Friday, November 22, 2013

Just Fifteen Minutes
One of the many places I visited (and still visit from time to time) in my never ending quest for an organized life is the Fly Lady site. Although Fly Lady and I have different styles, I have to give credit where credit is due. Both the site and her plans are very comprehensive; she has wonderful, workable ideas for keeping life neat and organized.

A key piece of advice I took from her site was the simple idea of spending just fifteen minutes a day on a task. When I am feeling overwhelmed that is often my go-to strategy.

And "overwhelmed" definitely describes the past few weeks. November has been a busy month, filled with trips and events that have been wonderful, but those things have also edged out necessary tasks. The clutter wars (from which I emerge victorious only about 50% of the time anyway) have been more brutal than ever, accumulating writing projects, class paperwork and various and sundry bits of mail as ammunition against which, based on a quick visual assessment of my house, I appear to be powerless.

Finally, today I faced a calendar with few outside commitments. Since I teach on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Fridays are my day to write guilt-free -- the need to plan a lecture, grade papers or create a quiz or rubric is less pressing, and I can focus on writing projects (not the least of which was FINALLY posting here) with a clear head and a clear conscience.

Unfortunately, the clutter in my house was calling me almost as loudly. Although my writing is more important to me than a neat house, I live with other people who have different priorities. Consequently, when the house gets to the point where it's distracting me, it's time to take action.

But give up my quiet, undisturbed writing day? I don't think so. Obviously, this called for a plan that struck a balance. It was time to take Fly Lady's advice -- or adapt it, anyway.

My strategy? Polish off a writing task, then spend fifteen minutes tackling the the clutter. Then, back to my desk.

I've used this "fifteen minutes method" so many times I don't know why it still surprises me how much I can get done in a that small block of time if I stay focused, but it amazes me every time. I pick an area, set the timer and get to work. In the first fifteen minute block, I cleared off most of my desk, unearthing a broad enough expanse of clear space to inspire a sigh of relief. The next block found me unpacking a Thirty-One box so I could get the contents delivered before the weekend.

It's amazing how much peace of mind an expanse of empty space on my desk inspires.

It's almost as good as posting a long-overdue blog.

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