We all have a lot to accomplish in a day’s time. Whether you’re a full time homemaker or work outside the home, whether your kids get on the school bus in the morning or open their books at your kitchen table, you’ve a lot on your plate. I know. Me, too. Here are three simple steps that I use every day to get things done.
Start with a plan. The old saying that those who fail to plan, plan to fail, may not be 100% accurate, but it’s close. Having a plan of what it is that you want to accomplish gives you something to aim for. If you’re easily distracted, as I am, it keeps you focused on the tasks at hand and keeps you from getting off track. Without a plan for my day, putting away a stack of clean towels might lead to cleaning out the bathroom cabinet where we keep the towels, which might lead to cleaning out a bathroom drawer, which might lead to….. You get the idea.
Start with a plan, but hold it loosely. Allow your plan to fall by the wayside if the Lord presents you with a more fruitful way to spend your time, like holding a sleeping child.
Second, set a defined time to do your work, and then work hard. Work with gusto. Work quickly, but do a good job. I have all of my daily household tasks broken up into morning and afternoon blocks of time. When it’s time to work, I set a timer on my phone for twenty minutes, and I get busy on whatever task is next on my list. If it’s taking care of the front porch, then I get out there and clear cobwebs, wipe down tables and chairs, sweep and whatever else needs to be done for twenty minutes. I keep working.
Because I use my iPhone for all sorts of things all day, every day, it only makes sense that I use my phone’s timer when I’m working. The key thing, though, is that I ignore all of those chirps and beeps notifying me of incoming messages, emails, etc. The phone stays in my pocket until my twenty minute timer is finished.
Obviously, you want to be wise with this. Don’t ignore your family. I have special rings for my family members, and I will stop to answer if it’s them. When they are at home with me, I frequently stop to answer a quick question or to hear what someone needs to tell me. If it’s going to take more than a minute or two, I’ll pause my timer. When Will needs help with school, or my husband asks me to help him with something, it’s easy enough to pause the timer, step away from whatever it is I’m doing, and help them. It’s just as easy to resume the timer and get back to work when my help is no longer needed.
Last, and this is my secret weapon, take frequent, but short breaks from work. Work really hard for twenty minutes (or whatever amount of time you’ve set on your timer), but when that time is up, take a break. Get a drink of water. If you’ve been inside all day, step outside for a few minutes of sun and fresh air. Sit down and kick your feet up for a few minutes if you’re tired. If you’d like, you can use those few minutes to check your email or facebook or whatever.
When I hit a break time, I generally sit down at my desk, drink some water, and look over and correct any school assignments that Will has completed. Just as I set a timer for work, I also set a timer for breaks. After twenty minutes of good hard work, a five minute breather is just about right. After three or four twenty minute work sessions, enjoying a longer break time is well deserved. For me, that’s usually fifteen minutes.
This might sound too regimented for some of you. If so, do what works for you; but this system has been working really well for me for over a year. To help me stay on task, I’ve a great little app on my iPhone called Focus Time by Peer Assembly. It’s based on the idea of the Pomodoro Technique, and makes getting things done, the way I’ve just mentioned, super easy.
You’re in charge! You set the length of time that the timer will run during your work times, and how long you want your breaks to be. You get to choose how often you take a longer break, and you choose the time for that, too. You can even choose the tones that signal the start and end of each work or break time. It’s a fabulous little app and well worth the $4.99 price tag. Purchase it from the Apple App Store once, and it will be available on your iPhone, iPad, and iPod devices. I’m sure that you can find similar apps for your desktop and/or Android device, too. (By the way, I have no affiliation with the makers of this app. It’s just one that I use and love and find to be very helpful.)
There you have it! The three things I do, almost every day, to get things done in my home. Let me know if my ideas are helpful as you look well to the ways of your own household.