Saturday, December 8, 2007

Using time efficiently

It has been over a month since I started my training at the hospital. Emotionally, it has been a tremendously challenging and inspiring period for me. I thought I'd be depressed, surrounded by pain and fear, but in reality I wake up each day with a wide smile on my face, praising God for the countless ways He has so richly blessed me, and praying to be able to bring even a little comfort to the suffering.

In the area of managing our household, being occupied several hours outside the home each day means that I had to become more efficient in the use of my time. This involves getting my priorities straight, saying "no" to some outside commitments, and above all – patience and perseverance.

Setting priorities means that I don't fret about long-term projects that take longer time than usual. Maybe I put off polishing the living room furniture – and maybe I'll only do one piece at a time – but hey, at least the dishes aren't piled up in the sink, the laundry is caught up, the floors are reasonably clean, and there's a good meal on the table.

As many of you know, I don't have a car and use public transportation – thankfully, it's convenient enough around here. It means I have some free time – about an hour every day, 30 minutes each way - which I can put to good use. On my way there or back, I compile my to-do list, weekly schedule, and shopping list; I can even jot down ideas for blog posts or other writing projects. I also work on my knitting or crocheting, or read a good book.

What about you? Feel free to share your ways of multitasking and managing your time more efficiently! I'd love to hear more ideas.


compactmanifold said...

I have a home business where I do anything from going to a barn and working with horses to assembling electronics under a microscope (in the bedroom, no less!). I've found that I can multitask pretty well at home where I have everything at my disposal, but the downside is that if I really need to concentrate on something I have to go out to a cafe.

One thing that keeps me on track is using a timer application on my computer so that I will remember to check on rising bread or to go out to a store before they close. I have ADHD so I rely heavily on writing everything that I have to do down, from big tasks that will take a week to something as simple as taking out the garbage. Having the classic ADHD issue of not being able to judge the passing of time, I use clocks on everything! I've gotten to really love the online program Toodledo, because you can sort everything into folders so I can get an instant list of what I need to do for home cleaning, for example.

Having the home business is great in that my kitties never go without their mommy and that I do have a very flexible schedule, but it means that work can find a way to push itself into time where it really shouldn't go. It's part of why I love being able to automatically sort a list by context, so that I don't even see the other tasks that are waiting on me - temptation management!

BTW, I love reading your blog. We're totally different people but it's amazing that I can identify so much with a lot in here; good work!

USAincognito said...

Multi-tasking is what I do best! I sort of have to in order to get things done around here. ;) I oftentimes will do my paperwork or pay bills while grabbing a quick bite to eat. While the laundry is going, I try to get some things picked up around the house and spend time playing with my puppy or catching up on emails/phone calls. Just little things here and there.
Oh, by the way, I posted a short little video of Kira on my website today! :)

Kristy said...

As a mother of two small children, ages not quite 4 yrs and 18 mos (and a baby due next spring), organizing my time is paramount if I'm ever to get anything accomplished! I'm like you, Anna- I love making "to do" lists and this greatly helps to keep me focused on what needs to be gone in any given day or week. I also make long-term goals or write down projects I'd like to get done before the baby is born, for example.

Keeping a simple schedule for our daughters also helps the day run as smoothly as possible and they actually seem to enjoy the routine. For example, Amy makes her bed either before or right after breakfast, puts away one set of toys before she is allowed to get out more to play with, and both the girls know to put all their bath toys back in the bucket before they get out of the bath tub. Keeping their naps on schedule also helps both them AND me! When small children know what to expect and what is expected of them it eliminates a lot of unnecessary stress and chaos.

I also multitask: While the girls are in the bath tub is usually when I clean and tidy up the bath room. While they eat breakfast I load the dish washer and wipe down the microwave, fridge, counters, stove, etc.

I am not a slave to my house by any means, but neither do I lie around reading novels or munching on twinkies while the house falls apart!! ~smile~ I've found a busy and productive life to be very fulfilling... and we actually have more time to watch a movie with Jeremy in the evenings or play games after supper when I've made the most of my day and kept things orderly. Not every day is as smooth or orderly as I'd like, but for the most part I'm very satisfied with our accomplishments at the end of a day. And if not, there's always tomorrow...

Chelsea said...

