When I was a young mother, I had a lot of trouble getting things done each day. I wasn’t lazy. I didn’t have more work than I had time to finish (at least not until the third or fourth child came along!). I simply had trouble prioritizing my work.
Every day I would get up with big plans for the day. What could I organize today? What project could I complete? What new endeavor could I embark on? I would work hard all day long, making the toy shelves look like a day care center’s dream—picture AND word labels (to aid in reading AND organization!). I would create organizational systems in my closets and file cabinets, often color-coding and typing up labels in my favorite font.
When Ray got home from work, I would take him by the hand and wind our way through the stacks of laundry, undone dishes, and scattered toys (and often piles of things that I was sorting for my latest project) and show him how industrious I had been that day. He was never quite as impressed with my organizing as I was, and, now I know, with good reason. He never understood why I would color code the linen closet but not fold and put away the towels that day. He never quite got why I would create systems in the kitchen to minimize steps in cooking but not wash the dishes that afternoon. And, to tell you the truth, neither did I.
Ray called me the “closet lady,” citing that I organized closets all the time (rather than doing what I needed to do). However, through Ray’s encouragement and advice from organizational experts (loved those Sidetracked Home Executives!), I learned how to prioritize my day just like we had learned to prioritize our life. (See posts for the two weeks prior to this one for more on prioritizing life choices.)
(I probably would have learned a lot sooner had Ray not come home from work and bailed me out every day. He made it too easy to continue my organizational madness when he came home and helped me catch up on my daily work every evening! He was enabling my craziness! LOL!)
Thus, the first piece of organizing advice for parents (especially moms who are home with little kids and have trouble organizing their work): do the most important things each day.
Sounds so simple! Of course, we should do the most important things first each day! Yet, how many of us have trouble with this concept.
For me, this meant that I would not do any weekly, monthly, seasonal, or project-type of things before my daily work was done each day. And believe me, that was a lot harder than it sounds!
I, even as a young mom, like most PP 365 readers, was a busy girl! I only had one child at the time, but I had a small tutoring practice, did literacy teaching for adults one evening each week, worked on my graduate degree one or two evenings, led the entire children’s programming at church, actively offered hospitality in our home a few times a week (including cooking from scratch, house preparation, and oftentimes, lesson preparation for small group studies, etc.), spent time with extended family, etc. There were always projects screaming out to me!
But over time, I learned to get up each day and do the most important (daily!) things first: reading to Joshua and teaching him Bible, character, preschool, etc; dishes, shopping, and food preparation for that day; laundry and other daily chores; etc.
Then, and only then, was I ready to add to add other work to my day. Stay with us while we learn more about organizing your life and home—and doing “first things first.”