Monday, 13 February 2012

Simple Organisation

Here is a picture of what my Daily Treasures box looks like inside!
I made it from an old computer floppy disc holder, which we no longer use because we don't have a disc drive any more. I covered it with pretty paper, added some sweet trimmings, and that was all I had to do! It is just the perfect size to use to keep index box cards in, and has the added bonus of the fold out front section, where I can put papers and a pen to jot down any notes I need to make, and also leave any important reminders, and items I may need to grab when I head out, like postage stamps, or change for the car park. It is very handy indeed! I prefer it to a proper ring binder or book, because it is more compact and therefore takes up less space, and is easier to carry around should I need to (I usually do my menu planning, for example, in the living room, where my recipe books are kept). I also find it easier to flip through the different sections inside when I'm looking for something.

Those sections are ... a master list for important dates to transfer onto our calendars, things to remember, menus and shopping lists, telephone numbers I use frequently, a list of where to find things such as important documents, items not frequently used and passports and certficiates, daily chores (I don't write down each day's basic chores as these are the same from Monday through to Saturday, so I don't need to see them written down - they are etched in my mind!) weekly chores, montly chores and then yearly ones. The chore section is the largest. Each day of the week has a separate page (I used pink card, cut to size, as I happened to have some handy) and on this, I will write the chores which are specific to that day. For example, today, I do a deep clean in the kitchen, which includes washing the windows, cleaning the inside of the cooker, bleaching all surfaces, reorganising cupboards and drawers. I only do this on Mondays. I don't clean the fridge on a Monday - I prefer to do this on a Friday, because we shop on a Saturday for the food for the week to come. If I clean the fridge out on a Friday, it is spotless and everything is organised ready for the fresh food we buy to go in there the next day. It means I can check if anything is about to go out of date or has spoiled, and also double-check to see if there are any ingredients I may need to add to the shopping list, for the menu that I will have got finalised as well that day.

I'll also note down any chores around the house that need doing on a one-off, and add these to the day when it will make most sense to do them. For example today, I added "PVA the bathroom ceiling". I did that today, because tomorrow I plan to paint a small chair that is in the bathroom and needs a freshen up, and I dedided while I was about it I would freshen the bathroom ceiling too. As it is a bathroom ceiling though, we seal it first with PVA (a water based sealant) so that it doesn't let the moisture through. So that was one extra chore I did today! I was quite tired by the time I sat down, because as well as that, I'd prepped the cake that we are having for our Valentine Day tea tomorrow also. It is a chocolate fudge cake with a mousse filling, which took quite a while to prepare! It is waiting in the fridge now to set before I add the final fudge icing to the top, which I will do tomorrow. For our main course we will be having individual heart shaped pizzas, so on my chore list tomorrow, I've added "make pizza dough".

Having a Daily Treasures box (I call it that, fanciful as it sounds, because it makes my work seem somehow special and more precious) helps me to stay on top of things and more organised, and therefore more in control! I can add things to it, juggle the sections around, bring things forward to the front that are important, and update the cards as necessary (I write in pencil). I like that everything fits into that one little box - it is my busy life, condensed into Daily Treasures!

Keeping your home running smoothly can feel a bit overwhelming sometimes, but do you know, I am glad it makes me feel like that! If it didn't, I would feel I was being idle with my time, and not making best use of the day God has given me. Even if we are to be homekeepers, and not go out to work, we should still be doing a "good day's work", whether that be in the home or not. Every evening should find us tired but happy with what we have achieved. In our grandmother's time, no one exercised, but they actually ate more than we do now without being any larger than we are, and the main reason for this, was that they had to do more hard physical labour! Now I know that a lot of this is because before the introduction of helpful gadjets such as dishwashers, washing machines, cars and hoovers, we had to do a lot more by hand. A couple of years ago, our washing machine broke down and Papa Bear was unable to fix it. While we waited for a new one, I had to take on washing everything by hand (the nearest launderette being too far away, and too expensive, for it to be practical for me to go there instead). It was VERY hard work! Wringing out jeans, towels and bedding was so exhausting that every night I went to bed aching all over. But the towels were the softest I have ever known them to be, from all that extra twisting and bashing that I had to do! I was so happy when the new washing machine arrived! But nowadays, we are very spoiled. We barely need to lift a finger, to get all our chores done. Even our bread can be baked for us by a machine now. And while all these things are wonderful and time saving, they do encourage us to be lazy. I personally aim to spend at least half of my waking day doing chores because I feel that equates to a day's work. It may not necessarily be all at one time but I do a full day's work, at home, regardless. Only when all my chores are done do I allow myself leisure time, on the computer, reading or crafting (making things is not a chore). It isn't wholesome or Godly to be pleasing only ourselves. Our chores aren't necessarily going to be fun, but they are worthwhile, and should be done with a willing heart - even if they leave us no time (or energy!) to do much else with our time. I'm not saying we should only work, but our work as homekeepers is definitely our priority, above any other activities.

What really puzzles me though, and is something I use often to hear myself say, is "I don't have time to read the Bible. I'm too busy/tired to fit it in, every day". I use to be like this, until I decided to MAKE time, to read my Bible.

I realised, if I haven't got time to read the Bible, then I have got my priorities wrong. If other things are occupying my time to such an extent that time spent in God's word is getting pushed aside, then I need to rethink my daily schedule. So I did. I looked at everything I have to do in one day, and decided that the only thing I could do to make more time for myself, was to get more hours! So I resolved to wake myself up at 5 am every day, so that I could devote the first hour of the morning to seeking God's word. That way, nothing else could distract me and occupy my time instead. It was hard at first. I found I would keep falling asleep again with the Bible in my hands (it was harder still because with Papa Bear asleep beside me, I could only have the bedside lamp on, which has a very soft light, and that light wasn't really bright enough to wake me). But that problem was solved, when we were given an original, reconditioned, 1960's teasmade for Christmas, last year! It has revolutionised our mornings! Yet another "modern" gadjet that has made our lives so much easier, but in this case, bought us time that we have happily exchanged for something much more valuable than leisure - time with our Saviour. Now, both Papa Bear and I are happy to be woken at 5 am, by the merry sound of the tea kettle boiling! Drinking a hot cup of tea soon wakes me, and we find the peaceful time together, really precious (Papa Bear doesn't read the Bible with me, but after I've read the day's verses, we then do a devotional and prayers together, which we really enjoy). It is probably the loveliest hour of the day, that first hour of the morning which we share together. And I get my Bible reading done before anything else, which really sets me up for the day, and helps me to focus on our Father God, before anything else. I feel I've got my priorities right, and can start the day with a happy, servant's heart.

I am not suggesting that we timetable every minute of our days so that we aren't wasing a single moment. While it is important to spend our time each day productively, I don't think micro-managing your time is necessarily a good idea (though if you have a large family, it might be the only way to get through the day!) because it leaves little room for spontaneity, and for me, that would cause anxiety and stress, rather than making me feel super-organised. I like to have a bit of flexibility, so, apart from that first hour of the day, I tend to work through my chore list without giving much thought to timings. If I know I have to go out somewhere, obviously I factor that in, but otherwise, I just work through, and if I get interrupted by an unexpected caller, or a disaster (such as the washing machine breaking down!) then it just works in with the rest of my plans, and I pick up where I left off, when the interruption is over. It works for me, and means we're nicely organised, but relaxed. And what better way to create a welcoming home?