Sunday, November 13, 2011

Finding oneself in an overly busy week

It's been a week since I last posted and as I mused on this fact, I realized that my week was unusually busy.  Some of my time was spent simply catching up on required tasks at work and at home.  But, some of it was also related to conquering chaos.  Here are a few tips for the not-so-naturally organized when there isn't enough time to conquer an entire room at once.

  1. Just one thing.  When I don't have time to do much at all, I tell myself to just do one thing.  So, for example, if I don't have time to clean the whole bathroom, I might just wipe out the sinks.  Or, I might just wipe down the mirrors.  In order to do this, I keep the required supplies under the sink so that I don't have to go hunting down the cleaning supplies.  If I do that, I might get side-tracked and never get back to my one thing!
  2. Maintain status quo.  If I can't make progress in one area, at least I will not backslide in another.  Yesterday, I would have loved to start on my craft room.  But, I had some other daily tasks to attend to -- most importantly, it was bill-paying day.  If I stop paying attention to those things that I already have in order, guess what happens?  Chaos ensues!
  3. Multi-task wisely.  For the not-so-naturally organized, multi-tasking can be a recipe for disaster.  I am learning to avoid this disaster by choosing carefully what things I will work on at the same time.  The tasks need to complement each other by using different skills and mental capacities.  As I said, yesterday was bill-paying day.  That is a big mental task.  If I try to do another mental task at the same time, I'm doomed.  But, I was able to start a batch of pizza dough and let my stand mixer (using the dough hook) knead the bread.  Then, I let it rise, punched it down and got it ready to take to my daughter's for dinner.  While cooking is somewhat of a mental task, it is not nearly as mentally draining as dealing with finances.  The task was more physical.  Combining a physical task and a mental task make it easier to multi-task.

    Take a few moments to think about the pairings of things you might do.  It's best for me if I keep it to two things.  Otherwise, I can't make progress and I get totally confused about what to do next!
    • Plan your garden for next spring -- match socks.
    • Help a child with homework -- switch loads of laundry.
    • Review your retirement allocations -- dust the tops of the ceiling fans.
In the end, when in an overly busy week, there are a few things that you can do to keep moving forward.  When in doubt, do something.  It doesn't need to be perfect, and it doesn't even have to be exactly the right thing to do.  Having made a little progress will be its own reward.

Now, go do one thing!

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