DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
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14 January 2014

Managing my time - lists and routines

Thank you for so many beautiful comments yesterday. I truly appreciate you taking the time to connect with me both by coming here to read and then, the icing on the cake, your comments. I must have the best readers in the blogging queendom.

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As I said yesterday, I had to think a lot about whether I could continue blogging. When I looked at what I have to, and want to do, I realised there was nothing in the mix that I was willing to give up. I wanted to continue living simply with no convenience foods or short cuts, I wanted to keep blogging and writing in various forms, I've been asked to continue my library talks this year, I have two beautiful grandsons I want to have a good relationship with, I have a family that I need and who need me, I want to continue gardening, baking and green cleaning. I love it all, I'm enriched doing these things on a daily basis. If I want to continue ambling along my simple path while doing all this writing, I have to work to a routine. I have to manage my time.


I write a list of tasks every morning that must be done during the day. Sometimes I allocate a time or a time limit to the task, sometimes it's left to do when I can manage it. But the aim of the exercise is to write most of the day - on the book, blog, forum and articles, and when I have a break, I go straight to the list and see what's there. I don't waste time then wondering what I should be doing. It might sound like enforced labour but writing takes a lot of intellectual planning and doing, and not much physical energy. I need to get up and move every hour or so and my list gives me tasks that get me moving while doing necessary jobs in the home.

So for instance, yesterday's list was this:
  • write shopping list
  • clean your room
  • vacuum
  • make a slice
  • knitt!!  I must have been serious with those exclamation marks. :- )
  • water plants on verandah
Chores such as cooking, feed animals, bread, general cleaning, bed making and a few other things don't go on my list because they're done automatically, often before I start writing, and I don't need a reminder. The list is for tasks that need to be done that day and change all the time. The list is made up in about five minutes each morning and later in the day, when I stop writing, I just go straight to the list. It saves time, it reduces the stress of wondering what needs to be done and I feel like I'm in control of my work, not the other way around. I think that's the key.

I keep my list on my computer or on a post-it note stuck to my computer. Put your list where you can see it. If you're busy in the kitchen, stick it to the fridge door, if you're going to be cleaning or doing the laundry, stick your list on the laundry bench.  If you don't think you'll be busy, or you feel a bit lazy, stick your list on the computer monitor or TV screen. Then when you sit down, you'll see your list and hopefully get up and do some work before you relax.


Today's list is:
  • make slice - this wasn't done yesterday so it's been transferred
  • talk to Tricia and Jo
  • make soup
  • repot two pot plants
  • make pineapple ice blocks for Jamie
  • water pumpkins and bush house
I don't put the list in order because sometimes my priorities change during the day but if I'm running short of time, I leave the least important thing - such as the slice. Another important part of list management is to define quantities or times, when necessary. In the list above I've noted "repot two pot plants". I know I don't have time for a gardening morning but I can manage to report two pots. These need to be done in summer, I can't put it off, so doing a few a week gets through that chore nicely. I could also put a time limit on it if I wanted to instead of a number. "Repotting for 30 minutes" would serve a similar purpose.


The other important part of this is that I take time for myself. It's not all about work. We work to have the lifestyle we have so we need to take time to enjoy each other, our home and the natural environment around us. I almost always have morning tea with Hanno on the front verandah and I usually have a rest after lunch. I have to look after me because I'm not as young as I used to be and I get tired easily. I want to go to bed every night tired because I've done a reasonable amount of work and I don't want to feel tired during the day.


In a few weeks my list might change from potting plants for 30 minutes to sewing for 30 minutes, or making soap. The things that make it on the list are those tasks that need doing that week. It takes a bit of thought and list making to keep my daily list relevant. I feel like I'm doing what I need to do and I'm not feeling stressed. Life's good and I hope that being lead by my list helps keeps it that way. How do you manage your time?

