For me, the New Year always brings a wave of fresh ideas and energy. I like to feed this energy with tasks that help set the stage. For me, this stage is an organized environment. A neat freak, I am not. But I am a stickler for creating efficiency. I thrive on knowing I have a system in place that helps me make the most out of my time and provides good energy to support my new goals for the year.
1. Out with the Old. Look around the home or office and identify the things which appear to be piled or shoved somewhere that doesn’t make any sense. You know… that junk drawer or high shelf. That dusty pile in the corner behind your computer monitor that you pretend isn’t there. Oh. It’s there alright. Time to purge.
My attempt at it usually goes something like this: I gather empty bins and line them up in a hallway. I label one “NEED.” I label another “DON’T NEED.” And because my inner collector gets the better of me and I like to be coddled sometimes (don’t we all?), I label yet another bin with the word “MIGHT NEED.” Then I get to work.
The “NEED” pile gets sorted and put in places that make better sense. If you don’t have a place, then make one. And make it pretty if you can. I like to use baskets and clear containers throughout my home so that I can store and find things quickly.
The “DON’T NEED” pile gets considered for donation. But please, people,… if it’s torn or stinky, toss it!
The “MIGHT NEED” pile gets a little more attention. My mind does silly things like… Someday I’ll hand this Cabbage Patch doll down to someone I love. Or… This plastic wall clock would be perfect in my cousin’s friend’s daughter’s new apartment! No it won’t. And no you won’t. Purge them. Quickly.
2. Designate a “DO” Day. I work full time and often on weekends too. So time for organizing, cleaning and catching up is at a minimum. For many, multi-tasking works well. But what works for me is to designate a consistent “DO” day to tackle things that need need attention on an appointed day of the week. Maybe it’s to cook several meals for the week, freezing dishes that can be defrosted when needed. Or laundry catchup. Bills. Cleaning. Whatever that task, knowing that I can catch up on my “Do” day keeps me less worried during my work hours.
3. Collective Effort. A home that runs smoothly should be the responsibility of everyone who lives there, don’t you think? Children, for example, can learn that sense of responsibility and pride by their doing their part and understanding that home care is an essential life skill. Bed-making, room-cleaning and another central job like taking out recycling or keeping the tv cabinet tidy is a good way to keep everyone pitching in. Who knows, you might even find that they enjoy it.
4. On the Same Page. If you lead a busy family life, then it’s pretty important for everyone to know when you’re coming and going. A large family calendar placed centrally somewhere in the house is a good way to keep everyone informed. Everything should start there, as your command station, and you can distribute those events and tasks throughout your individual calendars and smart phones. If you have a large family, consider designating colors per person.
5. Meal Planning. Take a realistic look at your week. How often are you home with time to prepare a nutritious meal? How many “on the go” evenings are there when you’re running kids to and from activities. Consider preparing meals in advance so they can be heated up quickly. Identify a couple quick and easy, but nutritious meals that you don’t need much effort to prepare (or clean up after). And consider those days when the pizza run might be essential. If you plan it out and stick to it, you might find your week runs a little bit smoother and you can adapt this approach as your schedule changes.