I’ve been meaning to write this post for a little while, as you can see from the gap in communications. But it all ties in very nicely with today’s theme, and illustrates my point, so three cheers for that.
Today’s discussion is: what to do when life gets busy. How do we maintain organisation, general tidiness, and that satisfying feeling of being on top of our affairs, when we’re actually being pummelled with other things?
Here’s the rub: life is peaks and troughs. There’s no ‘end’ to the busy period; just a lull. Children will get sick; partners will go on trips; work will arc up; the party season will return. And this is exactly why we are organised!
A stitch in time saves nine
It’s in these periods when the kids are demanding every ounce of attention and endless vomit clean-ups, or a huge project lands in our lap, or when we’re out every night, that our organisation already in place will support and maintain us when we simply don’t have time to even go to the loo (yes that’s happened to me).
- Having homes for all our stuff makes the quickest possible tidy up simply a matter of putting things back, rather than re-organising an entire cupboard;
- Having our pantries and fridges clearly zoned makes deciding what to make and what to chuck in the 2-minute-stir-fry easy – it means you can grab what you can see instead of burrowing in the back of the crisper to discover something vaguely fresh;
- Having a toy basket/area where all toys live all the time when not in use means that the sniffly child can actually play with their toys instead of waiting for you to locate the 1,000 missing jigsaw pieces cunningly hidden around your house;
- Having dirty and clean laundry in designated baskets and not strewn all over the lounge room means that even when you can’t get around to the ironing and folding, there will at least be an easy place to grab a clean pair of knickers;
- Having our bills already diarised to pay (or direct debited already) will avoid a missed payment and penalty fees;
- Having our To Do lists up to date will mean that the mad dash to the bank/post office/pharmacy at lunch, or the miserable dragging of the sick child to the shops, can happen once instead of you getting back home and discovering un-deposited cheques, un-posted letters, and un-filled scripts smiling happily back up at you from your handbag; and
- Having a routine for tidying, cleaning, bill-paying and other chores will mean that if you’re even semi-up to date, you’ll have a reasonable base to work off instead of hitting a busy period in an already frazzled organisational state.
Call in the troops
There are also times when you need to call in reinforcements. Organisation isn’t something you just do once; it needs constant topping up and when we don’t have the time or energy to stay on top of it, calling for help is the best thing to do.
I recently began a new job, which is both a promotion and a new content area. I knew I was coming up to a hefty increase in work hours and a really challenging task, and would have less time (and let’s face it, less energy and motivation) to get all the cleaning done that I would otherwise (my share of the cleaning of course!). My husband and I agreed that getting a cleaner would be money well spent, and boy is she ever! Miss A comes once a fortnight for three hours and her visits ‘re-set’ us so that we are working off a clean base until she comes again. This means that small top-up tidies and cleans are sufficient, and the larger jobs are also less onerous.
Other professional services that you might want to engage to help you in busy times could include:
- Household maintenance (I hate hate hate the term ‘rent-a-hubby’ but if like me you’re pretty clueless at fixing things, don’t try to mess with the plumbing yourself);
- Accounting (seriously, who likes doing their own taxes even if they can?!);
- Mending and ironing;
- Meal delivery services;
- Grocery shopping online; and
- Dog grooming (I have to let the professionals do this one; my small dog thrashes around like a yeti when I try to clip his nails).
You don’t have to buy your outsourcing either. There are heaps of ways you can access the wealth of resources around you without breaking the bank:
- Would it make your life easier if you could trade kids for an hour a week with a friend (and that hour could be just as profitably spent on the couch with a cuppa if that’s what you need!)?;
- You could ask a friend to help you with a task (folding a clothes mountain or accompanying you to the supermarket to distract the kids) in exchange for home-cooked dinner or some other thank you;
- You might be able to access some flexi-time or time in lieu from work, or negotiate to work from home if you particularly need to be there when, for example, the electrician comes to fix the flickering light that’s been plaguing you for two years but you’ve never had time to call them in to fix;
- You might be able to invest a little time upfront in investigating something like a budget spreadsheet that will save you time and effort (and money!) later when it comes to your finances; and
- You could also put the word out (thank you Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest!) that you’re looking for time-saving help and ideas, and see what works for others.
So here’s the thing: organisation isn’t something you do on top of all the other things you do in your busy life; it’s what you do to manage your busy life.