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Help - an extra hour in the day please!

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  • Help - an extra hour in the day please!

    Iím pretty happy with my GTD system so far as next action lists are concerned Ė everything is pretty much in order there now.

    All I keep in my next actions lists is the things Iíd like to or must complete this week Ė that prevents my lists from looking too overwhelming.

    The rest is in my someday maybe or my projects categories.

    Thatís all fine Ė now I can see what I have to do but Iím just struggling finding the time to do anything.

    Once my working day is over I travel home and spend time with my family doing all of the regular day to day things like preparing the evening meal, eating, clearing away, spending an hour with my son before putting him to bed etc.

    After all this is done I feel I have no time left to complete my next actions.

    Now Iím certain I canít be the only person who finds little time to complete next actions. After all, Iím sharing these responsibilities with my wife and yet still I find myself stretched, how single parents cope is a mystery to me!

    Iíd love to hear how others manage to find the time in the week to complete next actions outside of the working day.


  • #2
    I'm not a parent, so take this for whatever it's worth...

    Whenever I find I need an extra hour in the day, it is, 99% of the time, best for me to just get up an hour earlier than normal. I'm not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination, yet it somehow works for me.


    • #3
      dbobfish,you have just defined the human condition. If you find a way to get that extra hour, patent it and please sell me a license.

      There is never enough time to do everything, but you can take solace in the fact that you are consciously choosing how to spend your time and it is probably a very good thing that your son gets an hour and maybe it's not the end of the world that your garage doesn't get cleaned this week or maybe even this year. Just make sure that if you get only one NA done this week that it is the most important one. GTD will help you do that.

      The day will come when you have a surplus of time on your hands and you will remember these days fondly.


      • #4
        I think one surprising aspect of GTD is that when you finally do have a complete inventory of all your commitments, there's usually a shock. "I have *that* much to do!?" That's when you start making the hard decisions, usually involving the words "no" or "renegotiate." I also agree with other commenters that - in some ways - child-rearing gets easire as kids age. That I believe YMMV.


        • #5
          Your replies have all left me with a warm smile. Thank you - I'm feeling human again!

          jknecht -
          Your suggestion re taking the extra hour in the morning is very much appreciated - whether you're a parent or not I think it's a great idea, and it's worked well for me in the past (even though I myself am not a morning person!). However, my 15 month old boy has taken to waking at 5am ready to start the day bright and early (maybe he has his own GTD system? I should check!)

          Barry -
          Ah thanks - that was very well put. How did you know I needed to clean the garage? Is that on all of our next action lists?!

          I guess part of my difficulty is in still having so many next actions and overloading myself.

          I don't really set any priorities in my next actions - should I be setting priorities using the GTD system?

          'The day will come when you have a surplus of time on your hands and you will remember these days fondly.' Hmm... Are you sure? Soon... Please... Soon!

          cornell -
          Oh so true. The 'that much to do?' moment hit me too. Sometimes it's just difficult to say 'no' or to 'renegotiate' the things I feel I'd like to get done in my home life - those things I feel are most important to me.

          Often quite simple things like writing to a friend, doing soemthing creative, or reparing something around the house.

          And child-rearing gets easier as kids age? Hmm... I wonder, maybe soon I could start delegating next actions?!

          Thank you all for your input - you've already given me a few things to consider and I appreciate your time.



          • #6
            I'll second that...idea for time with son

            I agree completely! I am only in the first stages of GTD, reading the book with an AHA moment on every page. So I am seeing that it can help me, but also, I am worried that there will still be too much for a human to do. I can see that Cornell is right on GTD helping to illuminate the responsibilites better.

            An idea on your son. My daughter loves to do things with me. We go to the washer and put the laundry in together, we "fold" together, she stands on a chair by me and helps with the dishes. At 15 months, you are not too far away from that. (Mine is 18 months) As we do things, I explain what I am doing, sing, make up stories. Of course, you can't do dangerous things, but often I am surprised by how much she can do and wants to do. (This kind of thing is more on the weekends. During the week, we too struggle just to get the very basics done like cooking, eating, cleaning up, bath, bed. And that is okay.)

            I think this will be good for her because I hope I can teach her that it is not a terrible thing to have to do a chore. Work can be fun if you have the right attitude. I think doing it this early, as long as it is a pleasant experience, will help it become habit so that when she is older MAYBE it won't be a struggle. To learn that if we all chip in together and have fun getting the work done, we can have more time to go outside and play together.

            I do want to be sure that I don't take this to extreme. I want to be careful to make sure that I often give her my undivided attention, with plenty of time for NOT doing chores. Growing up I enjoyed working alongside my parents, in the garden, around the house. But my parents were always too busy to stop and watch a movie or play a game. That MIGHT have a little to do with me having to work hard to learn that a work-life balance is important and that it is OKAY to do nothing sometimes.

