While I wait....

quiltgloSeptember 8, 2006

I'm working with someone on trying to maintain organzational systems. She made the statement, "You're so good at multi-tasking." No, I'm not and neither are most people. That's why we have driving a vehicle and talking on a cell phone as the poster child of how not to multi-task. So, we have to move on to definitions of multi-tasking. Trying to do two tasks which both take focused attention at the same time. That's my definition. I did it everyday teaching and I came home fried at the end of the day.

Now, I realize that I do 90% of my housework "while I wait." I don't enjoy doing housework. Never have and I want to do the least amount I can with the least amount of effort. Waiting doesn't take much focus, so my focus can be on the task. I was able to help her set up some of her waiting times and I'll check back next week to see how it's going. Here's an example of how I get most of my stuff done while I'm waiting:

**The littles are getting up and dressed, so while I'm waiting I make my bed, throw in a load of laundry and sweep the entry hallway.

**We head upstairs and I put on the oatmeal to cook. While I'm waiting, I empty the dishwasher and finish up the lunches. Stir 5 times.

**We've eaten and they are brushing teeth and hair. While I'm waiting, I wipe down the bathroom counter, toilet and hit any spots on the floor.

**They head out to school and while I'm waiting for the computer to load, I swiffer the living room, dining room and kitchen.

**DH is up and it's time for a second pot of coffee. While I'm waiting for it to brew, I grab the windex and do all of those handprints in the entry.

Focused tasks today includes sorting the laundry. Other days a focused task might be to scrub the bathtub or wash windows or something. Yard work. I try and make it on a 15 min. task in whatever zone we are in on the Flylady system.

But when evening hits (I call it the gangreen hour. Everything goes to rot.), while I'm waiting for homework to be completed, I'll start supper and mop the kitchen floor. It's got some spills I can see, but this evening will be fine. Stir the pot and throw the clothes in the dryer.

**After we eat and while I'm waiting for littles to get their stuff together to get out the door to evening activities, I get the dishwasher loaded and counters wiped.

**During some of their activities, I can do other things. DD's dance lessons are next to the grocery store, so while I'm waiting...

**After we are back home, it's time for a room zoom and backpacks ready for tomorrow. While I'm waiting, I'll take something out of the frezzer for tomorrow and gather up the trash. Maybe straighten anything in the living room like magazines or throws on the couch.

**At the end of the day, while I'm waiting for baths to get finished, PJs on and teeth brushed, I fold the clothing from the dryer and put them away.

I know I started incorporating these tasks with other things as a way of self-preservation. I didn't want to come home from work and find a mountain of things to be done. The only thing I did differently is I tried to get my focused 15 min. task out of the way before the kids got up. Sometimes I made it, sometimes not, but I started this system with three of my kids still under the age of 6 and if I didn't get "me" time, I'd go crazy. So, figuring out ways to get stuff I don't like to do completed with the least amout of effort was really important.

On this board I'll read that someone does a task a certain way and just figured that everyone does it that way. I'm trying to figure out how to impart the concepts to someone who is stuggling to "get it." Does this make sense?


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Your system makes perfect sense ... plan quick tasks that can be done in the vicinity of who or what you are waiting for.

I clean the kitchen while I'm waiting for coffee to brew.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2006 at 7:14PM
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my problem w/ doing stuff while I'm waiting for the little is that, they see me doing the other stuff and assume that they can take their time combing their hair, getting dressed, whatever.

And I'd need to work on *planning quck tasks*--I'd find myself getting sucked into something that needs more focus.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2006 at 7:49PM
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It does make sense. And I realize I do that sometimes. But like Talley said, sometimes the littles don't stay focused on *their* "focused task" of getting themselves dressed, or whatever. So my "focused task" becomes making them stay focused... so the dishwasher does not get emptied while I wait. If I do something else, it's like the busy intersection when the traffic light is out-- backed up in all directions and chaos. I spend too much time being the traffic cop. I really don't find myself just waiting very often.

They know what they are supposed to do, but they get distracted, or conflicts arise, and it does not always go smoothly. When it does, and I can get a chore done "while I wait" it is satisfying and feels, for just moment, like I have things under control. Then the moment is gone.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2006 at 10:41PM
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My day is organized much like yours, with the quickest tasks done while waiting for something else to happen that takes longer.

If I didn't work like this, nothing would get done.

Tonight is the first time I've been home for more than an hour of "awake" time since September 4th. I'm exhausted, by the way, but if I hadn't made good use of 5 minutes here and there I would be in a panic by now.

