Do you organize your time?

alisandeAugust 16, 2007

My housekeeping has undergone a lot of improvements since I first came to this forum (although I've hardly achieved perfection!), but I haven't done anything about organizing my time until very recently. Like many "random housekeepers," I tend to be easily distracted, bouncing from one thing to another throughout the day unless I make a conscious effort to stick with a given task.

Finding myself without the prospect of employment that I'd been assured was a sure thing, I decided to go back to freelance writing. I've done it before, but more for fun and satisfaction than as a source of significant income. This time I need the money.

A friend who earns her living at home as an artist told me she's at her desk by 9:30 every morning, and puts in three or four hours of work. I figured I'd start with two hours and see what happened. What happened is that I feel more in control than I have been, and at the same time I have a greater sense of freedom. Just knowing I'm accomplishing things I've only toyed with in the past feels great, and carries over into other, home-related projects.

I expect to expand my schedule in increments, including paid assignments as they come up as well as non-writing tasks.

Anyone doing anything similar? How have you designed it?


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Susan  I am facing exactly the same quandary! In my struggle to become a disciplined writer I have created schedules, a list of writing projects, and set my alarm clock for the first time in years! Thus far I have outsmarted myself with a multitude of reasons for not following the schedule, to procrastinate about writing, and to use the early morning hours catching up with household chores and exercising.

To be fair to myself, remodeling has upset my household routines, I find the hot summer in Florida draining rather than inspiring, and the exercising is with a physical therapist under doctorÂs orders. Even so, I know I must focus on my writing if I am ever going to complete anything. It is time to get serious and, yes, have hours set aside when I allow myself no distractions such as checking this forum for interesting posts! I am glad I saw yours though  maybe we can be writing buddies and keep each other on track.

On the positive side, I have had some success organizing my time when I keep the timeframe flexible, such as:

do expense reports for DH

pay bills
wash bath linens
clean out fridge

wash/put away produce delivery

launder clothes

change bed linens
other paperwork and filing
wash bath linens

launder bed linens

As you can see, this is only household chores and I do sometimes switch things around.

Your artist friend has the right idea. I feel my writing requires a less flexible schedule. Of course an assignment with a deadline creates its own demands. When I had a home-based business writing twice weekly reports for paying clients I didnÂt have a problem meeting my deadlines!


    Bookmark   August 16, 2007 at 6:41PM
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This is something I struggle with alot during this time of year. I own a U-pick flower farm based at my home and customers come from 8 to 5 --5 days a week --plus those that pop in on days that I am closed.

I try hard to write a list daily. Chores that absolutely need to be accomplished and then I keep a few light things that I can do in the garden, while customers are there. My customers take up a lot of time and have lots of questions --so those projects are "drop and go". Things like mending, knitting a sock, maybe snapping beans, gathering eggs etc.

But I would like to be more disciplined. Sometimes after a group leaves -- I'm exhausted (particularly if there were a lot of kids!!) and then I feel I get nothing done!

I can't wait to hear the responses.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2007 at 7:40AM
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I'm not sure if I'm really going to be helpful to your question since I don't work from home anymore, but I'll reply as it applies to me.

I'm a single mom, work full-time outside the home, with an almost-2year old. If I don't organize my TIME first and TASKS second, I fall apart. I have learned as I get older that it's important to respect my own time just as much as I respect other's time.

By this, I mean I schedule my time first on my INK PEN around all the other inked-in work and social things and normal routines. These are days and/or general time slots within a day(like morning/afternoon/evening) I've scheduled to get extra things done & caught up for me, DD, the household, and fun. Some weeks I set aside more times/days than others...just depends on what life throws at me at any given moment. I schedule these in advance, so if other social or business things come up, I've got my personal home life balanced in there.

Then, I make my separate PENCILED task list for what I want to get done in that INKED time slot. Life changes, so I give myself the flexibility to change my tasks and their priority levels. The bottom line here is that I've given myself the extra time to do things, or do nothing...and it's my choice. I've got my Pencil Tasks and can decide what's most important. If I want or need to power-clean, I've made the time for it. If I decide taking DD to the park is more important than cleaning or getting the oil change, I've made the time.

In fact, just last night I was looking forward to sitting at home ALONE in the QUIET for the first time in 3 weeks...doing my nails and watching a Princess Diana movie while DD was at her dad's. I had it written in my dayplanner "Do Nothing". A friend called me & wanted to come over just to hang out. I told her I already had plans & we set up another time we can get together. Not a big deal. I don't regret telling my friend I was busy...because I already was.

Time is precious. Time needs to be respected when you don't have a lot of it to call your own. Make sure you schedule it early and make the best of it.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2007 at 10:43AM
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Gayle said: I have learned as I get older that it's important to respect my own time just as much as I respect other's time.

I need that written on my wall! A light bulb went off in my head when I read that, Gayle. I'm going to keep repeating that to myself.

I don't organize my time as well as I would like. My kids are all in school for the first time this year and started August 6. I've been a SAHM. I suddenly have "free" time on my hands (for a few weeks, then I'll work). I had grand ideas of all the things I would get done these first weeks of school. But I find myself either easily distracted and wasting time, or doing things for others. I've said "yes" too many times the last couple weeks when I should have respected MY time more. From helping at school to lunch with other moms whom I really don't even like spending time with.

I get more done when I am busier. Sounds silly, but you know, I mean when I only have 1 hour in a full scheduled day to get household chores done, I use the time and get it done. If I have 5 hours, it takes me 5 hours b/c I can procrastinate or get distracted by something that isn't as important.

Since I know in a few weeks I will be much busier (working and more kids' activities), I know I need to set up routines now that will make those days easier.

