Reflections on life, marriage, and a young woman who is constantly learning how much there will always be to learn!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The latest in my time management saga

In my efforts to learn how to be a good manager of my time and our home, I've tried many things and failed many times. Are some people just born with this gift? Well, I was not. I'm just too good at ricocheting between hardcore effort and having-fallen-off-the-wagon-melancholy. It's a perfectionist thing.

BUT ALAS! There are a few glimmers of hope on the horizon for one such as I! First off, I have somehow managed to begin early-izing my bedtime and wake-up time. For me, this is quite a feat: to give you an idea...for a while I was having trouble falling asleep any earlier than 3:00 am. I'll leave it to your imagination what that did to my mornings. I'm now regularly retiring around 12:30-1:00 am, with the ultimate goal being to have lights off by midnight. This is surely an act of God.
Secondly, I have recently instituted--and successfully executed for a period exceeding two weeks--my "Housework Hour": This concept is basic enough to you expert time managers, but actually PRACTICING it is a revelatory experience for me. I bought a timer (my old one had broken some time ago). Every morning, after taking my shower and getting dressed for the day, I turn on some music or a radio program, set my timer for an hour, and try to see how much housework I can get done in that amount of time. Here's what I've discovered:
1. This timer method works much better for me than mapping out an hourly schedule (i.e., "9:00-10:00 : Housework"), because I can start it at 8:47 or 9:32 or whenever I'm ready to. This is a huge psychological boon to a perfectionist: All's not lost if I get started "late". I'm in control of my schedule, and it SHALL bow to me when I need it to be flexible:o)
2. Same deal, if I get interrupted by a phone call or something. I just pause the timer and come back to it when I'm ready. If I was on a "9:00-10:00 : Housework" type schedule, interruptions throwing me off track might possibly discourage my productive intentions for the entire rest of the day. Moms...the ability to "pause time" and still come back to finish your hour (or however long) of housework is of especial benefit to you!
3. Limiting myself to an hour forces me to prioritize. My most important housekeeping priorities in the morning are making the bed, making sure the kitchen is spotlessly clean (I hate going in there to make something and finding it messy!), and picking up clutter around the house. My Housework Hour is usually enough to do these and one or two other things, such as sweeping the floors, or starting some laundry. Today, I spent 30 minutes of my hour clearing clutter out of the garage! (Since I have to go out there regularly to do laundry--yes, our washer and dryer are in the garage--the dirt and clutter out there had been bugging me for a while! It's amazing what difference a few concentrated minutes can make!)
My Housework Hour mostly takes care of that daily-maintenance stuff that makes our home livable. I usually spend more time on cooking, cleaning and other various household projects later in the day. But even if I'm gone or extra-busy on something else that day, at least I got the most important stuff done!


Blogger Tan said...

Very happy for you Erin, let us know how it continues to go.

3:26 AM, March 08, 2007  
Blogger Di said...

Wow, so simple, but so revolutionary! What a good idea - I think I will employ the same thing when I have my day at home once a week.

Thanks for the inspiration!

Love Di x

3:36 AM, March 08, 2007  
Blogger Rean Day said...


I am with you on the perfectionist front! Such a frustrating problem. I have set up "Routines" that I need to get done in the morning and in the evening. I have them detailed on my blog. That way I just make sure those particular items are done before I go to work and after I get home, before bed.

So far I have only been off a couple of days (due to plumbing problems). Even then it is a struggle to remind myself to "get back on track" after "failing" for a couple of days. I fit the perfectionist image to a "T". :)

I'm rooting for you! "GO ERIN GO, GO ERIN GO." It's fun learning what works for you.

Rean Day

9:15 AM, March 08, 2007  
Blogger Erin said...

Thanks for cheering me on!:o) I really love hearing what works for others, too!

2:06 PM, March 08, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Erin,

I really like the Housework Hour idea! I sometimes set the timer for a quick 15 or 20 minutes if there is a task that I really have been putting off.It works great! Bet you can get a LOT done in an hour this way.


5:55 PM, March 08, 2007  
Blogger Becky Miller said...

That's a great idea. I need to try it. I hate it when I clean the house, and then a few days later it's a disaster again because I don't maintain the "clean." I think this would really help.

3:54 PM, March 09, 2007  
Blogger Wendy WaterBirde said...

Hi Erin, I too really love the housework hour idea. When things are at least tidied up, and stuff started, then one can ~think~ clearer. And that's becoming a biiiiig incentive : )

Blessed Week : ) Wendy

1:03 AM, March 12, 2007  
Blogger Mama of 2 said...

Thanks for this great idea. I will definitely be putting it to good use. I too am challenged when it comes to being a good manager of my time. I need to make a stronger effort to be better and this idea has inspired me.

7:02 PM, March 13, 2007  
Blogger Erin said...

If anybody tries this and it works for you, I'd love to hear about it! It's STILL working for me! Yay!:o)

9:19 PM, March 13, 2007  
Blogger Jeannine said...

Erin, this timer sounds like a great idea. I think i have to try that. And btw I read cookbooks too :)

11:39 AM, March 19, 2007  
Blogger Diane said...

Oh that nasty "perfectionist" thing... well, I know you didn't get it from me as I still have mine. ;-) I think you are doing a great job at keeping a welcoming and clean home. It is a joy to see how hard you work to master homemaking skills (and I know Micah appreciates it as well!) I hate to admit, that although my heart has been in the right place in wanting a clean and organized home, implementing the skills on a regular basis has just been coming together for me in the past few years. I am a recovering pack-rat. And as you know… I still fall off the wagon. (but to be fair… it get’s rather difficult when we are living in a construction zone!) So anyways, you are much farther along than I was at your age. The key for me has been to learn to clean up each mess before moving on to something else. Duhhhh. I’m certain you remember the “tornados” we would do on the house when you were little. That was a code word for “ok, we’ve let this place get out of hand and now we’re going to have to come in like a tornado and get it cleaned up…FAST!!!” LOL! I suppose has been my biggest inspiration. I don't always use my timer, but I do usually follow the routine of getting up, making the bed, begin laundry if needed, exercise (trying to keep up with this) shower, dress, unload dishwasher from night before, clean kitchen, eat breakfast, plan out (and start if needed) dinner, pick up around house, and then move on into whatever I have planned for the day. I have switched from using a "day timer" type planner to the fly lady calendar on the frig where I record appointments, birthdays, etc. I keep a daily "To Do" list in a pretty spiral notebook. I love to cross stuff off my list! The notebook is pretty, less cumbersome than a big "day planner", and when I've filled up one page...I rip it out and go to the next. Seems to be working better for me than the highly "organized" systems I have developed in the past. We'll see. Keep up the good work dear!!

11:19 AM, March 20, 2007  

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