From a previous post:
The number 7 wasn’t arbitrarily chosen, either. It is a number that is quite significant in the Bible. I’ve been trying to incorporate it more into our lifestyle and these changes.
I feel that saying “five more minutes” or “ten Things” or “30 until dinner is ready” has reduced certain numbers to meaninglessness. You can say something will take you five minutes, like that’s how long you have until you walk out the door, but that time allotment has lost some meaning from overuse and could be a span from three minutes to 15.
Seven takes some thought.
Seven seems just so exact. You obviously aren’t rounding or suggesting a number in the ballpark of…but you mean precisely seven. Or a multiple of seven.
I decided to place this thought elsewhere on our path. I decided to make a list of projects around the house that could be done in 7 minutes, or in a multiple of 7, for those times where you know you could be productive but don’t know where to start.
So Many Starting Points
We live in a 115-year-old+ house. When we bought it, it was in definite need of major work. We worked on it for 6 months before we moved into it. That was 6 years ago and this little dream of ours has a ways to go before it is “ready.”
However, having two little ones plus the BHE working 55+ hours a week during two seasons a year, it is hard to find large blocks of time to get work done. We have to break things down into bite-sized pieces if we want to make any progress.
That’s where I came up with the List of Sevens: a large piece of craft paper, tacked to the wall, with different tasks listed under 7 Minutes, 14 Minutes, 21 Minutes, and 28 Minutes. (Any project that takes more than a half hour needs to be better prepared for.)
This list is meant to be a quick reference during those times where we know we can do SOMETHING before dinner, naptime, baths, or whatever is coming our way in our routine. If it is 5 o’clock and I know I need to start making dinner around 5:30 but I don’t have any other pressing thing to be working on, I can peek at the list where it is posted in our pantry to see what I can do.
Sure, we all know there’s a load of laundry ready to be started or a dishwasher that could be emptied. But those are daily chores that will get done. I’m talking about the things we don’t necessarily think of until we are struggling to fall asleep and that little annoying lightbulb comes on in our heads to say, “DING! YOU COULD HAVE DONE THIS INSTEAD!”
Clean a ceiling fan. Mop the bathroom. Wipe out the fridge.
Organize the supplies to start painting the upstairs hallway.
Put away laundry. Scrub the cabinet doors. Pick 7 DVDs to donate.
Gather all the trash and recycling, and load the bags into the truck.
Write a ‘thank you’ card. Clean out a file in the cabinet. Throw away last month’s receipts.
Take inventory of the basement and make a list of what tools we need to buy for the next big project.
One Bite at a Time
What I’ve learned in our approach to a minimalist lifestyle is to break down everything into bites that we can chew in the time we have.
For the bigger tasks and projects, when we do find ourselves with a whole day or even a whole weekend to get some work done, we need to be ready to roll into those projects rather than wasting precious time gathering the tools, discovering we don’t have all the supplies, and making an extra trip to town to go to the store.
What I have also learned is that the more Stuff we remove, the less clutter we deal with in the physical sense, means we have fewer Things in our way on our thoughtfully sought path to creating a cleaner and happier home. Without stumbling over boxes in the attic or having to move furniture we don’t need just to work on the house we love, we can get more work done and are that much closer to our goals.
Our long-term goals will not be achieved when we are inundated with unwanted work.
Our tasks that lead to completed projects will be finished more efficiently and with ease with fewer Things in our way.
Our to-do list is much more manageable when it is broken down into pieces. Little pieces. Seven pieces.
How do you break it down?
Why don’t you try creating a List of Sevens and let me know how that works out for you?