Today’s tip is rather vague…but I will illustrate it with a real-life example (thus making it worthy of a blog post). Here it is: Plan your trip in as much detail as you can tolerate. OK, I’m not suggesting that you create a spreadsheet with a to-the-minute schedule (although, I was almost that meticulous on our first few trips as a family…I’m better now). But it is a good idea to have a plan, a framework. Know which Park you’ll visit on which day, have an idea of what restaurant you’ll eat at for at least one meal (if it’s table service, you’ll need to book ADRs anyhow), and know your top three or four attractions that you don’t want to miss so that you can give them priority. Without a plan, you’ll be spending too much time hemming and hawing about what to do next.
And, really, isn’t this the way it is with any undertaking? Case in point: As a homeschool family, I find that we accomplish so much more when we have a plan in place. I am a big fan of The Well-Planned Day homeschool planner. In my first year of homeschooling, I wrote extensive and very detailed lesson plans for each subject in this handy book. I probably went overboard. By my second year, my approach was less stringent as I merely wrote the framework for what I wanted to accomplish within the week. This worked well–it gave me goals to strive for but didn’t make me feel trapped into a set schedule. This year we moved to a new home in the middle of the school year. It was a “fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants” kind of year. I barely kept track of how many hours we were in school, and I certainly didn’t have a daily plan for each subject. Yes, we covered math, language arts, science, and social studies, but there were definitely some gaps in our learning this year. And while I’m still confident that my children are getting a quality education and that we covered the core concepts for each of their grade levels, I feel less certain that they excelled. In fact, this is the first year EVER that we’ve come to the end of our 180-day school year and I still have pages left to cover in some of our textbooks. Usually, we’ve completed all curriculum well before our 180 days are completed. (FYI, the 180-day school year is a state mandate for homeschoolers in Tennessee. While we have at least 180 official days of school, we try to foster an atmosphere of learning all year long. We focus primarily on academic subjects during those 180 days and use our summers to fill in gaps with enrichment activities such as drama, piano, and foreign language.)
Back to the planning. If I had properly used my very efficient The Well-Planned Day planner this year, I would likely feel better about how we’re finishing the school year. Not having a clear plan has caused me to suffer self-doubt and will likely cause us all to play catch-up this summer. A few extra minutes of planning each week would have saved us all some trouble. Lesson learned.
I could easily spend many hours (and often do) planning a Walt Disney World vacation. But even a few minutes of researching Park hours, attractions lists, refurbishment schedules, restaurant menus, and crowd calendars online before you go can save you HOURS in the Parks. You really can’t over-plan a Disney vacation. Good planning is really what allows for spontaneity.
By the way, you can click below to purchase The Well-Planned Day. It really is a great tool.