fEAsible, getting things done, managEAble, my goals, taking stock

Happy New Year…

Stormy weather at Portpatrick
Stormy weather at Portpatrick

Happy New Year to everyone – I hope you all have a wonderful year and achieve all your hopes and dreams and goals.

As you will have noticed through my lack of posts I have been having a bit of an enforced blogging rest.  Christmas became a frantic race to the end mainly due to high work commitments and a lack of free weekends – too many family get-togethers!

As always at this time of year I am looking forward to a fresh start.

My planner has a new diary and clean task sheets all ready to begin the year – perhaps before I am.

I have been thinking about my word this year and without much effort the word FOCUS has kept dominating my thoughts.

I can identify with the ‘power of one’  Sticking to one goal at a time until the project is finished as I believe I am guilty of taking on or starting too many things and trying to achieve too much at once.  So each month I am setting a new single goal as I feel a month is much easier to plan for once all my other commitments are identified and scheduled.  With my busy work life and not many hours spent at home I precious little spare time to accomplish anything.

Focusing on one goal at a time does not mean that I will stop eating healthily or fail to watch my spending – it just means that any spare time will be given over to concentrating on the main project I set for the month.  Each day I will do something towards my main goal.

So my goal for January is to get my finances in order.  This will also incorporate a clearing out of the office and dealing with old paperwork and my filing cabinet as well as the desk drawers.  I shall also be reviewing all my systems for dealing with finances and paperwork to see if they can be made more efficient.

At the top of my blog is a drop down menu  – Focus 2014  – here, if you are interested, is where you will find my list of tasks that I will be doing each day (but in no particular order) throughout the month to bring me closer to my months goal.  I can’t wait to get started!

As I am still playing catch up reading everyone’s blogs please excuse my lack of comments – I see you have all been very busy too and full of new challenges too for the coming year.  I have been reading everyone’s plans and reviews and I will be following your progress over the coming months.

PS –  if you are reading this – I love your sweet little addition to the family Sue and Mavis is such a cute name – I am sure she will thrive with you to look after her.

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fEAsible, getting things done, managEAble, taking stock, to do list

Much ado about nothing in particular…

“Summer’s lease hath all too short a date.”
–  William Shakespeare 


This is the weekend for me that feels like the close to the summer and after the holiday everyone prepares to go back to school and back to work – holidays over we look ahead to the next season and the time spent gathering in before the pre-Christmas frenzy begins.  How soon I wonder will we see Christmas cards displayed in the shops?

It has been a really hard week at work this week and I have had to work over for two nights leaving me both tired and behind with a few household jobs.  I am ready for a little rest now over the holiday – we will be leaving for Scotland and it will be nice to get away from the hustle and bustle for a few days.

Before we go I need to take stock of what tasks I have to do – my Master task list for August was virtually a roll over of the tasks that didn’t get done in July.  Sometimes it is those little errands that keep rolling over and I find my self analysing why.  Maybe I need to structure or write my lists in a different way.  I have been coming back to the idea of ‘Do one thing’ and in fact if I did just one task a day I would have done 365 by the end of the year.  But I know that in reality I do more than one task a day – there are plenty that are not written on my list and some that are there just in case I have some spare time which never seems to happen – hence the constant roll overs.

My list this week went like this

  • Card and present to buy and give to friend at work
  • Recharge camera battery
  • Write cheque for C******** (who helps occasionally in our Scottish garden) and put in post
  • Pay cheque into Mum in laws bank
  • Contact C****** about helping to remove the hedge at the cottage and arrange a date
  • Reply to my friends email update
  • Take mum in laws watch for repair
  • Post electrol roll form
  • Email electricity reading to Scottish Power
  • Look for something to buy with Tesco coupons that have double value until August 29th- (I have £28 – I can exchange £25 x 2 =£50 in any department but food).
  • Buy mascara from boots No 7
  • Buy Jason Thin to Thick hair styling spray from health food shop
  • Buy small hair mousse (for exceptional bad hair days!)
  • Write out a supplement chart to keep in kitchen to remind me to take my vitamins and probiotics.

Nothing too taxing there you might say – probably 30 minutes to an hour and I would have it all done – yes I would have agreed with this but read on… this is what actually happened…

How did I do?