            Having a daughter has allowed me to let go and say, if I go outside and spend an hour chasing bubbles and butterflies, that is just fine--it is exactly where I need to be. It gives me an excuse to live in the moment, (I know I should not need an excuse for that, but...) I can be technically "nonproductive" but know that I am doing the right thing, doing something that is so much more important than fixing something at work or cleaning the garage.

            It sounds like you and your wife are doing a great job of parenting together! If you don't already, it might be good to each have an hour or more a week in which the spouse completely takes care of the child, giving you each some time to power through some things that just cannot be done with a toddler. I have certainly learned to powerclean, and can now get more done in one ALONE hour than I ever thought possible.

            Good luck! Let us know if you find more answers.

            As I proof this one other item becomes obvious....(you are not supposed to do this but) LESS SLEEP is often the technique I resort to to get something done that I really want to get done. I just often do it at night instead of in the morning as also recommended.


            • #7
              Read 4HWW.

              Read "The 4-Hour Workweek" by Tim Ferriss and you'll get 36 extra hours per week (5 extra hours per day on average).


              • #8
                Elaine Ė

                Thank you for your ideas of working with my son instead of trying to work around him. Spending time with your daughter and working through those house chores together sounds like a great way of doing things and I can immediately see so many benefits.

                Explaining what youíre doing, telling stories and singing songs Ė thatís great Ė itíll serve to build on all those language and communication development skills we concern ourselves with as parents.

                Besides that itíll provide an opportunity to just have plain old fun together and build the bonds between me and my son.

                Plus all of the things you mentioned about teaching them how doing chores doesnít have to be a bad thing, and helping them to adopt the right attitudes towards work etc. Great! I can see youíre really on the ball with this Elaine, is your daughter your second child or are you just a really quick learner?!

                As you talk about teaching the children the right attitude, I realise that itís also about my attitude as a parent, and about looking at things differently. Some chores could be a real opportunity for sharing, learning, laughing etc.

                Iíll look at my action lists now with fresh eyes and find next actions I can do and enjoy with my son.

                You say Ďitís okay to do nothing sometimesí, I understand this, but this is something I often overlook as I struggle to Ďget everything doneí. I think I will have that tattooed on the back of my hand where I can see it always!

                Itís funny, Iíve recently had a similar conversation about how, as adults, we seem to have forgotten how to 'live in the moment'. Most of the things we do in our lives are pre-arranged, pre-planned, organised etc. Stopping to chase bubbles and butterflies is incredibly important in life.

                Me and my wife do give each other time whilst we take turns to care for our son. This works, like you say, really well. Weíve also found occasions where something really big needs to be done like decorating etc. itís good when Grandparents care for him for a few hours so we can really crack on and get a job done together.

                Iím smiling at the thought of your power cleaning though ElaineÖ Iím thinking of industrial vacuum cleaners or dusting attachments for a power drill or something!

                Your last comment about less sleep though Elaine.. Hmm.. Iím already having so little sleep that Iím considering hibernating this winter just to catch up!

                Warm regards, Bobfish


                • #9
                  TesTeq -

                  Wha? I was making fun about the extra hour a day!

                  Is this a book about hiring people to work for you?!


                  • #10
                    The idea behind putting NAs into a list is to get them off your mind - you're not expected to complete every item on that list every day!

                    If, however, in your weekly review you notice that some NAs never get done, you might want to think about renegotiating those items. For example, you might decide to move some items to your "someday / maybe" list, or you may decide not to do those things at all.

                    If your list of NAs gets really big and overwhelming, it can be a sign that you're taking on too much, and might have to start saying "no" more often (even the most efficient people in the world can't do an unlimited amount of things).


                    • #11
                      Bobfish, to answer your question about whether to prioritize your lists, this is generally not considered a part of GTD. The idea is that when you have some time to get something done, you scan your (unsorted) relevant context list for the most important action that matches the time and energy you have available. But some people try to order their lists generally by priority (understanding that priorities may change).

                      Involving kids in chores is a good idea with many benefits. In my experience, doing that usually slows the progress of the chores to a crawl, though, so it may not save much time. However, at least you will be getting something productive done in addition to spending time with the kids. And eventually, when they get a little older, they will learn to be productive helpers. My kids love it when I run the vacuum and like to try to wipe and wash things. My wife will actually give in to them when they beg to hold the spray bottle of cleaner, but we had to have a few talks about the safety of that idea. Never forget that kids might do the most dangerous or destructive thing possible with anything you give them, like spray themselves in the eyes with ammonia.


