Thursday, August 22, 2013

# On Writing # Post

The Smart Time Approach to Cleaning and Appointment Scheduling

The 4th in a series on organized writing

In the previous post, we found a day “OFF” each week and plugged in a schedule for writing, editing, and promotion. Today, we will finally pencil in the things people normally schedule first—work, obligations, and appointments. We’ll also discuss what to do about scheduling conflicts. But first, we’ll schedule a necessary task we rarely find the time for.

Once again, open your calendar program and select the week view.

4. Pick one or two days of the week and label them CLEANING.

Yeah, I know. Funs over. (Don’t worry, it’ll be back!) Housecleaning is one of those necessary evils we have no time for. We may bemoan doing it, but when we don’t we regret looking at the mess. A (reasonably) clean space is vital to the success of this scheduling system, because mood, productivity, and organization are all impacted by a cluttered environment.

If you haven’t read my post on The Writer’s Guide to Cleaning, you’ll definitely want to check it out. I offer tips for how to give your place a quick spit-shine in ten minutes or less while you do your morning routine. That will make actual “cleaning” day(s) quicker and easier.

If you’ve already got a cleaning system that works, go ahead and plug that time in on your calendar. If it isn’t working or you don’t have a system, here are some different ways to approach it.

Method 1: Choose one day a week and schedule ten minutes for each room.
If you prefer to get cleaning out of the way once a week, fine. Don’t pick your OFF day—that’s supposed to be fun. Since most houses can be done in less than two hours, however, even if you have to clean on your OFF day, you should still have plenty of time for other things. (And if you schedule occasional all-day fun, the house will survive until next time-especially if you’re doing the Writer’s Clean.)

Method 2: Choose two days a week and label one UPSTAIRS and one DOWNSTAIRS.
If you have a two-story home, splitting your cleaning between floors can make life simpler. You will also schedule ten minutes of time per room.

*Method 3: Choose two days a week; label one WET CLEAN and the other DRY CLEAN.

With either a one or two-story home, you can opt to do “dry” tasks like dusting and vacuuming one day, and “wet” tasks like counters and floors the next.

Whichever method you chose, start at the farthest room and set the timer for ten minutes. Now hustle! Straighten, dust, and vacuum, or spray-and-wipe counters/mirrors/tubs/toilets/floors. When the timer goes off, STOP in that room and move on to the next. (Okay, you can finish wiping a surface that has cleaning product on it.) Running out of time may well happen with a messier space. That’s okay! You made a dent, and it’ll get better each time—especially if you're doing a Writer’s Clean in between.

If you finish before the timer, smile and move forward. Don’t be tempted to go back to a room that wasn’t finished.

5. Make a list of bigger cleaning chores and schedule one each month.

Housecleaning is hard enough to fit into our routines, let alone the occasional deep-clean tasks. So let’s make time for them now. Go ahead and write down a list of deep-clean chores around the house. Here are some examples:


Also write down how often each job should be done. Now decide if any of these can be “contracted out”, such as carpet cleaning. Plug those in on the calendar at the necessary intervals as a reminder to set an appointment. For the rest, trim/group as necessary so you wind up with no more than twelve heavy chore sessions—one per month. Put them on your calendar and slate the necessary time. Ideally, you will not have to spend more than two hours per month on this.

Okay, now it’s time to apply what most people consider the first step when drawing up a schedule.

6. Add work, appointments, and obligations to the calendar using the Smart Time rule.

Populate the calendar with the rest of your life: work schedule, soccer and ballet lessons, birthdays, doctor’s appointments, writing conferences, etc. Use the recurring/repeat event function as necessary for regularly occurring tasks. Before you jump in, however, consider two helpful tips.

*Tip 1: Schedule reminders a week ahead or more for birthdays, anniversaries, dental exams, etc. so you’ll remember to send cards or set appointments.
*Tip 2: Apply the Smart Time rule when slating time for appointments/activities.

The Smart Time rule is built-in padding to reduce the stress of accidentally overscheduling. Let’s say a writer has this entry on the calendar: “3 pm-Doctor’s Appointment”. 3 pm is the appointment time, perhaps carefully arranged since writing happens from 12-3. But by filling out the calendar this way, the writer has already put himself an hour behind.

An appointment does not truly begin at the time scheduled. It begins at home when you have to get ready to leave and then commute to the location. So with the above example, unless the writer has a sci-fi transporter to zap them to the appointment, they’ll have to cut writing an hour early to get to there on time.

When you’re filling in the calendar, remember to include Smart Time. My job hours are 2:30-11pm, but on the calendar it should read 2:00-11:30 to account for time coming and going. (I’m lucky to live about five minutes from work.) My daughter’s ballet class is 5-6pm, but it’s a distance away through afternoon traffic. She also has to put on her outfit, pack a bag, and have me do her hair. So “Bri’s Ballet Class” actually takes place from 3:45-6:30.

As you plug in your current obligations, include Smart Time as appropriate. Also, keep this tip in mind when arranging future activities so you don’t bump heads with your writing schedule.

With your schedule all fleshed out, switch to the monthly view and take a look around. Now’s when you might notice some scheduling conflicts. If the conflict is between a regular task and something occasional, like a one-time appointment, you can choose to rearrange the appointment or simply bump the time/day of the regular task. If the conflict is between two appointments or regular tasks, do a little rearranging.

There! Your schedule is all filled out. Except it’s not quite finished just yet. There are two more things we’ll need to do this week. The good news is, you fit in all those not-fun chores and obligations, so all that’s left is more fun! So for tomorrow’s post, the final in this series, I’ll be helping you tweak the calendar to make it easier to see specific types of chores at a glance, and even more important, we’re going to use our new schedule to find time for all sorts of cool, fun things you’ve always wanted to do.

Part 1: The writing schedule you need RIGHT NOW
Part 2: How to gain an extra hour every day
Part 3: Take a day OFF and be more productive
Part 4: The Smart Time approach to cleaning and appointment management
Part 5: Find Time for Everything You've Always Wanted to Try


I'm J. Rose Allister, wife, working mom, and the author of over twenty-five books. Somewhere in between one and the next, I love hanging out here on my blog and over on Twitter. Give me a comment or follow-I love chatting with people! And if you enjoyed this post, consider sharing with friends and subscribing for updates.

1 comment:

  1. This post provide me much knowledge about organized cleaning and also tells what mistakes i am doing during the use of cleaning, if we make a schedule before cleaning then it would make us more easy to do rest of cleaning process...I recommend everyone must read this post if you really gain a smart approach of organized cleaning...Thanks To writer of this post!


Visits To This Blog: