Saturday, February 19, 2011

Simplify Saturday: A Purpose A Day Keeps the Stress At Bay

A purpose a day keeps the stress (& clutter) at bay.......Let me first start by sharing a little about my work as a counselor at a hospice.  Several years ago, after struggling to stay on top of my many weekly tasks, I developed a system......a system that I still use to this day because I found that it works so well!  That system was simply this: I assigned each task to a particular day of the week.  For instance, Tuesday is my day to complete all of my letters that need to be sent out for that week.  It's also my day to prepare for our weekly team meeting.  Thursday, on the other hand, is my day for processing donations.  You get the picture.  I still have many other daily tasks, such as actually meeting with my clients (kind of important when you're a counselor) and making phone calls, but it was my weekly tasks that were always being pushed aside.  What I found is that by assigning my regular weekly tasks to a particular day of the week, it is much less overwhelming.  First, it's already planned out for me.  Secondly, I don't have to worry as much about forgetting to do something because the day serves as a reminder for what needs to be done.  Thirdly, because I divided the tasks up, I've found that it's much easier to fit them into my work day or squeeze them in between clients and meetings. 

Not only did I assign tasks according to when they needed to be done (for instance, obviously I need to prepare for our meeting before the meeting takes place), but I also split them up according to the amount of time each task typically takes. That way on Monday and Wednesdays, my days that have morning meetings, I have fewer (or at least less time-consuming) tasks.   I've even planned for some "catch up" time one day a week in case it's a crazy-busy week.  In the beginning I had to play around with it some to figure out what worked best, and over time, as new tasks have been added or changed, I've had to tweek it a little.  And of course, as in most jobs, there are always things that come up at the last minute....a client calls or needs to be seen unexpectedly, a phone call lasts much longer than planned, and so things don't always work out exactly as planned.  But overall, the system has worked great for me! let me get to my point....a couple years ago, in the midst of feeling overwhelmed by my weekly household duties (you know, laundry, dishes, grocery shopping, cleaning, bills, etc.), it hit me!  Why not do the same thing at home that I've been doing at work for years?  I started by making a list of everything that needs to be done at my house daily, everything that needs to be done weekly, everything that needs to be done monthly, and so on.  Then I assigned the weekly tasks to a particular day, and the monthly tasks I assigned to a particulary time of the month (such as the first Saturday).  After testing it out & playing around with it a little, my weekly schedule looks something this:

Monday: Purse & Paperwork 
This entails cleaning out my purse, paying bills, filing, and making my grocery list for the week.  (On a good day, I also try to clean out the refrigerator as I'm making the grocery list so that it will be ready for the new groceries.)

Tuesday: Groceries & Gas 
This includes stopping by the grocery store on my way home - remember I made my grocery list the day before & put it in my purse so I'd have it with me.  It also includes filling up with gas, which I do whether my tank is on "E" or not.  This way I don't have to worry about filling up when I'm running late, which I admit, is often!  Of course, there are always weeks that I drive more & have to fill up in between, but this helps!

Wednesday: Cleaning Part 1
I divided my weekly cleaning into 2 parts so that it would be a little more manageable.  On Wednesday, I dust, vacuum, & sweep.  (I must admit, I love my feather duster, and in order to make the process a little quicker, I usually use it instead of Pledge.  I will typically use Pledge only about once a month, and sometimes I just rotate rooms.  For instance, the first week I'll use Pledge in my bedroom, but the feather duster everywhere else.  The next week I'll use Pledge in the living room, but use the feather duster in my bedroom, and so on.)

Thursday: Cleaning Part 2
On day two of cleaning, I focus on the bathrooms & kitchen, two areas that can get dirty really fast!  I don't have to tell you what all this includes (you know, the mirrors, toilets, bathtubs/showers, countertops, sinks, stovetop, etc.) 

Friday: Family & Fun
I decided I needed a "free" day....a day to either spend time with family or my hubby, or just do nothing.  Most Fridays, my hubby & I either go out to eat with family or we just rent a movie and relax.  If I've gotten all of my weekly tasks done, I'm not worried about everything that needs to be done & it's much easier to just relax.

Saturday: Projects, Pamper, & Play
I use Saturdays for my bigger projects (such as deep cleaning or re-organizing or any other project the hubby & I have been wanting to do around the house) or for any craft projects I've been wanting to do.  I also try to get a mani/pedi at least once every month (that's where the pamper part comes in).  I think it's important to take some time to pamper yourself occasionally.  And then, of course, it's important to take some time to play.....whether it be going to a party or shower or just taking some time to play at home with family.  (I, of course, like to take some time to play with my dishes, too!)  If need be, I also use Saturdays to catch up on any tasks that I didn't get quite finished throughout the week.

Sunday: Rest, Relax, & Renew
I try to make Sundays a time for renewal (both spirit and body).  Although it doesn't always happen this way, my ideal Sunday includes going to church, spending a little time with family over lunch, taking an afternoon nap (there's just nothing quite like a Sunday afternoon nap), and preparing for the beginning of another week.

You may be wondering what happened to laundry & dishes......well, for me it's easier to just do those on a daily basis as needed.  I try to check them daily & when there's enough to start a load, I do it.  (In fact, I have a daily routine, too, but I'll save that for another time.)  Now, I must admit, this is still a work in progress, and there are many weeks that I get off my routine, but the weeks that I actually stick to my plan seem to go much smoother for me!  Not only do I feel like I've gotten more accomplished, but I actually usually feel like I have more free time!  Keep in mind, too, that I try to spend no more than 1-1 1/2 hours a day on the task(s).  And it's amazing how much less stressed I feel!  When I complete the task(s) for the day, I don't have to worry about everything else that needs to be done because I know that it's assigned to another day!  The important thing to remember is to make it work for you, according to what your tasks & needs are.  It should be a tool to help ease your stress, not add to it! 

It's interesting that not too long after coming up with this plan, I came across a book (Sink Reflections by Marla Cilley) that encourages that same type of plan.  I plan to talk much more about the book & it's suggestions in future posts, but I encourage you to pick up a copy & read it.  It has some great practical advise on keeping up with your household duties. 

Also, I just had to mention that the "purpose a day" is Biblical.  Remember last week when I blogged about the creation?  Well, if you think about it, it's a great example of having a purpose for each day!  Plus, God made the last day a day for rest as well. 

So there you have it.....try it out & see if it doesn't help ease your stress & reduce your clutter!

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