When I take the bus and from there have to walk, I find I walk a little slower if I'm reading a book, so if you read classics and have an mp3 player, there's a site called librivox ( ) that has free audiobooks that have come out of copyright protection. Even on the bus, then you could crochet and listen to a book. That's how I do all my school reading for English class ;)

PamelaK said...

Anna -
I just wanted to drop a line and let you know I have been reading your blog for quite some time and it has been a blessing to me and an encouragement in many areas. I am also greatly enjoying your Dedicated Daughters series. Keep up the good work! :-)

Terry said...

With an active toddler underfoot, I have had to refine my Type A expectations, meaning get comfortable with putting some things on hold. And multi-tasking is my new middle name. My little princess has gotten pretty good at putting spoons in the dishwasher and "cleaning" the front of the cabinets and appliances while I do other kitchen chores. Not bad for a 16 month-old, huh?
I have to start dinner while she naps, and do a major pick-up/tidy-up job after every one is asleep. Of course, the fact that I have older children is a great blessing because they help out a great deal simply by keeping up with their household chores.

Anna S said...

Chelsea, that's a very neat suggestion and I'll try it if I get an mp3 player.

Julie said...

I used to knit on the bus to school - that was 45 minutes each way. This is how i got my husband (then fiancee!) winter scarf finished!

Buses are great places to think/knit/read!

Calamity Jean said...

Time management is such a huge priority in my life right now. I work full time but am blessed to be able to have a flexible schedule. I can work from home a few days a week and on those days I take the time that would normally be spent in meetings or chatting with coworkers to do laundry or clean out a closet. I do my grocery shopping once a week and then I usually run by the store once during the week. I can come home at lunch and do a short project. I have somebody deep clean my house twice a month so my spare time is spent doing fun things with husband or tackling big projects. I just started this new job and it is a big change from working 100% from home this last year so I have to be more organized. I have a day planner that I use for both work and home. It has a monthly calendar and a daily calendar. Just like I schedule businness meetings I schedule my household projects. I also keep a list of the meals that I have available to fix per week.

Anna I appreciate your blog because it forces young girls to look at their long term goals. I didn't realize until a few years into the workforce that I really wanted to be home a little more. My Dh and I started praying for a career opportunity that would allow me use my business and corporate skills without sacrificing the domestic things that make our house a home. Its all about preparation. We are now prepared to have a family because we have found the perfect balance for us! I think I should have made this my own post!!

Anonymous said...

Multi-tasking is so often the only way a homemaker can even hope to do more than just the basics! When I was first married, things changed so much for me, as I had an entire house to look after & learned to consider my husband's needs; things changed again once our children were born, & I felt the increasing dependency of my growing family. I learned when "good enough" really is good enough!! You mentioned, Anna, the need to put off certain tasks in favor of other, more pressing true that is. And I also have to agree with the necessity of saying "no". Not always easy, but it's crucial if one wants to maintain some smoothness at home.


Mrs. Mordecai said...

Like Chelsea, I listen to audio books, too, while I do the housework. It helps me focus on something else if it's a task that isn't my favorite, and is often a great way to get myself going. I use Librivox and the public library. Hooray for free resources!

Liedeke said...

Wow, this is truly inspirational. Although I don't like multi-tasking, it's true that sometimes it's necessary. Like you, Anna, I love taking my time on the commute to 'put things in perspective'. Sometimes it's the to-do list, sometimes a tadaa!-list, reading, writing, thinking... One other thing I often do is telephone my friends or relatives while doing the dishes or watering the plants. These aren't my favourite tasks, but they can be done on auto-pilot while the kids are in bed, so I can devote my attention to the conversation.

Love the crochet-work, by the way. Have a great week!


Mimi said...

I used to ride the bus to school and to work when I was first married... and I always kept a good book with me to read on the bus... I loved the time... because I could do something relaxing without feeling guilty!!!

Flower said...

Hi Dear,

I really enjoy your blog. I just wanted to thank you for posting about this topic. It is a very interesting topic and I appreciate your taking the time for all of us girls.

Take care,

Rebekah S. said...

I enjoy crocheting while watching movies, or while listening to a CD lecture for school. I also wash dishes, clean my room, tidy up the house for Mom, etc. while listening to those lectures as well. It frees up a lot of time!

Rebekah S. said...

Congratulations, Kristy, on your soon to arrive little blessing! :)