I love the beginning of the year. Now, don’t think me geeky but on January 1st, while many are recovering from carousing, I am organizing my calendar, switching files around and strategizing on how I can make the New Year better than the last one. Often, being organized is just about setting up the right systems that can be repeated. If I can save you just 6 minutes a day, you will have accumulated almost 40 hours to call your own by the end of the year. Here are my best tips to help you accomplish that:
1. What is your single biggest aggravation? Hate grocery shopping, bill paying or cleaning the bathroom? (Don’t tell us all of the above!) When there is a task you hate hanging over your head it impedes your ability to get anything else done, as you busy yourself with other nonsense in an attempt to avoid it. Worse yet, you do nothing while waiting to get in the mood to knock this job off. Solution? Assign it to someone else. Maybe you can trade one of their tasks for the one that eats at you. Let someone else do your grocery shopping from a list or pay your bills. Hire a cleaning person just to do the bathrooms if that’s what it takes. Your energy for the other jobs in your life will rise once the onerous task is removed from your list.
2. Don’t think you have to be Martha Stewart or Betty Crocker perfect. An orderly house is desirable but if you have 4 kids and a job, maybe something has to give. Make it easy for your kids to be neat. Children don’t like anything that takes more than one action to complete. Provide easy systems for them to use. For example, arguing about them hanging their coats in a closet is pointless. Put up hooks they can access easily and a basket they can toss hats and gloves into. Make that hook a double prong so they can hang up their backpack too.
3. Decide how much time each week you can devote to cleaning. For most of us, it’s not realistic to think that a whole day can be dedicated so break it up into hour long chunks and create a schedule. After all, you usually accomplish things that are scheduled. No reason why you can’t dust the family room while you are watching an hour of HGTV. Better yet, make a game of it for your kids. Hide nickels or dimes around the room and have them hunt for them while they are cleaning. You can get them into a lot of corners with this plan.
4. Run errands on a route. This may seem like Organizing 101 but it’s still worth mentioning. I rarely leave the house to complete one task. I leave this up to the guys. According to Marti Barletta, expert on marketing to women, men set their sights on one task at time. Send him for milk and that’s just what he’ll get. Send a woman for milk and on the way she’ll drop off the dry cleaning, return the pop bottles and stop at the post office. If you send your guy on an errand, give him a route. Keep track of those errands right at the back door with a message center.
5. Are you always looking for your keys or sifting through a mail pile. Why? What a waste of time. Spot these trouble spots during your day and create a place for everything- a real go-to spot. Key racks make total sense as do mail cubbies.
6. I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about your kitchen junk drawer. Every kitchen has one. It’s another time waster. Why do you stand there sifting through it all when an inexpensive drawer organizer will reduce that to seconds?
7. You need our stair-step basket. Seriously. Load it up during your day and take everything upstairs in one run. Don’t even think about it. Just buy it. You won’t have a moment’s regret.
8. Set aside 1 hour the next time you are in a gift card store and buy your occasion cards for the year at one time. Honestly, you know your son’s birthday is coming up. It makes no difference that it’s in June. How many times have you stopped on your way to a wedding to pick up a card? Why, why, why? While you are in the store, also pick up a couple of sympathy, get well and blank cards for the events you don’t foresee. Once home, store them in a monthly dated binder or organizer specifically for cards so you can find them quickly. Ah….done.
9. Don’t put off until tomorrow something you can get done today. That needs no more description in my estimation. Procrastination is the biggest time waster of all.
10. On-line banking. I started this kicking and screaming but holy smoke, this is the biggest time saver of all time. You can even set up regularly monthly payments in advance if you like. I still like to decide when to pay things but it’s priceless to hit a button and have the payment go without having to address an envelope or get a stamp.
Now go, be organized and use that saved time to your advantage!
Happy New Year!