Mind the Time

Time is a measurement we constantly strive to manage. We often take the receiving end perspective and consider how the lack of time may affect us personally. Last Spring I received an email from my daughter’s school. For an upcoming activity, each parent was asked to supply two wooden clothespins. The request seemed innocent enough but the minimalist inside of me reared her ugly head. We don’t have any clothespins (wooden or plastic). I would have to find time in my busy week to purchase this small item. Great, another task on my to-do list.

It seemed such a waste to purchase a whole pack for just two pins. I’ll never use them and I will have to either throw them away (actual waste) or find a home for them (waste of space). The latter seemed ridiculous as I don’t believe in holding onto items just in case. I grabbed my phone, opened Whatsapp and began frantically typing a rant to the parent’s group of my daughter’s class. Thankfully I paused to reflect on my message and didn’t automatically press send. What was I going to achieve by ranting except wasting other people’s time, cluttering their phone with unnecessary messages?

I quickly pulled up the website to a local shop and found wooden clothes pins, sets of 32 for €1.25. I did the math. There are approximately 30 kids in the class, so for all of €2.50 I could order clothespins for all the students and save 29 parents from finding time looking for or shopping for clothespins. I re-wrote my message to the parent’s group and quickly order the clothespins. Money well spent if it saved someone else time and energy.

What was the lesson I learned? Be mindful of the time you are requesting of others. What may seem simple and easy could actually be time-consuming and energy draining. And when possible, if you have time to give, help others manage their time by taking on the task.

Are you struggling to manage your time? Feeling your time is in the hands of others and not your own? Enlist the help of sorted.by Melissa. I can help you find more space, focus and time to do the things you love.

I want to help you live a more organized life. Let’s get you sorted.

Become a Scrum Master

I spent years frustrated and annoyed by my own nagging: “brush your teeth”, “put away your school bag”, “get dressed”, “clear your dishes”. I was a broken record, and the more I repeated the requests the slower my children appeared to spring into action. I was driving myself nuts. Then I came across a chapter in “The Secret of Happy Families”, by Bruce Feiler, that was truly a game changer.

Feiler shares the story of how one family applied “agile development” and the use of Scrum Boards to become better organized with routine tasks. Agile development, born out of the Japanese auto industry and adopted within tech and design teams, is based on small teams, in this case, a family, who huddle for morning briefings and critique their performance at the end of the week during a review and retrospective meeting.

What is a Scrum Board

A scrum board is essentially a project task list with a quick overview of the task’s status.

A list of project tasks is created and moves in stages across three columns: To Be Done, In Progress, or Completed. A task is assigned an owner, the child, who completes the task. The overall manager of the Scrum Board (and project) is the Scrum Master, the parent.

Why use a Scrum Board

Instead of repeatedly asking your child to complete a routine task or chore consider incorporating a scrum board. Providing a board for your child to oversee and action teaches them how to self-manage the completion of routine tasks, like brushing teeth or putting away their school bag. This will, in turn, empower your child to continue to do more for themselves without you constantly reminding them of what needs to be done.

When a child becomes distracted or questions what needs to be done, as Scrum Master, you simply refer to the board to steer them in the right direction. By stepping back you eliminate the need to constantly check-up on their progress. No one likes the nagging and the board provides a visual reminder of what they need to do without your repeated instructions squawking at them like a parrot.

How to Create a Scrum Board

I suggest creating individual cards or post-its for each task. Place all tasks on a pin/cork board, A4-sheet of paper or perhaps use your child’s bedroom door.  Divide your board into the required columns: To Be Done, In Progress & Completed. For younger children, most tasks take little time and you can omit the In Progress column. For older children who might have a school report or chores that take longer to complete, use the In Progress column.

Create different scrum boards for each individual child in the family. Perhaps get them involved in the creation. Consider if you need separate scrum boards for morning and evening routines.

For younger school-aged children who aren’t yet reading, use visual images they can recognize instead of words.

How to Use a Scrum Board

The concept is simple, your child reviews the tasks that need to be completed, makes their choice and when completed moves the post-it or card from the ‘To Be Done’ to the ‘Completed’ column.

Your child then reviews the remaining tasks, selecting the next one to complete, continuing the process until all tasks have made it to the ‘Completed’ column.

The parent then reviews that the tasks are completed and resets the task list for the next day. This can be done each evening before bed or in the morning upon waking.

I suggest introducing the concept before a series of routine tasks, like getting ready for bed. This is a good time to explain to younger ones that a bath is needed before putting on clean pajamas to ensure certain tasks are completed in their proper order.

Review & retrospective

It is ok if it doesn’t work on the first try. Remember you are introducing something new and there will be an element of adjustment. Allow yourselves a few days to get in the rhythm. Manage expectations and results by discussing how it went. Give them the room to share how they feel. Do this each day, giving praise and pointers on how to achieve better results, such as completing a task in less time.

My children embraced the idea readily and for weeks it worked smoothly. Then the tasks became so routine to them they omitted using the boards. We re-introduce the scrum boards from time to time, especially when we get off track during a school holiday break.

My mission is to help busy families find more space, focus and time to do the things they love. If you’d like help getting you and your family better-organized contact sorted.by Melissa.

 I want to help you live a more organized life. Let’s get you sorted.

Schedule It!

The French term it la rentrée, a reference to early September, when school sessions start again, the return from our summer vacations. September marks not just an end to the summer season but the beginning of the “other” new year, the school year.

For those of us with children & teens, we live by the schedule of the school year. Before busy-ness takes over, and you are scrambling to find a free spot on your calendar, take the time to schedule your time for the coming school year.

Here is a list of essential items to consider scheduling in your calendar as appointment non-negotiables.

Holidays you have booked or are planning to book. The idea is that you reserve the time for yourself before work or other plans make time off unavailable. Ensure you request the time off from work before others do so you have the first choice. You can always cancel and reschedule your plans but at the minimum, you have quality time reserved for you and your family.

School holidays, teacher/study days, report cards, parent/teacher meetings, class trips. Most schools have an electronic calendar you can sync to your own, or an app (like Schools United & Social Schools) that gives you an at a glance review of the school’s calendar. There is always that extra day off, in the middle of a random week or added to a holiday, that throws off your weekly schedule. Ensure you always have the latest information.

Personal time. Everything and everyone else gets time on your calendar so why not you? After all, you deserve some personal downtime alone or with friends. Book it in for the coming months for your much-needed recharge.

Haircuts and beauty appointments. Do you, your partner or children routinely need haircuts? Do you have other spa or other beauty treatments that need to be scheduled?

(Routine) date night with your partner. Schedule the babysitter and some one-on-one quality time with your partner. No babysitter available? Put the kids to bed and order in a special meal. Turn off the devices and TV.

Doctor and dental appointments. Twice a year check-ups with the dentist and dental hygienist are recommended. Have you been avoiding calling the doctor over a health issue?

Renewal of vital documents. Driver’s license/passport/identification card due to expire in the coming months? Check the dates and book in reminders to request necessary documents, have passport photos taken, etc., well before the expiration date.

Extra Tip for business owners: block time to in your agenda to catch-up on your financial administration for submission of your quarterly taxes. With the time blocked you can better manage your client workload and pay your taxes on time.

How about you? Which of these items do you regularly add to your calendar at the start of a new year? What other items can you think of that should be added to an annual calendar? 

Are you finding it hard to manage your schedule? Feeling your time is in the hands of others and not your own? Enlist the help of sorted.by Melissa. I can help you find more space, focus and time to do the things you love.

I want to help you live a more organized life. Let’s get you sorted.