Staying ahead when you are constantly running behind

Do you ever feel desperate about not being able to stay ahead of your tasks? Especially when you have small kids. You are constantly dreaming of that perfectly clean home. But every day the routine takes all your time and you don’t get to make any extra steps toward a little bit of progress. By the time you finish all your chores you are out of energy, sometimes hope, and patience, completely exhausted and wonder when you will at last get to do a little more than routine.

What if you were to be able to somehow get ahead of everything and never ever find yourself running behind again?!

Rest and reflection 

I’ve came to a point about a year ago when I decided to do get proactive about it. I couldn’t continue even one more day like this. A friend agreed to babysit my kids for several hours and I went to a quiet place where nobody could bother me or interrupt even for 1 second. I slept one hour. Then I got up and I wrote on a piece of paper everything that I was doing everyday as a working mother, wife, housekeeper, and many other hats I was wearing at that moment. I wrote down everything that was taking my time from the moment I got up in the morning until bed time.

On another piece of paper I wrote down ONLY what NEED to get done every day. The unnecessary was left out.

Time blocks

I assigned a time block for every task I needed to get done.

From this moment my mind was clearer than ever before. Everything I needed to get done fit very well in my day when I divided it into blocks of time. The rule I set for myself right then was the following:

Whatever doesn’t get done in the time block assigned to it will be left for next day. I would not take away from the next time block. It meant that I was now able to control that my work assignments will not take over my time with the children.

Techniques to overcome weaknesses

I forget things. And it doesn’t change with time. It only gets worse if I do nothing about it.  But I learned some techniques that helped me remember about 80% of what I needed to get done. Before, I would forget 90%. I am still not very good at writing down every time something comes up and I forget to check my calendar. But it’s a dramatic change from what it used to be like. I use lists now: tomorrow list, shopping list, appointments list, work assignments list, home projects list, and others.

Living the moment

A friend I met last summer taught me to enjoy the simple things in life. Like swinging for an hour with my kids. I was able to forget everything else as if time ceased to exist for that hour. She taught me to worry less, to laugh more, to enjoy my children and make sure I didn’t miss the whole point of living. She reminded me that “Jesus is the LIFE” and we often go past him to look for happiness. She challenged me to start LIVING. It begins with my heart.

An action plan

My mind was clear now. I got rest. I had peace and I knew what needs to get done. Now I needed an action plan to get ahead of my tasks AND get rid of all the clutter and everything that was in my way of becoming organized and in control of my life.

I had to start with my body. To exercise, drink water and eat healthy. But it there was no way it could happen all at once. I had to implement it slowly but consistently. One thing at at time. I became very intentional.

I made this small list of things I needed to get done no matter what.

#1. Drink water and exercise. Whenever I want to eat I make myself drink a glass of water first. To excercise I turn on some very lively music that motivates me to get up from my computer and work out.

#2. Wash all laundry so that there is nothing left in the basket. Start the next laundry when you have your first load ready. Don’t wait for more to add up.

#3. Empty trash.

#4. Keep the kitchen sink shiny.

#5. Declutter a hot spot every day. Take a trash bag to go around the rooms and pick up anything that I no longer need.

#6. Play the picking up toys game with the kids.  Whatever they don’t pick up I get to keep for myself.

 #7. Vacuum clean daily.

#8. Dust twice a week where I see dust or where I know it collects.

#9. Wipe the floors if I’ve still got time.

How to get everything done

My friend used another quote: “DO WHATEVER YOUR HAND FINDS TO DO“. That means being a hands on type of person. It mean not being indifferent when there are things that must get done. That applicable even when you are at a friend’s house.

I learned to enjoy doing one thing at a time. It means that I don’t worry about my next task. When the sink is full, I’ll do the dishes and not worry about the floor even if it means it might not get done.

Doing things with a smile and maintaining a positive attitude helps too.

Several years back I asked a mother of four and housekeeper of the largest and most beautiful home I have ever seen up to that moment what was her secret. How did she manage everything? Her house was in perfect order and spotless while also having a dog and few other animals around the house, and a beautiful garden. She said “I DO THINGS AS I GO“. It means to work smarter. When she headed to one room she picked up things on her way to put where they belonged. She didn’t just leave things laying around because she was doing something else. She always thought how she can do things in parallel.

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