mamamusings: January 4, 2005

elizabeth lane lawley's thoughts on technology, academia, family, and tangential topics

Tuesday, 4 January 2005

fun with flying and folders

I’m making some changes in the way I deal with the chaos and stress in my life, and it’s already resulting in my feeling better.

The FlyLady approach to cleaning is working out pretty well so far. My sink is shining, and I know where my laundry is. The boys are learning to put dishes into the dishwasher instead of on the counter, and I’m putting out fires in my “hotspots” (the places where clutter gathers first, like coffee tables) every night so that they don’t have time to get out of control. Can I keep this up? I don’t know. But I’m sure going to try, because it makes me feel so much better to walk into the house at the end of the day, or wake up and go into the kitchen in the morning, and not be confronted with acres of clutter and cleaning to do.

I’ve posted chore charts in the boys’ rooms, too, so that we can cut down on the “but I fed the lizards yesterday” arguments. And part of their chores from now on will be to alternate days wiping down their bathroom so that it doesn’t reach the “I can’t take this anymore!” stage. They were not thrilled about that assignment, but I’m okay with that.

That still leaves the minor detail of my day job, which is a non-trivial source of stress and chaos in my life. For that, I’m doing two things. First, I’ve started reading the highly-recommended book Getting Things Done, by David Allen. It’s brilliant. My first key take-away from it is that I’ve been trying to keep way too much information in my head, and I need to start offloading it into external storage.

Towards that end, I’ve also started reading Merlin Mann’s excellent blog 43 Folders, which is essentially about how to adapt Allen’s GTD approach to a digital lifestyle. (“43 folders” refers to the tickler file that Allen recommends, with 31 daily folders and 12 monthly folders.) Based on what I’ve read there, I’ve started a projects text file in BBEdit, and I’ve also installed Quicksilver (a killer launch/productivity application that’s even free!) that lets me get to the file (and add to it) more easily.

I’m also trying to implement some of Allen’s other suggestions—for example, if an incoming task (email, phone call, hallway request) can be done in 2 minutes or less, I need to just do it, not put it off. This is helping me get through my email more effectively. And what I can’t do right away is going into my projects list, so that I don’t lose track of it as it scrolls up in my inbox.

I have no idea how long this burst of productivity and organization will last. Taking a leaf from my recovery, however, I’m only focusing on getting through today. And for the past 24 hours, I’ve been doing pretty well. Tomorrow’s a new day—with luck, it will be as satisfying as today has been.

Posted at 9:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (1)
more like this: productivity

quit laughing!

One of Gerald’s favorite sayings used to be “Man makes plans, and God laughs.”

Tonight, after I finished my self-congratulatory post about my successful and productive day, I went down in the basement to get the last load of laundry before going to bed. As I was standing in front of the dryer, however, I noticed that the rug in the laundry area felt damp—damp enough to make my socks wet. Not good.

I peeked around the side of the laundry area, and found that there was nearly an inch of standing water stretching out for a good six feet into the storage side of the basement. The side where we put all the clutter that we don’t want to think about, most of which is in cardboard boxes. I’d been putting off the Herculean task of cleaning that side of the basement until other things were more under control, but I guess my plans are the kind that make God laugh…

I found the Shop-Vac, but couldn’t find a plug, so I called Gerald, who told me where only accessible plug was—on the ceiling above the washer. I climbed up there, but the Shop-Vac cord didn’t reach, so I had to go out into the freezing-cold garage (in wet, bare feet) to find an extension cord. Then it took me 30 minutes to vacuum up the water from the floor and the rug, and clear the soggy boxes out of the way.

It looks like the problem was a clogged drain in the sink that the washer drains into (and, possibly, a skewed hose that was spraying the excess over the edge). I stood down in the basement watching a test run of the washer so I could be sure I’d corrected the problem.

So much for my plan to go to bed early tonight.

Ah well. At least I didn’t melt down. And I managed to deal with the problem without making anything worse. Now it really is time for bed.

Posted at 11:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (1)
more like this: curmudgeonly
Liz sipping melange at Cafe Central in Vienna