March 30, 2007
Are our routines only for our mornings and evenings? After all, there’s a whole lotta time between those hours. A lot of little chunks of minutes here and there. What do we do with those bits of time?
I have a two-minute drill I do only when it’s cold outside. After I get home from dropping off Child One at school, I make myself a cup of French Vanilla coffee. Yeah, the instant stuff. It’s cheaper than Starbucks and still tastes good.
Anyway, I microwave the water for two measly minutes. But I’ve found something interesting.
In the two minutes it takes my water to heat up, I can clean my kitchen.
My son’s breakfast dishes (plate, silverware, glass), anything left out from late-night snackers (grrr), and anything else that needs tidying up on the counter (cutting boards and knives from cutting up fruit for lunches, potato chip crumbs, and other odds and ends from lunch stuff that couldn’t be done the night before) — all of that usually takes less than two minutes to rinse off, stick in the dishwasher, and wipe down counters.
And we’re not talking a little mess. Crumbs all over the counter. Empty bread bags, apple cores and fruit labels. Plates and forks covered with sticky syrup. Sure doesn’t look like it’ll take only two minutes.
But that’s the fun thing. Sometimes you surprise yourself, because sometimes those jobs that look awful don’t take nearly as long as we think.
Try it the next time you have a few minutes to spare. What task in the room you’re waiting in needs to be done? Even if you don’t finish your two-minute drill before your time is up, the job is now partly done.
And you didn’t need a helmet.
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- On Monday — Winners announced!
March 23, 2007
Isn’t this a gorgeous picture? Katie Johnson, an “amateur” photographer and fellow ACFW writer, took this. If you love nature photos, check out her blog HERE. She’s got some amazing shots.
Last Friday, we talked about morning routines that got us up and going and made us efficient throughout the day. If you created a routine or got back into a routine, I’d love to hear about it.
I promised to share my evening routines, so here they are.
- Straighten hot spots for five minutes (this is a Flylady term for areas where clutter piles up. Boy, you should see my desk right now!)
- Check calendar
- Start making tomorrow’s to-do list
- Pack launch pad (gather everything we need when we walk out the door in the morning — dry cleaning, Walmart return items, grocery list, etc. — and put it by the door)
- Pick out clothes for tomorrow
- Make lunches
- Set the counter for breakfast
- Take meds (yep, those pesky things again!)
- Go to bed on time.
There it is. Doesn’t take real long, maybe twenty minutes. Making lunches probably takes the longest. If I do those things every night, my house looks fairly neat when I go to bed and I’m not greeted by a mess when I make breakfast the next morning. Just a much more pleasant way to start the day, isn’t it?
Well, it would be if I did my evening routine.
I don’t know if I’ve already told you that I don’t have it all together so I better do that now.
I don’t have this all together.
Really. Read here for my story. I’m trying to go back to those old routines that worked so well, and let me tell you, my evening routine is the hardest thing to get back into.
Why is that?
Only thing I can figure is because it’s the one time of the day when I can have some quiet and time to myself. Iget lost in a book, that pesky Star Wars Battlefront game, or something online. Just one more game, I tell myself. One more chapter. One more blog. One more –
Before I know it, my eyes are crossing because time really does fly when you’re having fun!
Ugh. Try to get up the next morning on not enough sleep.
If you’ve had trouble getting your morning routine to work for you, consider this possibility — you’ve been staying up too late.
We all do it. We go to bed exhausted, have only a handful of hours to sleep and then expect to get up — on time — the next morning and function. Nope. Not happening.
Getting ourselves in bed on time is such a “duh” idea, but I know it’s the one thing I struggle with on a nightly basis. Getting to bed on time, whatever that time is for you, is the key to getting us started the next day and getting that morning routine going. No sleep, no energy, no accomplishment.
So. Your turn again. Do you have an evening routine? Tell us what’s worked for you and what has not.
Plan on starting an evening routine? Remember, start small, maybe even with just getting to bed by a certain time. Again, feel free to post it on the blog any time.
And it’s my bedtime right now. So I’m off — after I straighten the hot spots, check my calendar . . .
- Don’t forget to post a comment before the end of March for a chance at the 2007 Christian Writers’ Market Guide and Linda Nichol’s In Search of Eden
- On Monday — not your everyday tooth fairy
March 16, 2007
For those of you freaked out by the title, rest easy. We are not going back to school.