39 comments:

  1. We retired in mid-2012, moved to a new home and immediately started keeping our 3 grandchildren (which was wonderful but time consuming) full-time so that our daughter could finish her degree. She graduated last month (yay!) and now that the holidays are over, we're finally ready to settle into a routine and start to work on the house and plant a garden. I'm enjoying your blog and getting some very good ideas!

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  2. You speak so much sense! I've gone from working in excess of 50 hours per week to being at home. I am very aware I am not managing my time well and I am wasting time (which is very precious, we can't retrieve it) that I could use being productive.
    Earlier this evening I was thinking about make a daily list similar to yours, before I read your blog post. Now I know that's what I need to do, it will help me manage my time and be productive! Thank you!

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  3. I've just started using the list app on my ipad. I can take it to work and back with me and I have the list with me all the time, should I get a spare few minutes and am able to knock something off.
    I'm on holidays for the next two weeks, so currently my list is ENORMOUS! My aim is that for it to be down to nothing by the time school starts again, so in most cases the time that these things get ticked off isn't that important - just the fact that they get done. A few each day !

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  4. I made a very similar list this morning, and I'm trying to quietly go about it without a fuss. What I can do, I'll do.

    Rhonda, your re-post the other day about treating your home work like a business was just the thing I needed. For some reason, it was like a moment of clarity and sense for me. No more feeling like I "must" accomplish this or that cleaning, hoping to squeeze time in for other housework projects. No - now I'm looking at it all as a whole enterprise and doing it with attention and persistence. The tortoise, not the hare!

    I thank you so much, Dear Lady! xoxoooooo

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  5. Hi Rhonda - I did write a comment to your blog and in trying to work out what I should put my "comment as" I managed to delete it! Then I had to go out so didn't have time to re-do it, oops.

    I love reading your posts, I really do. I have struggled a little with time management. I have a wonderful planner which has a Daily To-Do Lost and a Weekly To-Do List but you know I keep not looking at it and that is when things so pear shaped. I know that is I stick to that routine sheet, life is organised, things get done, clothes are laundered, ironed and hung up, ready to wear. It works better so I need to have a focus on this in 2014. I also need to add some things onto that list, knitting, reading etc. The things that re-energise us and allow us some quiet time.

    Have a wonderful day.

    Sourdough333

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  6. Rhonda, this is exactly the type of post I want to read. Time management in the home is such a tricky thing, I've read so many blogs where people seem to do/achieve so much, and trust me I'm not trying to keep up with the Jones', but I often wonder how they manage it all. Your blog post today gives some simple yet effective strategies for just that. Thank you, and welcome back! More posts like this please :)

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  7. I think I would struggle to get anything done without lists to keep me focussed. I downloaded several journal pages from the forum and I have found them very helpful in keeping me organised. I usually have a weekly list of targets, reminders, appointments etc, and each evening I use that list as a guide for the next day. I have found through experience that it's important to keep my lists realistic - I need to know that I should be able to achieve at least some of the tasks I'm hoping to - it's very satisfying to tick things off and feel I have made good use of my day. I also set time limits for some tasks, especially the ones I like, or I could end up quilting all day!
    Thanks for continued inspiration and great ideas, Rhonda, and thanks for continuing to blog,
    Michelle
    PS The laundry liquid is proving a winner :)

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  8. I`m the kind of person that never writes a list unless it`s a shopping list and weekly menu plan. I work three days a week in a dry cleaning business and enjoy 4 days at home. I know that I need to clean the house, vacuum the floors and wash the clothes, so all of these tasks usually get done in those days off work. In between I try to cook from scratch as much as possible, do a bit of gardening and still find time for some
    crafting, sewing or soap making. If I can`t fit it all in one week I just try to make up for it the next week. I don`t fret over not having done it all that particular few days off work. And now I`m a grandmother I shall have my granddaughter to look after every Thursday when her mum goes back to work. Plenty to keep me occupied, and a list would not help much. I just do what needs doing whenever I can, and the rest will keep for another day. Your blog has given me an awful lot of inspiration over the last few years of reading and I do hope you can still blog with us despite all the tasks and jobs you seem to have taken on yourself.

