The One In One Out Rule and Schedules

The One In One Out Rule and Schedules at

I’ve made some schedule changes in the past year.

I don’t like schedule changes.

But they’re necessary. Contrary to what my brain consistently assumes, time does not expand to fit all the ideas that pop into my head.

No matter how fabulous those ideas are . . .

Before I was a stay-at-home-mom, I fully believed that once I was one . . . my time would expand to fit all of the creative ideas I’d ever had for decorating and cleaning my home. Oh, and cooking everything from scratch. And volunteering. And more.

Before my kids were in school, I fully believed that once they were . . . I’d be able to devote full-time hours to this blog. And write plays. And novels. And volunteer. And more.

I still struggle with creating scenarios that are bigger than my calendar, but I have learned some things.

The One In One Out Rule applies to schedules. There are only so many hours in a day. When I add something new, time doesn’t automatically expand to fit it.

Really. I’ve tried.

The fall when my daughter went to kindergarten, I agreed to work in leadership at the Bible Study I had attended for several years. I wanted to do it, but this meant I was away from home two days a week instead of one. At the same time, I was turning this Blogging Thing into a full-time gig (not full-time pay, though . . . ) and within a few months I was completely overwhelmed.

At the end of the year, I had to let the leadership commitment go. I simply couldn’t do it all.

Then this year, due to some major health issues my Mother in Law has had, I decided to go help her one day each week. Which meant that I had to let my Bible Study go.


If you know me at all, you know how much I LOVED going to that Bible Study. But I knew from (difficult) experience that I can’t do the things I need to do AND have full-day commitments that take me consistently away from home and from blogging two days a week.

Time doesn’t expand. It doesn’t multiply.

It’s like a day is a container. It is the natural limit to how much I can do.

Once I’ve filled up my days (including non-negotiable family time and non-negotiable tasks), there is no more. Trying to shove another really great thing into my day doesn’t mean my day will be greater, it means my day will overflow into a big mess.

--Nony get-how-to-manage-your-home-without-losing-your-mind-wherever-books-are-sold


  1. 1

    I’d never thought about this one-in-one-out applying to schedules. But it is so true. Kudos to you for helping your mil! It is not common for someone to give up an activity to help a parent or in-law. You’re even greater than what I thought 🙂

  2. 2

    I agree, that is great that you are willing to give your time to go and help your mother-in-law. It is better to DO the will of God than to study it. You are putting faith into action.

    I was just staring at your post, thinking what a revelation. I mean, FlyLady and others tell you that you have 24 hours in a day, just like everyone else… but I never considered the one in, one out rule. I know that I have too much on my agenda for the time I have…. but I keep trying to stuff it, squeeze it all in. No wonder my life looks like my closet!

  3. 3

    I didn’t want to hear this, but I needed to hear this. It’s exactly as you said. I volunteered to have Bible study at my house yesterday and cook for everyone. I should have stopped there. But a good friend of mine needed help yesterday and I really wanted to help due to serious health issues, so I offered to go over for 3 hours (I stayed 4). Then after making those 2 commitments, last Friday the doctor told me they wanted to see me Monday, so I thought ”What’s one little appointment to hurt?”, so I added that into the morning before going to my friend’s. All that good stuff didn’take my day great. It made me exhausted and irritable… not just yesterday but today too. And of course, today is loaded just like yestetday:(

  4. 4

    Like Lety and Sarah said: I hadn’t thought of this one in one out rule as applying to time and I NEEDED to hear this! I work a full-time job, a part-time weekend job and I have a home business. I blog about 15-20 hours a week (currently). I volunteer on 3 different local boards. I workout after work 3-4 times/week and when I’m not doing all that, I work at my family farm. This doesn’t include the time I have to spend at home working on dishes, laundry, cooking, you know all the everyday stuff. I desperately need to find a way to reduce my activities, but I am horrible at saying NO or disappointing anyone. Plus, I am trying to get out of debt, so I’m not sure how much I can reduce working at the moment… Sigh! I’m exhausted thinking about it!

    Could I use this post as inspiration for an up-coming blog post? I would of course give you credit and a link-back. Let me know! Thanks 🙂

  5. 6

    I love this post. I feel like I’m pretty good at avoiding too many commitments, but I love the idea of my day as a container. It will only hold so much and no more. Thanks for this post!

  6. 7

    I always loved the large stones and sand analogy. (I think Stephen Convey used it in one of his books but I’ve seen it in every time management talk I’ve witnessed) I’m unable to do the bible study with my church’s women because of the day it falls on. It’s okay at this point in my life because we do family scripture study, couple scripture study and individual study multiple times a week. While I miss the connection I make with the women in my church I know I’m focusing on making my home a godly place and it’s a big stone. All my other school and church commitments fall into place even if I don’t get to everything I’d want to do. 🙂

  7. 8

    I helped my parents the last 8 years of their lives The one day a week commitment is something I have never regretted even though it took up my one day off work. I would willing do it again in a minute. I only wish they were here so I could .

  8. 9

    Oh, Dana! Thank you for connecting those logical dots for me. The whole post was ridiculously obvious. I knew all of that, but I didn’t SEE it. You’re a blessing (as always).

  9. 10

    This is a lesson I’m learning (SLOWLY!), too. You put it so well, so logically, as Amanda says. My tendency when I was younger was to plan to sleep less so I could cram everything in that I wanted to do. That didn’t work well, and now that I have 3 children 3 and younger (with the baby not sleeping well right now), I know I have to prioritize some sleep and make other tough choices. (Or grumpy Monster Mommy shows up! EEK!) Thanks for this post!

  10. 11

    I don’t know how mothers can juggle volunteerism. I have only a husband and two cats, and a creative aspect that I won’t dignify with a proper teenager metaphor.

    Hubby claims that he read an author biography that completely explains me growling in response to his questions about dinner, laundry, and anything else when I’m in writing mode. Laundry is already simplified so that I can cycle the machines but leave it in the baskets during a mental phase of creativity. Cooking still requires my mental presence, though I do have recipes that are 15 minutes of prep and two hours of being more sensitive to burning than the smoke alarm.

  11. 12

    Absopositively!!! And I’m really feeling that stretch right now as I’m getting used to our 4th child-born two weeks ago. Time doesn’t automatically make room and I have to figure out how to manage my time better. Do you mind if I use your “non-negotiable” idea? It would have to be different things for me, but I need to figure my new stretched schedule out. I did fine, kind of, until now. I hit four, and it really hit me hard! All of a sudden, I just can’t figure it all out. -Tabitha

  12. 13

    A day is like a container – wow! that is profound – and mind-blowing. That means, like with all the containers I’m using to help gain control of my stuff, I can CHOOSE how to fill that container (the hours in my day) as well. hmmm, you’ve given me some things to ponder.

  13. 14

    EXACTLY what I needed to read right now. As I’m trying to cram more ‘stuff’ into a day…somethings got to go before it’s my sanity that’s gone!

  14. 15
    Amanda Beyerlein says:

    Recently I was able to convince my daughters to give up an activity next year so that we can spend that time cooking together for fun. They want to learn more and I want to do it when we are not rushed getting a meal on the table and out the door. Container concept in action!

  15. 16
    Sandra Anderson says:

    I very much needed to hear this. I need to cut loose of a bunch! I just cannot do it all no matter how much I want to. Great blog!

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