The four minute rule

The four minute rule

Mama, Realtor, assistant, student, business owner, wife, board member, homeschool mom. These are all roles that I’ve held, most of them simultaneously. So how do I manage to keep everything straight? How do I ever get anything done? 

  1. I (almost) never sleep 💤
  2. time blocking
  3. the four minute rule ⏲️

First, I wake up just after the witching hour, otherwise known as 4:30am, every day. Even when I don’t want to, which is most days. I start my day by feeding the cats (I have too many and they swarm me as soon as my feet hit the floor), starting my coffee, and throwing a load of laundry in the washer. 

Having a few hours in the morning to keep up with the laundry, empty the dishwasher, answer emails, prepare for the kids school day and do my own homework is essential. Once my family wakes up it’s very difficult to stay on track.

Next, I plan out my week every Sunday afternoon. I block off specific times to get tasks done. If it’s not on my schedule, it doesn’t happen. I block off time to work, spend with the kids, family time, grocery shop, have coffee dates with friends, even balance the checkbook, you get the idea. I have two planners, one for real estate, and one for everything else. It’s the only way. 

Finally, I follow the four minute rule. I have to start this by saying that when I first starting doing this, I thought I was a genius. That is until I read about some guy and his tomato who figured it out way before I did. If you haven’t heard of Francesco Cirillo or the Pomodoro technique, forget the last sentence and trust me, I’m a genius 😉.  

The basic idea is that every task should take no more than four minutes. I literally set a timer for 4 minutes and only focus on a task that amount of time (Pomodoro gives you 25 followed by a 5 minute break). This scheduling method stems from the idea that tasks will expand to the time you allow for them. Have all day to write that report? It will take you all day. Have four minutes? You will focus and get it done in four minutes. I carry this through just about everything I do. Of course some things take more than that. Those I usually break into smaller tasks or focus on beginning, middle, and end. For instance washing, rinsing, and drying dishes are three separate activities that get 4 minutes each. Wondering why 4 minutes? That’s how long it takes to brew French-press coffee ☕. 

Things that take 4 minutes or less: emptying the dishwasher, making your bed, answering two emails, calling a client, balancing the checkbook (if done every day), paying bills, showering, folding a load of laundry, watering the plants, making scrambled eggs and toast. 

It turns out I’m in good company, Elon Musk also uses this technique, he gives himself 5 minutes per task. 

How do you manage your time? Is it effective? What tips do you have to be more productive? 

There comes a time when silence is betrayal

There comes a time when silence is betrayal

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” Martin Luther King Jr.

I hesitated to add my voice to this movement. I was afraid that it would viewed as political, which it is not. It is simply the right thing, the ethical thing, and that is enough. I grew up mostly in the south. I went to elementary school in Louisiana when David Duke was the governor. I have been aware of the discrimination against people of color my entire life. It wasn’t until I had lunch with a dear friend that it really connected for me that the people suffering were my friends. My neighbors. My church family. My town. My country.

My friend is one of the best people I know in this world. She is patient, kind, loving, a good mother, well educated, faithful, prayerful, from a wonderful, happy family. Her children are well behaved, polite, gentle, smart, happy kids. Her husband is strong, faithful, loving, handsome, and kind. This beautiful friend met me for lunch and was describing how her neighbor treated her and her children differently. She described how this neighbor also treated another woman of color in the neighborhood differently. While I was outraged that anyone would treat this amazing family with anything less than love and dignity, it was her reaction to that broke my heart. As I sat there in shock, horrified that in this modern time, she was dealing with this, she said to me, “It’s okay, it’s just how it is.” It is not okay. It has never been okay. Ignoring this is no longer an option. It should never have been an option.

To my friends, family, neighbors, humans of color, I don’t pretend that I could ever know what it’s like to walk in your shoes but I can promise to walk beside you. You matter. You are beautiful. You don’t deserve the things that have been happening to you.

If you are in a place of privilege whether because of the color of your skin, your affluence, your influence, or your position in society, you have an obligation to stand up, speak up, help however you can. We cannot be complacent. If you think that it’s not your problem, you are the problem.

If you are unsure how you can help visit: Wit & Delight, How White People Can Be Better Allies to the Black Community or Guidelines For Being Strong White Allies or 8 Lessons From the Future of Solidarity: How White People Can Support the Movement for Black Lives, or any of the other numerous resources out there. Another great read is “Hood Feminism: Notes From the Women that a Movement Forgot” by Mikki Kendall.

What we should have been doing anyway…helping during Covid-19

What we should have been doing anyway…helping during Covid-19

During our “Coronacation”, the kids and I look for a way to help a friend, another family, a small business, or just each other at least once a week. It helps keep the focus on what we can do instead of feeling sorry for ourselves. My 16 year old loves to take fresh baked bread and coffee to her friends’ families. My 9 year old mostly likes to support local businesses (especially when it comes to Vivify Burger’s milkshakes 😉). He also enjoys writing letters to family & friends. That’s not to say that everything is always rosy or that our days aren’t sometimes difficult.

