November 18, 2010 at 5:57 am (Time) (, , )

In my endless futile quest to get it all done, I have a new strategy.

Really, it’s all about tricking myself.  And it’s not earth-shattering.  Most time management techniques aren’t.  It may be the most boring subject I could possibly choose to blog about.  But what the heck, since it’s been working, I’ll share.

First, a few techniques I’ve tried that I’ve determined don’t work.

1) Do the maintenance chores- kitchen, laundry, picking up- first thing in the morning.  Then pick up other tasks in the afternoon.  Go to Costco, make dentists appointments, paint the house.  My problem with this?  I could never get the kitchen, laundry, and picking up under control.  I’d end up at 4 o’clock every day realizing I had a dirty kitchen to make dinner in and still hadn’t left the house.  Leaving the house once a day even if not absolutely necessary is key to my mental health.  I can’t always put the maintenance chores first or I won’t be heading to the dentist until I chip out a filling eating popcorn.

2) Work off an enormous list of tasks that need to get done.  Every day, cross off approximately one and add three.  End every day feeling like a failure.

Here’s my latest con to get work out of myself.  5 things, I call it.  Every day I write down 5 things I’m going to get done today.  ONLY 5 things.  Okay, I’ve given myself a sixth bonus task a few times.  For extra credit from myself.  I give myself permission for some for some of the tasks to seem trivial, if they’re important to me that day.

Here’s a recent day’s list:

  • Volunteer at Auden and Parker’s school
  • Work on scanning pictures (this is for a Christmas project)
  • Prepare snack (to bring to Greta’s school next day)
  • Put laundry away
  • Make bread for potluck dinner at Greta’s school

 Another day:

  • Pick up living room
  • Take care of friend’s kids
  • Make dinner
  • Nap (some morning you just know you need it)
  • Blog

And today’s:

  • Make dentist appointment
  • Plan out how to use all the vegetables in the fridge- meal/menu planning
  • Dig out 18 month clothes to loan to niece
  • Pay attention to Greta (she was needing it)
  • Clean up kitchen

I think my 5 things system works because it’s finally a realistic goal of what one mama can get done amongst all the diaper changes and peace-keeping and “how do you spell…?’s”.  I feel accomplished when I finish my 5 things.  I have days I know I’m tired and set less ambitious goals.  Days I know I’m going to completely ignore the maintenance chores.  Leave the two days worth of dishes in the kitchen and not worry about them while I pay bills and renew library books on-line.  Because, oh well.  And days when I only do maintenance stuff (well, and take care of four children).

I still have that enormously long “to do” list.  I look at it to make the 5 things list most days.  It’s just not lurking constantly like I am supposed to accomplish 43 tasks TO-DAY.   And hey, I finally called the dentist today.  Took three minutes.  And I just looked- it’s been on my to-do list since FEBRUARY.  My teeth may not rot out of my head after all.



  1. Kelly said,

    I like this.
    1) Copy Self Assessments
    2) Do office work (my paid job)
    3) Clean bathroom
    4) Grocery Shop
    5) Parent Ed Assignment

    (oh yeah, and spend all evening at a meeting!)

  2. Kelly said,

    3:22 pm and I am DONE! I am liking this method Heather! Now I am going to go sit for a few minutes before the children wake…

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