Monday, 23 July 2012

A demon with a plan and a list

Image from here
I am not an organised person, but I am good with time. I can squeeze a lot into my day and seem to have natural delegation and prioritisation skills, but I am no expert. Lately, I have been overwhelmed at work with the sheer volume of things that need to be done. 

I am much better with a clear plan (but not that great at putting the time aside to create one).

When I am busy and scheduled, I am focused. I move from one thing to another and just get on with it. I write lists and check things off.

When I am busy and free-range, I am distracted. Overwhelmed and unable to sort the Importants from the Unimportants. Or the Urgents from the Non-urgents. I procrastinate or I move from one thing to another and another and back again. I succumb to distractions, like phone calls, emails and random visitors. I write lists and forget to look at them again.

So I have set about getting myself more focused, even on days when I have less scheduled. I have adopted some of the teachings from Zen Habits and write a Top Three every day. When I get those done, I feel like I have achieved something, even on those days when I have been allocated 12 new things to do!

I have also learnt to use my Groupwise calendar properly about bloody time, which means my Things To Do list is now digital. And accessible from any computer I use at work, or home.

I loved myself at work today. I was a demon. A demon with a plan, and a list.

What are your best time management strategies?

Sunday, 22 July 2012

100kms is a bloody long way by foot

If I am not with the kids, at work or asleep at the moment, I am out pounding the pavement/trail. Well, certainly in my head that is the case, in reality there could be a bit of lounging on the couch* in there too.

A team of four women, myself included, signed up to do the Oxfam Trailwalker at the end of August. It is a fund raiser for Oxfam who helps some of the world's poorest people. A fantastic cause. A massive personal challenge. And company to boot.

We will be walking 100km on August 24-25.

Hard to believe huh? If you could see the state of my blistered feet, you wouldn't believe it at all. 100 kms is a bloody long way. Especially when you factor in all the hills and stairs and creek crossings and boulders and teensy-weensy spaces you need to squeeze through along the way.

The most we have walked in our training is 54km. 54km is a fair hike. For some, 50+kms would be an event all by itself. But for us it is only half as far as we have to go next month. My feet will be punished!

So this is a call out. A call out for tips on blister care and any ideas for how to get through this challenge. If you are keen to help out, you can sponsor our team here.

Anyone else doing the Trailwalker this year?

*After all it is July. And July is all about the bike.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Road trips with kids. Part 2

I have been in a state of shock since we ventured off on our road trip with the kids. We have been back over a week now, and yet, no blog posts have been written. A case of extended holiday mood? or simply not knowing where to start? I know not.

The notion of  a road trip with our crew did petrify me a bit. There is nowhere to go; once you have taken the plunge, you are in until the end. There were moments in the lead up that had me thinking that the best option was just not to go at all. That peaked at the packing stage, when I surrounded myself with piles of clothes for six people venturing into -3 degrees (overnight), and was overwhelmed by the thought of the washing when we got back. It is often the washing that freaks me.

But go we did. 

A couple of nights in Orange with some friends (I am still in shock that people who are not related to us would actually invite us to stay at their home!) enjoying the vineyards and local parks.

A few nights in Dubbo where we spent most of our time cycling around the zoo. At the risk of offending someone (or all of you), Dubbo is an absolute dive. There is lots to do (like family bowling - Dew Drop beat me!) but it lacks life. Even the sniff of life. It may have been where we stayed (on the wrong side of the tracks) or the amount of fast food outlets that put me off, but man, I couldn't get out of there fast enough!

Finally a couple of nights in a gorgeous mud brick cottage just outside the Warumbungles, near Coonabarabran, where we reconnected with nature and were inspired by the amazing scenery. I have long wanted to go to the Warumbungles. It was torture to be in the National Park with children who did not want to commit to walking more than one kilometre when there was so much wonderful hiking to be done, but we were still able to have a fantastic time. We will absolutely be going back there. When the kids are older. Or have flown the coop.

The driving stints were punctuated with games and stories and kids fighting with each other about one thing or another. The obligatory portable DVD player got a workout sometimes too, depending on how well the Geege and I coped with the racket in the back of the van! Overall, I rated the road trip with our kids. It felt like a real family holiday. A family out and about, making memories together.

Oh and the washing? Still catching up. As I plonked the last load of sheets from our trip in the washing machine this morning, they still had the hint of the log fire smell from the mud brick cottage and that made me smile as I thought of the four kids tucked up in their bunks.

How have you been?

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

The afternoon pick-ups

Even Brad Pitt struggles! Image from here
A couple of years ago I wrote a post about the busiest three hours of my weekNot long after I wrote it, I increased to three days at work and had to repeat the three hour routine twice a week. My days on the afternoon pick-ups are always the most full-on in my week. I don't know how Mum's who work full-time manage this every single day!

The Geege has been doing stock take the past couple of days and I have been alone doing pick-ups and bedtimes. A couple of years ago I wouldn't have been able to manage on my own. I realised that things have gotten a lot better.

I still dread Monday and Tuesday evenings. Who wouldn't? Picking up four completely over tired children and having to squash their night time routine into an hour isn't anyone's idea of fun I bet. I still get completely overwhelmed and overwrought but I seem to get through things more productively, with less screaming and a reasonable bed time for the kids.

So what has changed? Obviously the kids have gotten older, which really helps. But it is a combination of  other little changes we have made that seem to be helping us. Things like: improved organisation; lower standards (i.e. simple dinners); getting the kids to do their homework at after-school care so we only have to check it and have them read to us; and rewarding independent behaviour.

Nothing changes over night, but it is nice to realise that life is getting easier.

What is the busiest time of your week? How do you manage it?

Monday, 2 July 2012

Road trips with kids

Image from here
About this time last year, the Geege and I were having a holiday organisation stand off. We wanted to go somewhere, but no-one wanted to organise anything. In the end I caved in and booked our accommodation at the snow only to have it fall apart due to some heavy duty vomiting a la Dew Drop. We holidayed in our own city instead.

With the lessons learnt, we started a bit earlier with our mid-year break organisation this time. Like a whole week before we are due to leave. Quite impressive really. This year we are having a little road trip through western NSW. 

There is something about the humble road trip. Don't you think? They are kind of retro. Family bonding, repetitive sound tracks, random loo stops, and picnics by the side of the road. I have very fond memories from my own childhood. Very much the case of the journey is the destination.

I fear it may be a little ambitious for our family. They haven't experienced long car trips very often, but those we have had were punctuated with large amounts of whinging, requests for food and a whole lot of "are we there yet?"s.

I am preparing our artillery of car games - car cricket, I spy, Spotto, a scavenger hunt and the like - and some new DVDs for the trip. The kids have had input into the destinations and activities we will be undertaking. And of course, I have car snacks planned.

Have you got any other suggestions for this road-trip-with-kids-virgin?

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