When to use it?

I think anchoring is a great organizational tool to use in the beginning stages of turning a discipline into a habit.

Maybe you are new to homeschooling and need a system to help you structure your day. Or maybe you’ve got a good homeschool routine going but need help tackling that mountain of laundry.

Anchoring helps you turn ideas into concrete actions. Whether they be homeschool, self-employment or homemaking related.

For me, it is most useful to anchor the following:

  • important activities that are easy to let slip
  • a new routine I am trying to make into habit
  • personal growth and development that is otherwise shoved to the bottom of the mommy-do list

gift with lifejacket on boat
Photo by Renee Tougas of FIMBY

How does it work?

I’m going to use an example from my own life to illustrate.

Our day has a certain structure that happens regardless of my mood or the weather. We get up, eat three meals and go to bed.

All together that makes five cornerstones in our day.

So I attach five prioritized activities to those cornerstones. Yours will vary depending on your natural strengths, interests, and circumstances.

Here are the five activities I’ve anchored to our cornerstones:

  1. Get up – My personal quiet time to journal, meditate, read, and pray.
  2. Breakfast – Immediately following breakfast, often before we even clear the table, we sit down and do reading practice. My number one homeschool priority right now is consistent, daily reading practice for my nine and eight-year-old.
  3. Lunch – After lunch I write for one hour.
  4. Supper – My husband takes the initiative and leads the family in scripture reading.
  5. Bedtime – Before the kids go to bed I read to them. We also read in the morning but this is the pre-bed snuggle and so very important before they outgrow this.

girl asleep on boat
Photo by Renee Tougas of FIMBY
Do these happen every weekday? No. But this structure is the standard and gives us something to aim for and is very doable.

A lot else happens during the day of course. You can read how I organize the blocks of time in between these anchors to do other homeschool and homemaking work.

What it will not do

Anchoring will not solve the problem of too much on your plate to begin with.

I believe in living by priorities and if you have too much going on you will have to simplify. Anchoring does not do that for you.

But once you have defined your priorities anchoring can help you achieve those, whether they are homeschooling or lifestyle related.

little boat on shore
Photo by Renee Tougas of FIMBY

What kind of techniques do you use to help you turn new behaviors into habits? Or to keep you on track with being diligent?

About Renee

Renee is a creative homemaker and homeschooling mama of three. She loves to write, take pretty photos, and be in nature with her family. Her mission is to nourish, encourage, and teach; build relationship and create beauty. FIMBY is where she tells that story. Drawing from her years of experience and training, Renee also offers individual and personalized Homeschool Coaching.

Comments

  1. I just love your insight, Renee, and you have a wonderful ability to put it into words. Thank you!
    Jill Foley’s latest post: Update from Kevin

  2. Managing a household with 7 children necessitated a regular schedule. We have a set time to do each of our school subjects and chores. The rhythm of our days helps us be very productive and the children know what to expect, so there is less resistance. The discipline of a structured day is actually quite freeing.
    I Live in an Antbed’s latest post: CHL

  3. I love this, Love this, LOVE this! Thank you for great inspiration. This will help me in getting a few more good habits going.
    FishMama’s latest post: Shopping at Scratch and Dent Stores Frugal Friday

  4. Great points! I like that these are simple elements to add to the day too, not unrealistic loads of educational to-do lists. :)
    Alicia’s latest post: Green craft round-up- Baby shoes from old jeans- tire swings and more!

    • That’s what I like too. I don’t need a long list of to-dos to overwhelm me even more. I need simple tools that will help me get the most important things done and this anchoring idea seems to be working to help me in that regard.

  5. How fantastic to have solid places in our day, as you shared, where everyone is held secure … Routines or schedules provide this, along with devotions and family time.

    One anchor we miss if we don’t purposefully give time to is our time alone at night when my husband and I talk through the day, share, plan and support each other. This is so necessary to keep focus and unity, faith and direction, intimacy and support.

