Karen and I are people who are always on the move. I’m in school, we both work, Connor has baseball, and we are on a coed kickball team. Throw in the occasional doctor’s appointment or family gatherings, and every hour of the day feels occupied with something.
In the past three years (as we’ve added more children to the equation), time has felt even more precious, and since I work on the weekends there is usually only one day a week when we are both home together. Of course, on that day there is one thing that has to get done: the “to do” list. You know exactly what I’m talking about. It is the list that starts brewing in your head the moment you wake up. It is full of things like clean the gutters, mop the floor, take a load of stuff to Goodwill, clean out the closet, and just about anything else that “has” to happen.
One of the struggles that I see a lot in marriages is that his “to do” list is different from her “to do” list. The truth is that the struggle isn’t born out of what is on the list, but rather the fact that we have different expectations of what is important. The items on the list themselves aren’t bad things, but not talking about the list is the Achilles heel for productive couples.
The secret to unlocking more productivity in your marriage is to take five minutes and go over the list together. Productive couples communicate the list and trim down things that are on the fringe. Lists magically go from his to hers to ours, and when my own stuff goes on the list I now have a supporter/cheerleader in making sure that it gets done. You can even add some fun stuff to the list like “Showering together before going out this evening.”
Productive couples find a way to communicate what’s important so they aren’t working against each other. Here are three tools we use to communicate what we need to get done:
1. Share a Google Calendar. Karen and I always invite one another to things we are doing via Google Calendar. It is easy to use, syncs with my Android and her Iphone, and always sends atimely reminder. I even send her stuff that I don’t need her to be at, but will cause a deviation from our normal routine (aka working late).
2. Prioritize things into two groups: have to or want to. When we are on our A-game we do a good job of establishing what has to get done today. Knowing what is the top priority helps me make sure that Karen is successful, and she does the same for me. It also helps us negotiate when time is tight.
3. Go to bed at the same time as your spouse. I know you are thinking, “How does that make you more productive?” The answer is that when you can end your day together you’ll feel better about what you accomplished and at the same time be able to recap how successful you were on that day. Celebrating wins is important for productivity.
What tools do you use to communicate with your spouse?