Gold Star blog posts!

Here are some relevant blog posts I’ve come across this week.  I usually post cool links straight to the HomeRoutines Facebook page when I find ’em, so Like us there to read them first!

On Routines and Schedules

  • Bookend Your Day: The Power of Morning and Evening Routines at The Art of Manliness
    • Imagine a string with a series of beads on it. The beads represent your goals, relationships, and priorities. Tip the string this way or that way, and the beads easily slide off and onto the floor. But tie a knot on each end of the string, and the beads stay put. Those knots are your morning and evening routines. They keep the priorities of your life from falling apart and thus help you progress and become a better man.
  • Reassess your Schedules and Routines at Productivity Your Way
    • … our daily routines and schedules have a huge impact on not just our productivity, but also our mood and relationships. Being over-committed, wasting time and misprioritizing all lead to stress and chaos.
  • Cleaning: Is it Better to Create a Schedule or Not? at Simplify 101
    • Scheduling tasks like cleaning can give you a tremendous sense of  freedom…and even room for spontonaeity! What works for you? Do you prefer to have a cleaning schedule…or does your life work better with out one?
  • Housekeeping Schedules and Daily Home Management at Home Sanctuary

    • Far and away, my most searched posts are the ones on setting up a housekeeping schedule. I imagine women stumbling across my easy system, and I can hear them saying, “FINALLY! A schedule that doesn’t make me feel like a failure before I even start!”

On Rocking your Timer

Kids’ Stuff

  • Homework without Tears (I mean you, Mom!) at The Happiest Mom
    • One place I’m working on this especially hard right now is establishing a new homework routine at our house.
  • Leafy Crafts at Kids Craft Weekly
    • This week, consider making the time to accompany the kids on a leisurely walk around your local area. Grab the hats, pack some drinks, choose a walking stick and get the kids to carry a basket or bag in which to keep any leaves that happen to take their fancy.

Plan, Do, Review, Revise (or, How’s that routine working out for you?)

Before I was a mum-of-three and an app developer, before the kids (or the app) were even a twinkle in anybody’s eye, I used to design and develop computer based training.  We’d take the staff development goals of businesses, and find which ones could be turned into learning objectives, then design training programmes to run on a CD or the internet. As we designed the programmes we continuously improved them – so many rounds of feedback, so many changes and tweaks.

Sometimes a idea I thought was the best thing since sliced bread didn’t work out in the real world, so I changed it to suit.  And that’s life. Eventually, we delivered the project to the customers and they were happy, of course…  but we were straight onto the next project, taking with us what we had learned from the last one. (Maybe we stopped to walk down to Serious Espresso in between.)

The process looked something like this:

That’s what  life and learning is all about – we can’t stay still.  Circumstances change all the time – children arrive, health issues surprise us, jobs change, roles change, and seasons change.  It’s unreasonable to expect that a plan you made a year or even a month ago would still be totally in synch with your current life.

So that’s why I suggest – have a look at your routines.  See what’s working, and what isn’t.  If you’re getting overwhelmed, drop some tasks that don’t matter as much.  Turn off some reminders.

Coincidentally, Maaike from Life With Flylady posted today about adapting Flylady’s zones to suit your house (with HomeRoutines! yay!), and Ana added an excellent comment:

At first I had too many things in my routines and was constantly not getting to some things, which was stressing me out. Then I reminded myself this is for me. I have no one to impress. I removed the tasks I was not ready for yet and it relieved the stress. I have added some back on when I was ready to do them. I will continue to add tasks as time goes on.

No matter whether you choose a housework system to adapt, or cobble one together, or come up with your own ideas – it has to suit your home.  It’s your home, not the home of some self-proclaimed internet expert, or your in-laws, or your grandmother, or that guy on that one infomercial!

Plan: Look around you. See what needs doing…  add it to your routines and zones.

Do: Use those routines, work through the zones, see how you go

Review: Have a look back over what you’ve been doing.  Is it working for you? Are you getting overwhelmed or avoiding your lists because they’re too long?

Revise: Add some things, remove some tasks, switch your zones around!

Enjoy your own system in your own place.  You totally deserve it.

