02 July 2012

Time Management 911

Dear Lissy,

Life feeling like three gallons of crazy in a two gallon bucket?  Or maybe it's an overwhelmed friend dissolving in tears on your couch instead?  Dry those eyes, square your shoulders, and start in on Momma's Emergency Plan!

week one:  Without a list you're listless.
Write down the 5 most important things you need to get done today.  Do not just "think" them.  Do not make more than 5.  You may want to brush up on the most important household tasks before making your list.
  • Going to any appointment or meeting counts as one item. 
  • Only write things you can actually do.  Don't write "Dishes", but "Wash and put away dishes, scrub sink and counters."
  • Up to 3 loads of laundry = 1 list item.  If you want to do more than that today, it will have to be done after you've completed the list
Do it.  Put on some zippy tunes, and get to work.  Don't go to the park with friends, take a computer break, read a book, or pull out a craft project until those 5 things are done.

Repeat.   Do this every day.  You're off to a great start!

week two:  Write a  morning and evening routine.
Take a sheet of paper and fold it in half.  Write down everything you do (or should do) first thing in the morning on one side and last thing at night before bed on the other side.  
  • Do not add items you want to do someday like family devotions or exercise yet.
  • Put "Write tomorrow's 5 To-Do" on the evening routine list, and "5 To-Do List" after breakfast on the morning routine.
  • "Run Load of Laundry" should be on the morning routine.
  • Put a bedtime and alarm time on each routine.
Post your routine where you can see it easily.  The front of the fridge is great.  So is your nightstand.  Don't put it out of sight in a notebook, though.

Do it every day, first and last.  Do your morning routine before you do anything else (even checking e-mail!), and don't go to bed without doing your evening routine.  

week three:  Establish a mealtime routine.
Here's your new mealtime routine.  Do or delegate, just get it done.
  • Prep the meal.
  • Serve the meal.
  • Put away leftovers
  • Clean all the dishes & pans now.
  • Clean the kitchen and dining room, including a quick sweep/damp mop under the table and edges of the counter.
  • Prep as much as possible for the next meal.
Keep doing your evening and morning routines (and writing that list!)

week four:  Write a Weekly Plan
Designate each day of the week for specific household tasks.  Here's our family's plan.
  • Monday:  Regroup & Plan
  • Tuesday:  Errands
  • Wednesday:  Desk
  • Thursday:  
  • Friday:  Cleaning
  • Saturday:  Car & Yard 
  • Sunday:  Lord's Day
*Notice I left one day completely blank so I can either take the day off, or take another day off and slide that day's work onto Thursday.

Weekly plans are a powerful productivity tool with many applications, but for now: 
  1. Set a timer and spend one hour per day on the category you've chosen.
  2. Schedule to-do items for the day they most closely fit.  Take the suit to the dry cleaners on Tuesday, don't make a special trip on Friday.  If a friend wants to get together, suggest Thursday (but be flexible!)
  3. Create some visible way to save reminders for things that need to be done on a particular day.   I prefer a whiteboard divided into seven squares on the back of the kitchen door, but an SMS or e-mail reminder sent to the day works fine, too.   Out of sight, out of mind:  be very wary of creating notebooks or folders that require you to open and use them.
Keep up with your morning, evening, and mealtime routine.  The list should be a habit by now, too.

This plan is rather bossy, and it's meant to be.  If you're feeling overwhelmed, you need a clear voice to cut through the fog and just say "do this".  I've included gobs of  background and philosophy for each of these steps in other letters.  

 Love and a big hug,

linked up at newlifeonahomestead.comraisinghomemakers.comwomenlivingwell.org, and Works for Me Wednesday


  1. 5 is my magic number for my to-do list too. This has helped me immeasurably.

  2. Good to see you back online Rebecca. Love reading your posts. Some fine and helpful advice again! Thank you.

  3. These are WONDERFUL tips, Rebecca. These kind of things really help me stay organized (and get re-organized when I need it).

    I love your closing mantra to speak through the fog to just do it. Sometimes that is exactly what we need to hear!