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Monday, January 30, 2012

Tuesday's Terrific Tip--Plan ahead projects

Shortly after I started the TTT section this year I received an email from a fellow school mom, J.  She has two kids, in 5th and 7th grade and for several years they have made Valentines for every kid in their grade over the MLK holiday.  

I called her and asked if she could take pictures, but then life came up and things didn't happen the way she planned, but I got this great tip to share with you.  Take it away J.... 

We aren't going to have any photos of the Valentines but, they are finished.  Here's a summary of what we do.

After Christmas, the next major holiday other than my husband's and my birthdays is Valentine's. J  Typically, I use the Current catalog after Christmas sale to place an order for Valentine cards right after Christmas.  My children love to give Valentines not only to his/her respective class but, also to the rest of his/her grade.  That means about 80 Valentines.  We start once the cards come in because if we wait the night before, it's chaos to get them all done along with homework and any activities that we have.  We usually have a three day weekend between Christmas and Valentine's and that's when we get a majority of the work done.  

To help with the process, I make a couple of pages of labels with a heart on them that say 'to' and 'from' my child. That way, it's easy to put a name on the label and stick it on the Valentine or goodie bag.  If time permits, we make some extra bags for neighbors or cousins.  Happy Valentine's, everyone!

Thanks J!  

This doesn't have to be limited to a kid driven or oriented project, especially if you don't have kids at home.  This can be helpful for anyone who has some big upcoming deadline.  

1.  Figure out when your project needs to be completed; sometimes it's not obvious.  Is there a deadline on cleaning out a closet??? While there might be ticking time-bombs in some, I've never seen one really go off.  In J's project it's pretty definite... the day school celebrates Valentine's day.  

2.  Think about how long you want to spend on it.  Does it need to be perfect?  Remember only Jesus is perfect.  Don't get hung up on some idea of perfection that it might keep you from finishing the project. Is fifteen minutes of work enough?  Will an organized junk drawer be enough??  Is cajoling your child to write his name 23 times sufficient to celebrate Valentine's day, or do you want to have him also write every kid's name too.  

3.  Think about your least busy days of the week and how many of those you have until you want your project to be finished.  For us that's Saturday and Sunday, but it could certainly be another day for you.  Divide up the work among them, leave a day in for spare time if you have that luxury.  

4.  Write down the next three things you need to do on the project.  Three is the magic number here because you won't get overwhelmed with there being 25 more steps to complete.  You've looked forward enough to see three steps... for J... order from Current, wait for stuff to arrive, wait for the holiday.  

5.  Do the very first thing you need to do on your project, either today, or on your next least busy day.  If it's order something, order it today, if it's make a decision, make it.  

Remember not making a decision is also making a decision.  It means you won't get to enjoy whatever your planning for as long as you delay.  

This might help too.  If the cost (time + money) of the decision is minor, then just make the decision.  Only if you're buying a house or a rocket ship should you fret over what to do.  Let the amount of time you spend making the decision be proportion to the investment you are making.    

6.  As you are putting your project up/away for a work day, write down the next three things you want to do.  Your mind is engaged in the project right then so write it down while you're thinking about it.  Later you'll appreciate your notes even more, especially if your project is a bit complicated; it helps with transition time the next time you want to work on the project.  It will be easy to pick up and get right back to work.  

7.  Keep working until you're finished or your deadline arrives.  When your deadline arrives, call it finished, even if it isn't.  Turn it in, drop it in the mail, check it off; whatever is appropriate for your project.  

8.  Start another project.  

I've actually been looking at some cute, and EASY, projects for Valentine's Day thanks to J's contribution and inspiration.  

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