Sometimes Christmas feels like an all-consuming project that sends us racing through malls, jumping from party to party, and being busy-busy-busy as we fill our time with lots of Christmas fluff.
I want something more than that, though.
I don’t want to have to “recover” from Christmas. I don’t want to start the new year eight pounds heavier. I don’t want my children focused only on the electronic gadgets they hope Santa brings. But everything I don’t want will probably become my reality–unless I take the initiative to implement what I do want.
David Allen’s Natural Planning Model seriously saves my sanity on everything from birthday party planning to creating new programs for my website, so this year, I decided to use the five steps of the Natural Planning Model to create a Christmas experience that is both magical and meaningful.
Step One: Defining Purpose and Principles
For this part, I sat down with my children and gave them the following prompts:
For anyone who has tackled a science project, or any kind of project, here is a Community Contribution from April Perry
Tackling a 5th-Grade Science Project
My 11-year-old daughter came home with a huge packet of science project information a few weeks ago, and the entire family started feeling the stress. Before the world of computers and fancy tri-fold poster board, science projects were a cinch. I remember hunkering down at my dining room table with construction paper, some magic markers, and a simple sheet of white poster board. But today’s children have a lot more pressure. They need charts and graphs, digital photographs, and well-written hypotheses. It’s enough to overwhelm the children and the parents.
Instead of letting the stress get to me, I decided to apply the principles I learned from Getting Things Done and show my daughter that projects don’t have to give us headaches. Here’s what we did:
Step 1: We read through the packet of information and made a list of tasks based on context.
A Community Contribution from April Perry
I’m the mom at the toy store on December 23rd with a cart full of car tracks, dolls, sports equipment, and art supplies my children may or may not like. I’m also the mom paying overnight shipping charges to send hastily-assembled photo albums to Grandma. I stay up late the night before school gets out for Winter Break, making bread for the teachers (mainly because I can’t think of anything else to get them). Our Christmas cards usually get sent out after New Year’s . . . if they get sent out at all. My neighbors don’t get plates of cookies from us, our mail lady never gets a card, and my husband gets only a big hug and a kiss. All the while, I’m feeling frustrated and overwhelmed with the holiday season–wishing I could pull things together. [Read more →]
A friend of mine came to visit when my first child was three months old. Noticing I was still actively using my day planner, she joked, “What do you write on your task list, ‘Cook and Clean?’”
She wasn’t trying to hurt my feelings, but her question reflected an assumption that many people have about those who spend the majority of their waking hours taking care of little ones…that they’re not actually “doing” anything.
I’ve spent 10 years as a full-time mom, and let me assure you that taking care of a family is a huge responsibility. It’s a party some days, a train wreck other days, but it’s the most important thing I’ve ever done. I’ve created a Mom-and-Dad-friendly “Trigger List” to help parents see what types of things they can organize with GTD.
The first day of school started out great. My three oldest children dressed in their new clothes, laced up their new shoes, ate a healthy breakfast, and then headed off to school with homemade sack lunches and brightly-colored, fully-stocked pencil cases. I felt like a wonderful mom.
They returned home seven hours later, happy but tired, toting folders overflowing with paperwork, and that’s when MY work started (I mean…continued). As I shuffled through more than 50 sheets of fliers, forms, and date-specific notices, I started to feel a little dizzy. The pile on my counter harbored a LOT of information, most of which needed my attention right that minute. I was tempted to break into tears or bury my head in a carton of Rocky Road, but then I thought, “Wait a minute. I’ve been trained in GTD. I was MADE for situations like this.” [Read more →]
Just about every mother I know has a refrigerator that is completely covered with party invitations, handouts for school assignments, reminders for community events, coupons, and about 50 other things calling out, “Me! Me! Me!” We’re so afraid of the “out of mind, out of sight” rule, that we want to keep everything that needs our attention smack dab in the middle of the kitchen.
Although this tactic might help us feel slightly organized, the drawbacks greatly outnumber the benefits. For example, how are moms supposed to calmly make it through the dinner hour when every time they turn around, they’re reminded of all the things they’re not doing? How are they going to remember which items have associated computer work or which ones require a run to the grocery store? What happens if an important notice gets buried under alphabet magnets–or stolen by a toddler looking for something to color? It just doesn’t work. [Read more →]
Mothers need Getting Things Done as much as (or more than!) any other group. Why? Let me show you a glimpse into my life “pre-GTD.”
My 7-year-old son, Ethan: Mom, want to see this cool toy lizard I got as a prize today?
Me: Yep. Ooh. That’s neat. (Then in my head) I need to buy paper towels, we have ants in the bathroom, it’s my niece’s birthday Friday, there’s a permission slip form somewhere around here I need to sign…
Ethan: Mom, you’re not even looking!
Me: Sorry. Okay. Yes, I really do like that lizard. What’s his name? I didn’t even exercise today. I’ll remember tomorrow. Don’t I need a sitter for Friday night? How’s the laundry doing? If I could just get that laundry room organized, I would feel so much better. Where’s that book I was reading? I need to remember to get some chocolate chips at the store. The carpet needs to be vacuumed. Where’s the baby? [Read more →]