Part of my intention in downshifting is to take better care of what we have. That means I need to have a schedule of daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly tasks that will help organize and maintain our home life.
One of the challenges that I face by working from home is creating a daily rhythm that allows me to fulfill my responsibilities to my employers and still have time for these household tasks. For example, I expect to put in about 6 hours of work daily. I know that if I don’t get started on my paid work by 9 or 10 every morning I’m not going to be able to fulfill my work obligations. So in general my daily rhythm includes working from approximately 9:30-4:30, but there are so many additional to-do’s, appointments, and activities to fit in that I need an easy way to manage these.
Some tasks have been slipping through the cracks for quite some time. Pet meds are given late every month; the kitty litter doesn’t get changed regularly; the compost isn’t getting turned. My house plants are pathetically ill-cared for. Case in point, I recently re-potted a rubber tree plant that hadn’t been transplanted since my daughter was one (she’s 19 now)!
Each one of these failures is like a little paper-cut. It is more annoying than painful because it is a small failure and the cure is simple. I just need a way to make the tasks a natural part of life, with a very small dedication of time.
To this end, I adopted a weekly rhythm worksheet from Brooke McAlary, author of the blog Slow Your Home. Her post on creating a rhythm is available here and really inspired me. I took a printout of her worksheet, put it in a plastic sleeve, used a dry erase maker to create a weekly rhythm, and hung it on a bulletin board near my desk.
Unfortunately, I have not successfully followed it. I think the main problem is that the worksheet is “analog” and I am “digital”. I am much more likely to follow and pay attention to something that is available to me on all of my laptops and devices. In particular, I have found that on weekends I use my iphone/ipad and don’t spend much time in my home “office”. If the rhythm isn’t in front of me I forget about it.
So I did some research and decided to try out the app 2Do (2Doapp.com). I’ve just finished a trial period of 2Do on my Mac and now I need to decide if I will buy it. Overall I like it, but I am bummed that I have to buy it twice, once for Mac, once for iOS. I almost never buy apps, preferring free ones, but I think I’m making an exception in this case because it is a really great productivity tool.
There are still some things I failed to do, even using the 2Do app. The main one is weekly menu planning – maybe I am just never going to get to the point where I do this. One of my least favorite things to do is pick out meals, so picking out a week’s worth of meals at once just seems too daunting. I also added a daily task called “decluttering”. That one needs to go too. It is too vague to be helpful.
I have been much more attentive to the following things: kitty litter (Mickey says ‘Thank you’), the compost (both emptying my kitchen bin and turning the piles), vacuuming (gah! 2 fur-shedding beasts), and laundry. I’ve added monthly tasks, such as washing the dog bed and administering pet meds, and quarterly tasks such as paying my self-employment taxes.
One big task yet to put into my rhythm is writing time for this blog. I have so many ideas started – with photos taken, resources gathered, just no words “put to paper” yet. Some changes are coming in August and with them I am hoping to really devote a lot of time to this blog and getting connected to a broader community. Meanwhile I intend to continue to fine-tune my rhythm and find more time for creating!