Last Friday, I said I’d share my routines with you, and I will, but first it’s probably best to get behind the reasoning or philosophy of why routines are good and not evil, boring chores.
Let me ask you this. What did you do when you got up this morning?
I bet it went something like this:
- You showered
- Did your do
- Put on makeup (unless you’re a guy)
- Ate breakfast
- Brushed your teeth.
What is all of that? It’s a routine, a simple list of things you go through every day without thinking, without standing in front of the mirror gripping your hair in both hands and wailing, “What do I do next?”
Now picture the day you don’t do that routine. You don’t shower (shudder), you don’t get out of your PJs, you don’t fix your hair or your face, but you do brush your teeth since your morning breath was getting to you.
There may be some people who function well in their PJs and sporting a bed-head hairstyle, but I know I don’t. It’s hard to get motivated. Until I’m cleaned up and dressed, I’m still in that I’ve-got-nowhere-to-go-no-one- to-see-and-nothing-to-do mood. And nothing gets done.
So Philosophy of Routines 101 states that we all need a morning routine to do when we get up in order to get ourselves moving and productive. If gives us a routine that, after enough days of doing it, we do without thinking — and we get to the point where we do it fast. It doesn’t consume our time like it does when we reinvent the wheel of starting our day.
- Get up and weigh. (Sigh. I know they say not to check the scale every day, but for me if I don’t check it, I start gaining weight.)
- Laundry check
- Take meds
- Get beautiful (Shower, hair, makeup. Got to credit my mother here who always says, “Well, it’s time I got beautiful.”)
- Wake kids
- Finish lunches
- Get dressed
- Make bed
- Check calendar
- Finish the day’s to do list
If I do those things when I get up in the morning, I’ll be ready for whatever comes. If the mailman needs to drop off a package, I won’t race to brush my teeth before I answer the door and hope he doesn’t notice I’m in PJs. And with the last thing I do being finalizing my to-do list, I’ll be more likely to get started on that list than to end up on the couch playing my son’s Star Wars Battlefront video game.
And the day progresses with me getting most of my list if not all of my list done — which leaves me with no stress because it’s tax day eve and I have yet to gather tax stuff or because I’ve got friends coming over and I haven’t cleaned my house in three weeks. And when my list is dwindling or I need a break, there’s no guilt sitting on that couch for a few Star Wars Battlefront games!
And it’s flexible. That routine is my Monday through Friday. Obviously I don’t make sack lunches on Saturday or Sundays, and I definitely let my kids (and me) sleep in on Saturdays. Do still brush the teeth, though.
Why is a routine important? It gets you ready for the day — you’re dressed, you feel presentable to the world, and you’re prepared to do the things you need to do — and usually it won’t be anywhere near noon.
Now it’s your turn. What is your routine?
Word of advice here — again, don’t try to build Chicago in a day. This wasn’t my routine the first day I decided to tackle this project. Remember, we’re fighting lifelong habits here and so it’s okay to take it slow. Maybe you just need to start with getting beautiful (or handsome), checking your calendar, and making your to do list. Don’t get trapped into scheduling your whole morning (all of you SAHMs). Give yourself some room for life to happen and mess things up.
Take the next week and work on your morning routine. Maybe print it out on a piece of paper so you can cross off each item as you finish it. And let me know how it goes! Feel free to post it here and tell us all about it. I love hearing from you all.
In the meantime, it’s time for me to go. Got my evening routine to get started . . .
- On Monday, the most wonderful time of the year?
- Don’t forget to leave a comment during the month of March for a chance to win a free book!
March 9, 2007
Have you seen that show “How Clean Is Your House?”
Kim and Aggie, two British women who are professional cleaners (is that a step up from a maid?), supervise cleaning the homes of people who’ve let their house go.
I mean really let it go.
We’re talking bathrooms that haven’t been cleaned in many moons. Bugs in the freezer. Rooms filled floor to ceiling with stuff. And a number of other truly gross problems I refuse to mention.
The stars of the show hire professional cleaners, and before long the home is an attractive house we’d all love to live in.
Ah, happy endings.
