Incremental Approach to Catching Up – OR – How Copper’s Wife Digs Herself Out of a Hole

What happens when you have neglected your household schedule for too long and one, or more, jobs has become too big to manage?   Even when you have been faithful to your household routine, sometimes a job gets away from you.  There are ways to catch up in even these circumstances.  First of all, don’t give up on your housekeeping schedule. As I’ve mentioned before, if you’ve fallen behind, just pick up where you are and keep up with everything from there on out.  Falling further behind with the routine/schedule will only cause you more frustration and guilt and work to catch up!!

Working on a big job is more easily managed when you work on it incrementally.  Bit by bit.  In a past post, I’ve talked about using a kitchen timer to help with this.  When we first moved to this house, the master bedroom closet became the dumping ground for anything and everything that didn’t have a home elsewhere.  Several months ago I decided that enough was enough (it’s been years, fortheloveofallthat’sgood !).

Tackling the closet in one fell swoop would have been a daunting task.  Instead, and only working during the week that I do monthly jobs in the bedrooms, I set the timer for 15 – 30 minutes and then worked like crazy until the timer went off.  The first 15 minute session didn’t seem to yield much in the way of progress.  However, by the end of the second session, a couple of days later, things were beginning to really look better!!  I still have a bit more to do in there, but one or two more 15 minute sessions should have the job just about done.  A HUGE job is nearly complete, yet I never worked more than 15 minutes at a time on it.   More importantly, I didn’t have to abandon my children, homeschooling or the rest of my homemaking tasks to get it done.

Another example of using the incremental approach is breaking a BIG task into smaller portions.  For example, weeds can get away from us in our flower beds.  Looking at 15 feet of very weedy garden can be daunting.  How about measuring off a foot or two, and just weeding that section?  I know, I know the rest is STILL weedy, but at least the first foot or two are done.  Next time, pull any new weeds out of that first section and then continue for another foot.  Weeding one foot of garden won’t take too long, and even my bad back can handle that much in one sitting (or squatting).

One of my many downfalls as a homemaker, I think, is ironing.  I used to just really hate ironing.  I don’t think that’s necessarily so anymore, but I formed really bad habits in my “I hate ironing” days, and I still tend to let it pile up.  As a matter of fact, it’s piled up now!  So how do I catch up?

First of all, I follow my advice from the first paragraph and begin by doing each day’s ironing that day.  My daily housekeeping schedule allows a bit of time every afternoon to iron what comes through the wash that day.  Then I add to the day’s ironing enough from the backlog to equal 10 pieces.  Some days that might mean I only get to two pieces from the back log, but it also means that I’ve not put eight more pieces into the pile!

Today, four of my husband’s and sons’ cotton shirts came through the laundry, along with one pair of boy’s dress pants.  I hung them up as soon as they came out of the dryer so that they wouldn’t be too wrinkled.  When I am done writing this, I will iron those five items PLUS five items from the pile.  Yesterday, since I washed mostly our whites and towels, I was able to iron ten items from the backlog.  If I’m faithful to my incremental approach, the backlog should be gone in a matter of days.

If you’re behind or have let things pile up, try one of these incremental  approaches.  And cut yourself some slack, too!  For one thing, you’ve determined now to get things in order and that’s a great start.  In addition, you need to remember that you didn’t get into this mess overnight, so you shouldn’t expect to get out of it overnight either.   Slow and steady wins the race!

I need to go iron!

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