Thursday, September 1, 2011

How Working Ahead Keeps Me Sane

I'm notorious for working super far ahead on things. Some people call this being organized, others call it crazy. I simply see it as my lifesaver.
You see, I'm a procrastinator by nature. Meaning, I only do things if I absolutely HAVE to do them and there is no other possible second I could be doing them. Unless of course it's so far in advance that I don't need to do it for hours/days/weeks/months (heck sometimes even years). Usually I do this when I'm procrastinating something else.

But as much as I procrastinate, I also hate the feeling of panic that it brings upon me.

So I started working ahead. Like crazy ahead. I figured if I can't work on things during a normal person's "logical and sane" time to work on something and I can't leave things until the last minute or I'll go crazy, then I have to go to the other extreme and work ahead.

This has given my life such a peaceful flow that I'll never go back (don't get me wrong, sometimes I pile too much on my plate and still end up with the last minute crazies, or unforeseen circumstances cause them, but it's rarely of my own doing now).

So yes, even in August (or earlier), I'm thinking about Christmas. Why? Because August isn't a busy month for me. December (and even November) is completely nutty. Mark and I are each in a Choir and Orchestra which means 2 full weeks of December are used up doing concerts. That would leave me about 1 week to get everything done for Christmas if I didn't work ahead. I just can't do it.

A few years ago, I started my work ahead system (not on purpose, it just happened). It started with Christmas. I made lists of everything that it took to make Christmas run from gifts, to decorations, to food to parties. I marked everything on the calendar and worked backwards to when things needed to be done. That was the least stressful Christmas I had ever encountered up until that point (and everyone after has been just as relaxing).

So, I started applying that same strategy to every area of my life. I started with the busy times (June is crazy for us, September is nuts as are Christmas and Easter (mostly because of concerts). Once I got my busy times under control then I started working ahead for the normal day to day things. If I know company is coming, I meal plan for them basically as soon as they're marked on the calendar.
I started keeping running lists of recurring events or helpful things that I could reference (such as recipes for when people come to visit!). Each time I pass through a busy season my process gets refined.

And the best thing about planning? It helps me see what is most important to me and my family (so that those things get done) and allows us to throw in a few "cherry one top" moments and ditch the stuff that drags us down.

Are you organized? What sort of systems work for you? Need some help in this area? What do you struggle with the most?


  1. I wish I could be more like you!

    I do buy Christmas gifts through out the year. All of my shopping should be done at the end of October. I hate the last minute running around at Christmas.

  2. wow, I wouldn't know where to start to plan ahead like that, lol.

  3. i agree working ahead is less stressful. but lately I am always behind. need to find a way to get back on track.


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