*Note: This isn't really a full-fledged post - more a collection of thoughts. Just some things I've been mulling over the past few days ...
My friends, we all have a lot on our plates. And there is a great need to organize all those responsibilities on a to-do list (or lists).
I think we've perhaps talked about this concept once or twice here before? ;)
Every Thursday/Friday I work on what Bill calls our "POW" - an acronym for our "Plan of the Weekend" as opposed to the "POD" which is the "Plan of the Day" or the "POP" which is "The Plan of the Party" ... and so on. He's a clever one, my guy. :)
Anyhoo. I always make up this great big list of things we need to do each weekend. This list includes things we really NEED to get done as well as many tasks we really should do if time becomes available.
Now the lists, in theory, are wonderful. I feel SO empowered on Saturday morning when, coffee in hand, with half the kids still asleep, I look over that neat little (big) list ...
THIS will be the weekend we get it all done. Monday will come and we will all feel SO accomplished and organized and ... well, exhausted. But it will be a good tired, you know?
Unfortunately this is almost never (read: never) the case.
We tend to get a few of the list items done - and then a bunch of other things come up that were not actually on the list but command our attention in some way. What's left undone gets added to my weekly folder under "To Do This Week" - though some tasks hang around on that POW awaiting next week's review.
Bottom line - we start a weekend with a lengthy list of things to accomplish and we start a new week having gotten very little of it done.
So here I am today (Friday), with another POW in hand, and another weekend upon us and I'm left wondering ... why can't we get it all done? Why can't we get most of it done? Or at least half? I'd be happy with half.
Well, first - let me be honest here. My main problem is that there are just too many things on that list to begin with, and we have too many everyday responsibilities that leave little room for extra activities and jobs. Plus, we enjoy our kids and spending time with them on decidely un-list-like things. We're not the most spontaneous of people, but we like a good ice cream run or last minute farm trip as much as the next family.
But let's get back to the list.
My thought is this. I was looking at each item on that list and thinking - well, when would we do this chore/errand/task? And I felt a bit paralyzed. It's one thing to list things that need to get done - it's another thing entirely to commit a set time to them. That's moving beyond the abstract. And I think right there is my problem - moving from the idea to the action. Tasks must be assigned a slot in the schedule if they have any hope at all of getting done.
But then, there's the whole timing issue. I usually make that list, as I said above, between Thursday and Friday. By Saturday morning anyway, I have it all ready to go. I usually discuss it with Bill over coffee - our second or third cup, natch; conversation is never seriously attempted before that. Then we each choose a first thing to work on ... and then life takes over. We roll with the punches and the list sits on the counter - patiently awaiting a perusal now and then.
So there's the first thing - deciding when things will get done. Commiting time in the day to focus on those tasks and really moving on them.
But the other important thing I think, is to assign a person to each task. Bill had the great suggestion that I add a letter next to a task to indicate who should (or could) be repsonsible for that task. He finds it easier to just look at the B's if you will and go from there. I've since added the boys' initials where appropriate. I think this small step has helped us a lot. The list feels more manageable when I see all those letters on it. There are a lot of D's to be sure, but plenty of others as well.
Ok, to sum up ...
A list of to-do's is one thing - and it's a great thing. Just getting those tasks down on paper is wonderful, psychologically and practically speaking.
But equally important is assigning each task a person and a time.
POW item: The boys need haircuts. That would be under Bill's supervision and that would work best ... when? Probably not at 8 a.m. when the boys are hardly awake (even though Bill and I are raring to go!) and probably not late in the day when I'd like people home to help with supper. (Are there errands that have to be done onto which the haircuts can be tagged?)
POW item: My van needs a cleaning (inside and out). That's Bill again, and sometime late morning or afternoon with the "help" of the kids who enjoy playing in the driveway would work. Then I'm freed up to run an errand or do something without kids underfoot.
(And all of this all applies to more than just the weekend to-do list, obviously - any to-do list needs similar follow-up. I was thinking of this just now as I vacuumed the staircase, something I had not done in a looong while so you can just imagine how dusty and dingy things had become! Chores like this are mundane but necessary - and plentiful! And if I don't assign them a day I won't get around to doing them. Guaranteed. It's so easy to just get swept away by the rhythm of the day and the many things that pop up ...
Like, for example, the Internet. ;)
See, if I write on my Wednesday calendar: Vacuum the staircase ... then it's much more likely it will get done. And you know, maybe it doesn't seem like the biggest deal in the world to have a dusty, dingy staircase, but I now have a climbing toddler in the house and he just loves to go up and down those stairs. (With his mum or dad right behind him of course!) Well, his dear little hands are all over those treads and you can be sure he's pausing to pick up any bits of "treasure" he can find. Dust bunnies are a big hit with the little guy, lol.
Ok, I'll wrap up now since this unintentional post really got away from me! And I apologize that it's so rough and rambly, but I just thought I'd get my words "down on paper" and then I figured, why not post them and see what you all think? Leave me a note if you have the time and inclination!
(And I have a better post in the works, with pictures and notes from our first weeks back to homeschool! Hopefully up later this weekend ...)
Well, I'm easing back into this blogging thing, my friends, so stay tuned! Hope you all have a great weekend - whatever gets done, whenever and by whomever!
See you here again soon ...