   I bought the card and present after two days of searching after work for a suitable gift only to find that another of my colleagues is celebrating her 40th this weekend – so a quick dash across to Sainsbury’s tonight to choose another card and a few flowers.  Double trip was a bit time-consuming I could should have been more prepared.  Just as a note Clintons Cards have now got a rewards card scheme – buy 10 cards get one free – they punch your card with a hole each purchase – but what, I ask Clintons, if you are less than honest is to stop you punching your own hole on these cards??? (If you have seen them you will know what I mean)

   I will recharge the battery tonight – because I really cannot put off this very quick little task off any longer!

   I wrote and posted the cheque tonight after work but it really should have gone last week.  Every time I thought about it I didn’t have my cheque book with me or the amount to pay and it is something I could should have prepared the night before.

   Pay cheque into mum in law’s bank – I had only just paid one in last week when this one arrived in the post at the weekend so I did this on Tuesday after work only to get home and find that another one had arrived.  That one is still waiting but had they all come together it would save a bit of time as the queue is always out of the door with often only two people serving.

   Delegated – my helpful hubby arranged for the friend to help with the hedge so the tick is really his.

X   Reply to my friends email – this will require a good half an hour as I haven’t written for a while and I have heaps of news – so I keep putting it off.  I need to set aside some time one night after work or encourage her to join Facebook!

X   I have taken the watch to work with me everyday this week but it is one of those specialist shops that has very short opening hours and still closes one day a week. Have not managed to catch it open this week.

   Electrol Roll form posted – this was easy – sign the form – put in prepaid envelope – drop in box – if all life was so easy!

X   Email meter reading – this is always a job I procrastinate over mainly because we have two accounts – one for the cottage and one for home and I never know which one they want as they go by an account number and not the property. I must type out the account numbers and keep them handy in my Filofax.

Pending –  Tesco coupons – £50 is a nice sum of money but what do I need – Don’t they know I am trying to downsize.  We will be passing through a 24 hour Tesco in Scotland tomorrow night at about eleven o’clock – but who can make a decision at that time of night!   I will try to look online first if time allows.

X   Never got to Boots for the mascara or hair mousse – I probably have a coupon too for No7

X   I tried to buy the Jason hair styling spray – I went to the shop twice and it is still out of stock.  I will buy this in bulk next time and replace when I get down to the last one then it won’t be so urgent and I won’t have to make a special trip across town.

I have remembered my supplements each day but I do need a prompt on the kitchen cabinet door – but haven’t done the list yet

These are all just simple tasks – no major project items here – and yet it has taken all week to do only a few tasks and some of them required me to go back and forth like doing the job twice.

One of the questions I keep asking myself is…’do my lists reflect someone who is trying to live a simpler life’?… because to me my life seems to get increasingly busier and my lists longer.  I have to stand in endless queues, make more than one trip because of low stocks in the shops and spend more hours than I care to choosing birthday cards and presents for people who already have everything or like me are trying to downsize their stuff.  I would like more time to make my own cards and individual gifts but at the moment I seem to end up dashing to Sainsburys or Clintons for something very mediocre.

That is the end of my moan – I did say it was much ado about nothing and I am now going to forget all about my lists and tasks and jobs and go where the pace is much more relaxed for a few days and just stare at the sea.  Have a great weekend. let me know what your plans are it is always a pleasure to hear from you.

 

getting things done, managEAble, to do list

Getting back to ORDER…(once again)

After being away for four weekends in a row the house is back in the usual chaotic state it seems to prefer and there is a constant battle going on between myself and the house to get it back into ORDER.

To correspond with the sections in my Filofax these are the areas I have divided my life, goals and tasks into and under each of the headings are the minimum amount of tasks I need to complete in the coming week to get back on track.  It is also a list that I  can use again in the future should the same situation arise – which it no doubt will.

If I can get all these tasks done by the end of the week I should find myself more up to date.

