One of the advantages of being a stay-at-home mom is that I have a solid block of time while my older children are at school to accomplish a lot of what I need to do. On the other hand, one of the disadvantages of being a stay-at-home mom is that exact same block of time! I have learned that when I have a concrete schedule of some sort, I do pretty well.
But if there isn’t, I flounder. I feel like I’ve got all day, so I work slower, get distracted, or change my mind as to what I will do. It isn’t that I don’t have much to do; I actually have a lot that I need to do. What I keep feeling I need is some kind of structure. But I have had a very difficult time finding the right structure for me.
Here are some ideas that I’ve tried (and I think they are good ideas) but so far have not worked for me.
Plan the day by individual task:
- The night before or the morning of, look at what needs to be done, estimate the time needed for each task, and plan out when I will do what.
- Instead of detailed planning, write down between 3 and 5 tasks that are the most important to do that day. Then make sure to get those done even if nothing else.
- Make a list of everything I need to do and prioritize it. Start with the most important one and work my way through it.
- Make a list of “must do,” “should do,” and “nice to do.“ Start with the “must do” stuff, then move to “should do” and if any time is left work on the “nice to do.”
Plan the day (or week) by type of tasks:
- Flylady recommends creating daily and weekly routines, setting aside each day of the week for specific types of tasks.
- David Allen recommends creating several task lists that are grouped together by type (at computer, phone calls, errands, etc.), then work on one list in one setting and move to another when in another setting.
- Julie Morgenstern recommends creating a time map where you decide on blocks of time that you assign to certain types of tasks. Then you use this “map” in making appointments and other types of planning.
All of these are great ideas, and seem to work well for lots of productive people, but as for me personally, I have felt like none of them have really helped me quite the way I need.
My intent when I first began writing this post (2 or 3 weeks ago) was to share a system that I had thought of on my own. I was really excited about it too! But it was only two days into “trying out the system” that I realized it was worse than anything I had ever tried so far! However, it did give me some valuable information about what I need, and suddenly I found myself being drawn right back to David Allen’s book “Getting Things Done.“
So, I’ve been spending all week collecting everything that is what he calls an “open loop” or an “incomplete.” And then I’ve been processing it all according to his directions on how to do so, putting everything on the appropriate list. It has been somewhat exhausting, but freeing and motivating at the same time! What I like about the system is that it doesn’t tie me down to any task at any particular time (other than appointments). This is what I feel the other systems do (including the one I created for myself), and I get frustrated about it. I get rebellious too – procrastinating and wasting time just because I don’t want to do what I had planned.
But as I said, I did try this system once before. I can’t guarantee that once the “honeymoon” is over that I won’t dislike it again. But right now it seems like just what I need!