I hate planning. It’s just not something that comes naturally. I’d much rather jump into the middle of something and work in all directions. The problem with that approach is I get a little bit done here and a little bit done there, but nothing gets accomplished. Another problem I have is that I have so many things that need to get done that I get overwhelmed and freeze. Again, nothing gets done. It’s not that I’m lazy, I just can’t decide. The more stressed I am, the harder it is to decide.
Enter Pattern Planning. The concept is simple. Identify what needs to be done and set up a schedule to do it. After reading about it in Delivered From Distraction, I decided to give it a try. I resisted the urge to jump in with both feet and schedule every minute of every day. Instead, I started simple. At 5:30 every evening, I would spend 1/2 hour cleaning the kitchen (Shine the Sink – stolen from the Fly Lady). That’s it.
Well, it’s amazing how much I can get done in a half hour if I really put my mind to it and if I have a deadline! That first evening, I set my Time Timer for 30 minutes and was very pleased and surprised that I got the task done with time to spare. The next evening was even better. Next, I decided to add sweeping and mopping the kitchen floor. Now those tasks get done almost every evening (yes, sometimes I still slack!)
I have since added a different room each night of the week as well as laundry and a few other tasks. They are all set up on my Outlook calendar which sends reminders to all of my electronic devices so they’re hard to ignore. Here’s what my Tuesday evening schedule looks like.
Yes there are overlaps because depending on how messy the room is, it will take more or less time and you can to all kinds of things while the washer and dryer are running. Did you notice that nice big chunk of time for crafting? I used to retreat to my craft room as soon as I got home from work but I couldn’t accomplish anything because I felt guilty about all the things I SHOULD be doing. On the other hand I didn’t want do what I should do because I knew I’d never get around to crafting. Now that I have things on a schedule I no longer have that dilemma.
Do I follow my schedule perfectly? NO. It’s especially difficult when my job gets in the way. I work in IT and when things break I work long hours. I’m just now emerging from three very difficult weeks. One of my databases got corrupted and I was working 12 to 14 hour days trying to recover what was lost. Add to that difficulty with team members not wanting to do what they’re told and it’s a recipe for disaster. By the time I got home each evening I was so drained that I could barely care for myself let alone keep the house clean. All of my beautiful planning went out the window and I spiraled into a state of depression. Even after things started settling down at work, I just couldn’t get back on task. That’s when I really started beating up on myself: “Other women have careers and keep clean houses, what’s wrong with you? You’re so lazy! Why are so SO disorganized???” And on, and on.
So, I scheduled an appointment with my therapist and she helped me put things into perspective. Now I can see that it was totally unreasonable for me to expect myself to keep up at home when I was working such crazy long hours. I have stopped beating up on myself and I’m giving myself permission to ease back into my schedule gradually. It’s working, too. This evening, I skipped some of my daily chores but was able to tackle a heap of miscellaneous kruft that’s been accumulating in the corner of my bedroom for…well, I’d rather not say how long! Suffice it to say, I saw parts of the floor that I’m pretty sure have not seen the light of day since we moved in 15 years ago. As a result, I’m feeling pretty good about myself and I’m confident that I’ll eventually get back on track.
I know there will be more bumps in the road but having a plan to fall back on helps so much.
Oh my! I’m 20 minutes overdue for craft time. Gotta go!