There is a lot of hype about the “right” way to get your life organized, and I will tell you right now that there is no right way. Seriously. The only thing it takes to get organized is to start somewhere and finish whatever you’ve started. Once you find the organizational process that works for you, everything else will fall into place. Are relatives making a surprise visit tomorrow night? Did your job give you a last minute project that must to be done by the weekend? Maybe it’s your turn to watch the play group this week. For most people, these are major events in their every day lives that mean preparation, last-minute cleaning, or neglecting other things that you should have done earlier. I know very well the “quick, clean everything, grandma is on her way over!” frenzy that sometimes catches us all off guard. It’s alright! That’s normal, too.
However, if you want to make your busy life just a bit easier, I have the perfect places for you to start! Getting organized is all about baby steps, picking up new habits, and learning what is right for you and your household. I know for me, it is not possible to complete all of the dishes every night. That would be taboo in my mother’s house, but in mine, I sometimes have to settle for rinsing the dishes out and leaving them until the morning to be washed. Here are the main steps to getting your life organized!
1. Make the bed.
It’s the number one item on most of these lists, but that’s because it is the most important! Making your bed eliminates the look of a messy room. The kid’s closets could have somehow exploded onto the floor (someone couldn’t find their favorite shirt, I guarantee it) but once the bed is made, it changes the look of the entire room. Once you make your own bed, it also helps your brain switch from resting time to working time. It is so much easier to jump right into your daily chores once you train your brain to make your bed and get dressed for the day. This is the first habit that you need to learn. Do you already make your bed everyday? Amazing! Let’s move on to number two.
2. Make a to-do list for today.
Not for tomorrow, not for the week, and certainly not for the month. Your list should be for things that you are 100% sure will be able to get done. Start your list with the most important. Does the dry cleaning need to be picked up? Grocery shopping? Laundry? Are there any random errands that can be done while you’re out getting the dry cleaning? Plan out your day and cross each item off of your list. If you put too much on your list, you won’t get that sense of accomplishment after scratching off the last item. It’s also a great way to stay productive and keep your home running smoothly.
3. Overestimate all of your time.
Going to the dry cleaners will take you 15 minutes. But leaving your neighborhood, stopping at that really long red light, getting stuck in a small traffic jam, and finding a line at the cleaners will push that time closer to 45 minutes, leaving less time for all of the other events you had planned out. I always round to the half hour above what my estimated time is. Going grocery shopping should take me 1 hour, but there might be a huge line, no parking, or the store might have even rearranged a few isles. I give myself 1 hour and 30 minutes instead. Sometimes, I’m grateful for the extra time so that I’m not late picking up the kids. Sometimes, I finish in 45 minutes and have an extra half hour to grab a coffee and read a bit of my book. It’s better to have a little extra leeway than to find yourself stressed out because you’re late for your next appointment.
4. Use a calendar.
This is important if you have a lot of events or children in your life. Keeping track of who does what on which days will be easier on a physical calendar on the wall than in your phone. If anyone has a cancellation or information changes, they can just grab a marker and make the changes themselves. No more forgetting if they tell you that practiced changed on their way out of the door. They can write it down and everyone will know what’s happening.
5. Create a menu for the week.
Some people can plan their menus out for weeks at a time. I am not one of those people. I make menu plans for the next day only! It helps with the weekly groceries, the kids can make suggestions, or the husband can veto the choice, but it gets rid of that last-minute “what’s for dinner?” question that sometimes doesn’t have an actual answer. Chicken and…tomatoes, anyone? That’s all I had in the fridge. Avoid this by creating a menu plan and sticking to it!
6. If you use it, put it back.
This. I cannot stress this enough! To cut down on clutter and keep your home in an organized state, you’ll need to train everyone in the house to adopt this principle. While it may be harder to enforce with older kids all of the time, have rooms that must stay neat at all times. Ours are the living room, the dining room, and the entryway. I say that it’s so that no one trips over stray backpacks and breaks their ankles, but it’s mostly for those times when unannounced guests ring your doorbell and want to visit for a while or return a dish.
7. Give your kids more responsibility.
Yes, they have their normal chores, but sometimes you need a hand. Good thing I have six extra hands in the afternoons! It isn’t often, but the kids somehow have a sixth sense about when “cleaning time” is. They are suddenly all doing their homework at the same time. I give them small tasks like dusting, sweeping, drying the dishes, or picking up the living room. It helps me out, and when mom is happy, everyone is happy.
8. Set aside time for social media.
I check my messages constantly, and it’s a habit that I am trying to break. I can lose 30+ minutes on social media instead of doing something around the house that needs to be done. I check my social life at meal times only. It’s 3 times a day (okay, fine, 4 if I include snack time) and it’s enough time to check and respond to emails without taking up too much of my time. This helps me to manage my free time in a better way, too.
With a few tweaks to fit your lifestyle, you’ll soon have a schedule that works for you! Adopt habits that sound right for you, and change others that don’t! Finding the right groove for your household is the key to living an organized life! Embrace it and start today! (Go make your bed!)