Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Wall

I love a good plan.  I mean, I really love a good plan.

Sometimes, when there is so much going on, it's hard to sit down and make the plan. But the plan is vital. 

Taking time to make the plan saves time in the end. It always has.
On Friday afternoon, I wanted to celebrate after a week of small, but worthy, accomplishments. I had participated in two business meetings and have started generating (insert gasp here!) new business. I had an albeit short, but very good run on Tuesday (the results of long runs and shorter speed workouts are paying off). Under my own direction, I started taking allergy meds which immediately relieved the 'ghost Elizabeth' that Prilosec couldn't seem to resolve. 

In the same week, I managed to compromise my left groin while rolling from my back to my right side in bed (Yes. I'm now at an age where I can sustain an injury by simply changing positions) and I did send my son to school in his pajamas on a day that turned out to not be Pajama Day.  But other than those things, I really had a swell week.  Time to enjoy.

After collecting the kids, we collected Husband and ended up at a nearby restaurant bar -- it's where Blackhawks fans on Chicago's North Side go to watch games -- and had a fun dinner.  Burgers, wings, the best tater tots I've ever had and pints of Stella and Guinness. We ended our gluttony with their one and only dessert: The Skillet. A freshly baked brownie topped with multiple scoops of ice cream and whipped cream and chocolate and caramel goo. It was heavenly.

Then we hit up the nearby Blockbuster and raided the shelves for the most random selection of movies ever during their "Going Out of Biz" sale. 

It was a good Friday night.

But instead of letting everyone flop on the couch when we got home, I put those bitches to work. I made the kids tidy the playroom and their own bedrooms.  Husband redded up the kitchen and Daughter sorted laundry and mopped the kitchen (really poorly) while I updated our checkbook/the budget and made note cards for The Wall.

This is The Wall:

Aren't you jealous you don't live here, with me, and the note cards, on a Friday night?

I thought you might be.

The note cards are the spin-off of how I'd manage multiple accounts and multiple co-workers on my team when I worked at the agency downtown. I learned the concept, a Tickler file,  at my worst job ever.  Basically, I used to keep hanging file folders that were numbered, 1 through 31 (days of the month, get it?) in one filing cabinet drawer. And then, things that were due or needed to be followed up on that particular day, were dropped into that folder. If I called someone on the 5th and they said to call them back on the 9th, I'd take the folder and drop it into the hanging file numbered 9. It wasn't a completed task, so it couldn't get crossed of a to-do list. It needed follow up. On the 9th.

I knew what I was doing every day based on the file folders.

So, when I left that gig to do the full-time mom thing, I adapted the system and made it work in a 3x5 index card file. Trouble is, I sometimes forget to look in the card file, so it's easy to miss stuff.

When I'm planning a kid's birthday party, or hosting a family gathering (say, Thanksgiving) that involves days worth of preparing, I find the whole process easier to manage if I tape the note cards to the wall. Then I can assign specific note cards to other people in my household. 

Ah! The joys of delegating!

Now that we're a one-car family, the note cards on The Wall help us get as much done as possible and still have some time to spend together  -- relaxing -- on the weekends.

So, I made The Wall last night. And this morning, I felt okay sleeping until 8:30 am (Oh yes, I did!) because I knew we had a plan for the day. A plan for the next three days, actually.   Things felt under control.

After coffee, I gave Husband his note cards and any other supplemental items that he needed to complete his note carded tasks (library cards, hockey picture forms, blank checks, etc.). When he and the kids left, I got started on my note cards.

It's going on 3 pm now. I've gotten so much accomplished today, that I'm not going to feel the least bit guilty if I curl up on the couch and shut my eyes for a few minutes. I've maintained laundry (the ongoing process of washing it /drying it /carrying it both up and downstairs to the laundry room/ folding it and / putting it away), scheduled a Monday meeting, reviewed a Web site and started jotting down thoughts about next steps, reached out to Clif Kids and a local running store for Jog-A-Thon donations, researched promotional items for the Jog-A-Thon, contacted Levi's about the 5-month-old jeans that split last week, ordered more birth control pills and started a list for Target.

That was a productive Saturday. And I haven't yelled at anyone yet. 

The notecards, if you can see them, are weird. 

Some of them are just to manage the reading and spelling logs Little Guy has to finish up before Tuesday. One of them is a reminder for Husband to 'De-Bark' the bathtub (the kids had a 'fabulous' idea on Monday that I just wasn't paying attention to and it resulted in a bathtub, bathroom floor, and waste paper can being filled with tree bark).  Another one is just: "The Box."  I've got a box of leftovers from Little Guy's room renovation that needs to be looked through. I thought moving it to the living room would speed up the process. Instead, we've all just learned to step over "The Box". Okay...the system isn't perfect. :)

"Long Run" is the top card for tomorrow.

The best thing about the notecards is that you can tear them up when you're done. It's 20x more satisfying than crossing an item off of a to-do list. Trust me.

Of course, I created about 10 more note cards as I was tearing up the completed ones. However, I either hung the cards on the wall or put them in the index card box, so it's all good. 

My reward? I mean, other than the smug satisfaction I have from getting a lot of work done today? 

I had a beer. I'm watching Dog. And Husband came home with 200 ruled 3"x5" index cards for me.

What's not to love about that?

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