Housework systems: The Whole SHEBang

On The Whole Shebang, SHE stands for Self, Home, Endeavors – a broader, more positive definition of SHE than the Flylady’s “Sidetracked Home Executives.” It was created by Krista, a professional organizer, who is sharing her beautifully designed resources and plans with all of us.

The basics of her plan are on her SheBang 101 page:

  • Creating your own Morning, Afternoon and Evening routines (we like routines 🙂 Krista’s example routines are great too.
  • Creating a special SHE spot of your own in your house – a cozy chair where you can sit and relax with a book for a bit, without looking at the washing basket!
  • And jaunty, informative signs to print out to stick on your baskets and boxes as you declutter – that is, creating your “SHE itt kit” (I see what she did there!)

Her concise Maintaining the SheBang page has great advice on monthly tasks to keep you on track, especially a ritual of reviewing and revising your routines.  I find that with little kids, a routine that used to work no longer does, as naptimes and playtimes shift – and as small boys become ever more enthusiastic to climb into an open dishwasher. (Unloading dishwasher now must occur when he is in his highchair!)

I’m looking forward to her further SHEBang projects – the first one is decluttering the closet. There’s the full-on version with printable resources and checklists – and the fast version where you pick out 5 ugly shirts to donate. Either way – excellent advice, and I’m certainly subscribing to her blog to keep up with the new projects as they come out.

Routines and Calendars

Yesterday The Flylady’s Facebook page was all a-flutter because she announced a partnership with Cozi, an online calendar and organiser for families:

I was excited to see the news, because I’m a fan of both Flylady and Cozi, but it reminded me that it was a good time to write about how calendars and routines work best together!

When you’re trying to get organised, it is very tempting to start writing the things that you should do, or intend to do, on your calendar, with the idea that if it’s on the calendar, it will get done.

Life doesn’t often work like that, though, so you may simply end up with a very confusing calendar. and risk missing important events because they are lost amongst the details of your idealised plan for your week.

I just added a few recurring routines to my calendar in Cozi and just about gave myself a panic attack looking at it:

Busy calendar full of routines

I had to delete them really quickly and go have a nice cup of tea and a lie down.

That’s better – I can see more days on my calendar, and it now only shows my recurring events and the things I really need to make sure happen on time. I’m also safe from having my phone ping me with a calendar alarm too often. If you have less important tasks alerting you on your calendar, you risk ignoring an alarm thinking it’s to say “Put some washing on!,” when actually it’s telling you that you are due at the vet in 15 minutes and you need to lure the cat out from the back of the shed.

The HomeRoutines reminder chime can keep you on track, but you know it’s not a reminder for an event… it is its own thing.

David Allen wrote a book a few years ago called Getting Things Done, which has a cult status amongst many business productivity people. In his book, he wrote that there are two sorts of tasks:

Reminders of actions you need to take fall into two categories: those things that have to happen on a specific day or time, and those things that just need to get done as soon as possible. Your calendar handles the first kind of reminder.

Three things go on your calendar:

  • time specific actions;
  • day-specific actions;
  • and day-specific information

Time-specific actions are things that happen at a particular time of a particular day – appointments, in other words, or deadlines. For instance, a playdate for Tuesday afternoon, or a dentist appointment. This includes recurring events, like playgroup every Tuesday morning, because it only happens at that time.

Day-specific actions are tasks that have to be done on a certain day, but not at a certain time of that day. For instance, calling Mum on her birthday, or popping in to your friend’s workplace on Friday to pick up her house key so you can feed her cat while she’s away.

Day-specific information is the kind of details that are associated with an event. For instance, the address of the house you’re visiting for dinner, and a reminder to bring your world-famous apple pie.

If you have a task that you want to remember, and it’s a one-off task, then you can put it in your to-do list. If it’s something you need to do again and again, like washing the dishes, then it belongs in a routine!

Routines, events and one-off todo tasks are all important, so it’s great to have a way to keep them apart so they don’t get confused and muddled. Watch out for the temptation to put things that aren’t time- or date-specific on your calendar, and you’ll reduce the information overload in your life by a fraction – especially good at this time of year. My to-do list is long enough!