Monday, February 29, 2016

Why my Routines Rule.

I get a lot done in a day.  I like getting a lot done in a day.  Sometimes people ask me how I do so much.

The answer?  I cheat.

Seriously, I do.  My routines are how I cheat.  I automate as much of the mundane activity in my life as I can and by doing so I free up a ton of mental and emotional energy.  I automate things using my routines and my lists.  

Think of every task you need to get done to get ready in the morning.  
  • Open eyes
  • Turn off alarm clock
  • step out of bed.
  • Shower
  • brush teeth
  • comb hair
  • get dressed
  • etc etc etc
If we had to think of every one of those tasks we would go absolutely crazy.  But we don't have to.  Our brain takes care of it for us.  I realized I should do that with more stuff. (It wasn't just my idea, Gretchen Rubin, helped)

I don't want to rely on my subconscious to remember everything, so I make lists.  For pretty much everything.

The most prominent, and the most life changing, has been my nighttime routine.  I keep a list taped to the inside of my pantry that has all of the things I need to do each night for a successful day the next day.  Things like making sure I have all of the ingredients for dinner, packing my lunch, feeding the pets, and cleaning the kitchen.  I'm sure these tasks are going on in almost every one's house, the only difference is I don't have to think about it.  And that's awesome.

Because despite what people occasionally suggest, my routines don't take away spontaneity, they provide space for it.  With my mind free from remembering to switch the laundry, I can plan that awesome murder mystery dinner party I want to host instead.    And instead of "getting ready for the next day" being a mystery phrase that my husband hears me utter, it's a quantifiable thing that he can see and even do for me on occasion! ;)

Monday, February 15, 2016

What I've been reading: Goal Check In!

Check out my first Goal check in Book Review here.

I absolutely love having a goal to read books.  I love reading and having it as a 'goal' makes it so easy for me to make a bit of time for reading (or a lot of time as my reading list probably shows...)

Since my last update, I've read the following:

19. How to Talk so kids will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk
How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk

I liked this book.  I don't read a ton of parenting books, but this one was recommended to me and is consistent with most of our parenting philosophies. We were having some challenges with our 3 year old and the book offered some practicial methods for resolving them.  Sometimes you just need a fresh perspective. I recommend this book to parents looking for some new tools.

20.  The 4 hour Body.

 Tim Ferris is one of my least favorite people.   After reading his first book, I would have bet a large sum I'd never read another one of his books, so I'm not even entirely sure how I ended up with this one.  And to be fair, I didn't even really finish it. ( ended up skimming/skipping his chapters on intimacy and bulking up, no thank you TF).  I still give myself credit for it though since we've decided to try it.  It's working wonders for my husband I've seen absolutely zero numerical results (weight or inches).  Still, I feel pretty good and I'm glad it's working for one of us.  Plus, an eating program that allows diet coke and red wine can't be all bad... Still; boo Tim Ferris. Boo.  I don't recommend this book.

21. 10th of December

I don't like short stories.  This book pretty much perfectly illustrates the reason why.  Somewhere in the murky and clouded distance between these stories, an incredibly novel is lurking.  I would LOVE to read it.  Still, there really are some great stories in here. I recommend this book to people who like thriller/fantasy books and who don't mind a short story.  I was talking to someone the other day who LOVES short stories because she said they don't keep you up all night reading, which is a good point. So if you don't want to be kept up all night, but don't mind some super creepy weird dreams, read away.

22. Spark Joy

This is the very first time I've EVER preordered a book.  (To be fair, there are some others I would preorder if I wasn't so happy waiting for them at the library).  But I am mid 'Tidy" and figured I could use all of the KonMari I could get.  I liked it, but it's not a necessary read.  I recommend this book to people who loved her first book and are in the middle of clearing their homes.

23. A Summer Affair

It's probably not a glowing review when I look at the title less than a month after finishing the book and can't remember a single thing about the book.... I would recommend this book to someone looking for a vacation read without much impact.

24. That Old Cape Magic

I read this on the recommendation of a friend and I was surprised.  It didn't seem like her type of book.  After discussing it with her, I think I'll give the author another shot, but I wasn't a fan of this one.  Maybe it's more endearing if you have personal history with any of the locations in the book (the Cape).  I don't recommend this book.

25. Tale of a 4th grade Nothing

After reading her new novel "In the Unlikely Event," I'd almost forgotten how much I loved Judy Blume.  This really was a fun read and I'm glad I revisited.  How can you not relate to a kid who's baby brother ate his pet turtle??

