I’m the type of person that can get easily overwhelmed. Letting chores and other tasks pile up is a sure way to stress me out. But sometimes staying on top of these things is easier said than done. We all have those days when we’re just exhausted, but there are dishes to clean, laundry to fold, dinner to be made, and a million other things to think about.
So how does someone with a busy life stay on top of all these things? How do we manage to keep our lives balanced and organized when we’re constantly getting pulled in every direction? Not too long ago I was asking myself these same questions. I knew I was starting to let things get out of hand, and I needed to take control. That’s when I started coming up with a list of simple steps I could take to help myself stay organized and on track. Since then I have been putting these ideas into practice, and today I am going to share with you the ones that have truly made a difference for me. These are steps that anyone can take to create a more organized home and a well-balanced life.
The first step to organizing your life is to prioritize. If you’re anything like me, you probably get overwhelmed from time to time when your to-do list gets long. When there are a million things to be done, it’s hard to know where to begin. Ruth from Elite Blog Academy describes these feelings as “tornadoes” in her article How to Make Every Hour Count, and I feel like that really hits the nail on the head. Prioritizing your most important tasks first will help to reduce these feelings of overwhelm. It will also lead to better time management and increased productivity, which ultimately leads to a much more organized life! Be sure to check out Ruth’s article mentioned above for some great advice on how to prioritize.
2. Do the Dishes
If you don’t already do this, start making it a habit to clean all the dishes each night. Letting the dishes pile up creates clutter, which can make us feel stressed. A sink full of dirty dishes is the last thing you want to wake up to in the morning or come home to at the end of a long day. Get your family on board as well. Ask everyone to rinse off their plates and/or put them in the dishwasher when they are done. Spending 10 minutes each night doing dishes is a lot more manageable than saving it until you have a whole mountain to tackle.
3. Clean Up Messes As They Happen
Don’t put aside cleaning up a mess until later. As soon as you spot a spill, stain, crumbs, etc., address it. Don’t let the little messes pile up until you’re left with one huge mess. It takes a few extra minutes out of our day to address it right then and there, but it saves us loads of time and stress in the long run.
4. Create a Cleaning Schedule and Stick To It
Cleaning an entire house can be a daunting task. I have to admit, I used to be kind of obsessed with keeping our house clean. So much so that I would get stressed out if things weren’t perfect. My husband was always trying to get me to relax and telling me that I was working myself too hard, but still I kept trying to keep things perfect. Let me tell you, that gets old FAST.
I have found that the best way to keep a clean home and your sanity is to create a cleaning schedule. Write out everything that needs to be done daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly, and stick to that schedule. This will help you to manage your time, prioritize what needs to be done, and focus on individual tasks. If possible, designate a day of the week to be your cleaning day. My cleaning day is Wednesday because that is my day off. Having a designated cleaning day helps me out tremendously. Each night I complete my small list of daily tasks, but I don’t worry about things like vacuuming, dusting, cleaning the bathrooms, etc. because I know I have a designated time already set aside for that. Having a cleaning schedule helps me to be more productive, less scatter-brained, and less stressed overall.
For an example of a thorough cleaning schedule, check out this checklist from Lauren Smith at Good Housekeeping.
5. Plan Ahead
It’s always good to be prepared. Set yourself up for success and get into the habit of planning. Meal plan for the week or month, spend a Sunday afternoon prepping lunches, keep track of important dates on a calendar, create to-do lists, etc. For some people, a daily planner is a great time management tool. I’m a big list maker myself. I often write out daily schedules and to-do lists for myself and check off tasks as I go along. I also write out weekly menus, shopping lists, and packing lists. Something about writing my thoughts out on paper helps me to feel more organized. Everyone’s planning will look a little different, but having a plan of action for your everyday life helps tremendously when it comes to time management, productivity, and overall stress level.
6. Stop Paperwork in its Tracks
Is your dining room table currently hiding under a sea of credit card offers, sales ads, newspapers, and bills? If so, it’s time to end that habit. It’s so easy to walk in the door with a stack of mail and throw it somewhere with intentions of dealing with it later. However, nine times out of ten we forget about it and end up with a mountain of junk mail taking up precious space in our home.
So make it a habit to address paperwork right away. Every piece of paper that comes into your home should have a place. If there’s no place for it, it’s probably trash. Keep a basket or folder near the area that tends to become your drop zone. You can put papers in there that you are not ready to deal with at the moment, and then once a week you can go through it and put everything in its correct place.
7. Have a Catch-All Bin
Just like paperwork, every object in your home should have its own place. If you find that you have many objects lying around without a designated place, put them in your catch-all bin. You can use whatever you like – a decorative box, laundry basket, storage cube, etc. This will serve as a temporary home for all of those items that don’t yet have one. When you’re ready, you can go through it and find a place for those items. In the meantime, they will all be neatly tucked away instead of creating clutter. You may even choose to have a catch-all bin in every room if you’d like.
8. Make the Bed
Take a few minutes to make your bed each morning. Even a messy room looks much tidier if the bed is made. Start making this a habit and I promise you’ll feel happier, more relaxed, and more organized every time you walk into your bedroom.
9. Donate Often
Go through your home/closets on a regular basis and see if there is anything you want to get rid of. There is no point in keeping clothes you don’t wear anymore or items that no longer serve a purpose. I have found that the best method for getting rid of things is to simply look at them and ask myself, does this particular item make me happy? Is it serving some kind of purpose in my life? If the answer to both questions is no, it’s time to get rid of it. Instead of holding on to things you don’t use, focus on filling your home only with things that bring you joy.
10. Take Time for Self Care
Last but not least, make sure to take care of yourself. You’ve probably heard a million times before that you can’t pour from an empty glass, and it’s so true. If you’re not taking care of yourself, you won’t have the motivation to put all these other steps into practice. Look back at step number 5 and think about how you can fit time for yourself into your schedule. Treat it just like any other important meeting or appointment. Take time to recharge and indulge in something that you enjoy without feeling guilty about it. You’ll feel more energized, positive, and ready to take on whatever life throws at you.
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