  6. Thanks Renee, this is a very helpful idea! :)
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  7. others say ‘eat the frog’ first :)
    priest’s wife’s latest post: Nervous for Nutcracker

  8. What a wonderful idea! I think I have actually begun using this technique for certain health practices which I have wanted to make routine but never got around to. I only wish homemaking came as easy to me. I’ve been home for almost five years, and the only difference I can see is more dishes in the sink and toys on the floor! lol but I’m working on it.
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  9. I like this idea and haven’t heard of it before. I do create a routine/schedule for our week (including music practice, school time, chores, etc.) that sometimes varies but provides a solid framework for our days and allow us to stay on track overall. I put much consideration into creating this routine, trying to be realistic and focused on priorites and also tweak it during the first few weeks of implementation. For myself, when working on personal goals, I tend to create little rules like: I must drink four cups of water before lunch time. I also sit down on the weekend, looking at the week ahead, and pencil into my planner the days I plan to exercise, times I plan on reading aloud to my kids, and so forth. In this way, it is much more likely that these priorites will not be pushed aside.

  10. Such a simple, common sense idea, yet one many of us don’t think about. I used it to keep running – I would drop my son off at school while I was wearing running gear and go for a run. Now I am homeschooling, I am having to find another anchor – this has given me the push I need! Thanks.
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  11. Wonderful post … thank you!
    Blessings,
    Catherine
    Catherine’s latest post: Autumn Leaves

  12. I did this inadvertently last year, with each child having one thing they did the same after breakfast everyday, For my middle child, this was practicing the piano. It became such a habit for her, that she began going to play the piano after other meals as well! LOL! Glad for this reminder to take advantage of anchoring!
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  13. I really, really like this idea. I have a 20 month old and a 3 month old, and I feel like I’m finally leaving the “new baby” fog…this technique will be a good way to start actually getting things done. I am trying to homeschool my kids and I feel like some days I do really good and some days nothing happens. But we do get up and eat every day, so I should start doing some schooling at mealtimes.

    I also wanted to say that I love how your bio says that you have homeschooled your kids since birth. Isn’t that what we all should do? Yet we never say it.

  14. Renee, thank you for this! You articulated that so well. It really resonated with me, as I’ve been unconsciously doing something similar with my kiddos. I’ve noticed that when we are all at the kitchen table eating, they have my attention — so I’ve been taking advantage of that and using that time for school things. They’re already at the table, they’re already engaged, so why not read aloud to them or do an oral lesson while I have a captive audience? I also find that transitioning directly into some sort of seat-work is much more effective than corralling them back to the table later. My kids are young so they still get snacks, so those times — morning snack and afternoon tea — have become incorporated into our school day.
    Laura’s latest post: Why Creative Spelling Is Not Wrong

  15. Wow, this is great. I think I’ve done this before, but never had a name for it, or recognized what I’m doing.

    Connecting priorities with daily necessities is a great way to make sure they get done :)
    Rachel Denning’s latest post: 6-000 Ducklings in Tamil Nadu- India

  16. Renee – I wanted to tell you how much I love this post. I have been working very hard in our home to lay more of a foundation of consistent, reliable kind words. I have thought a lot about what you wrote the last few days and I think it is such a practical idea for me – with every anchor of the day to impart something kind verbally. As always, I love your thoughts! Thank you.
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  17. I really like this idea. I even copied it and put in some ways it could work for me. For instance, wake up time for me = exercise while after the kids go to bed would be journal/prayer.
    Thanks so much! This is a much easier way to see what’s really important and how to chunk my time!

  18. We do this too, but only with pieces of our day, not consistently throughout the day, and I have never put a name to it. I like yours! Scheduling (that dreaded word) is so key and with my daughter’s long days (not homeschooled), I am finding it difficult to get the rhythm right for us.
    Nicola
    Nicola@Which Name?’s latest post: figs

  19. I love that pictures,Add more in future in this blog.Thanks

  20. I love this idea, and so need to implement it. Just need to figure how where to anchor cello practice for starters, which has floated all over and gotten forgotten many times. I like that it’s not tied to a specific time of day, because our schedules are pretty variable, but it still gives it structure. Thanks!
    Bethany’s latest post: Leaving Our First Home For A New One- Unexpectedly by Christina Simon

  21. I do the same,but just on thing at the time. When it become a habbit i ad one more, because im new and i am doing unschool homeschool and tgen if it will be needed some formal homeschool stady it just could be more simple because of habbit stablished already.
    Thank. P.S. Sorry for my mistakes I m not english speaking.

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