Oh yes, I know I am WAY past Week Two. I have fallen behind, I confess. But as I posted a few weeks ago, I knew this month was going to be difficult. We returned yesterday from nine days on vacation, and before that I was working a lot of overtime in the evenings and weekends (my organizing time).
I expect to be working on my study until well into April, because it's the biggest project in the house at the moment.
So...Week Two focuses on how to save time.
First, Regina Leeds discusses multitasking and offers suggestions on how to multitask effectively. I'm a major multitasker already; in face, I am one of those who should probably multitask LESS. For example, I'm known for reading while I'm walking. (Yes, it's true. I've only fallen once--and I ripped a hole in the knee of my trousers! Did I stop? Well, no...) Leeds talks about the art of multitasking...and the healthy way to multitask. (She would probably frown on my reading-while-walking habit...as many safety-conscious people would!)
Could someone else do the mundane tasks that I do? I definitely could delegate more effectively, and that includes engaging my children more in the cleaning and organization of our house. As for the initial organization and decluttering, however, I do feel that I need to do this alone. My children are notoriously horrible at getting rid of things. Our oldest son cried when we had a new roof put on and the roofers carted away the old roofing materials! (This was many years ago, but it illustrates his sentimental attachment to things.) So my strategy is to do the decluttering and organizing myself and set up systems and processes so that they will be engaged in future cleaning efforts. I wish I could engage them in the decluttering, too, but trust me...that would not be an effective strategy. It would take me five years instead of the one.
In a total turnaround in our personalities, years ago Mike thought we should engage the kids in identifying things to donate to charity. I wanted to do it behind their backs. (This is a turnaround because I'm much more likely to be the one who wants to be up front and honest with the kids on a variety of topics.) He has now recognized that it's much more effective and quick to do it behind their backs. Most of the items we get rid of they never miss. Occasionally they do, and if they ask us "where did my N-Gamer magazine from May 2003 go?" I can blithely say "I have no earthly idea." It's not a lie, as I've explained to Mike.
Leeds talks about a woman she knows who is more caretaker than parent for her children, who never clean, do laundry, wash a dish, or have to pick up after themselves. Personally, I know we could improve in this area...I would like to engage my children in choosing menus and helping prepare the food in our house, for example. But we haven't gotten ourselves organized enough to do so. Perhaps that's on the list for next year, after we get our house organized. I do not want to raise sons who are incapable of doing laundry or cooking. I do not want their future partners to curse us! We have only 6 years left to get Chris trained in these areas, so we'd better get cracking!! He does clean, when prompted, but he could do more...as could Kieran. They are not the type of fantasy children who are dying to clean things (like one of my nephews), so it's really up to us to engage them more in this area.
I've become much better at this...for example, I rarely commit to things that involve evening or weekend meetings. I have to spend a lot of time at work in meetings, and I have realized that I have a low tolerance for meetings after hours. I am trying to only engage in activities after work that enrich my life, are fun, or add value in some way.
Saying No to Electronic Pests
Leeds reminds us that we don't have to reply to every voice mail or e-mail that comes our way. And that we don't have to answer the phone each time it rings. Caller ID has been a huge godsend in our household. We never answer the phone unless we recognize the name AND want to talk to that person right at that time.
Have you ever phoned someone who picks up the phone and announces that it's a really bad time to talk? WHY DID THEY ANSWER THE PHONE??? It's beyond me. I think some people have a very difficult time just letting it ring. Just say no to answering the phone when you are busy!
Leeds also recommends using e-mail versus a phone call to communicate with people who are notoriously chatty. This can be a big time saver. She also reminds us that we don't have to be polite with telephone solicitors. That's why I don't answer the phone unless I know the person who is calling. I am polite to people who are soliciting for organizations I support, but for other purposes, I ask to be taken off their call list.
Visualizing Our Goals
Leeds advises that we take a few minutes and visualize what we want to see in our lives. This advice dovetails nicely with an article I read recently, in the "Everyday Cheapskate" newsletter. Author Mary Hunt talks about how many Americans feel poor right now, and advises ways to feel richer. One of these recommendations is curbing clutter. "If you have clutter, it's pulling you down." Amen, sister!
I need to continue to visualize a clean, organized house. Visualization works for me--it helped me to keep my hope alive when I gave birth to a 24-weeker, 1-pound, 6-ounce baby who had to stay in the NICU for 117 days, and it will propel me to keep decluttering and organizing.
What Really Matters?
Leeds suggests that we set a short-term goal and a long-term goal. So here goes:
Short term (to accomplish in the next year): Finish organizing each room in my house according to the One Year to an Organized Life book.
Long term (to accomplish in the next 5 years): Teach my children how to cook and do laundry.
Broken down and tired: a lament
4 weeks ago