Why I Try to Stay On Top of the Little Things

posted by Andrea | 09/18/2015
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todo list

I know many of you can relate to having a very FULL schedule and feeling quite pressed for time… right?!

Whether you’re working multiple jobs, raising children at home, starting up a business, taking care of elderly relatives, moving, working on house projects, planning upcoming events, or involved with various church, school, and community programs… there are so many wonderful ways to spend our time that it’s easy to overbook our schedules.

Believe me, I get it! 

Although I do actually enjoy having a lot on my plate, I have really been working hard to hone my skill of “saying no” when certain requests for my time don’t line up with the goals I have for myself, my family, my home, my business, etc. It’s not fun, it’s not easy, and I hate letting people down, but for my own sanity, and for the happiness of my family, I have to say no more often than I’d like these days.

That said, even after I say no, there are still so many requests for my time — from my children, my business, housework, church and school activities, etc. that I still sometimes feel a bit “overbooked” and not sure if I will be able to fit everything into one 24-hour period.

When I start to feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything I want and need to do, I’ve noticed that for me, it often comes down to little things that are slipping through the cracks or small tasks that I’m procrastinating on until they turn into big tasks.

For example…

I neglected to clean all 3 of our bathrooms one weekend and then we were gone the next weekend. Suddenly, a quick little cleanup turned into a major job that took much longer than if I had just done it right away.

I had a couple extra blog projects I wanted to work on over the summer. My plan was to tackle one extra project a week for a few weeks, but after 3 weeks of not doing any of them, I ended up doing 4 extra projects in one week, and although I felt accomplished, I was also slightly burnt out when everything was finished.

A few weeks ago, I put off responding to a bunch of non-urgent emails longer than I normally do (I always try to respond the same day if possible) and before I knew it, my inbox had a bunch of urgent emails I needed to attend to quickly, along with all those non-urgent emails that still needed my attention. I ended up spending a couple hours weeding through my emails, when it usually only takes me a few minutes if I stay on top of it.

Although I’m usually VERY diligent with staying on top of the laundry, there have a been a few times this summer when I’ve had to do 5 or more loads in one day (that’s a lot for us) because I put it off for too long. It felt like an all-day laundry marathon and I could tell I was much more frustrated with the kids “helping” than I am when there are just 1 or 2 loads to fold and put away.

Weeding — I don’t think I even need to explain how long Dave and I let this chore go undone. Just look at the picture below 🙂

It often seems that when small, seemingly unimportant tasks catch up with us, the larger, more important tasks start to feel too big and overwhelming for us to tackle — which makes it even easier to procrastinate.

And I don’t think I need to explain why procrastinating on the big important tasks isn’t such a great idea…

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How often don’t big issues start with small issues?

If you think about it, so many big issues and problems start with really small issues and problems that are left undone for too long. These smaller issues are less time-consuming, less expensive, and less overwhelming if we just do them right away.

A few examples that immediately come to mind are:

  • laundry and other household cleaning chores that seem to pile up so quickly
  • forgetting to pay the bills
  • slowly acquiring more and more debt
  • gaining a few pounds here and there
  • letting our healthy habits go by the wayside
  • making a small pile of papers for “later”
  • going out to eat (again) because you didn’t make a meal plan for the week
  • not sticking to your budget for one week… and then two weeks…

I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea.

For me, it all comes back to the little things.

Maybe it’s just me… but I know that when I do a good job staying on top of all those millions of little (and seemingly unimportant) tasks, the big important tasks on my list don’t seem as overwhelming, and my days seem to run much smoother.

The nice thing about this is that the little tasks usually don’t take much time or energy to complete. The issue comes because these tasks are the perfect type of tasks to procrastinate on.

After all, nothing too horrible will happen if you make one tiny little pile of papers, or push the laundry off one more day… right? No, probably not. However, if you have the same thoughts tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day, you will eventually run into issues when you realize you have mountains of papers covering your desk and absolutely no clean clothes to wear 🙂

Do yourself a favor and make a goal to stay on top of all those little things every day. Then, carve out a little time to plug away at some of your bigger tasks, and before you know it, you’ll be crossing off to-do’s left and right!

