Tag Archives: lists

Trying to fit it all in…

Seriously, if this year needed a subtitle, like they do in the movies, this would be the one for me.

fitting it all in

I am in something of a reflective mood today, after I attended the funeral of a friend’s Father yesterday.  I went to support my friend, and I was so proud of how she held herself together and dealt with the raw emotion that goes along with these sorts of occasions.  Having been there myself, not so long ago, I know how useful it is to have people to lean on.  But as with every funeral, it makes me think about things.

One of the things I was thinking about yesterday and today is how frantically (even maniacally) busy I am.  I have no idea how I had the time to go to work.  I am a full time homemaker and even now I don’t always get to all of the jobs that I want to get to. I dread to think what the place would look like if I was out of the house 10 plus hours per day with a commute on top.  The garden would be a wilderness and the dust bunnies in the house would be unionising and militating for self rule!


As it is, I haven’t managed to get a duster or a vacuum around the place in three weeks (but to be fair, I was out of the country for 10 days!) and I feel like such a slattern.  I am doing a deep clean in every room today, in the vain hope that keeping on top of it will be easier thereafter.  Yeah… I am not hopeful about that either.  Also, the fact we have a meeting with our new Adoption Social Worker tomorrow morning is also rather a motivating factor.  “Yes, this is how tidy the house will never ever be again once a child arrives in our lives”

I have told myself off, and I am attempting to cut myself some slack, but it is really hard.  I set such high standards for myself, and I get cross with myself (and whoever is standing close by, to be fair) when I can’t reach them.  Perfectionism is a total b*tch. But practically speaking, is keeping the house clean the most important thing?  No, not really.  Keeping it hygienic is different from keeping it perfect.  It is hygienic.  No one is going to contract a communicable disease when coming into this house.  You might get cat and dog fur all over you, but in this house, that is how we accessorise!  I have a plaque somewhere that says “Welcome to our home – clean enough to be healthy, dirty enough to be fun”.  That is what I am aiming for.

As I go around the house getting into some fairly mucky corners, I am thinking that I need to reassess my priorities.  I don’t think I actually have a set of them at the moment.  Everything is at the top of the list, and that is not a sustainable way to be.  In fact, as I have been uncomfortably close to having a total meltdown this week, I can tell that sustainability is out of the window and running down the path screaming.  Somehow I need to reassert some control over everything that I need/want to achieve.  I can feel a big old list coming on.


Any reader of this blog will know that I love a good list.  But having one is just the first step.  Then you need to prioritise the list.  No point having a list of stuff which is all a priority because then you look at it and go all clammy and sweaty palmed and think “EEP! Where do I start!”.  So, you need a system.  When I was at work and dealing with competing priorities from every which way, I used a simple ABC method.  A’s were the things I needed to do.  The ones where the ONLY person who COULD do them was me.  The ones with a time limitation that was measured in microns, or at the very most hours.  B’s were the jobs that it would be nice to get to.  The jobs that would make people smile a little bit, or the one’s that would make my job a little easier if they were out of the way.  C’s were the jobs which I would get to eventually, but no one one would holler about if I left them.  Or the ones I could delegate to someone else.

Transferring that system to the house then…  A’s would be the stuff that makes the place safe; B’s would be the tasks I might have put off for a while but once they are done life will be a little better;  C’s would the bits which can stay on the list until someone says “A dust bunny actually talked to me”.  (I am thinking painting.  I hate painting.)

I wonder if I can extend that system to the garden as well?



I am not sure if it is a recognised condition, but I definitely have a bad case of list-itis.  Let me explain the symptoms.

lists lists

You have at least one list which goes over more than two pages of looseleaf paper.  You start your day, every day, by writing a list of the things you want to do.  You sometimes look at your to do list and think that it is utterly impossible for you to get to the end of it, even if you lived until the age of 1000.  You look at this huge list and begin to feel guilt for not having done half of it already (regardless of how silly it might seem) or even guilt for having taken time to do something else rather than attack the list with gusto.  If you suffer from any or all of these symptoms, then you too suffer from list-itis.


On Tuesday, I had one of those pottering sort of days.  I didn’t really have much on the day’s to do list, and frankly, after the rollercoaster week previously, I was feeling in much need of a day off.  One thing I did do was look at the big list of jobs we compiled prior to moving into the new house, and I refined it.  This list stretches over 3 pages, and it has everything on it.  From painting the study walls to renewing the conservatory and the windows.  Every last job we could do in the house.  But a list of that size scared me.  Me.  The doyenne of the to do list.  The Queen of the shopping list.

really long lists

I caught myself, late on in the afternoon, thinking “I should have done THIS” or “Why didn’t I do THAT”.  The reason is simple.  I needed some time off.  It wasn’t like I haven’t been productive, because I have.  I baked rolls for lunches for a couple of days, I baked some cookies which I have wanted to do for ages, I took my Mum on a show shopping trip and managed to find myself some much needed replacement foot wear.  I also compiled a list of recipes I want to try from my favourite website (see…. a list again!), chatted with my sister and a friend on various social media outlets, caught up with a forum I follow, cut some flowers for the Mother in Law and generally had fun.  But my internal negative voice was telling me that I hadn’t done anything toward that BAL (Big Ass List) and that was a bad thing.


