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November 25, 2014

Stevie Wonder and Strategic Multi-Tasking

I had a good weekend.

Contrary to what you may believe, on the weekends, I have a strong aversion to lots of schedules, timelines, and plans. But like any person, I do have things I need to get done – both regular chores like boring errands as well as jobs particular to that weekend.

So, what made this weekend particularly good? I accomplished all I wanted to get done – and had fun doing it.

Headed into the weekend, there were a few hard time commitments on my calendar:

  • My four-year-old had her first “drop off” playdate at our house. As in, I was left alone with more kids than just my own.
  • We wanted to visit our very best friend’s new baby. The time was flexible based on when they felt up for guests.
  • The kids had a Sunday morning gymnastics class.
  • We had tickets to see Stevie Wonder for my husband’s birthday!

I know, poor me, right? But I also had a reasonably long list of other things I wanted to accomplish. Here’s what I came up with at 5:30 AM on Saturday morning (don’t judge, I’m a chronic early riser, early-to-bed type…yeah, it made me a really fun college student):

Handwritten ToDo List - EditedI always make a small to-do list for the weekend on a piece of paper. (I’m highly digital, but try to reduce screen time on weekends.) This time, I decided to organize my list by physical location (where to do the task) and time frame (how long it would take).

Here’s what’s underneath all of those satisfying scribbles!

Bigger Stuff
(I suppose these were my priorities)
Quick/Around the House
-4 mile run
-8 mile bike
-Bake blueberry bran muffins
-Cook sweet potato lentil dish
-Write weekly white board in the kitchen
-Pay M Brothers (lawn/leaf service)
-Write Melissa a check (Sun night babysitter)
Computer Work Errands
-Order holiday cards from Tiny Prints
-Finalize Powerpoint for Monday’s webinar
-Send Hannah interview materials
-Finish interactive handout for workshop later this month
-Muffin tins
-Fruit for class snack
-New water bottles for kids
-Library
-Farmer’s Market

At face value, this looks like a very full weekend, especially when you add in the big events I was committed to attending. But arranging a whole list of To-Do’s by physical location and amount of time was extremely helpful. I never know when I’m going to get chunks of time on the weekend. A few time slots are predictable, like morning exercise after my husband wakes up. (He contests that 7:30 AM does NOT count as sleeping in. Hmph, snorts the 5 AM’er!) More often than not, it’s catch as catch can.

Here’s how it actually all fit together:

  • The play date drop turned out to go very smoothly. In fact, the kids occupied themselves with Perler Beads for 60 solid minutes and my only job was to get out of the way. Blueberry bran muffins and sweet potato chopping got done while my husband and toddler hit the Farmer’s Market. Bam!
  • Stevie Wonder fell on a Sunday night, and my husband and I both had enough to do that we decided to call Saturday night a work night. Comedy Central ran in the background while we both prepped for the following week. I snuck in the holiday card order, too.
  • It was my turn to be the “watcher” at gymnastics this week, so I brought my checkbook and paid a bunch of bills while waving at the four year old!
  • My daughter is just at the inventive spelling age, so we wrote up the white board for the week together – making this one a real winner! Check out Saturday at the Farmer’s Market:

Command Center Close Up - EditedOh, really, you like my whiteboard? I call this the Command Center of our house. It’s the only way we keep our heads on straight.  Here’s the whole thing! And yup, those are the Post-it note adhesive envelopes recently featured on the blog!

Command Center - EditedLessons learned in this little experiment:

  • Be ready to use small pockets of time by having the right materials at the ready!
  • Don’t be afraid to strategically multi-task!
  • Choice is really helpful. It would have felt too constraining to schedule the weekend down to the minute. Instead, I got to pick and choose in a way I can’t during the week!

I’m going to keep trying this. Let me know how it goes for you, too!

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