Learn your ABC’s

6a011570df09d5970c015432bfd8a7970c-500wi My friend, Dory Wilson, helped me get on the path to better organization and has graciously agreed to do a guest post. I hope this information helps you as much as it did me! Here's Dory:

The idea of knowing your ABC’s is based on a model for prioritizing tasks. It goes hand in hand with goal setting and identifying specific, detailed tasks required to successfully reach a particular goal. This works for long or short term goals, personal or professional.

Let’s say we say we have 2 goals we want to accomplish. For both, we’ll need to develop a list of specific tasks to perform to reach these goals. We also have our To-Do List for life in general – our day-to-day stuff, so it can get overwhelming; we don’t know where to start, or sometimes we start on the “little” things to check off small stuff on our lists, only to find ourselves scrambling and working ourselves into a frenzy to get “big” things done before a looming deadline. So, while it’s tempting to clear up some of those “little” tasks, it’s not recommended by time management and personal effectiveness experts.

What is recommended, is focusing on your ABC’s, so let me explain the ABCDE prioritizing model. 

  • “A” tasks are your “must do’s” those important and/or urgent tasks because if you don’t do them there will be consequences of some sort.
  • “B” tasks are your “should do’s” but if you don’t do them, there’s little consequence right now.
  • “C” tasks are “nice to do’s” and there’s no consequence for not doing them.
  • “D” tasks are things we can delegate to others, or pushback (tell someone where to find info, but not explain it in detail or do it for them). Pushback is particularly helpful when dealing with children of all ages!
  • And, finally, “E” tasks are things we need to eliminate altogether. Maybe at one time it was important, or it became a habit, but it really doesn’t add any value now. 

The idea is to focus on your “A” tasks first and then move on to “B” tasks and then and only then, move on to “C” tasks, etc. Sounds simple enough, but the problem is that we spend a great deal of time on low value activities like C’s, D’s and E’s instead of doing on our A’s and B’s.

I am notorious (just ask Becky) for being late. She has waited patiently and with a smile for me at lunch several times.  And, my husband has waited for me forever. I know when my husband has opened the garage, backed out the car and is waiting for me in the driveway that the sand has run out of the proverbial hourglass! And, I’ll run out to the car only to realize I forget my sunglasses, or I didn’t put lotion on my legs. "Yikes! Gotta go back in, really fast, I promise, honey!" So, it became evident that while I practiced my ABC’s professionally, I needed to apply it to my personal life or I wouldn’t have a husband or any friends that wanted to go anywhere with me.

Let me give you an example. On date night, I would start getting ready an hour in advance which is more than enough time (if I practiced my ABC’s), but,  I was using valuable minutes in that hour on low value activities. It was critical for me to identify my “A” tasks and not deviate.  My “A” tasks were to be clean, dressed and have my curly hair and basic make-up done and be ready to go. Inevitably, I would  do some “B” tasks, like flat iron my hair or do full blown make-up.  Then, I’d throw in some “C” tasks too. Check email while I was cooling down after my shower, straighten up the living room, or put  a few dishes in the dishwasher as I walked to the laundry room to get the top I planned to wear. Or, I’d decide to reorganize part of my closet because I couldn’t find anything to wear.  Sometimes,  “D” tasks popped up. I’d get a frantic phone call from my 24 year old daughter who was having trouble boiling water, so I would stop everything and explain it in detail,  instead of telling her to Google it. 

So, it’s all about knowing the tasks you need to perform, and planning your time (in whatever increments) accordingly. It’s about catching yourself when you start to do a “nice to do” and realize you need to get back on track with your “must do’s”. It’s fun and it’s simple and it’s how I start my days. And, I spread the word to anyone who will listen. When my brother built a lake house and was scrambling to get things done before a housewarming party the following day, I explained the ABC’s to him. Doorknobs on bathroom doors are a “must do” and adding plants to the side flower beds are a “nice to do”.  But, it’s all relevant, what you think it most important. For my brother, there were washrags filling the holes for the door knobs at the time of the party.



AAQI news!

Ami wrote a BIG check this week to the University of Michigan for Alzheimer's research. Isn't it amazing that she has taken an idea and turned it into action. I am continually inspired.

Yhst-40258611477147_2163_98988 (Burton, MI)– June 9, 2011–The Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative (AAQI) has awarded a grant of $60,160 to the University of Michigan to continue research conducted by Dr. Mi Hee Lim on "Investigation of Small Molecules as Chemical Tools and Potential Therapeutics for Alzheimer's Disease."

Click here to read the full press release.

