Tuesday, July 1, 2008


Last summer I was content to sleep in late, watch tons of t.v., and write a little. That's probably why things didn't get done around my house; I succumbed to procrastination. I am a notorious procrastinator. This summer, I have been busy from the start and I know that if I don't organize better, I won't be prepared for the fall. This fall will bring new economic lesson plans, a new job as the high school cross country coach, and hopefully a pregnancy and interest in my book. On top of that, my house is a mess, my dog needs to be entertained, and I've been trying to reconnect with old friends and spend time with my family. I realize that I need a plan of attack.

1. Make lists.
Let's face it, if it doesn't get written down, it's probably not going to get done. The more I have to do, the more I forget what I have to do. I'm sure you know what I mean. I have found that as a teacher, I survive with a to-do list. This can also help me at home with the almost one million things I need to start or finish.
I try to organize my list so that the most crucial things go first and the things that can wait sit at the bottom. You may find it better if you put the easiest things first, so you can get the encouragement from crossing a line through them when they are completed. Either way, the act of writing it down may be the jump start you need.

2. Use a timer.
Yes, elementary school teachers use this same tactic, but believe me it works. I went to Wal-Mart and picked up a cheap kitchen timer. You know, the one that times for sixty minutes, you turn the dial, and it rings when your time is up. I think it cost me about $2.34 and its been worth every penny. I usually set the timer for a full hour. For some reason my brain works better in large chunks of time, but you may want to shorten it to fifteen or thirty minutes depending on your tasks.
I work for an hour and when the timer dings, I take a break, then set it again. It has done wonders for helping me get things done around the house. I can tell myself, "You only have to work for an hour, then you can move on." It tends to keep me from moving away from something out of boredom. Before, I would lose patience and find something else to do. Now, when I'm cleaning the house or writing lesson plans, I get a lot more done because I stick with the task.

3. Prepare in advance.
Nothing feels better than getting something done way ahead of time. This summer, I have decided to complete my lesson plans before the school year even starts. If I work now when I have the time, I can veg out a little more during the school year. I try to make myself a schedule of what needs to be completed and when, then I get to work. Every day I add something from my schedule to my list, then I spend an hour working on it. By the time school starts, I should have more free afternoons because of my preparedness. How's that for a reward?

4. Break it down.
Take large tasks and make them smaller, like in my lesson plan example above. Things can be overwhelming, but can you make them less scary by breaking them into parts? If you know you have the clean out your closet, don't make it a one day event. You may get sick of working on it and quit when you're halfway done. Instead, take small chunks at a time, maybe an hour this day, or a half-hour that day. Soon it will be done and you'll have a nice organized closet.

Believe me, I am the worst at getting things done, and my attention wanders. These ideas have helped me get so much done already. Good luck!

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