Thursday, March 03, 2011
on getting things done
Last week when we were out for dinner with some friends, Marg asked me how I manage to get so much done. It reminded me of a post today on Karen's blog that I enjoy very much. What others don't see are the million little things that I don't get done or that I am not doing (or no longer doing that I used to do).
I don't always hold things together well. If Sophie gets on me in the morning about "being late" (which we would never be) or Fynn is refusing to eat dinner or fooling around, I lose it. I yell. I get mad. Then I tell them I love them and luckily they forgive me and we start again. I struggle everyday to do my best at work, at home, with the kids and Vic.
I am lucky that I have a husband who is a good cook and manages to get dinner on the table about 5 nights a week. We are also lucky that we can afford a housekeeper to come in for 3 hours each Tuesday and clean the house. That means that I just need to stay on top of laundry, making beds, emptying the dishwasher and sweeping the floors. That is enough (I do laundry every night). Our housekeeper isn't perfect and sometimes does the odd thing that annoys us, but 99% of the time, we are so happy and grateful to come home to a clean house.
Sometimes I feel guilty that Sophie can't do more playdates because I am at work all day, but she does her fair share I think on the weekend and with birthday parties. I am lucky that I have a job that allows me to pop out at 2:15pm one day a week and pick up Sophie from school so I can take her to ballet class and tht Vic's job is flexible enough so he can pick her up and take her back to her after school program.
I am also really picky and careful about how I use my free time. I don't talk on the phone to girlfriends (never been my thing) - I am more inclined to email which I find much quicker and less intrusive. I go on the odd coffee date and my friend Patti and I have taken up walking each Thursday from 5 - 5:45pm. It gets exercise in plus some social time. I find that is about all of the "friend" time I need, since I get a lot of people contact at work. I was talking to a woman today at my daughter's school who said she can go for days without "hanging out" with friends. I am like that too.
I also priortize and I am a very disciplined person. I have a schedule and things to do each day and it keeps me honest and allows me to get things done. Maybe that comes from working for so many years and juggling, but I need to be organized and a prioritizer.
I use my Outlook calendar at work relentlessly. The kids hair appointments, dentist appointments, teacher meetings, etc are all in there along with my work tasks, meetings and deadlines. I force myself to do things that might not seem highly enjoyable. Like today at work I needed to start on a presentation. I didn't want to do it and easily could have put it off until next week but that would have meant that I was rushed next week and would not have done a very good job of it.
The kids: Things with the kids are also very structured. Sophie has tutoring on Tuesday and Wednesday right after school in her classroom. I find these days "stressless" because it means that at home she will have less homework as she will have practiced her dictee words with her tutor. Each night the kids are not allowed stories or bedtime snacks until homework (Sophie) and baths are done. We use the TV to entertain the kids for 30 minutes at 5:30pm while Vic is preparing dinner and I'm at my fitness class. This works for us.
Exercise/working out: I do this each day (except maybe Sundays and the odd Friday) no matter what. If I think about it too much, I won't do it. I don't give myself any leeway. At work, I try to tackle the thing that I am avoiding. Mark Twain called that "Eating the Frog First." Do your biggest, ugliest task first thing.
Cooking: I would like it if I had time to leisurely shop for groceries and time to prepare it. I don't have either. Vic is better at it and seems to not mind it too much. He makes good meals for us. The odd night I do make something, I enjoy it but on those nights it doesn't feel like a chore. I don't really care if people judge me because I can't cook (or don't cook) because that is a choice I have made.
Reading: I could read books for pleasure all day. I limit my nighttime reading to no more than 45 minutes or so. It is enough to make me happy but not so much that I feel like I am getting behind on other things.
I always work before I play: laundry before books. Volunteer work (like typing up minutes from a committee meeting) before books, etc. Kid's homework before scrapbooking. Kid's lunch prep before Vic and I sit down for our evening snack.
This system doesn't always work for me, but it helps me hold it together most days.