In Pursuit of an Organized Life

. . . putting life in order

Off Running

I got a 1.5 mile run in today.  It wasn’t for as long as I would have liked, but I was happy with the pace.   I found that I was much happier after the run than before.  I felt like I accomplished more after work than I have lately (or maybe I am just happier with what I accomplished).  

I have been slacking on exercise lately.  It was a long enough stretch that I’d forgotten how good working out felt in those moments of deciding whether or not to exercise. 

It’s funny how things that help the most regarding productivity are the first to be cut.  Speaking of which, I should head to sleep before my 7:30 meeting feels any earlier. 

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Yeah! Ear plugs!

I’ve discovered a secret towards my productivity.  Tiny orange pieces of foam.   I keep simple ear plugs in my work bag and pull them out when I want to concentrate.  It keeps me from listening to every conversation and getting distracted by every noise.  It doesn’t block everything out, but it’s enough to turn a loud conversation into a quiet one and eliminate small noises.   I was amazed at how much more work I could get done when they were in. 

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Returning to What Works

I remember attending a workshop about organizing and the instructor asking about what used to work for you in the past.  She then asked why aren’t you still doing that.   In most of the examples that I thought of, there was no good answer.

I’m finding that now.  I got busy and cut out the stuff I know that helps me.  So I’m going to get back into what worked for me before.

  • Exercising to improve my mood
  • Monthly meal plans
  • Using same motivational techniques that worked for potty training to help motivate my daughter to read

Off to sort the kids clothes and put away summer stuff while the kids are playing downstairs.

Enjoy the weekend!

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Due Dates

I decided that I love due dates.  It helps me prioritize and get things done versus waiting until some random time in the future.  The proximity of a due date gives me an added boost to get the job done.  I hate being late and missing deadlines even if they were soft deadlines.  If someone says they will be here at 5 and it’s 5:15, it bugs me.  Rationally, I know 90% of the time it will be fine, but  there is a part of me that just goes crazy.  If they say they will be here between 5 and 6.  I am cool with them coming at 5:15.

I’ve had about 5 different people at work say some variation of me being detail oriented and rule bound.  I never necessarily saw myself that way, but the odds of that many people commenting on it and ALL OF THEM being wrong are slim.  I told my husband that and he was surprised.  At home, I don’t have the same sense of productivity and drive that I do at work.  It got me thinking about the difference and how to make myself more productive at work.  The chores that I like the best are the ones with some sort of natural cause and effect.  No laundry—-no clothes.  No cooking—-no eating.  No grocery shopping—no food.

So I’m trying to thinking of ways to make my housework more structured.  I do well with trying to get a certain task done before X happens.  I’ve tried setting up a schedule like Mondays I clean bathrooms, but I know it’s contrived and so it’s easy to make an excuse (kids, tired, etc).   I’m off to tidy the kitchen and start sorting through either kids books while their sleeping or start on sorting through summer clothes to see what I need.  Let me know if you have any ideas or suggestions.

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Self Care is not the Enemy

I’m starting to realize that self-care is not in opposition to productivity.  I say I’m too busy to exercise or socialize or meditate, but giving up those things does not guarantee that I will get more done.  Usually if I say I’m too busy,  I spend more time stressed out or dreading tasks than actually getting stuff done.  So I’d be giving up some of that time rather than productive time.

Now timing plays a role.  I’m not going to go out to a movie and dinner with friends the night before some huge day at work.  I may have to miniaturize the task to fit the current scenario.

  • Workout at home instead of hour-long class at the gym
  • Calling a friend instead of visiting
  • 3 minute meditation instead of following the program as written
  • Weekend getaway instead of week long cruise

It’s like Tim Gunn—-“Make it work.”

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Chore Master

This is a free app that I found that tracks the chores you do.  They have a list of chores that they entered and the approximate time it takes to complete each one.  You can also add your own chores to it.  It has a timer so that you can see how long it actually takes you.  Based on how many chores you complete you get a level.  Similar to experience points for role-playing or video games.  I am currently at Level 3 “Dabbler”.    The app describes this level as “This isn’t so painful!  You dip in and out of chores, it’s more of a part-time thing for you.  But it’s not so bad.”

What I like:

  • It is a free app that is ACTUALLY free and usable (not just an ad for the full version).
  • List of total number of minutes cleaning, total this week, and total number of minutes for each chore.
  • It says how many minutes are required to Level Up (I have 67 minutes left).
  • Relatively quick to enter in chores.

