People are always saying they want to be more organized, but need to get organized a bit before they can get really organized! It’s a vicious cycle. I had a friend tell me the other day that her house looked like a tornado had hit it…laundry and ironing everywhere, “stuff” all over the counter tops. You get the picture. Anyway it was really stressing her out. I offered her a little advice on how I (try) to keep on top of things:
Prioritize – Everyone has busy lives. Whether you’re a stay at home mom or you work outside the home full or part time, there’s always plenty that needs to be done to keep life moving. You may have to take your children here, there and yonder for sports, music or dance lessons etc., do the grocery shopping and other various errands each week, do the family bills (or in my case book work for two businesses!) and still keep the house running smoothly. This can definitely be overwhelming and make you want to run away from home with a bottle or two of wine! I have found that when I get overloaded the best thing to do is prioritize what needs to get done. Do those things first and let the rest wait until you’ve got more time (is there such a thing?).
Make Lists – I’m a huge believer in lists. I keep my “to do” list in a diary and write down each day what I want to accomplish. I might not get everything on the list done every single day, but it’s a great way to keep track of things. On the days that I don’t finish my list I highlight the uncompleted tasks in hot pink so that I don’t forget about them and I try to do them the next day. Anything that absolutely has to be done that day gets highlighted in green. (As you can imagine I have a very colorful diary!) It only takes a second to do this and it makes important jobs stand out at a glance.
Another of my favorite lists is my grocery list. This might sound a bit weird, but I’ve gotten it down to a science (which is an absolute necessity when you live 90 kilometers from town). I keep my grocery list on the computer and basically do a mini inventory when it’s time to go to town to re-stock. I pretty much buy the same products most of the time so I don’t have to re-write the list every week. The items I don’t need are highlighted (again) in green and the list is even in the order where they’re found in the store (can we say OCD?)! This is what works for me.
My favorite part of making my lists is checking them off. It gives you such a sense of accomplishment!
“Do One Counter at a Time” – I told my Mom this little pearl of wisdom (in my humble opinion) years ago when she was preparing to throw a party and was feeling a bit overwhelmed with everything that needed to be done. You can only do one thing at a time (I know we women can multi task, but sometimes that’s not possible), so focus on completing one job, do it completely and then move on to the next thing. If you compartmentalize your tasks instead of looking at the entire picture it makes what you need to accomplish feel more manageable. In Mom’s case it was cleaning the house. I told her to clean one counter top at a time and then move on to the next one. It’s sort of a metaphor. By dividing your tasks into smaller, more manageable ones you lessen your chance of becoming overwhelmed.
Don’t be Too Tough on Yourself – It’s taken me many years to get this through my sometimes thick head. It generally isn’t the end of the world if the floor doesn’t get vacuumed or if the dry cleaning doesn’t get picked up. So give yourself a break and don’t sweat the small stuff.