I am an avid reader, not only of fiction but all sorts of non-fiction too. Self-help books are a special interest of mine as well: how-to and do-it-yourself books/magazines on home improvement, painting, gardening, organizing, decluttering, time management, self-care, self-discovery, and healthful eating.
Like this squirrel finally figuring out how to grab some bird seed from this hanging bird feeder, I’ve tried many ways of doing things to find out what works best for myself and my family. I am forever seeking ways to improve our lives as normal changes occur over time, so I love learning about new ideas, and solutions.
Anything to help me reach my goals, make my life easier and happier, run more smoothly is all right by me. Even if it’s as simple as a new way to dust baseboards. Hint: put those single socks to good use (you know, the ones the dryer didn’t eat or the ones that have holes in them). Insert hand and swipe the wood, super easy/fast! 😀
Or a bit more challenging like managing your time and figuring out if you’re a calendar person or day planner or an app person? I’m definitely a calendar person. I am a tactile person; I like the feel of a pen in my hand, stickers to peel and stick for reminders or after I’ve accomplished something that day. Makes for a pretty colorful wall-hanging at the end of the month!
One of the most useful tools I’ve discovered over the years is a timer. A timer works wonders for me on those days that I feel scattered or overwhelmed by all I have to do. I set the timer for 15 minutes so I can focus on one task at a time. I must say, it helps tremendously and I have found that many tasks (like unloading the dishwasher or loading it) take only 5-15 minutes.
I used to think it took a lot longer until I set my timer (especially loading it after dinner). Surprise! Leftovers put away, dishwasher loaded, counters cleaned, sink wiped in under 15 minutes! Without even racing, mind you! 🙂
Second terrific use for a timer? A timer works great for children doing homework. I used it with my son when he was overwhelmed with the amount of homework he needed to do in elementary, middle and high school. He’d almost have a panic attack thinking about everything he had to get done; so much so, that he couldn’t decide which assignment to tackle first.
I would have him start with the most important or urgent assignment. He’d set his timer for 15 minutes (sometimes 30 minutes when he was older) and do it. At the end of that time, he could take a 5-10 minute break: go for a walk outside, get a glass of water, play a short card game with Mom. When the timer went off, he knew to set it for another stint of 15-30 minutes for homework. It really helped calm him down and allowed him to take his homework one step/assignment at a time.
And, if he had a tough piece of homework, I had him do the easy stuff first. That helps reduce the pressure and the dread of doing that tough assignment/topic. And, if he was having trouble with one assignment, when the timer went off, he could switch to an easy assignment. “You can always go back to it”, I told him. I believe he even uses the timer now that he’s in college when he needs to.
The third use for a timer helps with clean-up tasks with your children. Telling a child to “Go clean your room.” doesn’t help them break the task into manageable chunks. Use the timer to help you decide on the task you want them to complete.
Assign the task then set the timer. Tasks as simple as: fold, hang, and put away clothes; pick up and throw away all garbage; dust; or vacuum can more easily be assigned and completed using a timer. Usually, 5-15 minutes for each task is good. (Don’t set the timer for more than 30 minutes or an hour. Overwhelm sets in and nothing gets done.)
The key is to adhere to the timer. When the timer goes off – make sure they STOP! Even if there are some clothes left out. STOP. Now set the timer for fun! 5-15 minutes of dancing, hoola-hooping, running outside, getting a drink of water. When the timer goes off again, they know it’s time to finish their task or carry out another one. Once again, set the timer for the task.
You *must* adhere to the timer, especially for young children. They (and you) can get into a real rhythm with no nagging involved. The timer tells them when to start and when to stop. They (and you) know exactly what they’re supposed to do and the timer helps them focus.
Try it! I hope it works as well for you as it has for me over the years. 🙂
Have you tried using a timer? Has it helped you, your children? Or do you have another tool you use to help you or your children focus? I’d love to hear about them!
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