Maxine’s Housekeeping Tips – Part #3
How to Make Yourself DO IT!
SUBMITTED BY: Maxine in Idaho
(No, ladies, we are NOT talking about sex here!) Today’s organizational tip is about remembering and motivating yourself to get things done.
One of the biggest problems we random housekeepers have is remembering to do things. The answer, of course, is to WRITE THINGS DOWN. Then you don’t have to remember anything except to look at the list occasionally!
So today, I’m going to talk about lists.
There are a couple of ways to make lists. I’ll talk first about the ways that DON’T work for me, because we are all different and one of them might be just the ticket for you:
(1) Card files, described by Pam Young and Peggy Jones in Sidetracked Home Executives. Make a card file that lists all of the jobs you need to do on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Rotate the cards so that it provides a continuing list of what you need to do to maintain your home. Examples of daily chores are making your bed, doing the dishes, etc. A weekly chore is something like vacuuming the bedroom. Cleaning the windows inside is an example of a monthly chore.
This did not work for me because:
- The system seemed complicated to me, and even though I bought a 3×5 file and a bunch of colored cards, I never could bring myself to actually make the file;
- I went to one of the authors’ programs and BOUGHT the preprinted file for $25. Then I never got around to filing the cards. I would have gladly paid $50 if they had put the thing together first.
- I’m a rebel. I know that one day I would just wake up and say to myself, ”I don’t want to do it and no stupid card can make me!”
- I know myself. I would never think to re-file the cards after using and eventually would begin using the backs of them for scratch paper.
Scratch that one!
(2) “The Flipper” described by Sandra Felton in The Messies Manual is a variation on the card file. The cards themselves seem simplified (or at least I simplified them!) and they are filed in a photograph album with clear plastic sleeves that you can just flip through (guess that’s why she calls it “The Flipper”!). This solves the re-filing and using for scratch paper problem. I tried this, but didn’t stay with it. I think it’s a good idea, though, if cards appeal to you.
Here’s what DOES work for me:
I bought a spiral-bound notebook that is about the size of a steno pad (I prefer the wire on the side). On the first piece of paper, I drew lines to make 4 boxes. One box is TO DO, one box is TO CALL, one box is TO GO, and the fourth box is for whatever you want. TO CALL and TO GO are pretty self-explanatory. I find that grouping these tasks helps me to combine errands and make the most of my phone time. I often write phone numbers and addresses in these spaces, too. TO DO is simply a list of the stuff I want to get accomplished today. I include Minimum Maintenance (MM) on this list, usually on the two bottom lines with each room abbreviated.
For instance, my TO DO list for today includes the MM rooms, plus the following: Finish taxes, change 401(k) plan, wash the kitchen floor, dust the living room, find the hose to the shop vac, plant 4 trees in the windbreak and plant the bleeding hearts.
This list can be as “micro” as you wish. If you need to break down laundry steps to sort the wash, wash it, hang it, take it down, fold it and put it away–that’s what you need to do. Crossing things off as you go is a great reminder, plus it lets us feel like we are accomplishing something!
When I make tomorrow’s list, I am not going to throw away today’s list. (For one thing, there are probably some jobs that didn’t get done that I need to put on tomorrow’s list). I am going to simply turn to the next page, draw my boxes and make the new list. I’m going to keep all of the old lists this way until I finish the notebook. The reason is, I’m going to use these pages so much that there will be notes and scribbles on them that I may want later.
I have found it really helps to keep just one calendar. Mine has big squares to write on and is posted on the refrigerator door, near the kitchen phone. When I make my daily list, I refer to the calendar for things I have to do that day. You might also find it helpful to make a list on the back page of the notebook by day of the week showing the things that have to be done on that specific day (for instance, put out the garbage). Then you can refer to this list when you make your daily list.
I mentioned that I leave one square blank. I usually use this to write the dinner menu and anything else I might need to remember. Sometimes I’ll scribble a grocery list there, or separate my gardening tasks from the rest of the to-do list.
One of the advantages to this system is that it doesn’t require any preparation. You don’t have to buy a card file and you don’t have to make a bunch of cards to get started. Just grab a notebook. I like this better than making daily to-do lists on whatever’s handy, because I lose scraps of paper and the notebook keeps all of my notes in one place and “archives” the old lists.
Advanced concept (only when you are ready for it): Some tasks just naturally go together. If you are making a note to put out the garbage, try to remember to add “empty wastebaskets” to your TO DO list. I’m sure some of the spotless ladies are chortling over this one, but I have (many times) put out a half-filled trash can for pick up, and left the wastebaskets inside the house filled to overflowing.
Hope this helps. Glad to hear Minimum Maintenance is working for some of you already (I gotta go do mine now).
SUBMITTED BY: Maxine in Idaho
Here’s the next tip from Maxine: Two-for-One-Thursday (two tips!)
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