Household Management and Maintenance

  •        Clear dishes each day and shine sink
  •        Putting things away in each room
  •        Empty bins and deal with re-cycling
  •        Clean basin and toilets  – both bathrooms
  •        Clean shower
  •        Sweep and wash kitchen, laundry and shower room floors
  •        Sort laundry
  •        Wash different selection each day
  •        Iron for 30 minutes each day this coming week
  •        Put laundry away when aired
  •        Make a Menu plan for coming week
  •        Shopping list
  •        Shopping for week
  •        Check appointments for week
  •        Rearrange any if necessary
  •        Look at master task list and then make a weekly task list

 Financial and Money Management

  •        Sort and enter receipts
  •        Balance statements
  •        Online banking tasks
  •        Print out mortgage statements for March
  •        Deal with any urgent matters
  •        Attend to letters
  •        List of cards and presents required for the month
  •        Sort through miscellaneous pile accumulated

Health and Self Management and Wellbeing

  •        Continue to use up old products not replacing
  •        Plan healthy lunches for coming week
  •        Shop for items
  •        Arrange repeat prescription from Doctors
  •        Check on supplements to take

 Work

  •        Tidying up desk and surrounding space
  •        Make a task list of all matters outstanding
  •        Deal with any urgent matters
  •        Answer requests outstanding
  •        Delete unwanted emails accumulated

Special Project this Week – Daughters Birthday on Thursday

  • Select and buy card
  • Shop for a couple of small presents
  • Write cheque and make decorative holder
  • Make birthday Cupcakes – Tuesday evening
  • Buy decorations for cupcakes
  • Plan special tea for Thursday
getting things done, managEAble, to do list

List I forget – the endless To Do’s

I have been giving a great deal of thought to my constant problem of ending up back in chaos and have come to the conclusion that one of the reasons is not having fool-proof simple systems in place for every area of my life and adhering to them.  A simple system for getting things done and remembering what needs doing is one of the hardest to create.  Getting things done is like keeping all the plates spinning at once and just as doing the laundry is a constant and ongoing process it is the same with tasks – as soon as one task is crossed off the list there will be another one to add-on.

I often find that I put far too much on my daily list and I need to limit myself to 5 items to make sure I get them all done.  This will require making skilful decisions about what is a priority and what can be done tomorrow or another day – maybe not one of my strong points.

My list yesterday had 8 items and I only completed 2 of them.  This suggests that either the two tasks I did complete took much longer than I thought they would because they were more of a project than a task or that I did things that were not strictly on my list.  Well the truth is a bit of both.

I made 3 cards a task which was on the list – a Valentines, a birthday and an anniversary but as I found out this was really an afternoon’s project rather than a task.  A point to bear in mind – always identify what is a task and what is a project.  A task is a single activity a project is a collection of tasks.  During the morning I became sidetracked (another of my weaknesses) into writing and answering numerous emails that were not on my list for the day.  I also had to enter some additional financial transactions before I could complete my task of printing the account balances for the month.

However, on the good side I feel I have developed a system that I am happy with for recording all the items I need to do.  It has been a process of continual change over the last few months and will probably be subject to a few more minor changes as I go along.  So how do I cope with all those endless To Do’s?

Firstly, I have a section in my planner for a  Master Task List where I record everything that I need to do – it is a list I compile in Microsoft Office Word so that I can delete the completed tasks each month and then copy over the remaining to the next month.

I record my tasks in sections with headings such as ‘most urgent tasks’, ‘financial and paperwork tasks’, ‘cards and letters to send’ ,household tasks’,  ‘health and self’ and shopping items’ and so on.  The headings may vary from time to time depending on what I am doing – so for instance if I am going to an event such as a wedding I would add in a new section of tasks to be done.

Everything I need to do is recorded here with space at the end to add new tasks that come up during the month.  At the beginning of each week I then compile a list of tasks that I need to do for the week from my master list.  I do this in Microsoft Tasks – Projects – a useful  programme that allows me to add a new main task with sub-tasks below.  Each evening I then prepare a To Do Today list ready for the next day and try to limit myself to only 5 or 6 main tasks.  Again I do this in the Microsoft Tasks programme.  I can then print this at A5 size and put it into my planner alongside the weekly one or carry it with me in my handbag when I go to work.

This system seems to work well for me – I just need to be more careful that I don’t put down more tasks than I can easily accomplish in a day and become more skilful at identifying what is essentially a project that needs breaking down into smaller easier tasks.

This month I have been particularly focused on getting my finances in order and the office  / craft room organised and so far I have managed to complete about two-thirds of the tasks on my list for the month.  I reckon this deserves a treat – perhaps a trip to one of my favourite stores like Muji.  Normally I might have treated myself to a new book or magazine but I have been very good so far this month and managed to walk past all temptation.

Incidentally for a humorous take on To Do Lists I recommend that you read the book Mike Gayle has written –  http://www.mikegayle.co.uk