Just recently, I've added a couple of important elements to my extra-mommy activities. First, I opened my Etsy business and began promoting my stationery line in earnest. Second, I've been volunteering with a local womens' group. While I very much enjoy these activities, I've noticed an appreciable increase in TV time around here. As you mommies know, TV time is the best indicator of the attention you either are or are not giving to your children. If the TV is on, you're probably doing something else while your kid is parked in front of it. Personally, I don't much like TV time, so when I see it becoming our primary at-home activity, I know it's high time to sit down with a pencil and get my priorities in line.
To get us started, let me show you what my system looked like before (and I apologize in advance for a couple of cheesy mnemonic devices). The tasks you see outlined below are those tasks that I generally save for naptime or early morning before anyone else is up. While my daughter's awake, we do our daily chores, i.e. general picking up, laundry, errands and dishes. The system just helps me organize those things that only need to be done once a week. The idea is to get through the task-of-the-day and then use any kid-free time I have left over to get cracking on my goals list.
- "Money Monday" - pay the bills, balance the budget
- "Trashy Tuesday" - collect and take out the trash and recycling, scoop up the dog poo
- Wednesday - clean the bathrooms
- Thursday - dust and vaccuum
- Friday - clean the kitchen and sweep/mop hardwoods and tile
At this point I should also mention that I cook only once a month, usually the first weekend. I get a big list together beforehand, head to the store on Friday, and get to cooking Saturday morning. By Sunday night, I have 30 two-person meals prepared and frozen. When my husband comes home, which is often fairly late, I just defrost and throw together a salad. The cooking system evolved after lots of trial and error. I just found that, although I generally enjoy cooking, I don't enjoy cooking after 8 PM, and we don't have the money to constantly order out. The cook-ahead thing has been a huge money and time saver, and I highly recommend it to moms that are looking for more time for artsy stuff.Aaaaaaah, artsy stuff... That brings me to the problem I encountered when I tried to fit all my brand new 2008 activities into my otherwise foolproof system. All the little "tasklets" related to my volunteering and entrepreneurial endeavors seemed to require my constant attention - database updates, emails, outreach, networking, shop maintenance, design - and there simply were not enough hours in the day. Plus, when I tried to do a little of everything every day, I found that I wasn't able to focus enough on any one thing to feel that I'd actually made any headway. And then naptime was over, I felt frustrated and (yes, I'll say it) resentful that I couldn't seem to succeed at the things that were important to me. Having never been one to stick with status quo when it's obviously not working, I knew that I had to make some changes before I became completely overwhelmed and gave up on all the fun stuff.
Hence, the revamp. I'm banishing the chaos and spiffing up the system. I will GET IT ALL DONE if it kills me! And I'll enjoy every minute because I'll know that I'm WINNING the battle for balance. To get started, I had to prioritize. First, I made a list of all the activities related to my business and volunteering, and determined how often each needed to be done. Then I took a look at my goals list. If an item on the list wasn't directly related to my business, I immediately moved it to the bottom of the list. Since the business is still in start-up mode, I have to expect that certain things will take more time. Once I feel like I'm really up and running, I can get back to things like painting those chairs. The process was sort of painful (I really wanted to believe I could do ten things at once), but I'm extremely optimistic about the result. The idea is that, each day, when I find myself with time to focus, I will first attack the Home Management task-of-the-day and then move on to my business/volunteer tasks. If something doesn't get done on a particular day, I just push it to the next day until I get caught up. And so, without further ado, here it is, complete with brand new mnemonic devices to help me keep it all straight.
- Daily (early AM and late evening) - email, social networking, promotion, shop maintenance, add new listings
- "Money Monday" - do the Macaroni and Glue books, purchase supplies
- "TDWCC (the name of my womens' group) Tuesday" - focus on volunteer activities
- "Working Wednesday" - assemble orders, package, and ship
- "Thinking Thursday" - put together outlines for blog posts and cue up as many interviews/features as possible for the coming week
- "Forward Friday" - map out next steps for the business, research new avenues for marketing, set up meetings
- "Wonderful Weekends" - design, assemble and photograph for the week's listings
And there you have it! It sounds like a lot, but I swear it's manageable! I'm one week into the new system and, not only did I keep the house running as usual, but I made it through my new weekly list AND got two handmade gifts out the door for family birthdays. Woohoo! And I only stayed up until midnight........ Ok, I stayed up until 1:00 a couple of times. Ah, well. What can I say? It's a work in progress.