Heather Marshall on June 25th, 2009

I have discovered the keys to being productive! Really!! It works!!

Okay, so by now you may have heard me say (many times) that I am not the neatest of people… clutter is something I hate, but for some reason seem to put up with all the time.  I’m not self-motivated to clean, and I get overwhelmed with mess VERY easily. Oh, and I’m also easily distracted (Facebook & Twitter are major culprits!).

So, when the school year ended last week, I knew I was in trouble: All day long, at home, with everything to do but nothing was actually getting done.  I’d half-heartedly move some clutter from one pile to another, putter around trying to find places for things, and end up with an even bigger mess than I started with.  Frustrated, I’d sit on the computer and update my Twitter status for the umpteenth time, check out my friends on Facebook, and search the Babies R Us website, looking for cool things to get for the baby.

Needless to say, when my hubby would come home at the end of his full day of work (and still have his at-home business to take care of), he would NOT be too happy with the state of the house.  He wouldn’t always say much, but by the look on his face, I knew.

For the last week, I felt less like a striving wife, and more like a failure…. but I couldn’t articulate how I was feeling to my husband without getting defensive and us fighting.

Last night, before youth group, Jason and I went out for pizza & broached the subject of the state of our house once again.  For once, I was able to listen and be open to suggestions without crying (too much) or shutting down.

Here are the keys to my being productive that we came up with (& that I implemented today):

  • Make a timeline of what needs to be done, and when. A list itself won’t suffice (I’ve tried that already)… I needed an actual timeline, telling me what I was going to do at particular times throughout the day.
  • Be realistic! Schedule in breaks, as well as “make-up” times, in case something you were working on runs late.  Don’t schedule 1/2 hour for a job that typically takes you much longer… you’ll be setting yourself up for failure! Better to schedule EXTRA time than too little time!
  • Wake up on time, and stick to the schedule! For instance, today my day started with 9:00 a.m. breakfast, a 9:30 walk, and a 10:00 a.m. shower. My actual “work” time didn’t begin until 10:30… but I felt energized and rested as I began!
  • Play upbeat music to keep you moving through your housework! I tend to get distracted, bored, and discouraged very quickly when the house is silent. Today I jammed to Hillsong United’s new album, as well as some Steven Curtis Chapman.
  • To tackle clutter quickly & easily, walk around with a box or a basket, & put those things that don’t belong in the box.  Your house will be decluttered VERY quickly… and soon all you’ll have left will be a box to go through!  I was able to get through the piles on my kitchen table very quickly… those items without a “home” now have a temporary home - a box, not my table!  All that’s left on the table now is a pot of pretty flowers, my list, and my laptop.  A-ma-zing! (Just be sure to schedule time to go through that box! Don’t let it overflow with stuff, or that too will get overwhelming!)
  • Get rid of all distractions - until your breaks! Close the laptop, turn off the PC monitor, or log out of Twitter, Facebook, Skype, & any other program that might distract you from your scheduled job.  Did you schedule in blog or book writing? Get rid of all other distractions that might pop up on your computer. Only allow those during your scheduled breaks.  Resist the urge to check your Twitter, email, or Facebook during your work times.  You’ll get a LOT more done if you remove the option! (I close my laptop while I’m cleaning so I don’t hop back on for a peek at Twitter!)
  • Reward yourself for a job well done at the end of the day…. give yourself free time before your hubby gets home from work to read a book, or plan a nice dinner or date night in with the husband.  He’ll appreciate the attention in a nice clean house. :)

Looking around, I feel like my day was actually productive… for the first time since school let out a week ago!  Of course I’m not finished, but I have made some MAJOR headway! It’s amazing what a few organized hours in the day can do!

Alright, my break time is over! I’m off to finish up a few little things, then get ready for my reward: A girls’ night out with some great friends! :)

If you’re like me & not naturally organized, give these methods a try… you may surprise yourself with all you get done! (And of course, I’d love to hear your own success stories with this!)

Keep on Striving,

Heather :)

PS - I know having kids around can throw a monkey wrench into the whole timeline idea… anyone have any good pointers or strategies for maintaining a schedule with kids underfoot?

Related posts:

  1. Striving to Declutter
  2. The Marriage Inventory
  3. Still Striving… With YOUR Help!
  4. Why You Won’t Find Me Here (Often)
  5. Lost That Lovin’ Feeling?