Overall the house needs a good cleaning but the basics were kept up. No dishes in the sink, beds made, bathroom swished and swiped, clutter (I actually call it debris, LOL) apparent but under control. The laundry is a little bit behind since the best I could do is toss a load in on my way to work and shift it to the dryer as I go to bed.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2006 at 7:18PM
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While I waited for the round steak to brown this evening, I went in to talk to DH in his office. Too much of a second focused task and I didn't remember the food until the smoke alarm started screeching. Oh well. While I waited for the littles to get their coats on to go buy dinner at the local burger place, I grabbed the small vac and sucked up the leaves which have made it into the entryway. I went to load the dishwasher the other day and one rack was empty and one full. Something must have interruped me, but darn if I could remember what after a half of a day.

I keep hearing women say they don't have time to do housework. Well, if we all waited for some big block of time to come up for everything house related it would be tough. I've also found that we all view time and how to use it differently. TV isn't something I do, nor do I like movies. So I've found I often appear to have larger chunks of time for things like hobbies, but really, if people have rented a movie or watched a few TV shows, they've just used the time in a different way.

Now, no more of this burning your candle at both ends. How is your son healing?


    Bookmark   September 16, 2006 at 3:07AM
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Funny you mention movies. I don't have time or make time to sit and watch anything that lasts longer than an hour and doesn't have commercials to remind me to switch the laundry. LOL And I really don't enjoy sitting there doing "nothing" when there is so much else I would rather do or need to do.

My son, thankfully *is* healing! Last week's x-rays looked better than the ones before and the bone grafts are OK. He has a new leg brace and (for the first time in 3 months!) no restrictions (scary for him mom, let me tell you). He's back at college and living with his fraternity brothers again. The only bad news is some of the installed hardware is already bothering him so we have to plan on another surgery to remove some of the metal stuff from his leg. The hardware MUST stay in 6 months, so we can't do anything until December. THANKS for asking! :)

    Bookmark   September 17, 2006 at 5:28PM
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Julie, congrats that your son is healing. My son went through a hip replacement thanks to a motorcycle accident, and then broke a leg. He has to carry his x rays when he takes a plane.
I haven't been to a movie in years. I can't imagine sitting there, stuck with nothing to do.
We just came back from rural Peru where we went into many homes because my husband was analyzing them for toxic mercury. I was the videographer. These ladies keep house on dirt floors, the kitchen stove is fire where the kindling is scarce. We weren't in the forest, we were in the mountains which are arid. Water is scarce, except for the months where it is pouring. They tended sheep and llamas, and while waiting for anything they crocheted or knitted. They hung the laundry in sheds or outdoors if its not raining. Even our hotel hung out the sheets.
I will never complain about doing housework without thinking of them. The kids looked neat and clean, and if you didn't go inside the houses you would never know they had dirt floors. They had ladders to go to the 2nd floor and I bumped my head on the little doorways constantly. They did have little t.v. sets and maybe one lightbulb in each room, some people had computers. No running water mostly.
Sewers and running water are hard to do in mountains. The people were cordial, proud of their homes. They made the furniture.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2006 at 2:45AM
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Marge, what a great trip. I'll bet you saw some beautiful textiles. At least, that's what I always think of when I think of Peru. (not that I've ever been anywhere.)

I think many of us would be suprised how many people in the US live without conveniences like running water. Much of bush Alaska still doesn't have water. REA didn't get to many places until the mid-60's. My first principal (who is my age) was raised with no running water or electricity and they were only about 30 miles out of Kansas City. I remember hating to visit my aunt and uncle. No bathroom. They had running water, but no toilet. When I think of Arkansas, I always think of the women sweeping their front yards with a broom. No one was ever dirty in those situations, either.


    Bookmark   September 21, 2006 at 8:09PM
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My husband and I have come with the commercial time cleaning system. In the evening--- while we watch tv -- we clean during the commercials. Actually get a lot done. We also dust during the programs and I will knit or mend or iron while my husband pays the bills.

We also try not to watch tv before 8 in the winter, 9 in the summer. The time after work is spent in the garden or in the kitchen, canning or freezing. I try to do "easy" canning tasks in the evening -- fill the dehydrator, simple jams or juices, maybe canning green beans.

So many people sit --totally fixated on that silly tv. What a waste!!! Of course, we live in the stone age and only have one 15-year-old 19" tv. And no cable or satelitte. There is so much that needs to be done and that seems to work for us. Of course, we always seen to have to move a cat!


    Bookmark   September 22, 2006 at 7:56AM
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Cathy, it's true -- you can accomplish a lot when you don't have cable :)

One thing I know about myself, I run on momentum. So if I sit down in the evening, I'm doomed.

But if I stay on my feet and just move from task to task, I'll finish it all.

Then I can truly enjoy my "reward time" with a book or magazine or TV show.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2006 at 2:33PM
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The only program that I can sit still for and watch is "24" and even then I like to record the program and later watch and fast forward during he commericals.

I mostly Crochet while the TV is on or do other sitting down things.
Once in a while DS will bring a DVD movie over to watch and it is agony just sitting there watching. haha

    Bookmark   September 24, 2006 at 7:49AM
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