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Homemaker asking for help

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  • Homemaker asking for help

    I would it appreciate it if any of you can direct me to specific threads or whatever which would be most helpful for my situation. I'm new to the Forums. As homemaker/wife I am in charge of absolutely everything, e.g. investments & some other unusual financial affairs, housework, errands, projects, you-name-it, I either have to do it or delegate it. No children. Husband is retired but his medical condition impairs his abilities; he helps with moderately simple tasks if I delegate skillfully to him. I'm trying to manage hundreds of things, e.g. repetitive tasks such as cleaning out the eaves troughs, cleaning the coffeemaker w vinegar, projects such as decorating the house, investments, errands. Am an avid gardener and natch that also has its own huge set of big projects as well as countless little repetitve tasks. Furthermore, we would kinda like to build a new house, have found a nice site, but I don't dare to embark on that unless I can get organized and stay organized, get caught up and stay caught up.

    Bought the GTD book within a week of its pub date, read it right away. I'll be browzing the forums and re-reading the book. I had a massive to-do list in WordPerfect which I kept in a zipper binder several yrs ago. It was approx 175 pages, sorted by category. Then I decided to go paperless. Problem is, if it's only on the computer, I tend not to review or even use it. What I do use faithfully is a spiral notebook (Quad Notebook, Office Max, 5 squares per inch, paper size 10.5 x which I call my "Daily Agenda". Each day I set up a new page, date in upper right corner, left column is to do in 4 categories: Desk, House, Yard, Errands. Right column is what I got done, how I spent my time. One advantage of it is that the footprint it uses on the desk is only 10.5 x 8. But the day-to-day carry-forwards of undone tasks are impossible to keep up if it's used for daily repetitve and projects. I think I need to revive my big 3-ring notebook. Am well familiar with index card system developed by Side-Tracked Sisters, and yesterday's Wall Street Journal tipped me off to the GTD adaptation of it; perhaps I should use a combination of card file for hubby's housework task plus my notebook for everything else? Alternatively, I am a huge fan of checklists and pro-forma lists made using WordPerfect tables.

    Anyway -- I'm going to spend some time reviewing the DavidCo Forums, and if anyone can direct me to specific threads or web pages or whatever which would be especially useful for the overloaded "housewife" or "household manager", I'd be grateful.


  • #2
    Hi! Although there are some people on this forum whose primary responsibilities lie in the home, I've only seen a couple of threads since February 2005 (when I joined) focusing on the application of GTD to the home.

    Conversely, in another forum where I participate (, there are several threads devoted to GTD! Between the two forums (fora?), there are some of us who feel "covered."

    I'm a prof. organizer and technical editor, and I refer my organizing clients to both sites if they ask for on-line support.

    Hope it all works out for you on both sites!



    • #3
      If you have a 175 page ToDo list, no organizing system on earth will bring it completely under control. You simply have too much to do.

      Presumably, some of the things on the list are time- or seasonally dependent. Most people don't plant bulbs or clean gutters in the winter, or plan Christmas parties in July. So, stash those items in a tickler file and ignore them completely until you can act on them.

      Presumably, some of the things on the list are critically important Must Do tasks. If you don't pay your taxes on time, or don't clean the cat's litter box regularly, Bad Things will happen. So you might want to organize those first.

      Then there's the large mass of things in between, ranging from somewhat important, like buying groceries, to "would be nice someday," like a major vacation or remodelling project. Here's where you draw the line between "someday/maybe" items and "next actions," and set up your system so that only the next actions demand your day-to-day attention, but the someday/maybe items get reviewed periodically.

      Hope this helps,



      • #4
        I don't have specific links to point you to, other than (from the WSJ reference). In addition to what's already been posted, if you have items that are day specific you should put them on a calendar as an All Day appointment (Computer/PDA), or just write them on the specific day if you're using a paper calendar.

        I know I'd be intimidated/overwhelmed with a 175 page ToDo list, even sorted by Category or Context. Hopefully many of your items are either seasonal or can be done on specific days and getting them off your action lists will not only make those lists smaller, but will help you from feeling (too) overwhelmed.

        Good luck!


        • #5
          Try They advocate routines - daily, weekly, monthly etc. That may be of use to you in your situation.


          • #6
            Thanks for stopping by! While I can't point you to specific resources, here's my advice:

            If you haven't already, try a tickler file, and use it for repeated activities such as house cleaning, seasonal maintenance, etc. I think that will greatly reduce your to-do list right off the bat. I'm a single guy with a new townhouse that requires a lot of renovation and maintenance, and that's how I manage it.

