It’s always amazing to me how small shifts can make big differences in our lives! I decided to take note on some of these seemingly small things that have helped me feel a bit more organized in recent months. Maybe one or two of them will stand out to you, and give you the encouragement you need.
Hack #1: Prioritized to-do list. I have written many times over the years about how using this Daily Docket has changed my life. I absolutely credit it for helping me get back into a regular exercise habit! What’s different about the Daily Docket is that it forces you to answer this question: what are the three most important items on my list today? Most of us are unlikely to accomplish everything on our list in a given day, but I find that most days I can manage those three most important things. To give you an idea, my three most important things today are: 1), order a cake for my son’s birthday party this weekend, 2) go swimming and catch up with a friend and 3) do a quick audit of my outstanding invoices. As you can see, the tasks may range from housework, work, social, fitness, or other goals you’re working towards.
Hack #2: Avoid that phone first thing. I’ve begun to notice that what I do with the first hour of waking can set the tone for the rest of my day. If I hop on social media, I find it can make me feel less than productive and even grouchy, depending on what’s coming through my feed. Lately, I’ve been trying to use the Forest App (you can read more about it in this post) where you grow virtual trees when you leave your phone alone. Instead, I’ve been trying to spend some time with daily devotions, or even just getting the laundry started. It’s amazing how much better the rest of the day goes when I choose to leave the phone alone!
Hack #3: Set the timer when it’s time to clean. This is a technique I’ve been using for years – because it works! If the house is feeling particularly chaotic and I don’t know where to start, I set the timer. The goal is to remain entirely focused on cleaning until time’s up. I usually designate 30 or 60 minutes for these “power cleaning” sessions and let me tell you, you will be very surprised by how much you can get done when you’re focused and trying to beat the clock! My daughter and I did a 60 minute session a couple days ago and I was shocked by how much better the house looked before even the first 10 minutes was up. Another variation, if you have a larger clean to do is to do 2 or 3 sessions. At the end of each, you can take a quick break before starting up again. I really think there is power to turning chores into games. (Incidentally, this tactic works great with my kids!)
Hack #4: Turn laundry folding time into Netflix or podcast time. I have a confession to make: I no longer mind folding the laundry! So how did I turn a chore I used to dread into one I secretly look forward to? First, I now bring all the clothes that need to get folded upstairs, into my room. By putting them on my bed, it means they must get folded – or I’ve got no place to sleep! Plus, I find it’s just easier to put the clothes away when they’re already upstairs as opposed to downstairs, in piles on the living room floor and sofa. But here’s my biggest secret: I use the folding time to watch whatever I want on Netflix, or catch up on my favorite podcast! While this sounds silly, it’s really kind of made me look forward to laundry folding. The next time you’re trying to tackle a chore you’re dreading, see if there’s a way you can pair it with something a bit indulgent or that you enjoy.
Hack #5: If it takes 5 minutes or less, do it now. Full disclosure: I didn’t come up with this tip. I found it on Reddit. It really struck a chord with me, though. How many little tasks do I put off because I tell myself, it’s just a little task? Over the course of a few days though, those little tasks can compound, leaving us with a messy home or a fire to put out! Here are some examples of the kind of little tasks I try to do right away now: wash the dishes as soon as I’m done eating, put my shoes in the hall closet and hang up my coat when I come inside, make the bed, bring in everything from the car when we return home, etc. Basically, these are the tasks you do to help your future self. (I love this concept!)
Hack #6: Keep the entry area clean. Nothing sets me in a foul mood faster than walking in a front door and encountering a mess right away. If there’s an area that’s worth the effort to keep clean and clutter-free, I’m going to argue it’s the area you first see when you walk in your house. For me, that’s an entryway, but for you it might be a hallway, mudroom, or laundry room. I find if I come home and the front area is clean, I just feel calmer and more ready to tackle the day. This means shoes and coats put away, backpacks out of site (I designated a basket in the laundry room for this purpose), and little bits of soccer turf vacuumed up. (For realz, this stuff gets everywhere! Soccer parents, you feel my pain.)
Hack #7: Sunday basket. A few months ago, I heard the concept of the Sunday basket shared on this organization podcast called Organize 365. The concept is simple and it addresses one of the biggest areas of clutter in most of our homes: paperwork! The idea is that you have a basket you collect all your paperwork in throughout the week and then on Sunday? You deal with it. This means you shred, you file, you pay bills, you take action, whatever you need to do with every last paper, until it’s empty. The podcaster sells her own fancy baskets, but really, I’ve used a shoebox and it works just as well. The key is just having a dedicate basket, bucket, box, or file that you collect papers in throughout the week. By staying on top of weekly papers, it just never accumulates to a crushing point. You can learn more about how this works at the Organize 365 podcast episode about the Sunday basket. (Her podcast has many other stellar topics worth listening to if you need some encouragement in getting your home organized!)
Do you do any of these? Or, maybe you’ve got another great item to add to my list? Please share away!