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Time management for dummies: Tackling chores

in Time Management

Photo by Bongani on

Photo by Bongani on

The question most frequently asked of me is how I get everything done. Between being a mom to three young kids, maintaining a happy marriage to a traveling spouse, writing a novel, keeping up with my freelance writing career, serving on the Dallas board of the International Dyslexia Association, being a room mom, volunteering in my community, hosting frequent dinner parties, and NOT having a housekeeper or nanny… yes, my days are full.

But isn’t everyone’s? I don’t think there is one answer to getting things done, I think the trick is finding a system that works for you.

I’m going to write a series of weekly articles that will address what has worked for me. I welcome your feedback and questions. For me, time management starts with lists.

My list of lists

I am a slave to lists. I’m not talking about just grocery lists and simple to-do lists; my lists are more complex. I have broken my life into 8 primary lists (in no particular order):

  • Household
  • Errands
  • Family
  • Writing
  • Daily
  • Weekly
  • Monthly
  • Annual

This week I’ll focus on the household chores list. Next week, I’ll share my Errand and Family Lists.

Household chores

I have myself on a constant house maintenance schedule. I have certain things I do on the 15th (like change the air filter and start steam cleaning a room a day), and then I have things I do weekly (like changing the litter box, mopping, and changing the aquarium water) and daily (like dishes and laundry). I keep an ongoing list so I make sure everything gets completed. I also have each of my kids doing chores. I’ve taught them that the house is OUR responsibility; not MY responsibility. My job as their mom is to raise them to be  good members of society and to teach them right from wrong. I am not their maid.

Every day we do one or two loads of laundry and one or two loads of dishes. I have one child that gathers clothes and puts them in the washer. I have another that is in charge of helping with the dishwasher. My youngest sets the table for us, and each child is responsible for helping clean up after meals. Chores are absolutely essential to my sanity.

I keep a whiteboard list of things that I need to get done. I keep the list manageable (about 10 items a day), and I mark them off as I go. This allows me to see progress. Beside that list, I put a couple of optionals. Today’s list, for example:

  1. Wash kid clothes
  2. Wash towels
  3. Fold laundry
  4. Put away laundry
  5. Pack 4 lunches
  6. Finish scraping grout in shower
  7. Clean toilets
  8. Take out trash
  9. Bake bread for breakfast
  10. Extras: Delicate laundry, clean aquarium

The key to a successful list is making it manageable and using the time wisely. For example, this morning I started a load of laundry before eating breakfast. By the time the kids were loaded for school, the clothes were ready for the dryer and the second load went into the washer. I will then have one folding session this afternoon while the kids are doing their chores. I’ll clean the toilets while the kids are showering, and bake bread during their quiet time.

If I accomplish either of my extras, that takes them off of tomorrow’s to-do list. By making my week visual, I can easily add to and adjust my chores as I go.

The later in the week I go, the less things are already on my to-do list. I plan it that way because I know there will inevitably be things that come up during the week that become priority. If I keep my end-of-week more manageable, I have wiggle room to add things in.

Your turn

Are you a list person? If not, what works better for you? Do you prefer to “fly by the seat of your pants?”

Are there any specific struggles you would like me to tackle in my Time Management series? Email me or comment below.

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heather May 15, 2013 at 6:01 pm

Your list is too detailed for me. I would lump #1-4 together as “laundry”. I also wouldn’t put “pack lunches” on the list as that is just part of my morning routine. I also try to take out the recyclables or trash as I’m headed out the door. The things I put on the to-do list are the day’s activities, like chiropractor appt., basketball practice, or a social event. I tend to be more flexible. My husband doesn’t travel, but he works nights and weekends so often I have to do the work of two of us. Hope you’ll visit my blog and see what we have in common!

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