Or are they? What does that house look like a year later? Six months later? Okay, a month later! Was it still comfortable and inviting? Or were the bugs and trash taking over?
Before we go further, I want you to know that this will not be a blog on keeping house. In the comments last Friday, Terri wondered if maybe we could get too caught up in the things society tells us we “have to do” and in doing that neglect the people who really matter.
A very good point, Terri, and I want to make it clear that I have no desire to be the next Martha Stewart or June Cleaver. This isn’t about becoming more like Martha than Mary. Instead, it’s taking the huge job we women have of running our homes and turning it into a smaller, more manageable job that does not control us or stress us out. And that will leave us free to do the many other people-oriented things that matter. For me, that’s my family, my friends, my writing, my church.
Think about making your work take up less of your day, less of your life. What would organizing your home and life give you time to do?
We have to admit that the shape our home is in has a tremendous effect on us, right? If we’re disorganized, it’s hard to get to our meetings in time with the notes or projects we’re expected to bring. It’s hard to get anything done when there’s clutter everywhere and we can’t find what we desperately needed fifteen minutes ago. We don’t function well when the counters are piled high. I mean, who wants to cook and add more to that?
So what’s the answer? Is there even an answer?
I say yes. The answer is routines.
Routines. A rather boring word we all run from.
No, don’t run! Come back. Routines are your friend! Routines free up your day, your home, your life, leaving you time for your family and even for yourself. In fact, that’s part of the routines, making time for you. And that’s not as selfish as it sounds.
Routines were what made last summer so pleasant for me. And my routines where what I abandoned when I started my rewrite. Now I’m slowly starting those routines again.
That’s part of the secret — start slow. Chicago wasn’t built in a day, and neither can we expect to change lifelong habits in a day, a week, or even a month. Come back next Friday and I’ll share my routines with you and show you how to create your own routines that will slowly take you from stressed to hope.
- On Monday — Lynn Austin’s Gods and Kings
- Don’t forget to leave a comment for your chance to win one of three books!
March 2, 2007
Lately I’ve had a nasty feeling shadowing me.
You know the one. That headache you get from the laundry basket overflowing with clean, unfolded laundry, a full week of unopened mail stacked on the desk, the three shirts that need buttons sewn back on, and the church nursery schedule that should have been filled out two weeks ago.
Help! I’ve fallen behind, and I can’t catch up!
I calm down, remind myself that tomorrow is another day, but as it turns out, it’s just another day to fall behind. More mail joins the stack, the shirts still need buttons, the laundry is half-folded (who needs matched socks, anyway), and now I must decide — do I go grocery shopping so we can eat or fill out that nursery schedule?
Add to it the overflowing hamper, the bathroom that needs cleaning, and the writing cloud hanging over my head because I’m three weeks behind the writing deadline I’ve already moved back once.
Don’t you hate days like that?
I don’t like having to choose something important to sacrifice. I dislike feeling as if I’m doing a little bit of everything and doing none of it well. I’d like to discover that it is possible to accomplish everything that matters — and still have some sanity at the end of the day.
Last summer I began to wonder if I should put my fiction writing on hold until my kids were grown and gone. I prayed about it, asked God if, gulp, that was what He wanted, and asked Him to show me what to do.
Less than a week later, He sent a book across my path that showed me that disorganization was the center of my struggles. There was no set pattern to my days, no schedule as to when things should be done. I was reinventing the wheel every single day.
Over the summer I took the book to heart. Within a week, I found time freed up, items where they belonged, the weekends free to goof off with my family, and my home neater even though I cleaned less. That nagging weight of falling farther and farther behind vanished.
And then I busied myself with a rewrite on my novel. I thought I’d finish it in a few short weeks, so I dropped everything I’d learned to concentrate on the book.
I fell back to old habits of deciding what must be sacrificed, what could wait, and what needed immediate attention, and now that nasty feeling has returned. I don’t like it. I want to go back to the things I learned. I want to grab that peace and order again.
Maybe you want that, too. If so, climb on board with me. Over the next several months, I’ll share my return trip to organizational heaven along with the things that have and have not worked.
And before long, we’ll find matching socks in our drawers, our desks mail free, and those buttons we lost months ago — right next to our dreams and sanity.
Come back next week, and I’ll share where it all begins.
On Monday--find out how to win a free book!