                      • #12
                        Awesome suggestion to do work together with your son. I always wanted to just get it done instead of have it take longer with help. In the long run, it provides benefits to both of you.

                        When your children are very little, you may want to lower your standards for some things. Of course, your standards are raised for a while for cleanliness (keep things so clean that it won't matter if they go in your kid's mouth), and child safety. Will it matter a year from now if you postpone cleaning out your garage? Can you move other projects to someday/maybe. Are there things you do every week that can be done less often?

                        I remember being so tired and sleep-deprived that once my kids were in bed, I felt I could do nothing more. However, if you can muster up the energy to do fifteen minutes toward something on your list, it goes a long way. Do it before you sit down! You can decide whether this will be fifteen minutes first thing in the morning, when you first come home or after your son goes to bed. An hour is probably more than you can do. If fifteen minutes is too much, commit to just five - whatever you think you can do consistently. It's amazing how much you can accomplish in just a short burst.

                        The comments about it being easier when your children get older is true in the sense that they no longer need all of your time and attention. You don't have to take as much stuff with you to take them to the grocery store or on a trip. They become challenging in different ways as they learn to be independent.


                        • #13
                          She is my first, but....I am almost 40 . Thanks, that was a very nice post and made me feel good.

                          Good thoughts from Barry on safety... so far my daughter is too young to realize that she does not have the real thing in her hands.

                          She is starting to do real things like when she takes her diaper off (Arrrrgghh) at least she takes it straight to the little trash can. And she puts her clothes in the hamper, puts the phone back on the cradle, takes a cup to the kitchen. Other than that, not much she does is actually helpful, except that it keeps her BUSY to "help" me. This real helpfulness just recently started. Every week is a new adventure, I am sure you know by now not to compare development.

                          Also, I don't want you to think that this works for continuous hours on a Saturday. We go back and forth and it only works for 10 minutes here and there because her attention span is so short. Like Barry says, it slows the actual progress. But it is better than none. And it is instilling good habits/attitudes, I hope. I think it makes it much easier to be happy if you can enjoy the work. It takes chores to live, so you might as well learn to feel joy in washing the bowl as much as eating from it. (Maybe some ZEN there, with apologies to anyone who really understands the practice.)

                          I love WebR0ver's advice about getting that little 15 minutes after the baby goes to sleep. And not to sit down. (like at the computer....for me) I really think that will work, but not on the larger things that need continuous time and a location change, like the garage.

                          WebR0ver gives me an idea....About those bigger type projects--can you schedule a block of time without your son to work on the project for an hour? Then use that time to break the job into 15 minute increments. For me, on paperwork/decluttering, I am going to try going into the spare room alone, rough sorting the stuff into plastic tubs and getting out the obvious junk. This might take only 1 hour, whereas to do the entire project would take a day or more. Then, maybe I can do one tub 15 minutes a day after my daughter goes to sleep. Or at least it will be portable, and if it is safe stuff, we can get into it together. (She would LOVE that!)

                          I have to give credit here, a few years ago, I was on a message board for getting organized, and I think there were mostly SAHMom's on that board. They often advised things like 15 minute timers, baby-steps to projects, chorecharts, etc. I had a 60 hour workweek and no kids, but it was inspiring and it was my first experience with feeling like there were other people overwhelmed out there.

                          Still, it did not work for me to really cure any overwhelm, but it made me feel better that others had the same problem, and it gave me a lot of little tools and tips. Now, I am excited that GTD seems to fill in the missing pieces and provide a real solution.



                          • #14
                            Another idea---baby backpack

                            I almost forgot about a wonderful tool. I don't use it every week, but we bought a mid-cost baby backpack that is good up to 40 pounds. So probably until she is 3 or so. It was about $80 I think. Sometimes I put her in it and vacuum. (Tiring to bend a lot with it on, plus she could fall out, even though she is strapped in.) When she was about 1 year old, it especially worked well when she used to be very clingy some days. I could work around the house for 30 mins and she'd get sleepy up there. I got my 30 minutes of gym time (that I never do, anyway) out of the way, too! Now, I am not sure if she would stay in it long in the house.

                            In addition, we take a 1/2 mile walk together outside. We should do it a few times a week. I get exercise and I tell her about everything we are seeing. So THAT is my only gym time. We could not go that far in the wagon or with her on foot.

                            It is a Snugli Cross Terrain Backpack Child Carrier. Framed. Not one of those soft front carriers--this is more like a hiking backpack.

                            Well, I have easily used up my 15 minutes of quiettime before the little one gets up. (Inspiration and meditation time!) I feel ready to have a great day! Hope you all do, too!