Nope.  I can do it with a totally clear conscience.  You know why?  Because it is important that I let myself have time off I need it.  I need to cut myself some slack.  If I work myself into the ground and make myself ill, who is going to be there to look after my prospective child and my husband?  If I want to take care of things, then I have to allow myself to take care of me.  And if this means having a day or two out of a week to potter, or to just do my handicrafts, then so be it.


This year has so far, been a monster… in a very, very good way!  But it has taken it out of us, it really has.  We need some recovery time to face all the challenges that are going to come our way really soon.


I am no superwoman!

I love social media.  And I think I might be ever so slightly addicted to Facebook.  I have been on it for 7 or 8 years now, and there is not a day that goes by when I don’t post a status update on my personal account.  I love the interaction I get with my friends and my family in far flung parts of the world, and I often learn a thing or two.  I also love the support and assistance that you get from people when things get tough.  I will never forget the outpouring of love that my family and I received when my Father died suddenly.  Thinking of it now, brings tears to my eyes.


One thing that I do a lot on my status updates is post about what I want to do get done during the day.  It is rather like having a to do list, that keeps me accountable because other people are reading it.  I often write about everything I want to get done, and sometimes I post the ta da list…all the things I have got done.  One comment which is often made on these occasions is “Wow.  You have done loads.  You must be superwoman.”


I find this perplexing.  I am not superwoman.  I am just doing the stuff that needs to be done.  I see a job, I do it.  I see a job, I postpone it tomorrow and then I do it.  I would assume that this is what human beings have been doing every day since we crawled from the primordial ooze.  For as long as history has kept track, people have needed to multi-task, working, growing food, cooking the food, having the babies, raising the babies, making clothes, etc.  I once read a social history of women in the Middle Ages, and the fact that their life looked a lot like mine made me smile and take comfort that if they could do it without the benefits of modern technology, then with all the labour saving devices I have at my disposal, my life is an absolute cake walk!

labour saving tech

But all these comments on my facebook statuses have made me think a little bit.  How do I do all these jobs?  How do I manage to stay on top of everything?  There is a dual process.  I have written before about lists.  I love them.  My lists have lists.  I have master lists and minor lists.  Love them. LOVE them, LOVE THEM!  But it doesn’t stop there.


I also spend some time imagining the jobs that I know need to be done, getting done.  So, for example, last night I knew that I was going to have to do an emergency load of laundry after the cats were sick on the counterpane on our bed.  (Thanks Kitties.  Just.  Thanks.) So, I lay in bed, thinking about how I was going to fit it in this morning.  I imagined me going downstairs with an armful of washing and putting it in our lovely washing machine, then going back to the top of stairs to feed the cats.  I also imagined myself doing all the other jobs I had on my to do list.   Guess what?  That is JUST how it worked this morning.  And I have loads of energy left to do the other things that I know need doing and weren’t really on my list for today.  Like writing this blog.  (Sorry… but at least I remembered!! 🙂 )


So, unless Imagination is classed as a superpower, I am not superwoman.  I am just a human being, doing what needs to be done.

A day for Ta-Das and not To-Dos

Sorry for the delay in writing the blog today my dear readers.  I decided this morning that I wanted to write the blog and not sound like I was channelling Leonard Cohen (however much I like his music, he is kind of depressing).  I therefore decided to wait until I felt positive and happy and see what I wanted to write.

leonard cohen

It has taken a while (ummm… 8 hours later than usual!) but I am there now.  I have a list of things I have achieved today and they all make me smile.  So, the blog today is about Ta-Das (ie what you have achieved) rather than To-Dos (ie what you have to get done).


Even the way you say them sounds better.  Ta-Da is bright, energetic and light.  To-Do is a little gloomy and negative.  And we know how I like to avoid the negative stuff!  Plus, it feels so good to list the things you have achieved and get a lovely warm glow from it.


So, here they are.  My Ta-Das…


Vacuumed the whole of the downstairs of the house

Mowed the front lawn

Mowed the back lawn

Weeded a patch of the border

Transplanted a rose

Transplanted and split a poppy so now I have two plants instead of just one

Cut back the hellebore now it has finished flowering

Deadheaded a climbing rose

Did a load of laundry but I will hang it on the line tomorrow

Found a new hairdresser and got her to cut my fringe (bangs for my North American readers) so now I look less like an old English Sheepdog.