26. Super Sad True Love Story
This book is in the running for best book of my chellenge.  Set in a dystopia not so distant future where young people communicate almost exclusively via text, no one reads actual books, and your social status is broadcast publically for all to rank and judge (it IS the future... barely), it is a super sad love story.  I'd recommend this book to anyone who didn't stop reading this review at the word dystopia.

27. Heart of Darkness

I have to admit, I was pretty excited when our classic book club choose a short book.  Little did I know.  I listened to the entire book and was so lost I had to start over and read the book.  It's a short book, but it's heavy.  And full of 'stuff'.  No wonder English teachers drool over this book.  It was good to revisit such an iconic Honors English book as an adult.  Besides Mr. Redmens English class at HHS, I'd recommend this book to people who like Classics with the warning that it's harder to get through then you would suppose.

28. Ready Player One

I read "Armada" and really liked it so I added this to my library hold list.  It's a fun read, although I'm not quite nerdy enough to get all of the references.  I do think that someone should tell Cline that no matter how many times he writes a book about it, spending all day watching 80's sitcoms and playing video games is never going to make him save the world and get the girl.

I recommend this book to nerds, especially those who spent some time growing up in the 80s.

29, The Cartel

I think this book popped up on my list this update because I decided to counter "Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing."  It was long, heavy, and difficult to read.  It's focused on the drug wars and the Mexican Drug Cartels.  It's frighteningly realistic, although my little sister's current geographical proximity to the locations in the book prevented me from checking just how realistic.  I'd recommend this book to people who like crime novels and aren't squimish.

 30. The Luckiest Girl Alive

This was a fun read despite, or maybe because of, some of the most incredible over writing I've seen lately. For example, this gem, "I pressed my face into the crook of his neck, hot and steamy as a New York City sidewalk helplessly exposed in the thick of summer."  
I'd recommend this book to people who liked "Gone Girl" or "The Girl on the Train" although I don't think it was quite as good.

At 30 books, I'm way ahead of my goal to read 50 books by October.  If I counted the books I read at naptime and bedtime everyday, I think I might be able to reach 1000 this year! :)

Friday, February 12, 2016

Planning is Everything

I'm planning a presentation for my MOPS group about the value of a family meeting.  While brainstorming my opening, I referenced a list of quotes I keep in my notebook and found this one.

To me this is such an apt quote for parenting.  Sometimes I get frustrated.  It is rare that my plans play out as expected, especially with my children. Whether its my meal plan, our vacation plans, or even just my plan for what I'm going to get done for the day, something will come up (or down) or from the side and knock me off my route.

So my plans are (often) useless.  But I whole heartedly agree, planning is everything.  Planning, the time spent getting organized, thinking about what needs to get done and setting up deadlines and goals, is critical.  It allows me to make the best decisions for my family when the unexpected happens.  It gives me the skills I need to balance opposing needs, reset priorities and make new plans.

Flexibility is so critical with little ones, but if anyone else is struggling to find purpose in preparing plans that never seem to execute as designed, I hope this quote brings you some peace, too.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

What the heck is a zone anyway?

Thank you for the positive feedback on my family meeting posts!  I love hearing that people are considering implementing this habit and I'd love to hear how it works for you and your family!

The most frequent feedback I got on my worksheets was "What is a zone??"

Hmm, people aren't familiar with the weird jargon we use in our family meetings?  Noted.

I have a very strong dislike for cleaning.  I'm not that good at it, and it doesn't come naturally to me what needs done when.  So, like the scheduling freak that I am, I made a type of schedule.

This list is very specific for our house.  So unless you have the exact same house, pets, and concerns as me, it will need some modification, but maybe it could serve as a launch point.  Personally, I think everything would be just a little bit better if we could somehow get it down to 5 zones.  By the 6th week, it's usually extremely obvious what zone is next.  One whiff of the dogs breathe and I'll know she's up next week.

That probably leads sane people to wonder why I need a list.  If I can tell the dogs breathe is bad, why can't I just brush her teeth?  I don't have an answer to that.  All I know is that before I had this system, I lived in a constant state of feeling behind and stressed out.  Everything seemed messy and out of control.  Now, instead of worrying if everything is perfect, I can relax and know that everything has a time to be dealt with, eventually anyway.

Some tasks simply can't wait 6 weeks. That's what the purple box in the bottom right quadrant is for.  Every Sunday there is a list of tasks that we've decided need done weekly.  Toilets, laundry, etc.  We've recently adjusted how we handle those tasks, actually, but for a long time this system worked very well for us.

So, that's what a zone is.