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Ford Squares

I recently wrote an article about President Eisenhower, which led me to the topic of Eisenhower boxes.  What, you ask, are Eisenhower boxes?  It’s a productivity system where you break down tasks into four categories: do, decide, delegate, or delete.

So every day you wake up and divide a piece of paper into four quarters.  In the top, left square, you write what needs to get done today.  Not tomorrow, not next week, but today.  Meaning, you are not going to bed until this task is complete.  To the right of that box, you write things that are important but not urgent.  If you get to them today, great.  If you get to them tomorrow, that’s fine, too.  But they need to get done at some point.

In the bottom, left square, you write things that are not important but they’re urgent.  The article lists it as things you’d delegate to someone else to do.  My understanding is that it’s stuff that is time sensitive, but if it doesn’t get done, it’s okay and you’d let it go.

Anyway, the square that really throws me is the bottom, right for not urgent and not important.

If it’s not urgent and it’s not important, why would I write it down?

I still keep my bullet journal, but everything that needs to get done goes into my journal so it’s not always exactly clear what needs to get done today and what can wait until the next day.  The past few weeks have been unusually busy, and I’ve been tackling my to-do list by creating Ford Squares.

It’s an easier system.

You take a piece of paper.  You fold it in half three times and then unfold it so you see eight squares.  You put the days of the week at the top of each square.  And then you look at your large to-do list and start scheduling tasks on certain days.  So it’s no longer a huge to-do list; it’s just one or two tasks per day.  If I complete the daily list, I allow myself to work ahead and grab something off another day, but I have zero feelings of guilt if I only accomplish the things that are in the single square.  It helps me to say “no” to things because I can see that the squares are already full.  And it also helps me to feel calm because I can see that I will have all the cookies baked for Chanukkah by X date because I’ve scheduled one batch for each evening.

I’m calling my unfancy system Ford Squares.  I’m sure someone else has already invented this, but I’m still keeping my name.  It’s not as brilliant as Eisenhower boxes, but you also don’t need to make hard, categorical decisions.  It’s just Monday or Tuesday.  Two tasks or three.  And when life goes back to a normal pace, I’ll go back to only using my bullet journal.  But until then… Ford Squares.

December 3, 2017   5 Comments

671st Friday Blog Roundup

Meghan Markle, I feel like I know you.  The ChickieNob delivers dozens of little tidbits about your upcoming nuptials throughout the day, including commentary on your ring, choice of church, and how Prince Harry proposed.  My brain used to be filled with other information, but now I only have room for royal wedding facts.

The one nice thing about her engagement is that the ChickieNob is jumping out of bed in the morning to (1) check the news and (2) sometimes write a blog post.  The ChickieNob is not a morning person and usually requires much cajoling and a few threats to move from her bed, so this has been a welcomed change.  I want to ride this new morning routine straight to that May wedding date.

My world is full of exclamation marks right now because this! is! so! exciting!


Stop procrastinating.  Go make your backups.  Don’t have regrets.

Seriously.  Stop what you’re doing for a moment.  It will take you fifteen minutes, tops.  But you will have peace of mind for days and days.  It’s the gift to yourself that keeps on giving.

As always, add any new thoughts to the Friday Backup post and peruse new comments in order to find out about methods, plug-ins, and devices that help you quickly back up your data and accounts.


And now the blogs…

But first, second helpings of the posts that appeared in the open comment thread last week.  In order to read the description before clicking over, please return to the open thread:

Okay, now my choices this week.

My Path to Mommyhood has a post about a truly baffling phrase and a question: “Is your death sadder if you have children?  Is your life worth more because of it?”  Yes, I’m going to make you read the whole post to understand the questions because I’m sneaky like that.  But the answer is no.  (Though I totally wish she had delivered the snarky response at the end.  Mwaaaah ha ha.  That was my typed of version of the laughter.)

Countingpinklines has a post about friendship.  She writes, “the only people I’m capable of maintaining a friendship with these days are those who listen to me” but she also unpacks an interesting situation with a friend that she has pulled away from after the friend’s pregnancy.  Plus there is plenty of food for thought on pausing friendships.

Lastly, The Road Less Travelled made ME cry with her post about crying over the royal engagement.  There is a little hop of the heart when you think about how far we’ve come.  But it’s also that other side of watching a young couple come together and hope that they get to have a lifetime of happiness with each other.  Sniff.

The roundup to the Roundup: An American is marrying into the royal family.  Your weekly backup nudge.  And lots of great posts to read.  So what did you find this week?  Please use a permalink to the blog post (written between November 24th and December 1st) and not the blog’s main url. Not understanding why I’m asking you what you found this week?  Read the original open thread post here.

December 1, 2017   8 Comments

Taking Other People’s Bad Days


So a friend posted a great quote on Facebook on Thanksgiving: “There are people who would be grateful to have your bad days.”

The meaning of the words — at least as defined by the other commenters — is that there are always people out there who are worse off and they would be thrilled to have your problems.  A little Voltaire-like inverse Pain Olympics.  Yes, we all have problems, but be grateful for even your bad days because there are people who would consider themselves lucky if they got to live your problems rather than their own.

