August 1st through 7th each year is Simplify Your Life week. What a concept. In every aspect of my life, I can honestly say that to simplify things is one of my top goals.
Some will say, “But, Debbie, you’re too late; Simplify Your Life week ends today!” Well, yes, that’s true. However, a delayed onset is no reason to skip it altogether. Anyway, September is Self-Improvement month, so just consider this a trial run at something new.
In honor of Simplify Your Life week, let’s keep things, well, simple. In fact, since today is the final day of this week, let’s keep the list at just one thing.
Use a timer
The concept behind using a timer is fantastic in its simplicity. Regardless of the hectic pace of your day or the size of the task to be completed, you can easily set aside a few minutes to do anything. Even if you only partially tackle something, you’ll feel better for having made progress.
How to use a timer
Well, that’s silly. Everyone knows how to use a timer, right? Yes, but I’m not talking about the mechanics of it; I’m talking about the overall effectiveness of it.
In order to successfully use a timer, you must set aside a reasonable amount of time to be spent doing a task; set the timer; work at your task; and, when the timer rings, move on.
The first step in learning to work on a schedule, with or without a kitchen timer, is to determine the appropriate amount of time for each task. This critical part, if left undone, will throw an entire schedule out of whack and leave you wondering where all the time has gone.
First consider if you will need to:
- gather tools or supplies,
- set up beforehand and break down afterward, or
- leave the house or office.
Then you must factor into your schedule how long making will these accommodations will take.
How not to use a timer
Don’t let distractions and time-wasters interfere. This can be a real challenge for anyone who works at home, especially those of us with others at home during the day. These interferences can happen in any environment, too. Usual interruptions are things like the phone ringing, someone stopping in, an urgent situation, or meal time. The list goes on and on.
See if you recognize this pattern of a very ordinary “quick” task that runs amok:
- You decide to run a quick vacuum, so you get set up to do so when
- You notice that the bed’s unmade, so you stop to make the bed when
- You feel it’s probably time to change the sheets, so you go to the linen closet where
- You realize it’s very crowded and cluttered in there, so you take the kids’ bath linens into the hall bathroom where
- You see that someone has left a mess on the counter or the floor, so you quickly tidy up and then run some items back to the bedroom where
- You find yourself, an hour or two later, with the hall closet door open and linens on the floor, the bed still unmade, and an un-run vacuum.
Do you see yourself there? Isn’t it funny? It can be. Until you collapse at the end of the day, exhausted, only to look around and see a dozen different tasks only started and never finished.
Remember, you can do anything for at least a few minutes. Aim for 15 dedicated minutes to start with. Just set the timer and get it done.
There are some great Web sites and programs to help you get organized. Two of my favorites are FlyLady and Managers of Their Homes. Set the timer and see what sites and tips your search engine can find for you. (Remember to move on when that timer rings, though.)
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