How to Catch Up


If you are feeling behind, or the house is a mess or your to do list is huge you may feel the need to catch up. But, how do you catch up in an all ready full life?

Stay current

The most important part of catching up is staying current. I’ve seen this a lot – someone neglects the daily and weekly stuff to concentrate on catching up. They never finish catching up and now they have things to catch up on that they neglected because of catching up. This is called running in circles.

If you stay current you know that eventually you will catch up.

In my time class, someone always says they don’t have time to keep current much less catch up. There are usually two reasons for this:

1) They haven’t actually kept current. It’s a lot faster to do mail daily or weekly than a huge pile every once in awhile. Doing dishes after each meal goes quicker than washing every few days once food is dried on. Clearing off the kitchen table before every dinner doesn’t take as long as trying to sort through a week’s worth of stuff. Keeping current also alleviates some of the procrastination of seeing a big mess.

2) They have too much on their plate. They said yes to too many things. Their kids are in too many things. Maybe at the moment they are parenting kids and taking care of elderly parents. Maybe they are taking care of little kids all day. Some periods of life are busier than others.

If you start doing just the current things first and discover you never have enough time, you will want to evaluate what you don’t need to do. What you can delegate. What needs to be put off until a different time in your life. You need to make the hard choices or your life will always feel out of control.

Add on to your current by a little bit

If you do the mail daily, add on 5 pieces of paper from an old pile. Do yesterday’s email, glance for urgent recent emails plus two older dates of email.  When you put clothes in the closet from laundry, evaluate a couple clothing pieces that can go to Goodwill. When you get a new magazine, recycle the old one before you even read it if you haven’t had time so you can start fresh. When you make your bed, declutter a couple things from the bedroom while you are there.

This is where people start getting uncomfortable. “I will never catch up that way. It’s not enough.” Then they start neglecting daily stuff to concentrate on the backlog. They never catch up.

If you are doing anything over the current – you will eventually catch up.

Make time to catch up faster

If you want to go faster, plan time. Turn off one TV show and gain 30-60 minutes. Get someone else to drive the kids or have them bike to practice for a month. Take a day off work to catch up at home. If you are catching up at work, come in early or stay late. Miss some meetings you attend regularly. Get someone to cover a volunteer duty for a couple weeks. Go on a facebook, magazine, gaming or news fast for a week or two. What can you let go of for a time so you can catch up faster?

Get help

A client of mine hired some people for a Saturday to get a bunch of things done at the house that have been on her list for a long time. It was so satisfying to get those checked of on one day. My grandma had a housekeeper when she was a working mom. Even a couple hours every couple weeks will save you time. Declutter with a friend who can keep you on track. Hire a teenager to do some yard work, filing or computer tasks. Hire a handyman to for a couple hours to fix all the broken things. Order online and have things delivered. Get in an accountability group to keep you motivated. If no one at home is helping you, make that a priority. What help do you need?

Catch up day

Have a regular monthly catch up day. This is a day you don’t have appointments. You don’t plan social events. You don’t go to meetings. At the beginning of the day, you write down what you want to catch up on. Start work then take a break. Work, take a break. Breaks will help you keep up the energy. Use a timer to keep you on track. It’s also helpful to check in with a friend. In some of my groups, they meet online at the top of the hour work for 30-45 minutes, then check in for “way to gos” and support.

Notice what you have done

It’s easy to beat yourself up about falling behind. When you are de-motivated, you tend to quit. Catching up seems to take too long, so you don’t try anymore. One way to counteract that is to notice when you have done something. Really notice the clean table and smile. When you get through a bunch of email, congratulate yourself. Look at your beautifully made bed for a few seconds before leaving the room. You will feel more successful which will make you want to keep it up.

Feeling behind? What is one thing you are going to do to catch up?




  • I really like these tips. I am catching up, too! One of my tips is to do four things a day that are driving me crazy. For example, I want to clear out and declutter, seriously declutter, my house. So, this weekend, I picked four cabinets and one display unit to clean. I put on a great movie and started the cabinet and cleared everything I didn’t ab so lute ly love out to donate. Then, I got to play with a favorite hobby.

    Since my kitchen cabinets aren’t where I can see TV, I put on some great music and got all my things ready for cleaning. I cleaned one cabinet at a time and cleared out all the things I didn’t love there, either. In between each cabinet clearing, I did the regular kitchen chores — dishes, floor, and so forth.

    I was done with it all in a little over an hour. Seriously.

    My other tip is using a FitBit. It rewards me with praise when I walk a certain amount that I set. I love praise so it works!

    Keep the tips coming, please!

  • JT says:

    Martha, which FitBit do you use? I saw several varieties, and am looking for some exercise motivation/accountability.

  • Beth Dargis says:

    Great ideas Martha!

    I love my FitBit – I have the one that tracks sleep as well.

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