In general, my tablet probably hasn’t helped me be more productive, but I thought this had potential.  I felt successful entering in the +2 hours of cleaning I did today.   I haven’t used the program to know how many levels there are or if the level changes if you don’t use the program or don’t clean as much from one week to the next.

We shall see!

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Evening and Week Goals

I read a blog entry about someone’s successful Sunday Chore list. There is satisfaction in setting goals and meeting them especially when there are people who will cheer you on when you make it or commiserate if you don’t. I took an organization workshop and one of the comments she made was that many people find things that work and stop doing them for whatever reason. I think sometimes it’s easy to try to search for a new way to get healthy or to get organized when it’s probably more effective to just work on doing what I already know consistently.

Evening goals

  • Drink tea
  • Pay garbage bill
  • Print business cards
  • Unload/load dishes
  • Order pictures
  • Complete push up app
  • Fold Laundry

Goals for the week

  • Hang photos (my youngest daughter hasn’t made it to the family wall yet)
  • Clean off dresser
  • Go to the gym 1 2 3
  • Watch stuttering video for work
  • Adjust weekly to do list
  • Bake something
  • Buy presents
  • Organize in my room for 15 minutes   1 2 3
  • Plan for work 1 2

I tried to make my list long enough to give me options, but still achievable to make a dent on them.  Well I’m off to complete item number one on my list—-drink tea.   Green Tea with honey.

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Floating Productivitiy

This weekend I had a kind of floating productivity.  Instead of sticking with one task, I bounced from task to task.  My goal was to keep doing something goal related without a pressure of a rigid “To Do List”.   I didn’t watch any TV during the day, although the computer did suck me in at times.

Below are some of the tasks I completed or at least worked on

  • Folded clothes
  • Put away the kids  clothes
  • Finished Book (Replay)
  • Got clothes that were too big out of my bedroom
  • Prepped tinfoil dinner for side dish for dinner
  • Created order form
  • Loaded dishwasher
  • Hand Wash dishes
  • Guided Meditation
  • Played games and read library books with the girls
  • Basic tidying

I’m fairly pleased with myself.  I was able to fight back a sour mood and change the channel without throwing productivity out of the window.  I liked the feeling of flexibility to choose what to do next.   I missed that feeling of  satisfaction that comes from completing an entire task or getting an entire area of the house sparkling clean.   Step in the right direction–that’s the most important.

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Productive Afternoon

After a slow start to the morning (moody, long grocery trip,  forget items, didn’t find what I wanted, spilled good apple cider down the driveway), I had a productive afternoon.

Below is the list of what I accomplished (in no particular order):

  • Vaacuumed floor
  • Planned Mon and Tuesday for work
  • Designed work “To Do List” template
  • Completed Guided Meditation
  • Left phone message for friend’s birthday
  • Ate lunch outside
  • Drank Irish coffee
  • Put away the girl’s and my summer clothes
  • Started laundry (which I have to transfer now)
  • Loaded dishwasher
  • Blogged 🙂

Nothing earth-shattering or done perfectly, but I’m pleased.  Off to figure out dinner and who knows what else.

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Deadlines and Productivity

There is something about a deadline to spur productivity. I would love to see graphs of different people working on long term projects. The chart would show the percent of the project or the amount of time spent on the project per day from when the task was given to when it was completed. It would be so fun to see the progression of the project, compare graphs of different people, and see how the length of time to complete the task, the type of task, and the amount of work that needs to be done affects when people get the job done.

When I work on academic or work tasks, I am usually fairly balanced. I have a burst of enthusiusium and get a really good start. Then I slow down in the middle and finnish up before the deadline. I had friends that always seemed to wait until the last minute. I was always curious about it. Did they get it done? Were they telling me they were further behind than they were to be dramatic? How was their grade?

With cleaning, I am a total procrastinor. I tend to wait until the day of or the day before people come. There is an odd thrill to knowing that they will be here in 2 hours and seeing what I can get done before then. By doing that, I’ve sometimes not gotten stuff done or had to hide things rather than deal with them correctly. I could have cleaned the house more earlier in the week. My husband would have even helped, but I didn’t.

It comes down to do I want to do a little bit each day or have a day devoted to cleaning. On paper, I like the little each day model. I rarely seem to follow it though. In some ways, its nice to not think about it till later. Sometimes I curse the fact that I didn’t do more earlier, but often if I don’t sit down I don’t mind the productivity burst.

The other part of it is I’m not totally in control of my own messes. The kids will take out a pile of toys or grind crackers in the floor minutes after I tidy and clean the floor. Hopefully, I can train them to clean up after themselves or to only make little messes after I clean, but I’m not there yet.

Have a great day!

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