There is an old Jackson Five song that goes,
It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3
As simple as do, re, mi
ABC, 1 2 3
Baby, you and me!”
I know that this song is showing my age, but it is catchy tune (and super fun to East Coast Swing Dance to!)—and it has helped me in my productivity….
I can remember when my husband and I were first married, I would ask him, “How do you know what to do every day when you go to work?” I just couldn’t figure out how he knew what needed to be done.
He would always ask me, “How do you know what to do when a student comes for tutoring?” or “How do you know what to do around the house and with the kids every day when you get up?”
I remember telling him, “I just do.” And he would say it was the same for him at work.
Prioritizing at work and at home are two very different things though. I mean, at work, you have a boss waiting for you to finish something. And you have deadlines, others counting on you, and a salary to earn, etc.
Working at home (either through homeschooling, being a SAHM to preschoolers and toddlers, having a business in your home or online) takes a level of organization, prioritizing, and diligence that few “work away from home” people are faced with. Sure, they have to work all day and can’t play around. But they do not have to usually keep themselves self-motivated and on task the way that work-from-home people do. It can definitely be challenging not having a boss or employer expectations all day.
At home, once you get the dailies done (those things that need done every single day regardless), everything else that isn’t a daily is always screaming out to you! (Come to think of it, before you get the DAILIES done, everything is screaming out to you!)
I have followed two very simple tips in working on non-dailies in thirty-two years of homeschooling and fifteen years of being a writer, blogger, tutor, and, most recently, a direct sales person:
1. I always do the next thing that is due. I call these my TIMELY TASKS.
(Well, almost….like just now I was printing recipes for my cooking morning tomorrow and I got sidetracked writing this post. Technically, the recipes are due before this because my cooking day starts at 8:30–and this could wait until tomorrow–but I digress!)
Once I am done with my dailies, I always ask myself what is the next thing that has to be done–my editor is waiting on a document; student papers have to be edited for class the next day; tomorrow’s meat has to be marinated; bedding has to be moved to the dryer in order to go to bed tonight, etc.
Remember though, Timely Tasks—unless crucial—should always follow DAILIES!
This one little tip of doing the next thing that is due (my Timely Tasks!) always keeps me moving in the right direction!
2. I have an ABC WEEKLIES list.
Yes, for many years as a homeschooler of seven kids, I hardly saw this WEEKLIES list, but now I get to these things–and I am having so much fun!
After I get my dailies done–and I have “put out fires” by doing the next thing that is due (Timely Tasks)–then I am ready to consult my WEEKLIES list.
But I don’t just have a WEEKLIES list; I manipulate my WEEKLIES list.
I go down the list task-by-task and write an A, B, or C beside each one.
Then when I have a chance to do something off of it, I do an A task. And I keep on doing A tasks all week–anytime I get a chance (after my dailies and timely tasks).
No matter what else happens in any given week, I know that I have my DAILIES done; I have my timely tasks out of the way; and I did as many A’s as I could (and occasionally even a B or two!).
This isn’t a glamorous approach. I don’t craft beautiful things. I don’t decorate my home “Better Homes and Gardens” style. I don’t always cook from scratch. I don’t scrub between the washer and dryer.
But I feel like an organizational genius. And my home runs fairly smoothly. And I spend time with my kids and husband. And we eat decent meals. And we always have clean clothes and the trash out of the house… because these things are my DAILIES.
Then I work, work, work on my ABC’s lists—my businesses, parenting ministry, special family things, extended family needs, writing curriculum, tutoring, and more. (Oh, and I ballroom dance at least a couple of hours a week with my husband!)
When I was homeschooling a houseful of children, the new readers read and the writers wrote; I checked their work, read aloud to them, talked to them, and taught them the Bible…because these things were my DAILIES.
Because I always did my DAILIES…..I became an organized homeschooler! And this led to my being an organized business owner.
Everything is always crying out to be done. People want us to do everything. Our extended families need us. Our church needs us. Our ministries need us. Our jobs need us. Our children need us. And we can start to feel like the hamster on the wheel very quickly if we don’t have a plan in place to get to the important things.
My DAILIES, TIMELY TASKS, and ABC WEEKLIES have helped me do that for many, many years! Because truly, sometimes organizing is as simple as ABC, 1 2 3, Baby—you and me!
(Now back to my recipes!)