10 Responses to “Tried & True Keys to Being Productive”

  1. Hi Heather! Thanks for posting this I find myself a lot like you! Luckily for you you have started some habbits before your little one comes! I on the other hand Have been better organzied since I have had my 2nd Brycer’s I was more or less forced to get more oganized but it has been the best thing for me as a Mother and Wife. Don’t get me wrong I still have some days…but over all our home is much more clean and less cluttered Let me rephase that I am clean yet cluttery, my surfaces are clean! But when you said that you guys went out and and talked and you held back your tears, I can’ hoanstly say I have been there like 100 times! But the one thing that drove me nuts about my mom, is that she was always a list maker! She stuck to it and she also had a day during the week mon-fri she had a schedule that she still sticks with to this day and I have adapted somewhat …But I do it too, I have about 5 differnt lists taped onto my cabients in my kitchen of differnt things I want to get done this summer and before we find out what this baby is! BUt My mother’s schedule is great I use it somewhat Like Wend. Is always and has always been Change sheets on all the beds, clean athe bathrooms and wash towels! But your routine will be messed up a little when the baby is a new born but it will adjust as the baby gets a schedule and what not and then you will get your own routine it may be differnt but it will work! Stay strong! I’m praying for you and love reading your blogs! Thanks for always been honast b/c you are NEVER alone in your striving!!

  2. Thank you so much Heather for this post!! As I was reading this I was thinking to myself, “So I’m not the only one???” lol. Like I’ve said before, I’m still single, so I don’t deal with this with a husband, but being that I still live with my mother and she’s obsessed with neatness, we tend to have our squabbles over the state of my room (or the rest of the house) quite often. I will definitely try these keys and do my best to follow through. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, single women can benefit from your blog too! God bless you!

  3. Gosh, I am soo stinkin’ emotional, most likely due to pregnancy. Stacey, I started to tear up reading what you wrote… thanks girl, it’s good to know I’m not alone!! …And that it’s possible to stay organized with kids in the house!

    Jason’s big on lists… they never worked for me until I put times to it. Hopefully I’ll be in a good habit of doing that before the baby comes so I can readjust afterwards without falling too far behind!

    Sarah… great habits to get into BEFORE you get married! You’ll have enough to deal with in marriage, hopefully a messy house won’t be one of them! Keep on striving!

  4. My husband and I just had a discussion about our “messy” rooms just last night. I am a working wife and luckily Hubby agreed to hire a cleaning lady (and she really is a pearl among pearls) but still the daily clutter keeps pilling up. And for me this is constantly giving me a headache. Even at work I still think about the million things I need to do at home or that I want to get done at home - and when the weekend is there I put up a list which is absolutely not doable. Result of that: frustration. I love your idea of not just putting down the things which should be done but also a timeline. that will definetely help me to come up with more realistic plans. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us - I enjoy your posts alot.

  5. I have the opposite to your problem! I’m a perfecionist and controlling when it comes to the cleanliness and tidiness of my home!

    Just yesturday, my husband cleaned the bathroom but he missed a bit so I came home on my break and cleaned that bit myself, grumbling away all the time! The result was that the hour lunch break of mine, which was the only time we spent together yesturday, turned out to be a major downer, with me frustrated and him feeling slapped in the face! Argh!

    There’s such a fine line between organization/cleanliness and controling perfectionism! But today’s a new day and I’m still striving…!

  6. When I first started staying home I had such a hard time getting stuff done too! But, I started doing things like you are doing and I was thrilled at the results I was getting!

    Thanks for sharing!


  7. Nimmi… I hope you succeed at your new way of list-making! I used to do the same thing, putting together completely unrealistic & frustrating lists… I really hope this way helps you! Keep me posted! :)

    Rachel… wow, your problem is the COMPLETE opposite of mine… but at least your house is neat! ;) j/k… I know it can be hard to not be controlling at times… but by God’s grace, He’ll lead us & teach us to be more like Him - humble, patient, & selfless (3 areas I’m ALWAYS striving to improve).

    Ashley… So cool that this idea has been successful for you! Glad to know there’s continued hope for my future. :)

    Keep on striving!!!

  8. http://www.flylady.net, its a great website for a wife to learn to keep her home clean. thats some thing I also struggle with all the time because I’m a new wife and a new mommy.

  9. I try not to turn on the computer until my work is done. Once your house is in order, it’s kind of easy to do upkeep. I’m so glad for you that you’re getting things in order. I wonder if it’s because you’re pregnant? Are you clearing out the computer room for the baby? It’s a little easier too when you’re home all day. You learn to discipline yourself. Keep striving.

    Love, Mom

  10. I just want to say Thanks! I know have a game plan to getting my home in order!


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