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Saturday, August 24, 2013

Getting Organized, Step 5: create schedules and deadlines

"Diary of a mad bride" and "diary of a mad mom-to-be" by Laura Wolf are among my favorite books.

Amy, the leading woman, is a magazine editor, who is getting slightly obsessed about her upcoming life changes and is trying to get a grip by setting up and following checklists.


 

It's been a while I have read them, though. Since becoming a mom myself, there hasn't been much time for reading. Still I remember that I liked them. One of the reasons was because my theory got confirmed: checklists are fine and all, but

LIFE IS WHAT HAPPENS 
WHILE YOU ARE BUSY MAKING OTHER PLANS! 

Now there is nothing wrong with checklists!

I created some myself at my first job as a Human Resources Assistant: things to do for employees who are joining or leaving the company. 

If you have a bunch of those every month, you need to keep track of what you have done already and what still remains to do: send out employment agreement, apply for work visa, register with social security, arrange PC login, enroll in first day orientation, order flowers, and so on.


A nice side effect of checklists is, you get to check every activity when they are done! 
So if it is hard for you to get motivated in the mornings, here's a tip for you:

You can never go wrong with that one!
So checklists are great. For specific jobs - for example in the aviation business -  they are even a must and have to get signed by the person who did the work plus by their supervisor.



Now on to schedules and deadlines.

This is where I start squirming. I am a results-oriented person, and I do get things done on time. I think I work best, yet not free from slips of the pen, under pressure. But I hate to commit to be doing activity A at 9:15, and activity B at 9:45. What if I get a phone call between A and B? I will be late for B, and being late feels like failing! And let's be honest: what if I just don't feel like doing A at all today? 

Of course I make and follow schedules. In my head - like when I am in the kitchen! What time do I need to start making pizza dough if we want to have dinner at 6:30pm? 



One more thing about schedules: Apart from the obvious "calendar", I like to use the "task" function in Outlook. Wonderful tool so nothing gets forgotten. Even more wonderful, you can "remind me again" over and over - maybe it gets done without my lifting a finger? It happens, right? Habit no. 6 "don't procrastinate" might bite me at some point.

Also I am a structured person up to a certain point. I like to color code. Green poly pockets for candidates I want to invite for an interview; yellow ones for "need more info / maybe" and red poly pockets for applicants who get a "thank you, but no, thank you".
I hate making process flow-charts. Why would I spend time drawing boxes and labeling them with "yes" and "no"? Seriously. 
Telephone order process? Keep it simple! 1: pick up phone. 2: order

And then the 1.1 and 1.1.1 thing:

1: start project - duh, you really like to cross that one off your list, huh?
1.1: create project title - preferably Latin or Greek name with really meaningful analogy
1.1.1: organize brainstorming meeting (In-house? Convention center? Budget?)
1.1.1.1 invite participants - should person X be there, although he isn't fluent in BS Bingo*?

Just call it what it is and get the h*** started!!!

*BS Bingo instructions




This post is also about setting and reaching goals.

Another thing I don't like to committ to. I am not talking about the nice things of course. Maybe I should make it a goal to spend at least half an hour on Facebook every morning?

But the dreaded jobs that just won't go away!

I have made it my goal to declutter our living room by September 14 - that's the day of Colin's birthday party. It is so annoying to see the mess in the background of the pictures!

One task is to get rid of the bottles. The wedding gift (sparkling) wine bottles. They have been sitting - standing actually - on the wall unit for nine years, collecting dust and probably rotting. 


 

So this is the timeline I've come up with. Actually I wrote it AFTER I was done. And you know what? Had I prepared the timeline before, there would have been only steps 1,2 and 6. How was I supposed to know that steps 3 - 5 plus 7 would come up? Timelines are so theoretical!

Deadline is "whenever I'm done, I have no idea how long it's gonna take me, OK?!"
  • Step 1: get the bottles down and put them by the sink a couple of days ahead - as to be forced to deal with them. Optional: get to it right away.
  • Step 2: open them. It sounds like a matter of minutes, and it went really well at first. The Prosecco mini bottles made just a tiny popping sound, and there was no more sparkling or frothing, but some ugly smelling going on when I poured out the contents. Not the case with the wine bottles. The cork was so dried-out that it crumbled. One solid piece stayed in the bottleneck, the other one stuck on the corkscrew. 
  • Step 3: put both in some water, hoping the moisture would help remove the cork pieces. No progress. Still stuck after a couple of hours. Reminds me of childbirth. Is anyone experienced in the wine bottle C-Section procedure?


  • Step 4: post on FB. Someone points out the obvious: "if you are not going to drink it, why don't you try and push the cork back into the bottle?" Genius, why didn't I think of that myself?
  • Step 5: poke and prod around with a knife until some pieces tumble down and others come spattering towards my hair, face and white T-Shirt - red wine included!
  • Step 6: pour and rinse
  • Step 7: repeat steps 5 and 6 - only with a different corkscrew, as the regular one doesn't fit onto this specific bottleneck. It's good to have so many tools in the messy drawer!
All done!
How did it come to that, you might ask? Why were they hanging on to those bottles for so long?

When we got married, we had everything we needed in our household, and there's people who mean well but don't like to give money, so we got decorative candles, mugs with fun imprints, glass bowls, you name it. Some are in use, others broke,... 

The bottles looked nice, and we displayed them until a special occasion would come up and I could drink them. Yes, my husband doesn't like alcoholic beverages, and (back when I was single) I made it a rule not to drink alone. When there was finally something to celebrate and make an exception to the rule, I was pregnant and couldn't drink. Then I was too busy preparing milk bottles. Fast-forward a couple of years, and the wine bottles are still here gone (Bottles? - Check!) 


We had set up a wish list on our wedding website - containing items for our honeymoon
Our family and friends wired money for our various adventure trips, accommodation and dinners, and we had a wonderful (and totally clutter-free) time in Australia. 

And I'll leave you for now - sharing some of those unforgettable memories: