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Here it is, Thursday, and I just had a practical tip fall in my lap!

How Much Are Invisible Tasks Costing You?

You know them, these are the: stop – I gotta take out the trash; or stop – make sure you add this to the grocery list; or stop – I’ve gotta deal with this phone that won’t stop ringing! Invisible tasks, to me, are those things that you have to stop doing what you’re “supposed” to be doing, and deal with, often getting you off track. It’s not even so much the task itself, but the mental jarring and getting unfocused that drives me bonkers. I can’t seem to think on any subject for two minutes straight and that is DRIVING ME BATTY.

And I find that this happens with everything I do. Homeschooling, work, prayer and devotional time, whatever. I’ve even considered investing in earplugs because my husband’s habit of turning on the TV or music while I’m trying to write at night! I just can’t keep distractions at bay.

What I appreciate about this article is that it, FOR ONCE, gives us permission to accept that these things happen. These invisible tasks are part of life and not an interruption of it.

The question is how do we deal with it. How do we embrace the insanity?

“Just as we wouldn’t operate a business thinking we had 30% more money in our checking accounts than we actually do, we shouldn’t operate a business thinking we have 30% more capacity than we do. To do so is to set yourself up for the inevitable tension of under-serving your clients, customers, and yourself.”

I think really, the author glossed over some very important steps.

STEP 1. STOP BEATING YOURSELF UP ABOUT IT.  FORGIVE YOURSELF FOR NOT BEING PERFECT. YOU’RE NOT, AND NO ONE ELSE IS EITHER. STOP ENVISIONING WHAT YOU THINK THE “RIGHT” WAY TO DO THINGS LOOKS LIKE, AND JUST STARTING DOING THINGS THE RIGHT WAY.

STEP 2. HAVE A “COME TO JESUS” MEETING WITH YOURSELF. TAKE A BIT OF TIME, GET AWAY FROM EVERYTHING AND BE HONEST. DEFINE YOUR PRIORITIES, MISSION, AND VISION. WRITE IT ALL DOWN.

STEP 3. SET UP YOUR SCHEDULE AND YOUR DAILY LIFE SO THAT EVERYTHING YOU DO FITS IN AND IS PART OF THAT VISION AND THOSE PRIORITIES.

STEP 4. THE THINGS THAT DON’T FIT? GET RID OF THEM. REALLY.

STEP 5. THE THINGS THAT CAN’T BE GOTTEN RID OF? (I’m thinking laundry, etc.) OUTSOURCE AND/OR DELEGATE.

Whether you’re homeschooling or running a home business, or even perhaps homeschooling, managing an international move, and running a home business, these steps will work for you. You have to give yourself forgiveness for not being Superwoman all day ever day.

So, back to the practical tips part of this post: How can we outsource or delegate some of what falls on our plate as women?

1. We can set aside some specific time to deal with “odds and ends.” Perhaps can keep sticky notes handy to write those “oh I forgot to . . .” down, and then when you’re at a break – you can do them all at once! I also would try to do a quick walk through in the morning to check on several of those odds and ends (like the toothpaste he mentioned at the beginning of the article). I happen to really dislike realizing we’re out of toilet paper when, umm, I’m in a precarious position! 🙂 Plus, when you realize you’re low on something like toilet paper or toothpaste, you can add it right then to your list!

1a. Going along with this, I keep Post-its in handy spots around the house. I even have had them in my bathroom, to write down those ideas while I’m brushing my teeth at night!

2. Delegate! Sometimes you just need more than two hands to get it all done. And even the Proverbs 31 Woman had maids! (“And gives food to her household
And portions to her maidens”)

  • Perhaps you can barter services with another mom, or you can team up so that the work will go more quickly and pleasurably. Quite a bit of socializing can happen over ironing!
  • I have a friend who organizes a frozen meal exchange, where you make the same meal X number of times, and trade those with other ladies, so you end up with a freezer full of meals ready to cook.
  • I have used services like Dream Dinners, and prepped a freezer full of meals that will last me for months. It’s great when all you have to do is remember to defrost something each morning.
  • Maybe you have a friend whose preteen wants to earn some babysitting practice! They get practical experience dealing with kids while you balance the checkbook, pay bills, and do general paperwork.
  • And don’t forget the mechanical servants we have nowadays – Ms. Crockpot, Ms. Dishwasher, Mr and Mrs. Washer and Dryer. Oh, and Ms. Microwave is a big help sometimes too!

And perhaps you need to think about what you could be getting done in the time you spent doing the heavy work around the house. What is that time worth to you? When it is possible, we try to have someone come in once a week and do the heavy cleaning and ironing, which is my ultimate least favorite chore. It was worth it to me to spend the money so I would have those hours free to focus on my business. Plus, because I knew someone else was responsible for those tasks, I didn’t give any mental space to them any more! I could pile the ironing without guilt!

Delegate

Here are a few invisible tasks that I have been able to delegate to my girls recently:

  • Picking out their own clothes. Finally they are old enough to dress themselves! I just tell them to pick out _____ and they choose their clothes and put them on. (Occasionally, I do have to veto outfits if we are going out in public, otherwise I ignore it.)
  • Making their beds and straightening their rooms. I do not expect anything close to perfection, but moving into a “supervisor” role allows me to focus on getting myself ready for the day.
  • Helping around the house. My mom was a big believer in making children responsible for themselves at an early age. I’ve followed in her footsteps in teaching my girls independence. With coaching, they help set the table and clear it afterwards, straighten up around the house, etc. I do this by having them do the chore right along with me until they can do it all by themselves. I very rarely do any housework without a “helper” of some sort. Right now I am training them to fold laundry (think of how much time I could save if they could fold all the laundry!). We practice sorting and matching by finding all the socks and pairing them up, while I focus on folding the rest of the clothes. Soon, I’ll start them on folding the towels and wash cloths as well! (Can-not-wait!)

My husband has been more than willing to pitch in too, and often he will get emails from me at work, “pick up this,” or “call insurance about that.” We’ve split some of the managing household paperwork/administration by what suits us best and he’s taken a fair share of the load, which is extremely helpful. He often takes over dealing with anything insurance or auto repair related, while I cover dealing with doctors or school work. It works for us.

I know many of us are drawn to homeschooling because we don’t want to put the responsibility of raising our children on to others. I totally get that. But that doesn’t mean we can’t use the resources around us to give them better “quality” time in addition to the quantity.

  • I keep a running bag of “things to do” that I can take with me while waiting at ballet lessons, etc. Some of this writing thank you letters to clients, updating my calendar, sitting on the phone and scheduling appointments, planning out or writing my monthly newsletter by hand (to type up later).
  • I save time by looking for things to outsource in my business. Things that are NOT in my strengths and are really better if I didn’t waste my time doing it myself. Like trying to redesign my website, or creating a new look or logo.
  • I try to automate things where I can, like auto-email newsletter programs, or auto-responders to my website. I try to keep technology as a servant of my business, instead of me becoming a servant to it!
  • Sometimes, nothing else will do, but having a couple of hours of uninterrupted quiet time to devote to work. So, I will do work after bedtime, during a lunch break (while they watch a video), or get a “cool” babysitter so that I can take a break. By focusing deeply for a few hours I can make tremendous progress on my work, I can give my girls my full attention later.

I think the life lesson I learned this past year was this: there are only so many hours in a day. And I can only do so much in them. So, I get done what I can get done and accept it and move on.

So, that’s my practical tip Thursday for this week!

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