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The Plan

“I get up every morning determined to both change the world and have one hell of a good time.  Sometimes this makes planning my day difficult.”  E.B. White (author of Charlotte’s Web)

It is increasingly apparent to me that most of us are not programmed to proactively plan our lives.  And why would we be?

When we are children, our parents and then school, tell us what to do: when to eat, when to sleep, when to get up and where we can and can’t go.

We are not taught to choose the things that are important to us and follow them passionately.

Imagine the difference in the mindset of the next generation, if we set about learning this as adults, and then passing the message on.

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The Daily Diary

It astounds me how many busy mums I meet don’t have an appointment diary.

If you are to fully embrace all that I am teaching here, then you need to purchase a diary today and start to use it immediately.

I prefer a page per day diary, as it gives me room to write all my notes and actionable activities.  I use my diary for everything.  I use spare pages to write notes from meetings, record my weekly wages, work out my finances and doodle my thoughts.  If I have all my information in one place, then a short search will find it easily and quickly.

I also use my iCal on my iPhone and MacBook to remind me of appointments and events (and to back up my physical diary).

But the diary is where the main To-Do list gets kept and it is the thing that drives my productivity forward.  It doesn’t need to be fancy, flowery or all singing and dancing (although if you were so inclined you could cover it with some pretty paper like you used to do with your school books as a child).

I cannot stress enough the importance of a physical diary. To be honest, I don’t really give a damn what you do with it.   But if you want to be organised, productive and have half a chance in hell of achieving some long term goals, then you need to just get one.

Today preferably.

 

 

Be Aware or Beware?

Knowing how important and urgent an item is will enable you to decide how to plan your day. 

Take exercise as an example.  For most people exercise is important, yet very few people actually make regular time for it.  Why?  More often than not, there is no real sense of urgency associated with it.

In fact, even the thought of doing it, causes us to shudder because we feel very comfortable with where we are right now.  We find it hard to project into the future to how we will feel after the exercise, and instead indulge our comfortable feeling in the moment (as I learned from a great friend and marathon runner).

The only way to combat this state of reactivity is to bring yourself to a higher consciousness.  By this I do not mean to channel a spiritual being or a higher self, but to make a decision to be more aware of your state; your physical and mental being.

You are not a victim of your life; you have choice in every single moment. Like it or not, you choose how to spend your minutes, your hours and ultimately your life.

Make sure the choices you are making are good ones.

The Three D’s

I have very nearly finished my new book on time management systems for the modern mum (available on Kindle).

I have been sharing snippets of the book in my blog over the past week, and wanted to share another one today.  I am giving my book away free on my new blog site, which will be live from Monday.  In fact, you can get a sneak preview here.

I love reading and responding to all your questions and comments, both on the blog and by email.  I read all my own mail so please keep them coming.  You can email me at kim@kimconstable.com

This excerpt comes from the chapter Do it, Dump it, Delegate it (which I hope is pretty self explanatory)

An invitation arrived in the post recently for my husband and I to attend an awards ceremony.  I put the invitation in my top in-tray to discuss with him that evening.

After we had agreed that we would attend, I immediately did the following:

  • Checked my online calendar to make sure it didn’t clash with anything else
  • RSVP’d to the invitation, addressed and stamped the envelope and put it in my bag to post the next day.
  • Marked the date of the event in my diary
  • Texted the babysitter to check to see if she was free on that date
  • Wrote a note in my diary for two days later to check back with her if she hadn’t replied
  • Wrote a note in my dairy for the next day to make a hair appointment for the day of the event
  • Emailed my husband a reminder that I needed him to take care of the kids whilst I was at my appointment
  • Threw the invitation in the bin

I realise that this might all seem a little OCD and extreme.  But after I had done these actions I didn’t have to think about it anymore.  Everything that needed to be done to prepare was taken care of, and it didn’t have to occupy space in my head.

The peace of mind you get from a system like this is incredible.

Your life runs smoothly and you create more time for the most important parts… experiencing joy and being happy.

 

 

Now Where Did I Put That…?

As a busy mum, do you ever find yourself with piles of paper all over the house? 

I used to have a pile on a shelf in the kitchen where all the bit of paper that came into the house used to reside.  Doctors letters, dentist appointments, eye tests, MOT reminders, credit card bills, bank statements, you name it: it went into the pile.

As a result I was always losing important bits of information. 

I would put the dentist’s appointment reminder on the shelf and somehow convince myself that because it was there, I wouldn’t forget.  Wrong. 

So many appointments were wasted due to my inefficient system, and I’m sure my dentist was ready to throttle me!

Even if your house is small, you can still create a system that works for you.  You don’t need a huge desk and a mountain of in trays to be a little more organised (I promise).

Armed with a small shelf, a concertina box file and a couple of lever arch files and a steely determination, you can create a perfectly manageable filing system that works for you and keeps your life running smoothly.

Remember, make things happen, don’t make excuses.  

 

Systems Save Time

All of us have routines. 

Human beings crave control and predictability because it helps us to feel safe.  When we have experience of a situation our fear is lessened, which helps to give us greater peace of mind.

However, routines that serve us and save us time can work really well, as long as we remain flexible in our approach.

In my house during the week, the children are not allowed to come down for breakfast without dressing first.  Hunger is a powerful motivator and I find that if I let them eat breakfast in their pyjamas, trying to get them to get dressed after breakfast, when they are engrossed in playing, is stressful for everyone involved.

Having them get dressed first, then make their beds and fold their pyjamas on their pillows, means that one job is finished before the next is started.

In what areas of your life could your routine be tweaked to save time?  Could you change your morning routine to get up ten minutes earlier to shower and make your bed before the kids get up?  How much could you prepare the night before, so it is sitting, ready to go in the morning?

Personally, I usually empty the dishwasher and lay out the breakfast things before I go to bed.  This way I always have time to make myself a welcome cup of coffee, and actually sit at the kitchen table and drink it hot.  This is my one morning indulgence, and it helps me to mentally prepare for my day.

When you start the day as if on purpose, you take control and more often than not, remain in control.

Remember, systems save time.

Children And Chores: How To Create Young Entrepreneurs

In my house my children (from age three up) are responsible for making their own beds, putting their clothes in the laundry basket, folding and tidying their pyjamas and tidying the bathroom after bathing.

They are also responsible for emptying the dishwasher, laying and clearing the table for dinner, vacuuming a room each and helping with the laundry.

The key here is to sit down and talk over the responsibilities with them, gaining their agreement to perform the tasks.  No one likes to feel like they are being coerced or that they don’t have a choice.  Gaining their consent first, means that you can hold them accountable when they don’t want to uphold their commitment.

You can also use the chores as a way for them to earn something they want.  In our house the children have to earn their television and computer time.  The amount of chores or piano practice they do directly correlates to the amount of time they get to watch or play these things.

If they choose not to do the chores, then the natural consequence is real for them.

We don’t particularly want them to watch television, and they only are allowed about two hours per week maximum.  So having them earn it in this way really helps them to understand the privilege of living and how not to take things for granted.

Were you responsible for household chores as a child?  Would love to hear your views.

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