Had a rest and a drink of water (this felt like an achievement after being so busy this morning)

Drove to Southwell (a town near to where I live) and delivered a package of papers to the solicitor who is dealing with the sale of our old house and the purchase of this one.

While in aforementioned town, I managed to remember to buy a new toilet brush (ooh the glamour!), a radiator key, and a lovely card for a friend who is retiring very soon.

Remembered to write a blog that is positive and cheery!


I think, as a list of achievements for a day (from 8am to 4pm) that is not bad at all.   It is AMAZING how much better I feel and how much more productive I am when it isn’t raining outside.  But I have also proved to myself that I can get on with garden stuff even if the sun isn’t out all the time.


I am going to take a break from blogs for this weekend, and I will be back to it on Monday.  I might even have some interesting news for you about the future of the blog and the future of Viridian Herbalist.  Stay tuned!



Time flies. Actually, I think it runs away and hides.

In this modern world, most people are overwhelmed and under resourced.  So many competing priorities for our time, it has become our scarcest resource.

time management

In my own life, with the responsibility for running the house, progressing through adoption, redecorating with a view to moving, family and friends to stay in touch with, garden to make productive and Church commitments; sometimes you just want to run away and hide.  I can’t help feeling that Time Management is a life skill we simply cannot afford to be without.


Of course talking about Time Management is actually a misnomer.   You can’t manage it – you can only manage the events in your life in relation to time.  How you use the time in 1 day (1,440 minutes, if you are interested) is entirely up to you.


This is where Life Coaching comes in.  Life Coaching is about helping people find a way to fulfil all their goals and aspirations, helping them break through any self imposed blockages and obstacles they may have put in place.  It is about the present and the future and about getting to a place you know you want to go.


In my research for this post, I found an article online.  https://www.fcs.uga.edu/ext/pubs/time_management.pdf has 10 strategies to manage those 1,440 minutes in the day, and I will briefly touch on them here.

time log

The first thing you have to do is know how you spend your time.  Keeping a time log is a good way.  Find out what types of things use up most of your time.  When are you more productive? Where is most of your time devoted?  Once these areas are identified, do you really want to keep doing them?  If not, then take the power away from the time thieves and get rid of them in some way.  More about that later.

Important vs urgent

You need to set your priorities.  The first thing is to learn the distinction between important and urgent.  Go through your inevitable to do list (I bet it has a field of gravity all by itself!) and decide what is important and urgent and do those things.  Everything else, is negotiable.


Use a planning tool.  I love lists and I love my calendar and diary, but if you have your smartphone about your person all the time, check out some of the amazing free apps that you can use to management your time.  Use whatever work for you.  For me, if it isn’t on a list, it doesn’t exist!


Get organized.  Sounds easy, but I know it isn’t.  The key to it is to get rid of clutter.  You can’t organise clutter, so work through each room in your house, or your desk at work and use 3 boxes.  Keep, Give Away and Toss.  Everything gets sorted into these three boxes.  Then put the stuff you want to keep away appropriately and give away or throw out everything else.  Remember to file in an easily understandable system.


Schedule your time appropriately.  Make sure you do your most challenging tasks when you are alert, or when you have the most energy.  Remember also to only schedule about 75% of your time each day.  The other 25% needs to be reserved for creative activities like planning, dreaming, praying, thinking and reading.  Or Knitting.


Don’t think you have to do everything yourself.  Delegate some tasks to other people.  Even if it is “Taking the Bins out”, or “Drying the Dishes”.  Anything that takes the pressure off you.


Stop Procrastinating.  In the words of a famous sports manufacturer – Just do it.  Generally, the task you are procrastinating about will take a lot less time that you though it would is you just did it and stopped fretting about it.  I also like to use the 15 minute rule.  You can do anything for 15 minutes.  So, tell yourself you are going to do the most horrible job, but only spend 15 minutes on it, and you will probably find it will only take 15 minutes to get it done.  Or, if it doesn’t, after 15 minutes you are so absorbed, that you just keep going until it is done.


Managing external time wasters is vital to Time Management.  These are things like telephone calls, unexpected visitors, meetings, email and the computer in general and family obligations.  There are so many different ways to manage these, it could be a blog post all on its own.  But the first step in all of these is the simple “No”.  Or rather “I am really sorry, I can’t right at the moment…”  It is hard to do, but essential.


Contrary to popular belief, multi-tasking is NOT the key to successful time management.  Do one thing at once.  Concentrate on what is in front of you and do not hop from one thing to another.  If you do, all you will achieve is half finished bits and pieces and nothing actually completed.  If you require proof of this, you should see my craft box.  Full of half finished projects.  I really need to sit down and tackle these.

stay healthy

And finally, stay healthy.  When you have good energy levels, you will be able to manage things much better.  Relax, keep yourself fit, reward yourself for managing your time properly.  Though perhaps stay away from the ice cream!