Update on my post yesterday afternoon … if you are using Internet Explorer, you should now be able to see that lovely wallpaper background! Yay … a bit of new code (thanks to Kayla!) solved the problem. However, the wallpaper isn’t supposed to be scrolling and it does. It’s also taking a bit longer to load … I might try to work on it a bit more, but for now, it’s at least there!
Gotta share first that my azaleas have bloomed! It was almost overnight!
Let’s move on with the Simply Living concepts. This week, it’s all about creating the plan that will help you organize your activities and fit them into the time you’ve been given. I told you in the Introduction that I was only going to give you a skeleton of a plan. Part of the reason that I’m sharing my Simply Living principles is to get you to think about how you are living, to decide what your days are filled with or SHOULD be filled with, and then to help you to fit all those puzzle pieces together in such a way that leaves you calm and relaxed even in all of your busyness. We all lead different lives and have different priorities. What is important to me might be incredibly insignificant to you! In Simply Living, it’s your choice. YOU decide what your days look like. YOU decide what you do. Awareness reduces stress and promotes well-being. And isn’t that what we are all after?!
When I first explored this method of managing my time and responsibilities, it was in the context of keeping the house and managing my home. As I worked the system, though, I found that I was applying the system to almost every area, incorporating everything in the same plan. That meant that everything about my life was flowing in the same stream and didn’t compete with each other.
So how exactly does the system work? It starts with a list of questions …
What must I do DAILY to maintain my life?
What must I do WEEKLY to maintain my life?
What must I do MONTHLY to maintain my life?
What must I do QUARTERLY to maintain my life?
What must I do BI-ANNUALLY to maintain my life?
What must I do ANNUALLY to maintain my life?
… and the answers to those questions end up in your calendar. Or in a 4x6 file box that I’ll show you how to create.
Start by taking a piece of paper and write those questions at the top of six sheets. Then take some time to write your lists on each sheet. When I first did this exercise, it took me quite a while to come up with my lists because as I went through my days, I started thinking a little more about what REALLY needed to be done. I would add an item to the list just to remove it the next day OR to move it to another list because I decided perhaps that I didn’t want to vacuum EVERY DAY! The lists also changed every time I moved … I learned that each house, each stage of life, each season of the year had its own adjustments to my lists. You’ll notice in the examples that follow, that I’ve only listed the household chores. You could just as well list hobbies, swim lessons, working out … Remember, it’s YOUR plan and it’s up to you to pay attention to the rhythms of your life.
So what do I do every day? Sweep kitchen floor, empty dishwasher (kid’s job), take trash out (kid’s job), feed the dog (Ken), make my bed, straighten clutter, wipe down bathroom counters, some kind of laundry, one or two weekly chores. That’s it! One or two days a week, I’ll add a monthly chore as well so that by the end of the month, all of those chores have been done.
My weekly chores are something like: mop kitchen, clean bathrooms, wash sheets (my kids do their own), clean old food out of the refrigerator, menu planning, vacuum/dusting. That’s six things … I don’t work a formal job so I can do one each day and get a day off, too! For those of you who work full- or even part-time, you might choose to do these on the weekend or all in one evening. Or better yet, you might choose to hire a housekeeper to do these things!! Now you’re talking! I also list things that need to be done that I might not be doing, such as mowing the lawn. If it’s all on the list, then I can delegate to whomever needs to be doing it. Check!
Monthly chores? Clean refrigerator (wiping shelves, etc…), clean coffee pot with vinegar water (keeps your coffee tasting the best), dust blinds, wash quilts and blankets. That’s four things … one a week and the monthly chores can be checked off at the end of the month!
Quarterly? closet organization (switching seasonal clothes, general declutter, getting rid of products that are out of date), decorate house for the season
Bi-Annually? Clean windows, carpet cleaning (hired out), clean oven (I usually do this in the Fall and in the Spring and boy … this one is real hard! You know, pushing that ‘clean oven’ button on the front of my oven is such hard work!), declutter the garage
Annually? Yard maintenance (mulching, pruning, etc …)
Remember that these are just examples and that you can put whatever you want on your own lists! I actually have other things on my lists as well such as pay bills (Monthly), change oil in car (Quarterly-Ken—and this is more for a brain nudge than an actual chore), winterize the outdoor water faucets (Annually) … you get the idea.
After I made my lists, I consulted my calendar, other time demands, and determined what days I would do what things. WARNING: Be flexible! If you are reading this and you are a mom, your schedule will definitely change when school starts, if your children start taking new music lessons, or join a new sports team. Or you might get sick and just need to rest. And your schedule will be out of whack during the holidays or if you have houseguests. If you don’t get the kitchen mopped this week, don’t worry! It’s a funny thing that happens … Monday will come again next week! And if it doesn’t, then you won’t be thinking about that floor anyway! Furthermore, I can just about guarantee that you won’t get picked up by the Cleaning Police if your kitchen doesn’t get mopped today.
The next thing I did was transfer those lists to 3x5 index cards and created categories in the box. I still have that box … here’s what it looks like:
I used these self-adhesive tabs, adhered them to a piece of white cardstock cut 4x6, and used colored cards. You’ll notice tabs in the back for Hospitality and Storage … we’ll talk about those some other time. I’ve created these labels for you. Just Download File Tabs here, print them off, and cut them to fit the tabs. You’ll also need three sets of monthly dividers. You can also Download Instructions for Setting up Organization Box. Aren’t I good to you?
(In the front, I put cards with the vet, the carpet cleaner, etc … phone number, addresses, and dates that I used their services.)
I know that some of you reading this have rolled your eyes all the way through! I can hear you now, “Good Golly, Miss Molly! Really? Like I’m going to make this box and like I’m going to actually schedule stuff like this!? It’s way too much work!” And my response would be … I’m so totally fine with that! And if you already accomplish everything you want to in your days and even have your own routine and system going, then I say, “Good for you! That's wonderful!” And maybe you can share your methods with us too? This box is a great tool because just in that the act of creating it, we are forced to think about what we spend our time doing, we have a visual of our days right in front of us, and we are able to put boundaries where they need to be. If you choose not to make this box, rest assured that I’ll still welcome you back here! I will also be compiling a post with some tips for handling life digitally … I love my computer and my Blackberry and use them to the max!
A few tips and tricks for success (no matter what methods you employ!):
Set priorities and stick by them.
Maintain the system. “Plan your work and work your plan.”
Find one day a week where you can create your game plan for the upcoming days. For me, this is usually Saturday or Sunday. I look at my calendar, the sports schedule, the school activities, holidays, etc … and plan the week, what evenings I’ll cook, what chores are in need and what day would be best to do them. The weeks that I don’t do this are the weeks where everything seems to hit the fan. My dad used to say, “There’s no price too high to pay for proper preparation!”
Understand that it is a game of give and take. Some days, things fall into place amazingly well. Other days, … well … other days, they fall apart! (Remember my last Saturday Chez Nous post?!) There’s always tomorrow so don’t beat yourself up. Give yourself some grace.
Get a calendar, or a piece of paper to make daily notes on, and get ‘er done! Write a daily list if necessary, or if you have your Box set up, lay your cards out on the table or counter till you get the tasks accomplished for the day.
Take small bites. Don’t expect perfection. Conquer the Daily tasks before adding others!
If you work or have a day of erranding, but you also have laundry to do, get the machines started before you leave in the morning.
If you have more than one bathroom in your home, keep basic cleaning supplies in each so a quick wipe-up is easily accomplished.
Setting up and using the card system is great training for your kids as well. On my cards, I wrote exactly what products and tools to use to get the jobs done so that if I give a chore to my kids, I can hand them the card and they can follow the instructions. They learn life skills without my having to micromanage the process and they see the organization and intention of having an orderly home and life. Of course, now, they are old enough to not need the cards to know what to do! Amazing how that worked out.
Good luck, then, as you pursue orderliness and accomplishment!