Thursday, August 30, 2007

Thursday Thinking

I have been slowly entering Flylady-type tasks into the Task function of my Palm Treo handheld. I love the Palm because it's so compact and it automatically brings up the tasks for the day by priority. However, I realize now that I could have done this without the handheld, though not quite so easily.

What I do:

As I look at my list of things to do (which is actually on my sidebar under Weekly Cleaning List) I enter them into my Tasks list -- which are divided into date, category, and priority. The "category" would be household, in this case -- I have another category for homeschool and another one for personal, and "cooking" has its own category.

The neat part is that the Treo lets you decide on an interval to repeat the reminder. That is, if it's the kind of job that needs to be done weekly, I save it as "weekly" and then next Thursday (for example) the task comes up again. If it was a Zone job that is monthly or seasonal or yearly, you can set it for a monthly repeat or a 4 month repeat, or whatever.

How I COULD do it if I didn't have the Palm:

I would get a thick spiral and write a date on each page. Then, the same thing -- whenever I did a task, I would mark it down for a week ahead, or whatever the interval was. I suppose that 30 or 90 days would be enough, and then all but a few things would recycle automatically.

I read in a CHC catalog about one homeschooler that actually got a file for each day of the year. That is a lot of folders. But if you weren't the type to get overwhelmed, you could do something similar.

The goal would be to eventually have your own personalized year-around maintenance list, like Motivated Moms system. (I have the MM chore list and it was well worth the $$ for me, but I found that there were jobs on the checklists that I don't do or don't do as frequently as the list has it, and there were other jobs in my house that weren't listed on MM).

I am also slowly adding homeschool reminders onto the Treo, similar to the Bravewriter ones -- things like nature walks, tea time, our story society meetings, and so on. I seem to have an easier time getting around to things that are done daily -- like math and Latin and dishwashing -- than things that are done less frequently and things that don't seem so "necessary" -- even though I know they are important. To my quirky mind, anything that can wait seven days can wait eight or nine, and so on. I have to short circuit that "manana" tendency in myself. And having it appear on a daily checklist somehow does help me circumvent the tendency.

By the way, I could never figure out how to use the Priority code that a lot of time management systems (including the Treo) use. I get overwhelmed in philosophical speculation. .... what's more meaningful in the scheme of things, doing the laundry or reading to a toddler? I finally decided to prioritize by how hard it is for me to get to. That is, if it's a big, difficult, tricky or scary task it gets a "1" rating -- if it's close to automatic, it gets a "5" -- most things fall in the middle.

AND THIS WORKS! It's intuitive, yep, but almost infallible. If the task changes on my difficulty scale, I change the rating. On the Treo I can change easily; on paper it would be almost as easy; and maybe more effective, since it wouldn't change retroactively, and I could see progress. So for example, making dental appointments gets a 1 rating because I procrastinate horribly on it. Laundry gets a 5 (sorry, but doing laundry is one of my most fun household jobs, so I don't need much pushing at all to remind me to do it).

I haven't even explored all the possibilities of this Difficulty rating. For the easy, second nature things I could try to step up a level in competence -- for example, I could try to learn to fold laundry more neatly, or develop better techniques for getting it distributed. For the hard HARD Level One jobs, I could plan some sort of reward for myself, maybe? Or teach myself to think calm positive thoughts about the scary task, whatever it is.

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