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  9. Oh I also could not live without my to do lists! I actually usually have a few lists going- a day list, a week list and a longer term list.

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  10. I find a list keeps me on focus. When dad is in short term overnight respite care I make quite detailed lists as the time is short. The first week is jobs and slog and chasing after my health. The last few days are generally set aside for a little break or holiday for me. If I don't do this I waste the time and when he comes home little has been achieved and I am not rested. But when dad is home the lists may or may not happen as dementia rules the roost.

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  11. Good morning, Rhonda. Having just retired I am realising the importance of having the day organised or the time just slips away from you. Thanks for another timely post.

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  12. I have always been a list maker and last year at the beginning of the year I had a master list and a daily list. Things I didn't want to forget to do like make a specific photo book for my son's first year of football etc everything went on the master list that I didn't want to forget and then I had my daily lists. I love the lists.

    Just having another think about your post yesterday about managing your work load and blogging. Maybe you could ease your workload by writing 3 posts and re-use an old post (blast from the past) as a way of taking the pressure off you given your workload for the other 2 posts. I would rather see and read an old post that pops up rather than no post but you do need to look after yourself and your life. By the way thanks for replying to my question about storing the soap and I appreciate it. Once the kids go back to school in 2 weeks I will make my 2nd batch and looking forward to it. Just made my 3rd batch of homemade yoghurt yesterday and I love the feeling of the fact that I made it myself and the kids love it. So cool. Regards Kathy A, Brisbane, Australia
    www.oursimpleandmeaningful.blogspot.com

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  13. This is so timely for me Rhonda. Putting together a list of what needs doing is so important to me. Unfortunately, I have not been able to put one together. Reading your words have truly inspired me to the why I live simply...remembering once again, the purpose of it all.

    Thank you Rhonda :0)

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  14. Hi Rhonda, love reading you everyday! Today i worked my paid job for 8 hours then came home for a little rest. Now I am making - 1Chai tea and 2. yogurt from scratch. I may or may not get the vacuum out, depends if I meet up with my daughter for coffee. On work days I hope to do maybe 2-3 chores, easy ones and save the big stuff for the weekend.
    What is a “ slice”?

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    1. It's something to have with your chai, Eileen. I'm linking you to Inner Pickle's Wednesday slice: http://www.innerpickle.com.au/2011/09/a-slice-of-wednesday.html

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  15. Hi Rhonda, have FINALLY worked out how to leave a comment (knew those pesky teenagers would come in handy one day). Have been lurking around the archives for the past few weeks and have dipped my toe in the waters of the forum. Just wanted to say how pleased I am that you are continuing to blog when you can. Reading your musings each morning is such a positive way to start the day and I can't believe how much I have learned in such a short time. It's like hearing from a friend every day, so thank you. Cheers, Kaz from Mt Martha.

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    1. Next they'll be showing you how well they do the ironing. ;- ) Welcome to here and the forum. I look forward to reading about your journey.

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  16. I just came upon your blog by chance and I find your directions on how to do things very well explained, simple and to the point. So far, you give the best soap making directions. I may just give it a try. I'm so glad that you will continue blogging.
    Thanks,
    JB

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  17. I'm an avid list maker, I love checking things off! It also helps to keep me focused, which can be a full time job in itself... Honestly, I could spend the entire day knitting and looking up and trying recipes, etc... I have lost days like this, and wondered where the time went! I'm not naturally organized, so part of living the simple life for me means having clear goals and priorities each day. Thank you so much for the inspiration you give, and the example you set in living a beautiful, meaningful life. It really has helped change my perspective of the world at large, and my place in it.

