managing time and sorting priorities

by Sharon Santoni
[blank]My mother always  says “If you want to get something done, ask a busy woman!”, and this week I sort of know what she means.
I am approaching the busiest time of year here.  The garden needs time and care, the children will soon be on holiday,  our guest cottage season is well under way and April through to June will see me busy with clients coming to shop the flea-markets and fairs with me.  I love all of this, I’m certainly not complaining, but there are days that start with a sort of “gulp!  how is it all going to fit in?!”[blank]
[blank]I make lists.

 I guess we all make lists.  It helps us determine a hierarchy in the tasks before us, and of course it gives such satisfaction when we drop into bed at night with the whole list ticked off – OK, I admit that doesn’t happen as often as I’d like,  but enough for me to  remember how good it feels.[blank]


[blank]Recently I have noticed that being efficient  takes a little more effort and attention and,  from what I hear from my close friends, I may not be alone.
So, what is this all about?

In this age of technology, the very machines that are meant to be saving us time, can also prove very clever at wasting it too!   You know what I mean …. come on, admit it.  You go on line to check the price of a flight, or the address of a store, and an hour later  find yourself reading blogs or watching videos of dancing cats on You Tube!

I’m sure that I procrastinate more than I ever used to.  Maybe it’s just laziness, but it is definitely more and more easy to find an alternative to the ‘task at hand’.[blank]

[blank]It doesn’t feel like I’m lazy though.  In fact I’d probably describe myself as a workaholic  ….hmmm … did I just write that?!

So for fun I have devised a little test to see how organised/driven/busy we all are, maybe you’ll tell me how you do:[blank]

[blank] 1:  Do you fall asleep at night thinking about what needs to be done the next day?               YES/NO
2:   Do you have a list beside you right now?                     YES/NO
3.  Do you have more than one list on the go at any time?                   YES/NO
4.  Do you generally get through everything on the list for the day?                 YES/NO[blank]
[blank]5.  Do friends turn to you for advice on time management?                      YES/NO
6.  Is your house always tidy, your chores always up to date?                  YES/NO
7.  Can you limit the time you spend in front of a screen?                         YES/NO
8.  Do you always finish one task before starting the next ?                YES/NO
9.  Are you always on time to appointments?            YES/NO
10.  Are your cupboards always tidy; your wardrobe colour co-ordinated?      YES/NO
11.   Are all your emails answered?      YES/NO
12.  Is your desk tidy right now?                     YES/NO[blank]


[blank]and finally – if you have answered YES to all of the above…..
13.  Would you please come and coach me?                 YES/NO!
As a girl who has no trouble admitting that there are so many odd socks in her house that she has a (very pretty) bag, embroidered with the  words “odd socks”, just to keep them in, I stand in awe of the highly organised people I meet.

Also, as mother to four children close in age, I tended to prefer a house that felt lived in and comfortable, than a picture perfect show home, but I have to admit that some people get the balance better than others.

My thinking is that all this is a question of genes rather than effort, but I’d love to know what you think.

To illustrate today’s musings I thought the best person to turn to was Martha herself, the Queen of organisation.

Hey!  here’s a thought: … ‘Martha organises My French Country Home’, now what a blog post that would be!

all pictures with thanks to Martha Stewart Living


Katherine April 18, 2013 - 3:44 pm

Maybe my problem is that I have the list on my electronic devices {laptop and iphone}….. and then the trouble begins with looking at other things online.
I'm very organized, but I find myself running out of steam at times. Too much for too long – that is the problem for me. Frankly, I'm tired and need to give myself a break once in awhile.

jill815 April 18, 2013 - 3:52 pm

Great post. I love lists! I make two daily ones–goals for the morning, chores for the evening. I have a gorgeous Hermes Ulysse notebook in blue jean Togo where I keep my monthly goal list. I have to keep lists in order to keep myself and two kids organized so I can very much relate to everything in this post. The house may be a bit messy but the lists are tidy and I know just where they are! XO, Jill

Tara Dillard April 18, 2013 - 4:20 pm

When to realize you're in a new chapter of life is important.

Old chapters have their successful ways of doing things. A new chapter? Will need new methods.

Making lists & doing my best work in the morning go into each chapter.

Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

Mark D. Ruffner April 18, 2013 - 4:26 pm

Dear Sharon –

I think your perspective of this test is slightly skewed. I don't necessarily think that an organized person need lie in bed at night contemplating the next day, and I don't think an organized person need have multiple lists. I thought I was doing well by answering "NO" to some of your questions.

I think a primary key to being organized is to simplify ones life. For example, I don't own a television, and that gives me more time to read and create. I can catch film clips of truly important events later, on the Web.

I think our lives have become more hectic in part because we have a need to respond every time one of our digital devices summons us. Regarding emails, for example, I don't respond to multiple mailings, only those directed to me personally, and I answer emails only once per day.

Wild Oak Designs April 18, 2013 - 5:26 pm

Organizing is difficult, and when I get it organized, I often find that the system doesn't work down the road.
Bless you!
I love the pictures! Wish my shelves looked like that….

