I like to work in advance whenever possible. Working in advance gives you freedom in your schedule, by clearing away tasks ahead of time, and giving my schedule a little cushion.
I blog in advance, usually two to three weeks. This cushion gives me the ability to maintain five posts a week (on this blog; 11 posts per week total among all blogs), but still relax and enjoy vacations and time off. It also allows me to not write if I don’t feel like it, and to batch insert the graphics for posting.
It occurred to me that working in advance can apply to other areas of my life easily. Here are five areas that I came up with:
My household has a two-week menu plan. I figure out the meals for a two week period, and buy groceries for this time frame. The menu plan gives me freedom from the “what’s for dinner” question. However, I was always in a rush for figuring out the meals and getting the grocery list together in time. It dawned on me that I can work ahead of schedule, using my Saving Dinner information, my other cookbook, and other recipes. My work-ahead solution: I can do this a month at a time, and review each of the menus with grocery lists as the time gets closer.
My husband’s family has all birthdays in March. I make the greeting cards in order to save me the time and expense of going to a card shop. However, if I printed off the cards as I needed them, I would spend a lot of time doing so – more than going to the card shop! At the beginning of the month I see who has birthdays and make the cards. I write the day the card needed to be mailed under the space where the stamp goes, and made it part of my Sunday routine to mail out cards that needed to go out that week. Unfortunately, I kept missing the beginning of the month birthdays. My work-ahead solution: make cards at the beginning of the month before the event (March cards get made at the beginning of February).
Very much like the greeting cards, gift giving needs pile up. There are three major times when gifts cluster: March (see birthdays above), July and December. Rather than panicking the week of the birthday, I batch the shopping. I send the gifts to my mother-in-law in batches for distribution to the niece and nephews, but I was always running late. My work-ahead solution: By backing these gifts off a full month, I give myself breathing room to buy, wrap and mail.
I celebrate various holidays throughout the year, and each one involves a special meal and decorations (and sometimes activities). I have an outline for planning these events, but they still catch me by surprise. My work-ahead solution: by working the planning a month in advance, I am not rushed, and I can combine any food needs in with the regular shopping trips.
Largely, I prefer fresh cooking. But some items lend themselves well to making ahead. By making food ahead and freezing it, there are always meals on hand that can be made on a busy day. I have made some attempts at freezer cooking, but it doesn’t have to be that formal. By doubling a dish every week, it is easy to stockpile freezer food. My work-ahead solution: plan for one meal every menu cycle to be a freezer meal. Also, double recipes of cookie dough and banana bread whenever I can.
Photo by Semi-Automatic Gwen