Procrastination...pr ioritisation

(10 Posts)
BlogOnTheTyne Wed 31-Oct-12 09:37:06

I have four main categories to juggle in my life: DCs; self-employed business; domestic tasks; home maintenance.

Each category has top priority things on every day lists - things that always get done, if urgent/emergency etc. So that's good.

However, for anything below that level of priority, there's conflict and often stalemate between catgories, leading me to diversionary, procrastinating activities, like MN! There are simply so many things that need to be done for each category, that it feels overwhelming and I'm pulled between things so much, that I end up not doing any - until one becomes urgent/emergency category - in which case, it then gets done.

Here's an example of today:

In the business category, there are some semi-urgent admin. things to do - including client contacts to make, invoices to complete etc.

In the DC category (currently on half-term) I need to supervise more holiday homework, musical instrument practice, continue a game of Monopoly with one DC, find quality time with the others and ensure they get lunch before a party this afternoon.

In the domestic tasks catgeory, there is the perennial backlog of laundry to put away, laundry to wash and dry, kitchen to tidy and various 'things' to put away.

Finally, in the home maintenance category, there's a list of undone jobs that I either need to do myself or find and pay someone else to do, including painting/decorating, filling plaster holes, replacing 2 areas of garden fencing etc etc.

There are always other 'big things' that hover like clouds in the background as well - such as the last year's tax return to do by Jan 31st and some other very significant but not yet urgent business-related things to do.

With the medium-level demands jostling for priority and the dark clouds of the huge but not yet urgent tasks to tackle, I find myself today - like every day, pulled between which to tackle?

No job will be able to be actually finished in its entirety today, in any case, because of the hour by hour needs of the DCs. This doesn't help either, as I then have the attitude that there's no point in starting, when I won't have time to do nuch without a first interruption.

If I begin one task, then the resultant, temporary 'mess' created mid-task, makes it feel like it'll end up feeling worse than not doing it at all (eg think laundry strewn across floor, into piles for each family member, rather than stuffed into baskets or paperwork strewn similarly).

Does anyone else have this kind of problem? If so, how do you manage it?

I realise, logically, that doing a small amount of each category would make some headway, yet the fact that every day, more is added to each category, making it feel as if nothing is ever completed, stops me persisting with that method.

So any clever ideas to break the impasse would be much appreciated!

ZombTEE Wed 31-Oct-12 10:39:46

I actually assign days or half days of the week to each category.

My son is just in preschool 1/2 days and goes to a childminder 2 afternoons.

So:

M specific client work
T small household tasks
W am specific client work pm big household tasks
Th company work ie books, marketing etc
F am any remaining company work pm housework

Would that work for you? Maybe not this week of course. This week my whole schedule has gone to hell!

BlogOnTheTyne Wed 31-Oct-12 11:05:25

Thanks. The thing is, that when I'm not taking time off with the DCs, my normal 5.5 day working week is - drop off DCs at school at 7.45am, run business from 8am till 3pm, do pick up, supervise homework, make supper, feed DCs, work again from 6pm till 7.30pm, supervise DCs bedtime.

Weekends usually involve me also running business on Saturday mornings. This then leave Sat. afternoon and Sundays to do the emergency catch up domestic stuff/quality time with DCs, emergency business admin. but as the whole household gets up at 6am every day, I don't 'get' evenings to catch up on stuff, as I go to bed shortly after DCs (around 9.30pm/10pm).

I'm too tired to do anything constructive in the evening once DCs in bed and try to wake at 5am to be up an hour before DCs to do the prep. for that day - but nothing more really.

So I can't devote whole days to any one thing other than the earning money bit and anything else related to the business - like the admin. and all other stuff, gets put on the backburner until it becomes urgent.

PermaShattered Wed 31-Oct-12 11:43:27

It's par for the course, I'm afraid. Do have a partner? I'm assuming not.....

What you've described is completely and utterly normal. You have to be regimented - although sometimes that's not possible, eg when you have a sick child. I just take comfort from remembering the chaos won't last forever....

There are no quick fix answers. Get the kids to help more? Delegate?

BlogOnTheTyne Wed 31-Oct-12 16:06:17

No partner. Not v good at regimentation. Can only see 'light at the end of the tunnel', once all DCs have left home.

Just wondered if anyone has any other ways of deciding what the next priority is, if it's not on the urgent list?

Domestic harmony helps me to 'feel' more in control but keeping more on top of business admin. - especially since the business is the family's sole source of income - is really the one that 'should' always take priority.

Then there's the Mummy-guilt thing - as I feel I never spend nearly enough 'quality time' with the DCs, despite also trying to put their needs first and foremost. Friends who are SAHMS have spent every day of halfterm so far taking their DCs out on trips. So different from my life!

Finally, the home maintenance jobs are getting 'silly' in terms of what hasn't been done and may still not get done over the next few years, rather than even months!

Eg, at the start of this year, I decided that the DCs bedrooms really should be redecorated as they were last done 7 years ago when DCs were much younger. They have nowhere really to store stuff properly as the small available cupboards remain stuffed with 'stuff'.

