Welcome to a month of practical, hands-on, and real-life organization and time management posts! I’m joining up with The Nester’s “31 Days” meme with “31 Days to GTD for Homemakers.” GTD® is an acronym referring to David Allen’s books and system, Getting Things Done. And if anybody needs to get things done, it’s mothers managing a home. So join me for the month of October as I explore how we can streamline our processes, alleviate stress, and increase productivity.
That Sinking, Drowning Sensation
I first read Getting Things Done about seven years ago or so and implemented a few of its strategies. I returned to it again almost two years ago after my fourth baby was nearing his first birthday, because four children and a lack of sleep severely affected my brain power. At the time, I had a vague notion that would help me get my brain onto paper more effectively. My goodness was I right! This book was instrumental in upping my game as a homemaker.
He is all about “black-belt” list-making. As I read it, several times I thought, “Oh, yeah! This is where I got that idea.” I slowly worked at implementing a more complete GTD® system, and every step yielded significant improvement in my peace of mind by banishing that awful, constant nagging sense of things unknown left undone and that sense upon entering any room or glancing any direction and seeing only things that you should do, but aren’t. It’s a drowning sensation, and no matter how much you do it never feels like progress is made. Sure, sleep helps. Eating the right foods & finding the right vitamins to take helps. Grudgingly, I admit even exercise really does help. But another thing that helps is keeping a calendar and a set of lists that you can trust so that your mind may rest.
Now that the birth of baby #5 approaches, I need to reevaluate my own situation and all those tactics I’ve let slide. Perhaps the drowning sensation will not be so bad this time around if my strategies are lined out ahead of time. My own implementation will be spotty until things stabilize here some weeks or months after the new baby arrives. That’s ok. Thinking it through and having a plan is still useful, even if it can’t be done 100%.
I hope you, also, will learn some new tricks and techniques to help you manage your home.
The Home is Not a Business
However, before I start, I wanted to banish any awkwardness about appropriating a business book for the stay-at-home, work-at-home, homeschooling, or otherwise engaged and involved mom and homemaker. On the one hand, the last thing we want to do is make our homes into impersonal business offices, treating our children like employees or clients and striving for maximum efficiency. On the other hand, management is precisely our calling.
Getting Things Done is about managing your stuff and your actions, and once those are under control, your mind is left more free and clear to focus on the present moment with your family. So this series is not about shaping our homes and families to a business model, but about being in control of our tasks and stuff rather than letting it control us, so that instead of running around like chickens with heads cut off, we may be more free and calm to make the correct intuitive decision about how to handle whatever is before us in the moment.
Others before David Allen have noted that intentionality, management, and in-the-moment “presentness” is vital:
We are waking up to our duties and in proportion as mothers become more highly educated and efficient, they will doubtless feel the more strongly that the education of their children during the first six years of life is an undertaking hardly to be entrusted to any hands but their own. And they will take it up as their profession––that is, with the diligence, regularity, and punctuality which men bestow on their professional labours. — Charlotte Mason
The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s “own” or “real” life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life—the life God is sending one day by day; what one calls ones’ ’‘real life” is a phantom of one’s own imagination. –C.S. Lewis .
Let us embrace our real life with our children as our true business, and arrange the peripheries to allow ourselves to focus where we ought.
GTD® and Getting Things Done® are registered trademarks of the David Allen Company.