Saturday, October 25, 2008

It's Time to Break Open the Binder

My Christmas Binder came out of the closet during the final weeks of August. Inside it I have some of the best ideas from the web to get a person on track for the fall and Christmas/New Year holidays. I have the room-by-room plan and chore lists from the Holiday Grand Plan, the Christmas Countdown with its six-week checklists, reading recommendations, recipes and CEO's entertaining and helpful articles that I come back to year after year. It also contains two newer additions that I added two years ago, FLYLady’s Holiday Control Journal that has some wonderful meal and gift planning forms and CEO's Houseworks Holiday Plan that uses her book to help catapult the Christmas preparation plan.

Although I had brought the binder out two months ago, I have come to the conclusion this year that I do not want to hyper-focus on Christmas from August to October. In August and early September I like to squeeze every last drop of summer out of each day, so when working on the Holiday Housework Plan I am only focusing on the things that are only indirectly related to Christmas. This past week was the focus on the family areas areas. I still need to get my amaryllis bulbs started for here and one for my grandma. We have also decorated for Halloween and tonight the boys are carving jack-o-lanterns. When October hits, I do like to have the idea in my head that I will be prepared for Christmas, but I do not want to miss out on what autumn has to offer. I appreciate Christmas Countdown's emphasis on fall holidays and preparing the home so that when December arrives, the final touches of execution are all that are required.

So now I am going through the Christmas Planner web pages to see what needs an update before the first week begins tomorrow. I am going to use my binder for all of the lists and reading materials and the planner pages for the things that would be nice to be portable like shopping lists for gifts and holiday meals.

It's as Simple as That

I hear it often enough. If you want to get something accomplished...just do it. That sounds simple enough. Just get up, grab the bull by the horns and go for a ride. Yeah! That's just how it works. NOT!

So how is motivation to just getting up and getting the job (whatever it may be) done created? By getting up and getting started. Taking the first step. Agreeing that working for a set period of time and then you can be done is all that is needed. But then comes the question, what is it that will motivate my first step? What is it that motivates me to get started? In reality, it is not the same for all. What may motivate me to get the house in top notch order is that I know I will be having visitors soon, or the motivation to keep my grades updated daily is that there are parents that watch as every grade is made available online. But you know, as I have worked to create routines in my everyday life, much of what I do is no longer motivated by what other people are expecting from me, but more from the habits that my routines have developed. These habits have made living in my home, or working within my career much more pleasant as I have a time set to get things done.

I have also been better at learning to delegate. Letting go of control is not an easy feat. I have to remind myself that the world would not end if I did not exist and that things can be done well enough in ways that are not "my" way. One thing I have learned is that you can't delegate what you don't already have under control. I have to jump in to get the area at a level in which I would like it to be maintained, with or without some help. I also have learned that we do a service to our children to teach them by working alongside of them as they are learning a chore. Once they have proven competency then they can work under less close supervision, but I think I need to be doing something of equal contribution to the family and not simply off enjoying a cup of tea and reading a novel or surfing the web. The older boys in my house have learned to team up in just about every chore they have so the job will go more quickly, usually to get out the door or off to a shared activity.

So all motivation, I believe, comes from habits, and habits come from routines. Those things that are not done routinely are usually done to make the routines go more smoothly, or the motivation comes from going through the routines and just seeing what needs to be done next.When the routines stop, it all seems to stall out. Instilling motivation in others comes by sharing the chores and making it a team effort.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Holiday Chaos? Not This Year!

CEO's Christmas Countdown is ready to begin in just two days. Has it really been ten years? Yikes! I have been following the program for many years. I didn't jump in the first year or two she had it up on the message board, but I did join the mailing list as soon as she made it available. I was at first following Katie Leckey's Holiday Grand Plan from the Holiday Grand Plan List Serve group. Over the years I have enjoyed CEO's tasks, reminders, links to articles and of course the recipes. I still have printed copies of these in my Christmas Countdown Holiday Organizer. CEO, aka Cynthia Townley Ewer, the author of Houseworks and the editor of the website Organized Christmas, also developed a Houseworks Holiday Plan, that I have been successfully using for a couple of years. I have been enjoying the Holiday Tips on the Organized Christmas site this year since the beginning of September when this year's Houseworks Holiday Plan began.

Flylady has also helped me through my organizational challenges in years past with the Holiday Cruising Missions on her list and The Holiday Control Journal.

This year, with the experiences I have had with the different programs for over a decade, I am going to use the Houseworks Holiday Plan to keep the house in order and the Christmas Countdown site to keep my holiday preparations on track and finished before the last minute. I will still do any of the FLYLady missions that help simplify my life (her missions started Monday), but I am sticking to CEO's plan. Do you hear the commitment in my tone.

Why am I so adamant about this promise some two months before Christmas is even here? I know that I don't want to be wrapping gifts at 2 a.m. on Christmas morning. I have spent years with shopping only on the few days before Christmas and being frazzled and short tempered because I tried to do a lot in a little time. I have also enjoyed years with a plan with everything wrapped days before Christmas, shopping finished weeks before Christmas, evenings spent enjoying sitting in front of a fire with the family and even planning for guests coming to my house through each of the holiday meals and a party for my mother's side of the family one day and another party for my husband's many siblings and their families another day, and all went well. The difference between working the plan or not is CHAOS or relaxed sanity. I prefer the latter.