Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Overwhelmed No More - Getting Stuff Done!

Sort of a logical follow-up to yesterday’s post…

I don’t know about other WAHMs, but I find that I become easily overwhelmed when facing a work week that includes any of the following:

Doctor/dentist appointments
Preschool “changes” – short days, days off, weird drop-off/pick-up instructions
Extra work assignments*
A particularly dirty house OR
Impending houseguests/entertaining

*Extra assignments are great. I love them. I cherish them. They are a blessing. I can and do find ways to work around them. There – moving on.

There are a couple of ways to approach these situations: 1) freak out and act bitchy all week while running around frantically and being largely unproductive; or 2) find a way to get everything (or most everything) done without losing your mind. Most of the time, after an initial freak-out, I opt for #2. Here are just a couple of tidbits I’ve picked up along the way for making it work.

Plan Your Work/Work Your Plan
For a neat freak like me who doesn’t mind housework and lives for the efficient completion of errands and appointments, this is often the best approach. Since I don’t dread getting things accomplished, just become frustrated when there’s not enough time, I can usually set my mind at ease by putting together a plan at the beginning of the week that includes a sub-set of tasks to be completed each day.

For example, if I’m expecting houseguests on Friday, I might spend the early part of the week doing my usual household upkeep (just a few tasks per day) and the end of the week getting the guest room ready and shopping for meals. If there’s an extra “something” happening on a particular day – an appointment or a school event – keep your task list light and save time-consuming items for another day.

Also, I try to find things I can let slide, if just for the week. Let's be honest - - my dinner guests won't notice if I've not dusted our master bedroom in two weeks. If time's tight, it's off the list. Putting my plan on paper goes a long way toward eliminating worry and ensuring that my expectations for the week are reasonable.

Set a Timer
If you loath housework and errands and the very thought of getting your task list completed makes you want to put a fork in your eye, consider the timer approach. Set aside a single hour (or half, or 15 minutes) to attack household tasks. You work only until your time’s up, and save outstanding tasks for your next session. I do this with my work assignments sometimes, actually. I allow myself to spend 45 minutes of each hour working on the things I want to work on, and then spend 15 minutes working on those things I’ve been dreading. You’d be surprised how much you can accomplish this way while not feeling oppressed by those tasks you dislike.

Get the Right Tools
I’ve found that the right tools make all the difference when it comes to homemaking. And I don’t mean a maid (unless you can afford one, in which case GO FOR IT and then send her over here, wouldya?). Once upon a time we had a functional Roomba. If your birthday is coming up, ASK FOR ONE. That thing made my life as a mom and pet owner a thousand times easier. While I had to do a deep clean every now and then, my carpets and hard floors were, in large part, clean all the time with no effort on my part. Lovely.

Recently, I invested in a steam mop. Highly recommend it. I have a humongous kitchen with white tile floors and not only does it show absolutely everything, it takes forever to mop. When it starts to get dirty, I panic, especially if anyone outside our immediate family will be setting foot inside our house within the next few days. The steam mop is going to be a lifesaver. It deep cleans my tile and hardwoods in minutes without any scrubbing, buckets or icky water. Yay!

There are loads of things out there designed to make housework easier. While hard-core homemakers often scoff, I immediately investigate – and so should you! With the right tools, even the most dreaded tasks can be over in a flash, and you can get back to the work you (hopefully) love.

Good luck!


NCavillones said...

For housework, I like Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook because she provides a handy outline of what should be done when, and how often. Daily maintenance, monthly maintenance, seasonal maintenance. Even though I can never be as hardcore as Martha, I do find it helpful to know what can be put off 'till later and what small things I can do everyday that make the big cleanings easier!

Anonymous said...

Nicely written. I find I am better all around when I have a plan as well as a daily to-do list, as much as I hate the planning part.

rosebud101 said...

Great tips. I've used a timer for years, both when I taught in the classroom and for myself. I also make lists everyday. When I go down to torch, I want to know what I am going to make!

Kelly said...

Flipping awesome page! I've used a timer for YEARS while my kids were little, as an incentive to get misc. crud done. Now that the youngest is in high school and I'm working 2 jobs (one in the house, one out) the timer phenomenon has been rejuvinated!!! For the first time in MONTHS I'm actually looking forward to starting something!!! LOL

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