I have been trying out a new approach to organising my time. Since I am working from home, the way I structure my day is up to me. At one stage I tried to be super-organised, but that backfired as I felt stressed by the artificial constraints I had created for myself. Then I tried to be free flowing; doing what ever felt right at the time. That worked well in some ways; at it allowed me to do what I felt interested in at any given time. However I found that I tended to feel restless and agitated from constantly shifting through the options. I was having trouble winding down at bed-time as there was no clear end to the work day, and no clear idea of what I was meant to have achieved.
One area that was not quite working out was in the area of maintenance tasks, including certain housework and grooming activities that need to be done regularly but not daily. I always felt like I should be doing this or that, but some tasks, particularly the ones I don’t like, seemed to miss out on the priority list. I thought it would help to do some things on regular days; on the other hand sometimes they might not get done due to health, weather, or other commitments.
I decided to solve this by setting aside two days a week for certain activities so that I knew I needed to think about them on that day, but if some or all of the tasks were missed, it would come around again in a few days. Saturday and Monday are Bedrooms and Vacuuming; Sunday and Wednesday are Bathroom and Floors; Tuesday and Friday are Special Personal Grooming (Spend Longer in the Bathroom days). Thursday is for Projects and Catchups. This has been working well for a couple of weeks. It takes the pressure of feeling like I need to be doing everything every day. There are some jobs that I like anyway, and they don’t need days because they get done easily.
Based on the success of this strategy for maintenance tasks, I am now trying it for my other projects. Now I have Review Days where I am going to make sure I focus on progress in specific areas. I have two days for Professional Organising, two days for Photography, two days for Selling Online, and one day for Writing and Projects. Writing is really an everyday task, whether is Blogging, Commenting or background writing. This is not to say I don’t do other things on the designated days as well, but the ideas is that at least twice a week those activities will get focussed attention. This plan is only new, but I do already feel the benefits.
For example Sunday is a day to work on Online Selling, which is really just a hobby. Its a fun thing that suits the weekend. I like to work out what I am going to sell, write up an info sheet, take photos, set up listings and review activity. Also on Sunday I find it helpful to made a list of things that I would like to do in each area of activity during the week. It is not necessarily a To Do list, but its more of a Keep in Mind list, so that I don’t have to keep going over and over possible tasks in my head. It lets me feel that I can let go of some things on any given day day, because I know their day will come. Monday is Professional Organising day, and today I managed to do a few admin type tasks which I had been putting off.
Another feature of the plan it to spend time in the morning winding up, and in the evening winding down. I try to start and end the day with “personal time” with activities that are just for me, and not overly goal focussed. I recently started writing in a journal morning and evening to gather and let go of thoughts at bed-time, and to re-focus my thoughts when I wake up. Today this was very fruitful, as it helped me to confront some underlying issues that had been floating around in my head but I had avoided pinning down.
Of course even the best plans are open to variation. Today was hot, humid and still, so it was very oppressive inside. My plan for the day was difficult to fulfill because it was just too unpleasant sitting in front of a heat generating computer. Nevertheless, I have managed to get in some writing time after dinner, so I feel like I am back on track for today.
I recently read Destination Simple by Brooke McAlary. She describes how life can be simplified by having a rhythm for the day. A rhythm is a nice name for a routine, softened at the edges. This is a similar concept to what I have been working on for myself, although I am working on having rhythms across a week, as well as with a day. Brooke has some wise words to say about simplicity; particularly in the way that we plan and make use of our time. She understands that simplicity is not about a complete lack of structure, but a balance between structure and flexibility. She has a great post on her blog Slow Your Home called ‘T’ is for Tilting: A-Z of Simple Living. Its about how its impossible to achieve balance in every area of your life on a daily basis. You have to favour -tilt towards- a subset of activities each day depending on the circumstances. I am attempting an exercise in rhythmic tilting.