This past weekend my son was having a rough day. So we sat together in my favorite comfy chair to read a short devotional. The devotion was about a struggling family and how in the midst of lost jobs and financial strain the community came together to support them. At the end of the passage the author says “Sometimes God’s sweetest blessings are in a bag of groceries. The next time you’re at the store, grab an extra bag and fill it for a family.” When I read that part out loud I turned and told Gus that I thought that was a brilliant way we could help someone this week. And he said, “Mama, that’s what we should’ve been doing anyway.” Out of the mouths of babes, right? It is absolutely what we should be doing.

So today when I order my groceries from InstaCart I’ll let the kids choose groceries they think a family would like. We’ll fill up an extra bag with the hope that bag will be a blessing to whoever gets it.  If you know someone who could use a little extra this week please let me know. We will deliver to the front porch, no questions asked. You can reach me by email at amber@househomelovefxbg.com.

(Super) Last Minute Mother’s Day Gifts

(Super) Last Minute Mother’s Day Gifts

Quarantine time (or coronacation as we call it at our house) has made it easy to lose track of the days. If you or someone you love has fallen victim to this wild time warp, here is your public service announcement: TOMORROW IS MOTHER’S DAY. Yes, tomorrow. If you’re about to be in hot water let me help you out with a few super last minute gift ideas.

Gift cards to any shop downtown or a Fredericksburg gift card good for most places downtown. Some suggestions are: Monkees, Willow, Skin Touch Therapy, Joshua Lawrence, Phosphene Studio, Agora Coffee, Hyperion Espresso, or if you can’t decide, Fredericksburg Downtown has your back.

 

If you’re looking for something more low-key try this recipe from King Arthur Flour to serve Mom breakfast in bed. It’s my favorite, hard to mess up, puff pancake, made in the oven, and tastes like Heaven.  Trust me on this one. Pair with a cup of coffee and Mom will be impressed. Just don’t forget to do the dishes when you’re done.

 

 

 

 

 

To really win mom’s heart this Mother’s Day, do the Face the Foliage art project with your kids. It works with all ages (you should try one too!). You don’t even need to go to the store, just use stuff you find in your backyard or kitchen, and grab some paper and glue (or tape). If you need more inspiration check out this Instagram page. Don’t forget to follow @househomeloveva while you’re there!

These are the projects my 9 & 16 year old did on the fly today.

 

 

 

 

is date night possible during covid?

is date night possible during covid?

RECIPE FOR DATE NIGHT DURING QUARANTINE:

Are you dreaming of getting away? Maybe you just want a little alone time with your sweetheart? Does that feel impossible with everyone hovering ALL THE TIME?! Yeah, I’m feeling that too. If you’re looking for an awesome date night this weekend during the “stay at home” order, let me share my top secret plan with you…

First, I’ll order a charcuterie plate and a gallon (or whatever size they come in) of the Ticket to Thailand drink from Fahrenheit 132. We’ll pick that up later tonight. Next, I’ll send an SOS to Vivify Burger for a curbside pickup of burgers and milkshakes for dinner. Finally, I’ll set all of my clocks ahead by, oh I don’t know, let’s say 2 hours.

So we’ll eat at 5:00 which my kids will think is 7:00. After that we’ll play UNO Flip for an hour as a family. Then we’ll send the youngest up to bed by 6:30 (he’ll think it’s his bedtime). My teenager will head up to video chat with her friends for a couple of hours. While the teenager is completing her nightly beauty routine, my husband will sneak out to pick up our Fahrenheit order. By the time he gets back the teenager will be ready for bed. Or at least ready to hide in her room for the night. Then, violá, date night!

And yes, I will be eating my Woodstock burger with pickled carrots, cilantro, jalapeños and mojo sauce AND a salted caramel milkshake AND the charcuterie from Fahrenheit. Hey, it’s coronacation, there are no rules any more.

Pro tip: when you set the clocks ahead also change the time zone on the teenagers phone. You’re welcome.  Just don’t forget to turn everything back to normal once the kids are in bed.

What date night plans do you have tonight?

 

Everything you need to know about living in Fredericksburg

Everything you need to know about living in Fredericksburg

I’ve lived in a lot of different places over the course of my life. As an Air Force brat, an Airman myself, and later a Marine Corps wife, moving seemed to be part of my DNA. It was woven into my very fiber.

Here in Fredericksburg things are different. Maybe it’s something they put in Carl’s ice cream but the community reaches out and envelopes you in a way I haven’t seen anywhere else. If you talk to someone for more than a minute, you will be invited over for book club, beers on the front porch, or the latest neighborhood event. You will be motivated & encouraged to volunteer for things you never thought about before. The issues you care about in your own family & home are actually quiet crusades here in the ‘Burg and you will join in.

There is more to do every weekend than you can possibly even write on your calendar. Buy event tickets early because they will sell out. Love galas? There are plenty to go around. Charity events? Ditto. Something outside? Your cup will overflow. Something to do with the kids? Yep, that’s covered too.

Fredericksburg is where my family has started to put down roots. It’s where we know every neighbor by name and they know us. It’s where neighborhood block parties are the norm because everyone lives on the best street. Fredericksburg isn’t where I started out but it sure feels a lot like home.