But before I saw the comments, I read it in a completely different way.

And I’m sticking to the way I initially understood it.

There are people in your life — the people who love you or appreciate you — who are grateful to have you in their life even on your worst days.  Meaning, Josh would rather have Melissa on her worst days than Person X on only her best days.  My kids would rather have me during what I consider my worst parenting moments over another mother during what she would consider her best parenting moments.  My clients consider my “worst” work better than most people’s “best” work.

It’s the perfect life rule: surround yourself with people who are grateful to have you.  And it’s a pretty simple litmus test when you’re trying to make a decision about something.  Does the person appreciate you?  Want the whole you?  See even your “worst” as better than many other people’s “best”?  Then keep them close.  Does the person only highlight your faults?  Try to change you?  Not appreciate your innate gifts or strong effort?  Then let them (or the situation) go.

All the people I love in my life or appreciate in my life are not without faults.  They have their bad days or bone-headed moments that frustrate me.  But I gladly take those people with their foibles because I am grateful to have them in my life; to get even their worst days because even when they’re at their worst, they are still eons better than many other people at their best.

And I’m always grateful to the people who recognize that same idea when considering me.

November 29, 2017   14 Comments

Perfect Little World

So I read Kevin Wilson’s Perfect Little World.

The book opens at the turning point: A psychologist puts together a center where 10 children are raised collectively by 19 parents (1 is a single parent and all the rest are heterosexual couples) from birth without experiencing the concept of a nuclear family.  And now — at age 5 — the children are on the cusp of discovering which parent(s) in the group is/are their biological parent(s).  How will their world change once they know their origin?

I know.

I went into reading this book with a liiiiiiiiiiittle bit of baggage.

I spent the better part of the book wondering how the center in the story was different from the early kibbutzim.  I don’t know of any modern kibbutz that still has a children’s house, but when kibbutzim first started out, kids lived separately from their parents.  They weren’t kept in the dark about their origin — the spent a few hours a day with their biological parents — but they were raised collectively by the adults on the kibbutz.  So beyond the fact that the children in the novel had their upbringing regulated by an army of parenting experts, it didn’t seem all that different from kibbutz life.  And to that end, it seems a little more backward vs. forward-thinking since even kibbutzim have moved away from this practice.

But the rest of the book I spent considering the same question the characters grapple with throughout the novel: What makes a family?  What makes a parent?  What makes a child?  Can we choose our brother and sisters and have them become actual brothers and sisters and not just really good, life-long friends?  (And to that end, what is the difference?)  How big can a family get before you see some cracks start to form due to the weight of the relationship?

I didn’t walk away from the book with clear answers, even though the book wraps up very neatly — maybe too neatly — in the end.  I’m not sure why I expected to discover these things in a book if I haven’t come to clear answers in real life.

Do I recommend the book?  Yes.  I think so.  (At the very least, to have people to discuss this with.)  But go into it knowing that it may get under your skin; that it may poke and prod you a bit.

November 28, 2017   3 Comments

#MicroblogMondays 170: The Twins’ Book

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.


This week, three big boxes arrived in the mail: Author copies for the twins’ book, Hello, Scratch!  I’ve been video taping each leg of the journey: telling them that they got the book deal, signing the contract, turning in the first chapter, receiving their first advance check.  And now holding their own book.

The book will be released on Thursday, and we plan on taking a ride out to a bookstore to see it in its natural habitat.  In the meantime, it’s the Deal of the Day that Thursday (that link will only connect to the book this upcoming Thursday) on the Manning site.  And the twins are answering questions all week over on CodeRanch.  Exciting times.

I think it’s extra sweet because they worked so hard for so long to get to this point.  I think other kids are going to enjoy their book and learn how to program from it, but moreover, I think the twins learned that they could take an enormous project and break it down into manageable chunks and get the whole thing done.

An important lesson to learn.

P.S. It makes a fantastic holiday gift. Just saying.


Are you also doing #MicroblogMondays? Add your link below. The list will be open until Tuesday morning. Link to the post itself, not your blog URL. (Don’t know what that means? Please read the three rules on this post to understand the difference between a permalink to a post and a blog’s main URL.) Only personal blogs can be added to the list. I will remove any posts that are connected to businesses or are sponsored post.

1. Counting Pink Lines 9. Mali (A Separate Life) 17. Loribeth (The Road Less Travelled)
2. Failing at Haiku 10. Stephanie (Travelcraft Journal) 18. Jess
3. Cristy 11. Turia 19. Shail
4. Isabelle 12. Journeywoman 20. Laughing IS Conceivable
5. Not My Lines Yet 13. Empty Arms, Broken Heart 21. Middle Girl
6. Raven 14. Risa Kerslake
7. Cyn K 15. Virginia
8. Mali (No Kidding) 16. Chandra Lynn (Pics and Posts)

November 27, 2017   21 Comments

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