A Schedule Gone Awry

I haven’t written anything about scheduling in a while. Nor have I posted the schedule. One of the reasons is that, after years of writing out schedules, I have internalized many of those skills and don’t often have to make a schedule. I work right off my to do list and achieve the same level of productivity. (By the way, I’m finally back to working on my book about the perfect ADHD to do list. So keep an eye out for that. My goal is to finish it this summer.)

I do still make an actual schedule once in a while. Usually it is for a day where I have lots of “free time” but a whole lot to get done. I definitely still make a schedule on Thanksgiving. Otherwise, how would I know what time to start cooking? And I’ve got that down to a science. I don’t think I started cooking this year until 1 o’clock. Not counting the pie.

Anyway, this was a similar day. I had a large culinary project to do. My annual double batch of strawberry rhubarb jam, plus an extra batch so I’d have something nice to give to the kids teachers as an end of year thank you. In the past, I have posted schedules that were a perfect 10 where I stuff the landing. And I posted schedules that did not go as planned. The idea is to show you that you can achieve a schedule that is accurate. But I also like to demonstrate that, even though I teach this stuff for a living, I don’t always nail it. So it is with much humbleness that I post this schedule for my jam making day, which went so far off the rails, it’s hard to believe I even made a schedule. But here it is. I have proof.

I think it’s fair to say I was a little rusty at writing it out. And I made some rookie mistakes. I went into the day thinking about the big project I needed to do and kind of ignored a lot of the little things I have to do every day to keep the world moving. I also didn’t take into account that making a three times batch is 50% more work. And since I was making several half pints for the teachers, it was probably 100% more sanitizing and canning time. I think if you eliminated those mistakes, I would’ve been behind schedule, but not completely off the rails. But with those mistakes as the foundation was no wiggle room to absorb the fact that I needed to spend a significant extra amount of time dealing with organizing my canning jars and supplies. If I had taken those things into account, I probably would’ve been pretty close to on time, in the sense that the schedule would’ve been making jam pretty much all day. And that’s what happened. Oh… and I forgot to include clean up time. Sticky red goo everywhere. Had to clean that up so it didn’t look like a crime scene when the family got home. Just the lovely smell of jam and the dishwasher running quietly in the background. (Next year I’m just going to get a strawberry rhubarb Yankee Candle. Kidding. The jam is worth it.)

But here’s the thing, the schedule was still a success. Because I had a schedule I learned all of these things. I learned that it actually takes longer to make half pints instead of pints because you have to process twice as many jars. I learned that making a triple batch takes a lot longer even if the cooking time is the same. I learned that sterilizing the jars and lids always takes a lot longer than I think. So when I go to make jam next year, I’m gonna have a much better idea of how long it’s gonna take. I’m gonna remember that I budgeted half a day and it took almost a whole day. It only takes a half a day if it’s a two times batch, with already sterilized jars, all pints, and my wife helps hold the strawberries.

So but I hope you’re takeaways is that planning is never a bad idea. Whether you’re successful or you have a learning experience, the plan is valuable. The only time it isn’t valuable is when you do it half assed and you don’t really learn from it. So be fully assed! Go forward and plan! Let me know how it goes.