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  18. I so agree about the list. I am always amazed what can be done in 15-20 minutes. A room vacuumed and dusted, an arrangement changed out, a load of laundry started and another folded. Ah, but a list and not rushing through my chores, that is a tough one to balance. Looking forward to reading along as you find a new balance for this season.

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  19. Life with 2 kids under 5 and teaching teenagers for half the week can make things seem a little overwhelming at times. Although I don't do a list everyday, when I do I have a much more productive day. I find that I even have to write the smallest things down that will allow me to do the bigger things. I might write down clean my desk and plan lessons for tomorrow . The lessons won't be planned or planned properly unless my desk is clean. Tackling one thing at a time allows me to be more mindful instead or having my mind full!

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  20. Thank you for your posts! I read your blog often, but don't always leave a message, just know that I would be very sad if you quit blogging.

    I think it is important for us to make lists, so we don't get side-tracked. If I have a list, I will generally stick to it, do the things I need to do, and then do what I want to do for myself. I like that your list was not too long - I think long lists get too discouraging, and it's easy to quit before you get started!

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  21. Hi Rhonda and thank you for that little pep talk re lists. I have been really unorganised of late and got out of the habit. You have inspired me to start again.
    And thank you for continuing with the blog. I have been an avid reader for years now and I think I would be lost without it. Thank you for being such an inspiration!

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  22. DB has a larger daily 'to do' list than me but without them, we would forget. We also have a reminder list of important financial things on the computer such as noting a few days ahead of when ISA's and other savings plan runs out (annually) to remind us to move them before the interest rates falls to 0.01%!! Shocking how many people probably have money in these accounts and think or believe they are still earning the original amount of interest. We got caught so now we check. Same with always checking for the best utility deals etc.

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  23. I have a 10 year old son and really try to teach him the importance of breaking things down into small segments! We always, always shop with a grocery shopping list (but small differences are allowed if produce doesn't look nice or a we come across a GREAT sale - this week it was 80 cm circular knitting needles for 1 Euro a pair). I save some routine housework for the weekends so he is home to help - he cleans the mirrors, tidies, helps with the sweeping, etc. We always change the beds on the weekends. Life is BIG. It helps to break it down into simple tasks and then it all gets done. But you also have to be flexible. Yesterday he came down with a big fever of almost 40C and I had to watch him all night and then keep him home from school today - run to school to turn in the homework and get today's work. DH ran to the DR for an Rx for more fever meds (can't buy those over the counter here and we were running low). Needless to say - my daily errands were postponed for a day - which is why I don't wait until the last minute to get things done! I like a little "time buffer". Cheers! Evelyn

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  24. "Life's good and I hope that being lead by my list helps keeps it that way. How do you manage your time?" Well, in answer to that, pretty much the same as you, Rhonda! Like so many of the others here, I'm a list maker from way back. Friends are always telling me I'm so organised, and how do I do it...diaries and lists are my secret!

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  25. I'm so glad you've decided to continue blogging. Even though you are half-way around to world from me, I feel as though I have a friend, a compatriot, someone whose philosophy is very close to mine. I'll be reading!

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  26. I'm SO glad you'll keep blogging ! It wasn't all that long ago that I found you. I've looked in to the forum a bit and this past year I started using homemade powder laundry soap with a vinegar rinse. One thing at a time and we'll move towards a simpler life slowly. I was very surprised recently to find that my husband has been listening to me talk about the DIY soap and trying to use less chemicals - the last few cleaning jobs he did he used vinegar instead of the chemical cleaners - I hadn't asked HIM to switch, he just did it - and said it did the job just as well only with a bit more elbow grease. Next up wool dryer balls, liquid laundry soap and maybe bar soap. Thank you so much for this site !

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  27. I really do need to start making lists again....I can reward myself by adding knit to the list each day, LOL !

