Tuesday, November 15, 2011

One Thing at a Time

It feels like I've made this point multiple times before on both my blogs, but here it is again:

The fastest way to get things done is one thing at a time.

Multi-tasking simply splits your concentration, making everything you do take longer. With the exception of walking and chewing gum, it's usually not a good option. In the case of caring for young children and doing anything else, or texting and driving, or similar combinations, multi-tasking can be downright dangerous.

And the comments seem to indicate that multi-tasking means you do less than your best, and don't enjoy what you're doing nearly as much because your mind isn't all there.

I'm not a layabout. In addition to my normal schedule of taking care of the house (which is cleaner than it's ever been!), myself, and a 21-year-old disabled son who can't cook for himself and is not even completely toilet trained, volunteering at the church and at a retirement residence, swimming, bowling, orchestra, art class, church and library visits, I'm also this month half of a planning team for a re-gifting day that takes place November 26th, and one-third of a planning team for a city-wide Live Nativity Scene taking place December 3rd that includes over sixty volunteers, animals, decorations, a live band, and will see over 500 visitors. I had mole removal surgery yesterday. There are two concerts scheduled this month (already had one) with two dress rehearsals, and another two coming up at the beginning of December.

I am preaching twice, taking the place of a friend who's having shoulder surgery. If she's out for more than the two weeks, I'll be doing those too. At the end of the month, I start three paper routes.

I am only a little behind on my NaNoWriMo effort this year. Certainly not as far behind as I usually am at this point. And I've written at least five hundred words every single day.

I've kept up with my blogs.

I've had time to listen to and help out a friend who's going through a rough time.

I've had time to read books, laugh, and play computer games.

I've prepared all of my own meals except for the usual Saturday supper at Bill's place, but then he's at my place twice per week, so that makes up for it.

And I did it all one thing at a time.

I have emailed some people and said that dreaded word: No. No, I am concentrating on doing the things I have on my plate well, and I don't have time for anything new, at least until the new year.

I've delegated some things to others--poster making, volunteer scheduling, and what have you.

I've been very meticulous about checking my schedule every morning--I use an on-line calendar now, and it's my home page. (Possibly more about this later--it's a great tool).

I break my time into fifteen minute blocks. Sometimes 30 minutes is too long for an activity, and sometimes I don't have 3j0 minutes, but fifteen minutes of writing (as I did this morning) is better than nothing! (And now I'm absolutely certain I'm repeating myself...)

But I don't multi-task. I don't even listen to music while I'm writing, because for me listening to music is an active experience, one that uses my brain power.

If you really don't have enough hours in the day to get things done, consider delegating or saying, "No," rather than multi-tasking. Say "NO!" to junk television, ironing (if you hang things up right away and buy only wrinkle-resistant clothes, you'll be fine), and energy-sucking "friends" and activities.

Delegate those things that can be done and should be done by others. Your husband can pitch in, and so can your kids. Even your friends or the parents of your kids' friends may be able to help with some things.

Once you've cleared out the clutter in your schedule, you're left with only the important stuff, which you tackle, one person or thing or project at a time, fifteen minutes at a time.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to take fifteen minutes to declutter a closet and see what I can find for the re-gifting event.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Back Again--And Still Working At It

It's been months since I posted. I'm like that, unfortunately. I start off going great guns, but any project that requires a "slow and steady wins the race" attitude is one I'm not likely to complete.

At least, that's the way things werre until a few weeks ago. I posted on my main blog about the change that's come over me, but I didn't entirely say why I've changed.

I've changed, if you'd like to know, because I got tired of living the way I have lived. My writing wasn't happening, my music wasn't improving, and my house and finances were still a mess. I'd make an occasional effort to fix things, try to do it all at once, and end up being burnt out.

Then my friend referred me to FLYLady.net. Now Marla the FLYLady and I don't agree about everything, but there were things she was saying that resonated very deeply with me.

Like trying to do it all at once and do it perfectly was causing me to not do it at all. "Perfect" and "perfectionism" are swear words, according to her, and I couldn't agree more.

Looking back through this blog, I'm struck at how I was trying to do it all at once. FLYLady says, "Fifteen minutes at a time. You can do anything, fifteen minutes at a time."

And so I have. Over the last three or four weeks, my home has gone from a huge mess (almost as bad as the pictures from a year and a half ago), to a haven. Not a perfect haven (I still have to tackle the basement, parts of the office, and the upstairs hall closet, and I still haven't reorganized the kitchen after we changed things around for the babysitting gig), but I'm getting there.

Fifteen minutes at a time.

I lost two pounds in the first two weeks of shining my sink (which is FLYLady's first baby step). I wasn't eating out. I don't even eat meals at my computer desk any more. Instead, even if I'm by myself, I eat meals at the dining room table.

I have new living room furniture -- a matching sofa and chair in excellent condition. No, I didn't win the lottery. A man from my church moved into a retirement home, and another man from my church loand the use of his truck and his back, and we got the chair and sofa home.

I gave the cat to Bill, and I won't be getting another one anytime soon. Definitely not before my house is as clean as I want it to be, and my finances can handle both the feeding and regular vet check ups. And it will be a short hair.

In the meantime, both Phil and Bill are happy, and I can still go and visit my sucky cat and pet him. All the benefits, and I'm not having to sweep up gobs of cat hair every day. Which has been very good for my breathing!

I've given up having set projects for the week. Instead, my goal is simply to do fifteen minutes or more per day of home maintenance. Doing it this way works for me -- so far, my bathroom is back to being clean and shiny (minus the toilet paper origami, which was only to bug Ally anyhow), my clothes closet has been cleared out of over 80 items that I didn't wear because they either didn't fit, were in tatters, or looked terrible on me, and my arts and craft supplies have been organized to the point where I can actually take note of what I have, and use them!

My mind has slowly been clearing of clutter, too. I've been able to develop possible strategies for dealing with my financial mess (which really isn't much of a mess any more), and I've begun writing every day again.

Which means, I hope, that there will be more regular posting on this blog in the near future!