            If you haven't already, organize your to-do list by project (more accurately, goal, such as "Renovate basement"). Then identify the next thing needed to do per project, and write those down as your to-do list. That will become your Next Actions list.

            I, too, used to have a long list of to-dos, but since moving to a GTD system, I've found I haven't needed to break out all my projects in as much detail. GTD allows each project list to be vague, because you use your brain to extract the Next Action from each project list.


            • #7
              Originally posted by CKH
              Conversely, in another forum where I participate (, there are several threads devoted to GTD! Between the two forums (fora?), there are some of us who feel "covered."

              I'd like to take a look at the forum you mention. Would it be possible for you to provide the link to some of the specific threads - it looks like a pretty large message board.


              • #8
                Yes, Organized Home ( IS large; when I did a Search on the term/keyword "GTD" to give you some direction, 31 discussion threads showed up! And that's just "GTD"; there may be more if you search on "David Allen" or "Getting Things Done." Frankly, I was afraid to try!

                So I'd recommend, when assaying OH for the first time, that you just use the Search function and read how others have applied GTD to home/life management. (I've been a member so long over there that I can't remember whether "Search" is for members only, but if it is, go ahead and join. I have NEVER, in nine months, received an unsolicited message traceable to OH.)

                Yeah, I know: David Allen talks about how GTD applies to EVERYTHING, across the board. And it does. But when you're just getting started and his examples for the home are few and far between (let's see: getting tires for the car and ... ?), it's a little difficult to understand how to get in gear.

                So Search on "GTD" or "David Allen" or "Getting Things Done" at OH. Lots of stuff!

                And, MorningDove, I forgot to suggest that your 175 pages of To Do might be an already-prepared Household Notebook, another popular concept at OH. When/if you visit the site, "Create a Household Notebook" is one of the direct choices. If your lists are in fact Household Notebooks in hiding, this might help you park those lists in a trusted system so that they're not constantly on your mind, and you can still get to them instantly at a moment's notice.

                Thanks, Bellaisa, for your url request; sorry I couldn't be more responsive, but even with my technical editor "hat" on, 31 threads is a lot to provide url's for!

                I hope everyone finds the information s/he is seeking.

                Cynthia aka CynthiaDogMom


                • #9
                  I second the flylady site, her use of a control journal for repetitive tasks would be helpful. I would also recommend the book "Sidetracked Home Executives" by Pam Young and Peggy Jones aka the Slob Sisters. They use 3x5 cards for daily, weekly and monthly tasks, sort of a 43 folders method. Their "chore cards" were the basis of Flylady's routines, I believe.


                  • #10

                    you could try, especially the "Organizing Your Home & Family" forum at .

                    Last edited by Rainer Burmeister; 05-30-2005, 10:29 AM.


                    • #11
                      OK, this is going to sound really weird, but stay with me here. There is this website that caters to conservative Christian families, particularly home schooling families with several children. The wife sells an amazing tool for time management called "Managers of their Homes." It doesn't begin to address to do lists, next actions, or projects. All it does is give you the best tool I have ever seen for allocating the time you have in a day toward the things that you must do in that day. It helps you set up a routine schedule of the day; what you then do in, for example, the time you have set aside for gardening would depend on what your next action for your current garden project is. You need be neither homeschooling nor conservative Christian to benefit from this tool. It seems a bit too structured, especially at first, but it really helps you get more done in a day. Here's the link.


                      • #12
                        I would say it can help you get more done in a day.

                        I've tried scheduling like this before. It doesn't work for me.


                        • #13
                          online organizing resources

                          See for a collection of links to organizing resources.



                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Brent
                            I would say it can help you get more done in a day.

                            I've tried scheduling like this before. It doesn't work for me.
                            So true, Brent. It doesn't work for everyone. It works best for homemakers with children at home, because the day is naturally divided by the meals, snacks, and naps they require. For them, it's more a conscious refinement of what they were already doing casually. For others the division of the day into chunks of an hour or so at a time seems entirely too rigid and artificial. It's not intended for scheduling an office work day. It is a way to ensure a balance between the various "projects" most women have including work, homemaking, child rearing, errands, cooking, and laundry. Getting the big presentation ready on schedule is so much better when you also were able to get the power suit from the cleaners before you have to give the presentation, and didn't eat take-out for the last three nights while you worked on it!


                            • #15
                              I purchased this book in 2000 at at the Florida homeschool convention in Orlando. I went throught the entire system (I homeschool my six children--then I was pregnant with #5). But after all that work (and expense) I realized that I could make these time maps MUCH more easily with Excel! They are also easier to customize and change and PRINT.