I usually try to keep my posts short and to the point, but this one will be a tad bit longer. Bear with me, I truly believe it will be worth your time.
I think we all know that being a while being a parent is a full time job it’s usually not our only job. I recently sat down to put on paper all of my roles that I fill on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, along with personal goals I want to achieve. I am a child of God, Wife, Mother, Homeschool Teacher, Daughter, Sister, Friend, Sunday School Teacher, Housekeeper, Writer, Musician, Thespian, etc. We all have only so much room on our plate before things start falling off. I know that all of these roles are very important to me and it is very hard to keep up with all of the different tasks that need to be done. How do I get around to all of this? And not only get it done, but do quality work.
I am not a consistent or type A personality, so my husband helped a ton with helping me get organized and to find a system that worked for me. The following tips and tricks and general advice have helped me feel more in control of my life and roles. I feel I can enjoy down time better now. If you are a person that has a hard time getting things done this post is for you. Not everything here will fit, but I urge you to try it for a least a month, then start tweaking to find a better fit.
1. Make A More Effective TO DO List
My most effective tool is the TO DO list. Checking things off can create a snowball effect of productivity. Also, an organized and complete to do list can help you make sure things never get to the place that you are stressing out to get them done.
I model my to do list after Stephen Covey’s suggestion in Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. I say “model” because I have tweaked my system so much since I started doing this that it might not look 100% like his anymore.
At the heart of the system are four different categories of TO DOs.
Important and Urgent. These are To Dos that need attention in the next couple of days and bad things will happen if they do not get finished or are not done correctly.
Not Important but Urgent. These To Dos need to be checked off in the next couple of days but they are not top priority. Taking out the trash, for example. Sure it is urgent, because you do not want it sitting there leaking on your floor for longer than 48 hours, but not important because your 7 year old can do it for you. As long as it gets to the dumpster (or wherever) you do not care (to a point) how it gets done.
Important but Not Urgent. Here is where I place high priority things that are not due for a few weeks to months. A lot of my ministry, homeschooling, and community theater stuff goes here.
Not important and Not Urgent. This category seems superfluous but you would be surprised how many things get put in this category. Right now I have things like “repot Orchid”, “repot Snake Plant”, “Get Hair trimmed”, “Move firewood pile”, “Kilz the kitchen walls”, etc. These things if left not done will become Not Important but Urgent, so the goal is to get them knocked off before they need to be moved.
This system obviously takes time to get used to. I have an app called “Notes” on my phone and IPad that sync up with each other. It works better for me to have this on my phone so it is easier to keep track of and I’m not trying to decipher the heiroglyphics that my handwriting can become when I am in a hurry.
Here is a screenshot of my actual To Do list:
2. Have a list of Goals
How is this different than a to do list? These things are things that are reoccurring. I know maybe “goals” isn’t the right word, but it sounded better than “chores”.
I have daily, weekly and monthly goals.
Daily Goals. In my daily goals, I have them separated by higher priority and lower priority. For example, in my high priority goals list is spend time with God and read my Bible, Encourage/Connect/Show love to each one of my kids individually and my husband. On my low priority list is simpler stuff like do dishes, laundry, half a deep clean, work out, water plants, practice piano. These are all things that I want to accomplish every day if possible, but if one of the lower priority ones do not happen, oh well, better luck tomorrow.
Here is a screenshot of my Daily Goals:
Weekly Goals. The items on this list are usually marked out by time or some other measurable quality. For instance, my reading goal right now is one hour for fiction and one hour for non-fiction. Might seem crazy but I honestly don’t take time for myself to sit down and read if I don’t have that on there. If I want my kids to love reading they need to see me reading, too.
Another example is my writing goals, right now I have a writing goal of 3,000 words a week. This is a new item for me, so I might be reaching a little too far at the moment.
The idea is, things on this list do not have to be done every day, but need some level of attention each week.
Monthly Goals. These are things that only NEED to happen once a month. My personal list is full of items that seem like things that would obviously get done each month. Unfortunately, I have let months go by without doing them before, and I have promised myself not to let it happen anymore.
Here is a screenshot of my weekly and monthly goals. I have daily, weekly, and monthly goals all in the same “note.”
Obviously your goals are going to look different, but when i was putting mine together there was a lot of changing the first month or two, but now I feel like it keeps me on track, things get done and i stay on top of the things that are most important to me.
You could also have a Yearly Goals Checklist, I do not have one simply because that is way too big picture for me. I do not even make New Year’s Resolutions.
3. Enlist Help
Have your kids do as many chores as they can handle.
Every kid is different, and trust me, I know it is harder to make them do their chores then it is for you to just do it yourself. So many studies have shown that children who have chores (paid or unpaid) have better work ethics and are better adjusted later in life.
My kids have been doing chores since they were 2 and 1/2 and they still complain about them, but most mornings they wake up and simply “hop to it”. I do pay them a little each week for a couple of their chores, simply so I can in turn teach them about earning and handling money.
Now, I make sure to point out how much they help keep the house looking nice and clean and how much of a help that is for me. I also point out that I do more chores than they do on a daily basis, to help them with the “this isn’t fair” attitude. Which they will have by the way. I remember growing up complaining that my family must think I’m Cinderella with how much work I had to do cleaning every day. I doubt I really had that much to do.
4. Let It Go
With letting others (as in your children and spouse) do the housework with you, there will be things that do not get done to the caliber of you expect. But learn to say, “At least it got done.” Or as a famous Disney Queen sings, “Let it Go!”
Think of it as a way to teach your children how you like things done, and only expect of them what you should expect from their age and maturity level. I have found the higher your expectations the higher level of achievement. Just be careful not to have such high expectations that you miss the point. The main point is teaching your children work ethic, there’s pride in a job well done, and how to be a contributing citizen.
As a disclaimer, there is a lot I don’t do. I have to say no to things, and things I would love to try and work in. Like gardening my own vegetables, making more things from scratch (though I am getting much better at doing that), spending more time on my music or acting, etc.
Thank you for hanging in there all the way to the end. Leave a comment with any tips and tricks you use to be more productive.