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  28. Working from/at home can be a challenge because you have to create your own structure. For me, I have a defined writing/work space, and that helps a lot. I also picked up a habit from one of my brothers with the daily list, separating it into "have to" and "could do". I try to keep real priorities in mind for "have to" and thus keep it short. "Could do" can be as long as I feel like making it.

    What I am struggling with now is trying to take a few days just to *relax* in my house! Lately, if it's not writing, it's other work. When I find myself with "time off," I am almost at a loss!! So I am "working" on that this week.

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  29. Hi Rhonda. I have been reading your blog faithfully for some time now and am so glad you decided to continue blogging. I really enjoy your perspective and it's one I share. I am currently reading your book and thoroughly enjoying it. It's not available in Canada so I had it shipped from Australia! I have commented about it on my blog. So hopefully more people will read it. Thank you so much for your words of wisdom on each post.

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  30. This post is very timely for me as I have been thinking alot about time management in the home. In the pursuit of all my simple living hobbies my housework and cleaning are suffering. I intend to do a list of chores for my kids well, teenagers they are now) as they are not keeping up with their floor downstairs. I also want to make daily lists like yours so that I feel that I am achieving something each day other than just going to work. My challenge is to make them realistic and I like your tip about scheduling time in for you to relax...I tend to miss that one although making cheese or preserving is me time in my busy world. Thanks for your wisdom and timely reminder Rhonda!

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  31. I really like the idea of putting a time limit on a task - I think I should try that with some things that I tend to get overwhelmed with. One of the hardest things for me after leaving paid work was taking breaks for myself at home during the day. It's so necessary, though, as I feel much of my work here is very physical. I used to stay up way too late finishing chores - now I try to stop and go to bed at a reasonable hour - the dishes can wait until I'm refreshed in the morning ;)
    -Jaime

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  32. I love lists because I feel so accomplished when I check things off the list! If I am feeling discouraged I sometimes put things on the list that I do routinely just so I can check them off and see how much I've done already!! It helps with planning ahead too.
    I don't recommend putting too many things on the list though, one day I planned out my whole day and found that I couldn't get that much done in a week let alone a day! Overenthusiastic I guess!

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  33. So glad you're still with us - love reading your blog.

    I have to ask though - what is a "slice?" I read through the comments before asking but no one else asked first. It's not a term i'm familiar with here in Maryland (US).

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    1. Hi Kristen, look above at Eileen's comment.

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    2. Ah! Lemon bars! =) Those I know. thank you!

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  34. Hello Rhonda,
    I have been meaning to write to you for some time to say Thank you.
    Over the past year your blog has help me focus on the things that are most important to me. Without sounding to cheesy, I have found the person I want to be, not who I believe I should be.

    Through reading your blogs on the train, I realized that although I rent a house, with 2 lovely flat mates, I can still live simply. I have made small changes which have had a big impact on the way I feel and live. I try not to buy bread from the supermarket, but bake my own once a fortnight. I make my own laundry liquid and our household cleaners. I have found out I can knit :0) and made most of my gifts this Christmas, which I really enjoyed doing.
    Actually one of the best tips I have got from you is to wrap my carrots in tin foil….. who would of thought, such a simple tip has saved many carrots going in the bin and save me a few $$$.

    In September last year I decided that I need to turn a dream into reality and I applied to university. From March I start studying full time towards a degree in accounting. It is going to be busy with lectures, workings, assessments and still working part time but I am focus and determined to do it.
    As you blog about your daily to- do lists it helps me think about the way I am going to manage my weekly time table and for me to remember two things 1. Make time for myself each day 2. I can’t do everything.
    Thank you once again and like me I hope that in the busy times you remember to still have some fun.
    Yvonne

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    1. Yvonne, reading your comment this morning is the best way to start the week. Thank you. I'm so pleased you've made these changes and you're powering full steam ahead. I did a degree while I was working and although it wasn't easy, it gave me such a feeling of self worth and independence. I hope you do well with your studies and that your life continues to give you what you need. All the best. xx

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