How to Get Back on Track

My husband told me that summer would be over soon and I lost it.

Like, I got really mad.

Because we have not summered nearly enough. I have not checked off nearly enough of the items on my summer list. I’ve got to hop to it.

It’s easy to lose focus, isn’t it?

Especially when you have many needs pulling on you.

I find myself overwhelmed by a to-do list. Lists make me happy, but sometimes when I look at the things I have to do I quit before I even get started. I am tempted to stay in bed and read all day.

Sometimes, I do stay in bed and read all day. I have no problem with that. When I want to get back on track though there are a few things that I do:


1. Just one thing

Routine has always been difficult for me.  I like to take morning walks with whatever kids will go. Liam always goes and Liam always fusses about it. Without fail this kid of mine fumes that he has to go. He’ll even say extreme things like, “I hate my life!”  I’ve learned to calmly stand by the front door (only occasionally losing my cool and shouting) and wait for him to get his shoes on.

Grumpy start.
That’s our routine.

You get him out the door, though, and everything is fine. He happily chats about Minecraft, the dogs, his favorite t-shirt, what he’d like to eat for lunch, and birds he sees along the way.

If we’ve been out of the habit for a while the first day is really hard. It’s a little easier to do it the next day, and then the next day, and the next day.

Pick just one thing and stick with it for a week. Follow through in spite of any obstacle and you’ll find your priorities coming back into focus. I learned this years ago, I think from Marcia Somerville and Tapestry of Grace. For getting back into a homeschool routine she suggested beginning with just one subject. Each week you can add a new one. So begin with math, then layer on until you’re doing the things you want.

I started applying that method to my life and was pretty pleased with the outcome.

As a recovering perfectionist it’s my tendency to make a massive schedule for the day. The first time I fail or miss something in the schedule I quit and vow to start again the next day. I can repeat that pattern every day for a couple of weeks before I catch on to the madness.

One thing. That’s all you need to get going!


2. Be realistic about the list

I’m sure I’m not the only recovering perfectionist out there. If you’re still stuck in that place you might not know that creating a too big to-do list sets you up for failure. Now you know, though. You’re welcome.

It’s important to be realistic about how much can actually be accomplished in a day. Ryan McRae, aka The ADHD Nerd, suggests a short to list with two bonus items. If you get to them it’s a bonus! Here’s a post of his that I return to when I’m feeling bereft in a sea of discarded lists.

I really like my quadrant idea. I break my day up into four sections:

6 a.m. – 10 a.m.

10 a.m.-2 p.m.

2 p.m.- 6 p.m.

6 p.m.-10 p.m.

I put things in each of those sections, including meals, etc. It really works.

When I use it.

I have to be realistic about what I can accomplish, though.

Don’t overload the quadrants!

Friendly kitty.

3. Leave room for nothing

For real, leave room in your day for nothing. Time to sit and think, stare out a window, lay in bed or on the couch. Nothing is very important for brains.

Quiet time allows us to process our day but it also allows our priorities to come back into focus. There are times in our family life that there is a lot of going. That’s typically when we get really off kilter. The van is filled with trash and shoes, laundry isn’t done, dishes get scattered about the house, we don’t know where our things are.

Giving yourself space to do nothing can feel counterintuitive when you’re trying to get back on track. Thinking is important, though. Constant motion does not lead to more productivity but quiet time does. 


We’ve been steady with morning walks for almost two weeks now. Today we’re going to add in math games. Next week we’re jumping back into history. Starting with just one thing takes away the feeling of urgency. It also allows me to sit back and view our day, where the free spaces are and where the time-sucks are.

Lots of breaks.



What do you do to get back on track? Share your gold nuggets in the comments!




As always, be brave, and leave time for nothing.



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2 thoughts on “How to Get Back on Track

  1. Brilliant blog, loved it, rgabkacfor sharing! I like to take a step back and take a deep breath to get back on track and I am a big fan of lists lol

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