Lorrie April 18, 2013 - 5:27 pm

I'm so glad those photo were not of your house. I'd just go beat myself about the head with a pillow if they were, knowing I my closets and shelves would never look like that.
Technology can suck me into a time warp that astounds me when I come out of it. I've recently decided that self-discipline in this area is crucial to my creativity, productivity, and general well-being. But it's hard.
I live by lists, and I find them fun to make. I love ticking items off. When my children were very young, I would make lists, and include things I'd already completed that day, just to make a tick and gain that sense of accomplishment. Once in awhile, in an old cookbook, I'll come across a list made years ago. I seemed to be much more productive back then.
The busyness will abate. Enjoy these days with your growing family.

donna baker April 18, 2013 - 6:06 pm

Remember Sharon, Martha has two full time maids, gardeners, animal facilitators and on and on. Would that we could all have help. Me, I wish I were queen and had every thing just right. The older I get, the less my house is organized. I thought once my children were gone, I would know where my scissors were every time. The reality is, I guess I don't find the organization so important any more.

sharon santoni at my french country home April 18, 2013 - 6:12 pm

Do you think this is a generation thing Katherine, or has it always been this way?


sharon santoni at my french country home April 18, 2013 - 6:13 pm

goals v chores … now there's an interesting concept, thank you Jill


sharon santoni at my french country home April 18, 2013 - 6:14 pm

Thank you Tara, there's a lot of wisdom here, and yes I also do my best work in the morning


sharon santoni at my french country home April 18, 2013 - 6:15 pm

You sound like a very calm person Mark, and it must be pleasant and restful to be in your company.

I take your point about being organised


sharon santoni at my french country home April 18, 2013 - 6:15 pm

HI Nancy

and this is supposed to encourage me ?!


sharon santoni at my french country home April 18, 2013 - 6:16 pm

Oh no Lorrie, I don't really plan to show the insides of my closets and shelves on this blog – unless it is for a linen shoot and staged!


sharon santoni at my french country home April 18, 2013 - 6:17 pm

Hi Donna, do you think an animal facilitator could keep Ghetto out of trouble? I'd lend you my scissors but they are keeping my cellphone company … somewhere!


zanetastyle April 18, 2013 - 6:31 pm

Hello Sharon, your post is fun and giving me some thought…and at the moment I am in the Czech REpublic…not doing much besides sightseeing and visiting with family and relaxing… but YES i have lists, Yes I don't always manage them all, and Yes my house is almost always tidy and things get done but I don't work and get help (: and love to cook and spend time with my son. I feel like the luckies woman on EARTH and beyond!
One thing I don't know is how Martha Steward does it (((:
Keep smiling and take it easy please…it won't run away…
xo Z

sharon santoni at my french country home April 18, 2013 - 7:10 pm

Have fun with your family Z, and enjoy that little boy! 🙂


vicki archer April 18, 2013 - 8:15 pm

I think you are extremely well organised Sharon… or how would you even have time to do all the things that you manage in a day… I am amazed at your energy for al that you do… Something is working… 🙂
I am strange in that I don't make lists… never have… I hardly ever write anything down… mostly it works but sometimes… major disasters! xv

Bonnie April 18, 2013 - 8:45 pm

As I was speed reading down your list of questions answering, yes, no, no, maybe…. I just knew I had failed miserably. This is my busiest time of the year. There is a school program, parent conferences to prepare for, end of the year books, mother's day gifts to help the children make, and added in is the fact everyone thinks their event is a must go to event. Whew….I understand your pain. The upside? How blessed we are to be needed, wanted, celebrated. I'll clean my desk in June. Have a great evening.

Natasa April 18, 2013 - 9:47 pm

I have plenty of lists that I rarely finish and, yes, when I do, it feels so good! Most of the time, however, the day is just not long enough. But I think people in love with life are like that: wanting to do plenty of things and enjoying them…
Even if their closets are not presentable on the pictures. Mine aren't, that's for sure. I would like it to be different, but would not skip any enjoyable moments of my life for that! And enjoying for me means most of the time doing something useful. I could call myself a workaholic as well (although it's the first time I "say" it all loud).
I love your blog! I dream of spending a week in your guest cottage with friends (by the way, I've already sent them the link to your blog and asked them to think about it – une semaine entre femmes!)
Thank you for sharing with us!

sharon santoni at my french country home April 18, 2013 - 9:53 pm

you don't make lists?! I am so impressed Vicki, … not even a shopping list for le Petit Bijou? 🙂


sharon santoni at my french country home April 18, 2013 - 9:54 pm

Ah thank you Bonnie! YOu are right, we are blessed to feel useful and wanted. My desk may have to wait a little longer than yours!


sharon santoni at my french country home April 18, 2013 - 9:55 pm

Yes I agree Natasa, it is very enjoyable to be useful.

