| Connect Two |

The Timekeeper: Part III

"Because I’m using my time better, I end up with more free time!"

Ariella: I used to just go from thing to thing with no plan. And then I couldn’t understand why I felt so scattered.

Rachelli: Because I’m using my time better, I end up with more free time!

David: Therapy costs money, but I’ll fully support any effort that will make Erev Shabbos and making Pesach easier, calmer, and smoother for everyone.

Because Pesach is such a big project, we pick one aspect to start with. “Cleaning,” Ariella decides. She takes a blank “Ready, Do, Done” chart and completes it.

“The next step is to assign ‘appointments’ for each step,” I explain.

Again, we work backwards. By when does Ariella need to be “Done”? The day before Erev Yom Tov, she decides. She writes the word “done” on the calendar on April 7. Now she needs to figure out when she can “Do” everything. Based on that, she can schedule time to get “Ready.”

Ariella reports that for Rachelli this is easy: she writes “9:00 a.m.” for Done. Estimating that all the Do tasks won’t take more than two hours, she works backwards, scheduling Do for 7 to 9 p.m. the night before. She writes “Sunday” for Ready, because that’s the day she has available to purchase whatever supplies she’ll need.

It’s more complicated for Ariella [People without a strong sense of time will struggle to complete any task on time, like getting to school or cooking for Shabbos]. Near each item in the Done list, Ariella writes how long she estimates each task to take. Then we turn back to the calendar. Without thinking, Ariella fills in one or two rooms to be cleaned in each day of the week leading up to Pesach.

“Hold on,” I say. “On Monday, you’re scheduled to clean the master bedroom and the girls’ room. You estimated a total of six hours for those tasks. Do you actually have six hours on a Monday to clean? What time do you get home from work? What time do your kids get home?”

As Ariella considers this, she looks pale. “I get home at four, and my kids do too,” she stammers. “Even if I started the minute I walk in, I’d be cleaning straight until 10 p.m. And there’s supper and bath time and homework and bedtime and errands and phone calls…”

When Ariella is finished accounting for all her regular tasks and responsibilities, she discovers she actually has almost no free time on a regular weeknight to clean. And that’s without even considering clothes shopping and cooking.

Frum women lead busy lives [Part of executive function is to integrate the new tasks within the broader context of regular tasks]. Together, we list the main cycles in Ariella’s life:


  1. 1.         Daily living tasks, such as morning routine, meals, evening routine
  2. 2.         Jewish calendar, such as Shabbos and Yom Tov [Although Ariella is focusing on Pesach, preparing for Shabbos each week involves similar tasks and planning on a smaller scale]
  3. 3.         School calendar, like PTAs, performances, or vacations
  4. 4.         Yearly calendar — camp in the summer, seasonal wardrobe changes
  5. 5.         Simchahs


“So when you’re planning your Pesach cleaning, you also have to account for the time you’re going to be spending on Shabbos prep,” I demonstrate. “And if the kids are out of school, you need to factor that in too.”

“There. Is. No. Way,” Ariella says jerkily, “that I am going to make it. I need a lot more than 24 hours in a day.”

“Well,” I say, “I have good news…”

Originally featured in Family First, Issue 648. D. Himy is a speech-language pathologist in private practice and creator of the Link-It and STARPower curriculums. The fictional characters in this column represent typical client profiles.

(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 687)


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