Household CEOs are leaders in finance, cooking, transportation, entertainment, training, encouraging, healthcare, childcare, housekeeping, lawn care, emergency management, scheduling calendars, and the list goes on and on. Balancing it all is quite the chore.
In Part One of Becoming the CEO of Your Household, I discussed how to create a mission statement and goals for your family as well as the importance of developing a budget. This month we will look at how you are going to meet your mission and goals through the use of an action plan, time management and productivity strategies, and individualized organizing systems.
The Action Plan
An action plan can be defined as a sequence of steps or activities that are required for your goals to successfully accomplished. You would list your goals for the year and then determine what tasks need to be done on a daily, weekly, monthly, and annual basis to meet each goal. Specific tasks are assigned to the primary person responsible for each task along with a deadline for completion. Delete any tasks do not help you meet your goals.
Time Management and Productivity
Time will pass no matter what we do. The question is what are you going to do within the time you have been given. The answer will be found by planning each day based on your priorities. Your plan should have a daily focus and a weekly focus.
- Consider what could possibly be done during the day.
- Determine what is urgent versus important. Urgent matters are time sensitive and need immediate attention. Whereas important matters have a greater, long-lasting impact.
- Set an order to interdependent tasks that need planning.
- Identify easy tasks that take little time to complete.
- Decide what can wait.
- Create daily wins. View your to-do list as smaller tasks required to accomplish your bigger goals. Choose the top 3 things that would make you feel great if they were accomplished that day.
Once you have your task list for the day, you can then plan your time.
- Schedule everything, including time for unexpected circumstances.
- Maintain a focus on the must-complete tasks. Be proactive by having deliberate intentions.
- Work on one thing in blocks of time.
- Schedule personal time. Have 30-60 minutes set aside to do something that is relaxing to you.
- Each night, review what is on the schedule for the next day.
Daily Routines and Habits
Routine is the glue that holds your day together. A routine can help you be more in control of your time and reduces your stress level. Knowing what each day holds for many of our daily activities offers a sense of comfort. Routines help your children know what is expected and become more independent.
A habit is a routine we have set which is cued by the need for a reward. Unfortunately, our brain can’t tell the difference between a good and a bad habit. Whatever we crave we drive us through the routine and be set as a habit. This is called the Habit Loop.
In “The Power of a Habit,” Charles Duhigg presents a framework for how habits work and how they might be changed. The key to changing a habit is to identify the routine and then determine what cues you to start the routine and what reward you are truly seeking. Duhigg described his routine of going to the cafeteria every afternoon to get a cookie then sitting down with friends to visit. He then had to determine if the reward was the cookie, the walk required to get to the cafeteria, or visiting with friends. He recommends experimenting with the rewards to determine which you are truly craving. You should try changing the routine, the reward, or both.
Determining the cue that starts the routine can be challenging. The following questions have been shown to help identify what is stirring the craving inside you.
- Where are you?
- What time is it?
- What’s your emotional state?
- Who else is around?
- What action immediately preceded the urge?
Once you know the cue, routine, and reward; you will need a plan for working around your habit to establish a new routine.
Delegation of Tasks
Don’t be afraid to delegate! But, when you do delegate, you will need to let go of “there is only one way – my way” of doing things. That is often the hard part.
You might consider using a reward system for your children’s accomplishments to encourage and train them that dependability and accountability are important societal functions. Self-motivation is also an important characteristic, so as your child matures you may want to instill that trait as well. One way to do this is to allow independence while still providing guidance. Learning and growing allows your children to gain skills and knowledge needed to succeed in life and to be more productive in their own right.
Other options include hiring outside help such as child care, housecleaning, laundry, transportation for school and sport activities, yard work, personal shopper, handymen, bookkeeping, etc.
Each individual has their own preferred way of learning and their own way of thinking. This can impact the type of organizing system you would set up to control clutter in your home. For example, visual learners will do better with labeled, clear bins in order to see what is inside. Auditory learners benefit by talking through the ways to organize which will ultimately help them maintain whatever system is developed. If children are in the home, organizing systems must be appropriate for their age level so they can take out and put away things by themselves.
There are several areas that require functioning organizing systems to keep your home running smoothly. We will take a look at such systems in Part Three of this series.