What small tasks have you been putting off?

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13 comments

  1. Tracey

    09/19/2015

    This is EXACTLY what’s been on my mind since September began and school started, and reading your words really helped drive it home, THANK YOU!!!

    It is so, so true. The little things become the big things…and the things we do on a regular basis really do add up and help things flow more smoothly down the road, for our homes, and for our families, and for us.

    (PS – that big weed is actually pretty good looking!)

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha… yes, that HUGE weed is pretty crazy. Dave actually thought it was a plant, which is probably why it got left for so long!

    [Reply]

  2. Rachel

    09/19/2015

    It’s important to think of the little tasks as important even though they aren’t urgent. That way, when bigger and/or urgent tasks come up, the little tasks don’t evolve into bigger tasks and therefore combine with the urgent things to make a huge mountain and overwhelm you. Love this post; a great reminder to tend to your home and to-do list consistently and lovingly.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Rachel — and yes, I completely agree with your comment!

    [Reply]

  3. Lea

    09/19/2015

    That weed made me laugh out loud (really)!

    I’m glad to know that doesn’t just happen to me – we’ve had lots of rain this summer and sometimes weeding gets put off because of that or schedules or whatever.

    This is so true, Andrea. Thanks for the reminder.

    Lea

    [Reply]

  4. Kari

    09/18/2015

    Andrea you are spot on!! All the things you mention is the source to aaaagggghhhh.
    And actually JUST those things. But it is a xxx of a job to be on top of it with a big family 🙂 You inspire , thats why i read your blog 🙂
    Keep on shining !
    Kari 🙂

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes, I agree. It can be really hard to stay on top of all those little things… but I just know from experience that I always regret it when I slack off 🙂

    [Reply]

  5. Barb

    09/18/2015

    Andrea,

    This post is so timely for me! I have been running this entire week. I feel breathless, overworked and overwhelmed with how much I have to do. I have four children, three of whom are in school, and I just started back to school a few weeks ago too. I have been letting a lot of little things slide, like the household paperwork. You are so right, I just have to keep on top of the little things, so they don’t get to be big things.

    Great post!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    maybe you can get caught up over the weekend??? Back-to-school season is rough (especially if you’re back in school too!) Good luck!

    [Reply]

  6. Tricia @ Our Provident Home

    09/18/2015

    I keep putting off those little home maintenance chores like re-caulking in the bathroom! If I don’t get it taken care of soon we could get water damage and that could get expensive (and time intensive) to fix and care for. Love this post! Great reminder for me today.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Tricia… happy caulking 😉

    [Reply]

  7. Organize 365

    09/18/2015

    Andrea I so remember when I finally came to the same way of thinking. For all of my 20s and most of my 30s, I would put things off until I had one big day to do them, because that is how I like to work.

    I enjoy doing all of the laundry one day a week so that the rest of the week I don’t have to think about laundry. And I enjoy having one big long workday to work on my blog so that I don’t have to blog just a little bit here and there. But I totally agree with you that life seems to work more smoothly, and I am able to be less stressed when I stay on top of everything and I just have little amounts of work to do.

    The other thing that I have learned by watching you is how you keep everything at a very organized and finished level every day. I am so tempted at the end of the day to just put things off until tomorrow morning when I have more energy to finish any projects or household cleaning tasks. But over the last year I have started spending 30 minutes to one hour every night doing any little tasks or projects I can to keep our house running at optimal level.

    thanks so much for your consistent posts and great ideas about how we can manage your house and live a more productive and organize life.

    🙂
    Lisa

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Lisa!
    It’s probably more efficient and productive to do all the laundry and all your blogging in one day — just not as practical when you have a busy family with so many obligations each day.

    Also, I’m glad you mentioned getting to the “finished level every day”. That is something I try really hard to do… because it sets me up for a much happier, much more productive day when I wake up. I actually just felt this way last night… I was so tired and just wanted to go to bed, but I stayed up an extra 15 minutes to finish a couple emails, clean up the kitchen, and get our bags packed for today. When I woke up this morning, I was SO glad I spent that extra 15 minutes last night!

    [Reply]