I don’t have time.
Boy, if your house is at all like mine, that’s something that probably gets said about a dozen times a day. But really, don’t we all have time? We each get 24 hours a day. Where does it go?
Each year in the fall I begin to realize that my time is slipping through my fingers like sand. My plate gets piled high with servings of busyness and at the end of the day I drop into bed and wonder if I actually accomplished anything.
So each year I have to sit down and do a time audit. Have you ever seen that object lesson where you start with a jar, then you add the rocks, pebbles, sand, and water? Well, I do something like that. I start with my rocks: what really needs to be done on a daily basis? Then I fill in around those with everything else.
I’m a big fan of a program called FLYlady. FLY is actually an acronym that stands for “Finally Loving Yourself.” The concept is that many of us are “SHE”s- Sidetracked Home Executives- we are wonderful people who are really good at procrastinating and getting sidetracked, and we end up beating ourselves up over our shortcomings in keeping our homes neat and tidy. I am definitely one of those people.
Anyway, one of FLYlady’s lessons is about having routines. If you think about it, this makes perfect sense. When you send your kids to school, their teacher doesn’t just have a general idea of what needs to be covered and crosses her fingers hoping that the math lesson will get done that day. No, she has a plan, and a set time for each subject. The idea behind routines is very similar- you create a list of the things that need to be done daily (my ‘rocks’) and then you get into the habit of doing them. You have a morning, afternoon, and evening routine.
The reason that routines are so effective is that they create positive habits within you. They also help with the whole Finally Loving Yourself thing because when you do your routines, you give yourself a gift. When I do the dinner dishes at night right after dinner and then I run the dishwasher, I have given myself the gift of clean plates and an empty sink in the morning (as opposed to the dreaded pile of dirty dishes- what a lovely way to wake up).
My routines include reading my scriptures (definite rock!), 5-minute quick pickups around the house, doing dishes, emptying the dishwasher, and one load of laundry a day (morning routine- gather and start, afternoon routine- switch to dryer and fold), among other things. I keep my routines simple and as short as possible. Each one has 8 items or less on it and most of those take 5 minutes or less.
The beauty of these routines is that once they’re done, so am I until it’s time for the next one. I have made time appear out of thin air! I can spend that time with my kids, get some writing done, do a craft project, or whatever else I want to do (my pebbles and sand). I can be free of stress about my home because I know that even if something is messy, I know it will get cleaned during my next routine.
I’m off to my routines now- time to make more time!