GTD for Homemakers: Taking Time Out for a Weekly Regroup & Review

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31 Days to GTD for Homemakers & HomeschoolersThis series, 31 Days to GTD for Homemakers, is all about putting into place effective routines and processes so that the routine administrative details of life do not cause undo stress and we, as mothers in the heart of our homes, can peacefully and intentionally make good choices about what to do without feeling like we have a million details pulling us in a million directions at once.

Previous Post: The Weekly Review Process

Carving Out Islands of Time

So, we might be tempted to think that having a regular weekly review is feasible only in the office workplace setting. You know, someplace where you can close the door and easily have space and time alone.

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Even Getting Things Done itself addresses situations other than typical office work:

The people who find it hardest to make time for this review are those who have constantly on-demand work and home environments, with zero built-in time or space for regrouping.

I’d say homemaking & homeschooling or working from home are included in that description, wouldn’t you?

If you recognize yourself in that picture, your greatest challenge will be to build in a consistent process of regrouping, when your world is not directly in your face.

And, perhaps we can see ourselves in this statement, also:

For them the biggest problem is how to balance quality thinking and catch-up time with the urgent demands of mission-critical interactions [e.g. stinky diapers? quarreling children?]. This is a tough call. The most senior and savvy of them, however, know the value of sacrificing the seemingly urgent [doing the dishes? “catching up” the laundry? dusting? clicking sidebar links?] for the truly important, and they create their islands of time for some version of this process.

The whirlwind of everyday activity “is precisely what makes the weekly review so valuable. It builds in some capturing, reevaluation, and reprocessing time to keep you in balance. There is simply no way to do this necessary regrouping while you’re trying to get everyday work done.”

I wondered if that is strictly true for the homemaker, who has mundane tasks that allow her to both work and think simultaneously, but I think it would be difficult to go through the process without your mind, eyes, and hands all free and available. In other words, it is concentrated work, that will be productive to the level that you are free to concentrate on it.

In still more words, I’m afraid Allen is correct.

Homemaker Version of the GTD Weekly Review

Now, how this plays out for us depends on what kind of review we can arrange for ourselves. If an out-of-the-house “retreat” is feasible, then all your loose papers will have to be collected beforehand and you might need to go through your read & review pile separately. If you can arrange for 2-3 hours alone, whether in or out of your house, then it can be particularly refreshing and renewing if you start off with some reading that helps you remember the focus and motivations for what you’re doing. Maybe you have a favorite book you could read a bit out of, or maybe you could save or print off some focus-building blog posts you find inspiring. Maybe you actually have a written purpose statement you could start off by reviewing. Maybe you could start off by reading a few Psalms, or, even more appropriately, perhaps, a few chapters of Ecclesiastes. Maybe you have a list of quotes you could go over. I always find exercises like that helpful in clearing my head and reminding me of the point of both the planning session and my life in general.

And, if you can plow through your planning process and still have some time left, you might consider reserving a little time to read a book that might require a little more concentration than is usually possible at home. Or, perhaps you like art and might browse a library art book. Or you enjoy writing.

Spending a little of your time doing something that you enjoy that is totally unrelated to house, children, or schooling can help immensely in “changing the subject” within your mind so you can return to all three refreshed and ready to go again.

However, it’s even more likely that having a time out by yourself every week is not possible. In that case, I think it’s also possible to accomplish this in one quick run-through or two separate sessions. Gathering loose papers, processing the inbox, culling your reading pile, these can be done in quick spurts weekly as part of your housekeeping routine. What really requires focus and as much of a “time out” as you can manage is evaluating your calendar and lists and bringing them up to date and refreshing your mind with what’s been accomplished and what’s on the docket. If you are pressed for time, then even 30-45 minutes could accomplish this, I think, especially if they are caffeinated minutes.

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I bet we can all find 30-45 minutes somewhere once a week without interactions or other demands — the difficulty is in choosing to use it this way instead of zoning out on random internet searches. So, maybe Allen’s quote for us should instead read: “The most senior and savvy of them, however, know the value of sacrificing the seemingly [refreshing & relaxing] for the truly [refreshing & relaxing], and they create their islands of time for some version of this process.”

The key is finding the time, and carving out that time regularly, to perform this clarifying and ordering ritual.

You can find more on setting up your own weekly review habit at my other site, Simplified Organization.

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Mystie’s book, Declutter Your Head will walk you through the process of clearing your head and organizing your home so you can take calm, intentional action. Also available on kindle.

GTD® and Getting Things Done® are registered trademarks of the David Allen Company.

Next post: GTD for Homemakers: The Occasional Big-Picture Review