In a related area, I finished my quilt for the Stanley Cup Quilt-Off (I hope I have the name of the challenge right). Here it is:

IWantToGoHome-01 copy

And here's a detail…

IWantToGoHome-Row2 copy

I was happy to find the little flower-shaped sequins to use as flowers. They were just perfect! I hope to have this pattern available as an ePattern in the near future. All proceeds would go to the AAQI. But until then save your pennies for the Stanley Cup Quilt-Off auction. Or better yet, go here to buy a quilt that is up for auction right now!


Where do frogs come from?

My DIL, Lorna, just forwarded this video to me. Wits is a Minnesota Public Radio program. In the video below Julia Sweeney, a 2010 guest star, shares a story about discussing the birds and bees (and frogs) with her eight-year-old daughter.

I laughed, a lot. I must warn you that I am married to a biologist and we raised two fine sons. When they asked questions about reproduction, we answered with anantomical correctness.

Just so you know, Julia is just as open in this story so if you click play in the presence of young children, be prepared for more questions and/or have your finger over the pause button.


Birch organic fabric…

When I was in Salt Lake City for quilt market I didn't get out of our booth much but luckily I made it by Birch Organic Fabric. Cynthia Mann, the owner/designer, was kind enough to send me some fabric!


These are just a few of the pieces that she was showing at market. I have washed mine and I'm happy to report that it's great after washing. The fabric has a good hand and will be fun to work with. I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to do with it, but something for sure. I think it will be fun to mix with the fabric Linda and I have designed. You can see these pieces and more on their site.

Whirlygigs in Austin…

I don't usually remember to do this but yesterday morning those in class who had finished the paper piecing parts of their block posed for pictures. They all did a good job and everyone's block is going to be lovely!


We spent the day appliqueing after I took this photo. Tonight I am talking about color, one of my favorite things. I've spent the day in the hotel working on my laptop and in just a bit I am going shoe hunting. There is a store here, Karavels, that is supposed to be able to really find the shoe that is right for you feet. Boy, do I need that. I'll let you know how it goes.

I'm driving home after the lecture. I decided that I35 would be better with less traffic and less heat. I'm going to listen to podcasts all the way home.


From Austin (Texas, that is)…

I am teaching/lecturing for the Austin Quilt Guild beginning tomorrow. I came to Austin a day early to visit my friend, Dory. We met as freshman at the University of Oklahoma in 1974. How can it have been that long ago!?

Dory and her husband, Eric, moved from the Dallas area to an amazing place in the hill country west of Austin. It is built with the native stone that this area is known for.


From her back porch she can see the pool and down the hillside where much of their property lies.


You can't really tell from this photo but the land drops down just beyond the pool into a not-insignificant valley. Where it looks like the hill slopes up beyond the pool it is really the hill on the other side of the valley. Dory and Eric are about 15 minutes from great shopping but you'd never know it when you are at their house.


That's Chopper with Dory. I'm more of a cat person but I admit that Chopper is a cool dog. He's exceptionally well-behaved and has a great personality. And he doesn't smell like a dog.

Dory has done some great things with her house. For one thing, she made sure that all the colors in the house tie together. I like color so much I can have a tendency to flit from one to another which has made my house look a little disjointed in the past (it's better now). And she didn't forget to have a little fun with ceiling color.

Another thing they did was to spray paint all the light fixtures the same almost-black.


When they moved in, all the fixtures were white. Rather than spend a lot of money she chose to buy spray paint. So, so smart. They painted the outside fixtures too – something I don't think I would have thought to do:


They painted the ceiling fans. Every bit of the fans – the blades, motor housing, hardware and even the screws. Looks great!


And, last but not least, Dory helped me get a handle on my life. No small feat. I used to be a good list-maker. I was way organized. In the last few years I started carrying my to do list around in my head and it's not working any more. Dory is a management consultant – we consulted! I've got my list system going, I'm prioritizing, and it is my sincere hope that I can stick with it.

That said, it's time to move on to my next task…

Digging in the dirt…

If you've read my blog long, you know that our front yard is not usual. We don't have grass but instead have trees and bushes and flowers and rocks. One of my bushes got big and took over a path. Monday morning Steve and I made it wider. And we cut back the bush.


I need to add the pea gravel between the stones which won't take long, I just need to do it. And I need to scrub the tile around the waterfall in the pool. And you thought all I did was quilt all day!

In other news: Mom has found a house! It is on our street – she and Christy will be 5 houses away. It's cute little house, solidly constructed and in very good shape. That said Steve and I will spend most of July and the first part of August working on it. There are popcorns on all the ceilings that have to go, wallpaper that will come out, new paint because they like new color, and we'll put in laminate flooring throughout. There is some outside work to do, but not a lot. As we work on it I'll post photos.

The lady who owns the house is very nice and has really taken good care of it. She is happy to be moving on with her own adventure. Her house was not even on the market but I knew she was wanting to sell it. All in all I think it was meant to be. I'm not going to show a photo of the house until mom closes on it. I'm only a little superstitious.