Thursday, April 8, 2010

Organize Your Life in 5 Easy Steps

Do you ever have days or weeks where things just start to feel like they are spinning out of control? You're under a time crunch, chores are undone and then seem overwhelming, errands are put off, groceries are low, laundry piles are high.

I sometimes get in these downward spirals where I just want to go back to bed and pull the covers over my head until it all goes away. Well it only goes away because I make it go away.

Now I know that organizing your life is more complex than these 5 little steps, but they will  get you back on track and help keep you there, even if your life isn't out of control. 

1. Plan your day. Use a calendar or an organizer. Keep track of all of you and your families appointments and important days in one place. Get in the habit of checking it before you go to bed so you can prep for the day ahead and first thing in the morning so you know what you are doing for the day. Teach your family to write down their important dates and to check the calendar also.

2. Schedule your chores. This works great for me as my chores are scheduled around work and other set appointments in my week. Tuesday is laundry and cleaning day, Thursday is grocery, errands, car gas. I water the plants and take special care of the pets on Sunday. There is such freedom in having a schedule for weekly chores. I don't have to think about laundry or housework until its Tuesday. Groceries are purchased on a routine basis so meals are planned, lists are made and the shopping done. After awhile your week will have a rhythm and the chores just flow and almost do themselves.

3. Set some priorities, goals and deadlines. Once you have the first two steps down you should see some room to take a breath. Because now you know what is scheduled for the day and know what has to be done, the rest of the time is Free! You don't have to worry about the million other things to do because they are scheduled for another day. Start scheduling in things like crafting, gardening, special time with your loved ones, etc. Set them up like an appointment and treat them as such. You wouldn't think of not going to your Dr. appointment because you were asked to do something else at the last minute. Start putting your needs and wants toward the top of your list.

4. Unclutter - both your possessions and your commitments. I went through a major downsizing a few years back. After the shock subsided I found my new streamlined home and possessions were freeing. I had less stuff, less to take care of, less to worry about, less to clean. My closets were substantially reduced. My clothing decreased to that which fit and I actually wore. Did you know you probably only wear 20% of the clothes in your closet?  (More details on how to declutter to come.)

Is your schedule filled to the brim with activities, committees, commitments, etc? See what you can drop. Give yourself a limit of either time (hours) or number of activities you and your family will participate in. You don't have to do everything. Make time to be with your family and just be. Time with your family is precious and fleeting.

5. 15 Minute Rule. You can do anything for 15 minutes. Thanks to Flylady this has changed my life. (Google her). When I'm overwhelmed and stuck I set my timer for 15 minutes and get to work. When the timer goes off I stop. I can then evaluate if I want to work another 15 minutes or take a break. No penalty for taking a break. You can also use TV commercials to the same effect. I get my dish washing (done by hand and I hate it) in 15 minute chunks with my breaks spent on my computer. Set your timer and put away laundry for 15 minutes. I bet you'll be surprised how much you get accomplished. I believe we think things take way longer than they actually do.

OK, time for the disclaimer. When my life is going along smoothly I'm actually following these 5 steps. When I get off kilter it's usually because I've dropped the ball on one of my steps along the way. I have to pick it back up and then things start to even themselves out. These are things that work for me and I find invaluable. Your mileage might vary. But give one or two a try if you aren't already doing them. See what happens!

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