I only grocery shop every two weeks. It was tempting this last time to just get a few days' worth, thinking I could go back easily any time I want during the school day. But I stuck with the routine, planned the meals, did all the shopping at once, so I don't put "grocery" on my to do list again for two weeks. I'd kick myself for it later if I had to go back.

I have heard over and over for busy moms the most important organizational habit for them is to get up and completely ready for their day before the kids get up. I am NOT a morning person, so that takes every ounce of will power I can muster. But it really does help me feel in control of my time and day. When I don't do that, I feel behind, unmotivated, just sort of "off" all day.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2007 at 10:43PM
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Good Stephanie!!!...glad I could offer something that helps out.

Another thing I just thought of...this has become so second-nature to me anymore that I almost forgot this is an actual technique that is taught. Years ago I took a seminar for work about project management and time efficiency. A lesson that really stuck with me is this:

Think about your days, tasks, and your natural biological moods. Figure out when you are at your mental and physical best, figure out when you're mediocre, and figure out when you are at your worst. For most people, it's the same pattern every day.

Make sure you do the "hardest" things when you're at your best & feeling your best, save the easier things for your times, and save the menial tasks for your worst times.

I already know that I can be a superhuman and multi-task like a pro from the time I get up to about 11am. I'm mediocre until about 2-3pm, and after that I'm slow or useless when it comes to anything brain-intensive.

Everyone should figure out what their own Best, Mediocre, and Worst times are. Take your daily tasks and put them in your day so you can save the hardest things for your best times, the easiest/brainless tasks for your worst times, and work out everything else in between.

That concept has really made a difference for me in deciding when I want/need to get something done and making the best use of my own moods trends.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2007 at 1:17PM
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Thanks for all the input!

Elizabeth, it does sound as though we're aiming for similar results. I have to say I've tried this several times over the years, but my efforts fizzled out. I feel quite different this time. I think part of the reason is financial need, part is increased creative confidence, and part is the determination that comes with ageÂthe realization that time and opportunity are not infinite.

I hope you'll email me and tell me what you're writing. But if you do, let me know so I can look for it. GardenWeb's email service doesn't always work.

Cathy, you have my sympathy! On the one hand I'd enjoy interacting with the customers. On the other, such interaction is often exhausting, and leaves you little time or energy to accomplish other things. I think if I were you I'd give up housekeeping until winter. :-)

What do you grow? A flower farm sounds enchanting!

Gayle, it sounds as though you have a good grip on time management. It must be awfully easy for working mothers to get overwhelmed. I know it would have been for me. Like you, I'm at my best in the morning. Not great in the afternoon, when I could happily read and eat from about noon to four. :-) But around five I usually perk up. I'll have to consider this when making up my expanded schedule. Living alone, I don't have to consider anyone else in my planning. So all this flexibility gives me no excuse to slack off.

Stephanie, "I get more done when I'm busier" makes perfect sense. So often I've heard my friends say that they're getting a job, at least part-time, so they can get more done at home. It's trueÂthe time it takes to get our work done expands to fit the amount of time we have available. It's like when I got a big new refrigerator and within a week had it just as jammed as the old, smaller one.

When I decided to make up a schedule I knew I was wasting tons of time. I never watch TV, but I spent a lot of time "screensucking" (I love that term) at the computer. Now, when I'm writing I shut down my email program and my Internet browser as well. That helps a lot.

Thanks, all.


    Bookmark   August 19, 2007 at 2:13PM
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I haven't been on this forum for quite a while but have been reading through the different threads this morning.

This one is especially important to me because I have the same issues of wasting time.

Stephanie, how can you do grocery shopping only every 2 weeks? Don't you have to run out to purchase such items as milk and produce in between? Do you plan all the meals you'll cook for the upcoming 2 weeks? I'd love to go to the supermarket less often.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2007 at 2:52PM
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Interesting topic!

Cathy, I remember when you were starting your flwoer farm. In fact I saved that entire thread as inspiration when we started our daylily farm/nursery. We have customers dropping in from 8 to 6 and you never know just when.

I'm a morning person and feel best from about 6 a.m. until after I eat lunch. Then I get sleepy:-) I usually perk up about 6 p.m. but not to the morning level.

I try to organize my time. I make my to-do list in categories of Inside Things and Outside Things. I try to do as many inside jobs early while waiting for the dew to dry off outside and during the hottest part of the day; then do outside jobs mid-morning and late afternoon. We have such heavy dew here that it's usually 10 a.m. before it dries.

I have a tendency to over-estimate my time and ability to get things done and it's frustrating to me. I try to scale back my list but I keep thinking of things that just HAVE to be done today. But then I don't get to them all and it makes me feel like I didn't get anything done. It's a cognitive distortion, of course, because I DO get things done.


    Bookmark   August 26, 2007 at 7:04PM
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Vegan girl, How cool is that!! These forums have been a huge help to my business and now that I am fairly established, its nice to know that maybe a bit of my experience has helped others.

I too am a morning person -- I'm great till 1 -- then I crash!! Often with a nap!! Then I pick up steam again, around 4 but never to the morning speed.

I think I'm doing the best I can -- and judging from my house today -- it looks like I gave up housekeeping till winter!!! But hopefully, I can get it whipped into shape soon.

Any other tips?? I could sure use them.


    Bookmark   August 27, 2007 at 9:04AM
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Cathy, Your experience certainly was an encouragement!! When I would get overwhelmed and discouraged, I would hunt up that saved file and re-read it. It was such an inspiration to follow your progress over the years.

LOL about giving up housekeeping til winter! I can identify with that:-)

    Bookmark   August 27, 2007 at 7:49PM
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