Decluttering V: Finding Time in a Cluttered Schedule

As I re-read my “Decluttering” posts, I realize that they’re mostly rambly and pointless to anyone but me. My apologies. The blog is serving as a sort of journal lately, and as a means for decluttering my own thoughts. It helps to write it all down here, even if it doesn’t make for the most interesting reading.

I am about halfway through Tsh Oxenreider’s Organized Simplicity. Some of the book has been helpful—the suggestion to create a family purpose statement, for instance. Other parts have been less so. It's pretty much geared toward stay-at-home moms. It’s hard to be a “home manager” when you're rarely at home.

Still, much of the book has been helpful so far. One exercise it has you do (starting on p. 55) is to make lists of three things:

1. Everything you’d like to enjoy each month but currently aren’t doing
2. Basic tasks you think you need to do to live
3. All the things you do in an average month

One you’ve made the three lists, you compare them, circling the items on your third list that aren’t present on the other two. “Those,” she writes, “are the potential time-eating culprits.”

So, let’s look at my lists.

Here’s List 1 (Things I’d like to enjoy each month but currently am not doing)

List 1 (click to enlarge)
 Here’s List 2, of basis tasks I think I need to do to live:

List 2 (click to enlarge)
And List 3, all the things I do in an average month:

List 3 (click to enlarge)
The highlighted items are the “potential time-wasters.” Er ... maybe some of those should have been in one of the previous lists. Let’s look at them all:

- Check e-mail: I discussed this in my previous post. I could definitely check my personal e-mail less often, particularly since I don’t typically have much in my inbox.

- Care for Anne: This probably should have been in List 2 ... or List 1!

- Wait for computer to load: Maybe I need to use our PC and accept that my laptop is ready to go home to the Great Toshiba Factory in the Sky.

- Check Facebook: I’m spending between zero and 15 minutes a day on Facebook. I don’t know if it’s really a time-waster for me at this point; it’s useful for some things, and I’ve gotten pretty good at using it efficiently.

- Wonder what’s for dinner: I do this a lot, particularly since Anne can’t have dairy, eggs, or soy. Meal-planning is tough when neither parent gets home until 7:00 at night. We do sometimes plan a week’s meal in advance and can do that more. I’ll need to make time on Saturday to do the planning so I can get the necessary groceries on Sunday.

- Snack: I need to snack less. That’s a given.

- Look up egg-free, dairy free, and soy-free recipes online: Since I don’t have any “specialty” cookbooks and am not eager to buy yet more books, I used the Internet a lot for finding recipes. I’ll generally do this a few minutes before I leave work, frantically trying to figure out what’s for dinner, and if I need to run by the grocery store on my way home.

- Listen to podcasts in the car: Not sure if this is a time-waster. I’m in the car roughly 30 minutes a day. Podcasts make me think and help the time go by.

- Call my mom while driving to or from Angela’s: Now that’s what I call family quality time! This is what I do when I’m not listening to podcasts.

- Take Anne to playground: A time-waster? I don’t think so!

One area I can improve is in meal planning. For part of the year, this is a real challenge; for much of January 1 through mid-April, I work 9–7 or 10–8, and for much of late September through December 31, I work between 45 and 60 hours a week. Dan helps, but his work schedule is pretty crazy; for the past three years, he’s been gone for 10 weeks every summer, plus he works 20 or more weekends a year and has many meetings where he doesn’t get home until almost 10:00 at night on weeknights.

(It’s amazing we recognize each other at the end of the day. And that Anne realizes that, yes, we are her parents.)

(OK, now I'm depressed.)

Anyway, I definitely can improve in the area of meal-planning. I can do the recipe research on Saturdays, in time for the Sunday night shopping trip. That’s just one thing, but it’s one more thing than what I was doing previously.

Here concludes yet another rambling post on decluttering and time management. Unfortunately, it left me feeling kind of discouraged. The next post will probably be on the family purpose statementsomething I'm very excited about!


eArThworm said…
When I had to fix meals for a husband and two kids, I finally got smart and made 3x5 cards of all possible meal main dishes, and a few for starch side dishes and cards for each veggie they liked. I had enough main dishes that I could rotate them and then pick starches and veggies to fit, then use the cards to make the grocery list. If I found a new main dish (or other) recipe, I just added it to the rotation. I could take things out of rotation if I needed to find something that was faster to cook. It sure cut down on the amount of brain energy and time I had to spend on meals and lists.
Nina said…
3x5 cards? Sounds like something a librarian would use! ;-) We have a few "old standbys," but have had to stop using some of them because of the cheese (Anne can't have cheese). So now we're adding more ... it will take time, but I'm sure we'll have a good "rotation" before too much longer.
lifeinlimits said…
Wow, i think I need to make these lists, but the thought of actually seeing my life on paper terrifies me just a little!!!! You are brave! I think it's wonderful that you are trying to be a good steward of you time . . . and it looks like you are!

I didn't know about Anne's dietary needs . . . that definitely makes things tricky! You are such a good mommy!
Sherry said…
Dave Ramsey heavily advertises, which provides recipes for meals and grocery lists according to your needs and available grocery stores near you on a weekly basis. It's $5.00 a month. I haven't subscribed because they don't consider single people as worthy :)
The dB family said…
Meal planning IS difficult. I do it well, usually for a few months, stop, and then pick it up again as we fall into a rut. I'm not trying to discourage you because when you meal plan it makes life so much simpler! You're not cluttering your mind with the nagging thought of what to have for dinner. It is VERY freeing!

Btw, I am enjoying your decluttering posts. I find them interesting and encouraging to know that I am not the only one who is trying to declutter many facets of life.


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