However, it's now nearly November and there definitely isn't time in the foreseeable future to do the rooms myself or get in anyone else to do them (I work from a home office and the nature of the work means I can't have tradespeople in the house during my working hours - which just leaves Saturday afternoons and all Sundays.)

Since starting this thread, I've done yet another blitz on the laundry tidying into each person's basket, ready to put away - but there is masses more still to do. DCs are all at a party but will need to collect in 45mins and now my bedroom, where all the laundry is piled, is in chaos, as the job remains half done.

Three fairly urgent work related things have now come in and should be done but that will mean the laundry clear up will stop for the next few weeks I expect as other things take over again....

Re. delegating to the kids, yes, if I offer them enough money, they'll help a but but the amount of supervision needed makes it take three times as long and it alwasy feels quicker to do myself!!

MrsMargoLeadbetter Thu 01-Nov-12 07:33:57

OP, I am exhausted reading your posts, I feel for you.

Are you a perfectionist? I ask, as I am and I suffer from procrastination. Basically my head is full of all the conflicting things I need to do to a certain level. I try to deal with it by setting time periods for tasks and trying to question the standards I set myself, easier said than done.

I also vaguely try to follow 'Get Things Done' by David Allen. www.amazon.co.uk/Getting-Things-Done-Stress-free-Productivity/dp/0749922648 or I have been reading this UK version www.amazon.co.uk/Productivity-Ninja-Forget-Time-Management/dp/0956689310/ref=sr_1_sc_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1351754577&sr=1-1-spell as the perfectionist in me is always looking for the perfect 'to do' system

The idea being that you need to have a list of next actions as opposed to a big list of projects which can be overwhelming.

So a small eg:
Call Sue about the unpaid invoice
Enter October invoices
Pay stationery bill

Is easier to contemplate & move to action on than "sort out accounts".

I also try to focus on a short urgent list each day, it needs to be the actual urgent things, rather than everything on your list. And I try to take satisfaction from achieving it rather than looking at what remains.

I would seriously look at if there is anything you can outsource. I know it costs money and being home based is an issue for you, but a few hours a month of a VA/cleaner might bring you some peace of mind. Could you not move to a coffee shop for a week whilst somebody does the decorating?

If you really cannot change what needs to be done, you need to change your attitude/approach to it. So potentially reducing your standards/what you set yourself to achieve.

For what it is worth, it actually sounds to me like you are doing a good job of bringing up a family on your own whilst running a business. You have managed to create a business that works around your family whilst being a single parent, that is no small feat.

Not sure is this is of any help.

BlogOnTheTyne Sat 03-Nov-12 06:05:38

Thanks, MrsMargoLeadbetter. I'll have a look at that book you recommend. I try not to be a perfectionist but think the problem is more to do with sheer lack of time and the fact that once a task is started, there's never time to see it through to completion. So I then feel more chaotic, with things half done, than not starting them at all. However, this means that anything below 'urgent' on the list, rarely gets done.

The nature of my work means that the money-making part is in my home office and can't be transferred to a coffee shop environment. So I can't uproot for a week or so and get people in to do all the household maintenance jobs, without losing out on income (and we're solely reliant on the income from my business for everything).

I have tried cleaning companies but the most recent disaster with one - who damaged wooden flooring, makes me reluctant to go that route again.

We seem to be surrounded by other people who run 'easier to run' businesses that 'run themselves', yet bring in millions and so my DCs are always aware that I have less time, less money and more stress than most of their peers' parents. This has sparked DCs interest in setting up their own businesses! But they're not sure how to translate ideas or desires into reality. Maybe that's a whole other thread!

gussiegrips Tue 13-Nov-12 20:14:05

I get this.

I often find myself sitting up at silly o'clock, surrounded by bits of cereal welded to the table and piles of laundry and half finished tasks.

When I say "often", I mean daily.

So, I have nothing helpful to add apart from - yep <nodding sagely>

Ceasnake Wed 14-Nov-12 22:03:26

If you can afford it, outsource everything you can. Seriously. If you can afford £25 a week, that's your cleaning done. Maybe the ironing too. I'm not sure what your business is, but make a list of all the tasks that you could turn over to a virtual assistant and do just that. You can get monthly packages of 10 hours, 20 hours business support, and so on.
Whoops, just realised you've already tried cleaning companies. Well, maybe look for someone a bit more low-key? There must be a cleaner out there who will come in, do the job and make your life a bit less stressful?
And get a VA. Seriously.

Babyjakesmum Wed 21-Nov-12 12:32:12

I'm right there with you. Have just the same problems. Overwhelmed by all the bits and pieces of running home and family while trying desperately to get time to work so I can make some money (of which I have very little) I do have a DP, but he chooses to be away a lot and and when he's here he just seems to add to the mess (he would live like a student if allowed) and doesn't take much to do with running the household. I am about demented. I was supposed to be out on client visits today, but I am still picking a list of urgent but small and annoying things that I need to do first.

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