I am one of those people who thrives with a little checklist. It makes me focused, dedicated, determined, and I love that feeling every time I cross a task off the list.
But the problem with housework is that it’s kind of insurmountable to create a good list. There are so many recurring tasks, so many tasks that depend on others, and so many things that crop up that I can’t possibly plan for in advance. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to create such a list. I’ve made spreadsheets, schedules, and checklists; I’ve tried Remember the Milk and Toodledo; I’ve even written my own little program to manage my tasks the way I prefer them managed. I’ve read Flylady and Shopping for Time and countless blogs on the subject.
And still, I can’t quite compile a list that actually works in our house.
Some lists don’t have enough, and I end up not getting enough done. Some lists are so overwhelming with the detail and scheduling that the second I have a day that goes utterly unaccording to plan, I’m instantly so far behind on my to-do list that I pretty much have to scrap the entire thing.
This morning, I hit on a new idea: I’m not hopelessly inept at the actual doing of household things, it’s just the planning that trips me up. (Although the planning certainly makes the doing more efficient.) So–what if I made a list of the way my day would go, on a “good” day, with the tasks and chores that I get done? And what if I left it sufficiently vague so that on a really good, energetic day, I can do all the tasks really well and thoroughly, and even work in a bit extra–but so that on a bad day, I can just do the bare minimum and not fall completely off the chart? What if I don’t account for all the tasks that I do anyway (like brushing my teeth), and make sure I’m only spending time worrying about (and feeling good about completing) the tasks that I actually have to work to find the motivation to do?
And so I made a new list, and I called it a “routine” instead of a to-do list. Because really, this isn’t a list of things I need to accomplish, this is just the way my day needs to be structured and the habits that I need to form. I’ve failed too many times to be very optimistic about the success of said “routine” layout, but I’ve never quite felt so strongly that a list was in harmony with the way my days really happen, or that it had the right blend of flexibility and high expectations.
We’ll see how it goes… tomorrow!