Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Time Management for Manic Moms - Week 5: Time Management for the Masses

Time Truth: Systems Save Time

Systematic or Problematic, which one is your life?

Something to think about... answer agree, disagree, partly agree:
  • I have no idea where all my time goes
  • you often think that you've been reincarnated as a parrot, due to the number of times you repeatedly ask members of your family to do simple jobs that will save you time
  • you are constantly doing things that you think should be someone else's responsibility 
  • you seem to spend an inordinate amount of your spare time cooking and cleaning up
  • apart from things you have to do like pre-school, school and work, there's no real routine in your life, things just happen when they happen
  • you have a migraine for a week just thinking about what you have to pack to go on a family holiday
  • you find getting out of the house en masse, and on time, nigh-on impossible. You are always shouting frantically to your children, "Will you hurry up and get ready?"
  • you have no foolproof system for dealing with all the paper and information that comes into your house. Things often get misplaced, and people often can't find what they are looking for.
  • If you just had to manage yourself, you'd be fine, but coping with the family you find something chaotic.
  • you're always hunting for things and getting things ready for other people at the last minute
  • nobody else in your house seems to know where anything goes

The Rules and Tools of Winning Systems

Rules One - Know what's going on at all times
  • Tool One - The "PPP": People and Place Planner
  • find a way of capturing what everybody is up to in your house
  • invest in a large wall planner that can be placed where every member of your family can see it. This way, everybody knows what everybody else is supposed to be doing.
  • put all activities that happen on a regular basis onto the planner
  • as other activities come in, post them onto the calendar, too
  • ideally, you'll have a note of all this in your Daily Diary as well
  • being able to see at a glance what is going on gives you an instant sense of control
Rule Two - No Mess
  • Tool Two - The Bite-sized Room Blitz
    • make a concentrated effort to clear up one room at a time
    • set a time frame to complete the whole room
    • chunk the job down into manageable tasks - one drawer or cupboard a day, for example. Include these tasks in your Daily Action List (B Tasks). The important thing is to make a start and keep going. Bit by bit until it's done.
    • in severe cases, call in the clutter-clearing police and get a professional to make it happen
  • The Ten-minute Tidy
    • have all your dusters and cleaning products in one basket that you can pick up and carry around
    • collect up the items strewn in the room. Put the ones that belong in the room in one basket, put the rest in another basket
    • with the debris gone, give a quick flick round with the duster
    • straighten pillows, tidy magazines and ornaments
    • sweep or vacuum the floor
    • if you're done with minutes to spare, put away items in the two baskets, or give it to someone else to do. Then sit down in your lovely clean room and relax.
  • The Ten-minute Bombsite Blitz (your kid's bedroom)
    • work with your children to get their room up to scratch by doing a big room blitz
    • let your children know that ten minutes a day will be dedicated to tidying their room
    • collect all washing and put it in the washing basket
    • make the bed
    • collect everything that is lying around and put it in a basket
    • put away clean clothes
    • put away the things from the basket
    • weekly vacuum and dust
    • prepare a checklist, so if your children are old enough they can do these jobs for themselves each day. Try to make it fun.
  • Keeping things clear forever
    • According to Clare Draper, founder of the Clutter Clearing Consultancy, it's possible to keep on top of your clutter in only ten minutes a day. Here's what she says:
      • "We at CCC teach people to create a new clutter-clearing and control "habit". People who keep on top of their clutter and mess are those who have turned the process into a habit, by investing the time to do it 20 times. They soon find out that they don't have to think consciously about it and can easily and quickly tidy up within ten minutes a day."
Rule Three - Don't put it down, put it away

Actions for Week Five
  • Identify all the jobs you could outsource. (10mins)
  • Delegate at least 2 jobs. (10mins  each with long-term payoff in time saving)
  • Notice where you lose time because you have no system or procedure in place to ensure things happen smoothly. Your Drip Diagnostics Log from Week Two may help. (5mins)
  • Buy an in-tray and bring-forward files.
  • Make up a routine for the two things that slow you down most and waste your time. (up to 20mins each, but think of the long-term time saving)
  • Prepare a plan for implementing any of the ten tools you want to integrate in your life. (10-15mins)

  • Systems save time, it's been proven scientifically.
  • Construct systems to save you time in your home and work life.
  • Get a wall planner to keep track of your family.
  • Clear your house, one chunk at a time.
  • Blitz rooms and children's rooms - get the kids to help.
  • Give all items a home. Make sure everyone knows where everything goes.
  • Dispose of items left lying around.
  • Outsource as many jobs as you possibly can; get leverage. Learn how to delegate tasks to others.
  • Recognize what routines you have. Streamline them, then introduce more, particularly around mealtimes.
  • Identify a rolling-routine schedule.
  • Use checklists.
  • Handle paperwork only once; do it, dump it or delegate it.
  • Use family in-trays to manage paper coming into your house.
  • Set up time-saving storage and filing systems.
  • Treat emails in the way as paper.
  • Only bring one thing at a time into your near focus.
  • Finish what you start before moving on to something else.

  1. Get small children to join in with chores. They love helping. Although your four-year-old's dusting might not be quite up to your standard, they will see it as play and it's a great way to spend quality time with them
  2. Make a list of people you want to send birthday cards to in month order. At the start of each month, write out all the cards for that month and put a posting date on the envelope.
  3. Buy a lot of greeting cards, thank you cards, blank cards and children's birthday cards. Keep them all in one place so they're handy when you need one. Keep a stock of stamps nearby, and also in your purse.
  4. Been asked to make cakes for the school fete? Buy some from a supermarket, put them on a paper plate, sprinkle them with icing sugar and hey presto!
  5. Pay all bills by standing order or direct debit.
  6. Put a sock on your hands. As you walk round the house use it to dust things. You might look a bit weird, but hey, you're a mom and it goes with the territory!
  7. Put the pen by the phone on a sting so it doesn't disappear.
  8. Get your children to set the table and clear up their own plates.
  9. Have a file for directions to places so you can find them when you need them.
  10. Store things as close as possible to where they are needed: bath towels in the bathroom, kitchen towels in the kitchen, etc.
  11. Use couscous instead of rice, potatoes or pasta. This miracle food cooks in 5 minutes.
  12. Put "due dates" into your diary, bring-forward file or mobile phone: when library books are due back, when the dry cleaning can be collected, etc. You might even want to put a reminder in a couple of days before, so you have time to track down what you'll need.
  13. Have a word file with directions to your house to email to people rather than having to give them long-winded verbal directions.

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