I'd love to welcome you here with your girlfriends, let me know if you need any more info


Karen April 19, 2013 - 1:49 am

I was just thinking on this very subject. I've always been pleased with the way my lists would be accomplished without much delay, but am finding that with computers/blogs, anything online, it's a tremendous time stealer. I have items on my list for more than a week due to this distraction. Can I give it up? Not sure, but if I did I'd probably have to do it "cold turkey" because it's too easy to get sucked back in…like in the movie Godfather! LOL
Good luck with this busy time, have fun.

Anonymous April 19, 2013 - 1:52 am

I don't have a list but after reading your blog I think it's time I started one. It's that saying the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak (well that's my excuse). I do agree busy people get more done. When I was working I did so much better. As you say I get up make my coffee turn the IPad on and I'm in blog land having fun and before I know it the time has passed so quickly. Till next time Regards Esther from Sydney. PS I admire your energy . Here comes that list…..

Pat April 19, 2013 - 6:04 am

My lists are in my head, made at night in bed. On the subject of socks…I thought the washer ate them till I realized it was a fashion statement to wear non matching. No wonder the sock basket over flows!

Colleen Taylor April 19, 2013 - 7:23 am

My life has been constantly full of lists & I can't exist without them. I love organization & love to organize but I don't always keep up with the ongoing "to do" things. Next to my desk right here is a large dry erase board that is categorized & numbered with more than 20 that need my attention.

The worst thing about my list is my procrastination with my blog. I've neglected it severely. I have a ton of ideas & things to share but it sadly gets put off. You always amaze me with your diligence of your incredible blog Sharon. I have blog envy.
The older I get the more I seem to procrastinate & I too am a workaholic & that's why I'm not fast asleep yet, but very soon now. XO

PamLuvsPink April 19, 2013 - 8:29 am

Hi Sharon!!!

I'm terrible unorganized…And I hate it!!!

As much as I try, lists on the night table, lists on the fridge, lists in my purse…I never go by them. For some reason I try to do it on my own and I'll have 5 or 6 things on the go and maybe two get finished by the time bed time comes.

My famous last words are, 'I don't understand it!! I put it away in a place where I'd remember it.' I still can't find my husbands van keys.

I mean it's crazy. Maybe I should blame it on menopause!! That's it!!!!

My only advice to you my friend, would be at the end of the day, take a nice hot bath, candles only for light and a glass of wine.


brigitte April 19, 2013 - 9:37 am

Je suis une personne organisée et je fais aussi des listes pour me souvenir….
Mais des placards rangés comme sur vos photos …hélas je n'en n'ai pas!!!!
Sorry I don't speak in english, I hope that you understand that I say!!!!!

Anonymous April 19, 2013 - 11:01 am

I make lists of doing/buying and menus especially when going to the farmers market when having guests or family for a weekend and arriving at the market I recognize that the list left at home!Am I too old or too busy? Dorka from the garden in the Plain in Hungary soon filling with

Ms Lemon of Make Mine Lemon April 19, 2013 - 12:58 pm

I would like Martha’s housekeeper for just an hour a day.

sharon santoni at my french country home April 19, 2013 - 2:16 pm

The first time I heard anyone comparing blogging to being part of the mafia!! Sacrey!

sharon santoni at my french country home April 19, 2013 - 2:17 pm

Please don't talk to me about weak flesh Esther, there are days when I deliberately stay away from easy chairs to avoid temptation!

sharon santoni at my french country home April 19, 2013 - 2:17 pm

Unfortunately Pat, my children won't buy into that trend!


sharon santoni at my french country home April 19, 2013 - 2:18 pm

Colleen, no blog envy please! Envy is what I hate the most, console yourself with the fact that my blog comes at a price … like only odd socks in the home!


sharon santoni at my french country home April 19, 2013 - 2:19 pm

I may well be following that advice Pam, thank you


sharon santoni at my french country home April 19, 2013 - 2:21 pm

get in line! 🙂

sharon santoni at my french country home April 19, 2013 - 2:22 pm

list left at home !!!! I'd never ever do that, no definitely not! 🙂


sharon santoni at my french country home April 19, 2013 - 2:24 pm

Moi non plus Brigitte, et votre anglais est parfait!


peggy braswell April 19, 2013 - 8:11 pm

I make list all the time! One for business, home, grocery, list upon list. If I forget to take it to the grocery I am lost. Martha does have lots of people who help her do her task. Oh for her helpers. Organized! what is that? I think the old adage about children fits here…the bigger they get the bigger the problems are! The more machines(computers,Iphone, etc.) I acquire to keep me organized the more I unravel.

Karen (Back Road Journal) April 20, 2013 - 2:56 pm

After Martha finishes your home, I would appreciate if you could ask her if she would head to my unorganized home.

Iftikhar Ahmed April 20, 2013 - 8:25 pm

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Chris April 22, 2013 - 3:50 am

Y,Y,Y,N,N.N,?,?,Y,Y,N,N, You don't want me to advise you!
xoxo, Chris


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