Posts Tagged ‘Household Chores’

Unfulfilling Tasks

April 29, 2014

I saw this expression last week in an interview between my friend and colleague,Linda Samuels, and Francine Jay. Francine is a minimalist. In fact, she is known as Miss Minimalist. Francine told Linda in the interview that being a minimalist involved not making unnecessary purchases, getting rid of unused belongings, and also eliminating unfulfilling tasks. Doing these three things opens your life up and allows you to live more fully.

I will typically advise my clients to stop making unnecessary purchases. You save lots of money by only buying what you really need and not giving in to impulse shopping. When I’m working with a client to declutter a house, a room, a drawer (you get the idea) we always talk about the items that are consistently used and loved. The belongings that are not either loved or useful are those which we talk about donating or consigning.

The idea of eliminating unfulfilling tasks is brand new to me but it makes really good sense. There are many times when we engage in activities which do not resonate with us. Now, I do want to stress the point that I’m not talking about taking care of basic household chores which we all have to do. Yes, they are tasks and perhaps they do not fill us with joy but they need to be done to maintain order and cleanliness within the home. Having said that, what am I talking about? What are those unfulfilling tasks?

I believe these are the tasks that do not give us any satisfaction at all. Do you ever decide to do something because your friends are engaged in this activity and they think you should join in too? Perhaps this activity is not as exciting for you and, in fact, eats up lots of your time. This, I believe, would be an unfulfilling activity (task). If you eliminate this activity you will have time for the activities that resonate with you. Another thought to consider is out sourcing tasks that you don’t want to do, if that is financially feasible. For instance, if cleaning the house really does not give you any satisfaction at all and you can afford to hire a cleaning service then eliminate cleaning from your task list. Maybe gardening – weeding, clipping, lawn mowing – is not a task you like to do but if you can afford a lawn service then that task is also eliminated.

Think about how you spend your time. What do you do that brings you satisfaction and what are the chores, tasks, activities that you find unfulfilling? Make a list and see what you want to keep on doing and what you may want to eliminate from your schedule. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic so please respond!

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Small changes?

April 16, 2014

Sometimes a small change in the way we do things can have a really HUGE impact. One of my clients had the habit of waiting until April 14th to begin gathering the information needed to prepare his taxes. It would take him all day and most of the night of the 14th to gather everything together, figure out what he had to do, download the forms, etc. You get the idea, I’m sure. Maybe some of you do this very same thing.

Last year, we created a current tax year file. All tax related information went into the file. I encouraged my client to begin preparing his taxes on April 1st which he did. He was finished with his taxes very quickly as he didn’t have to hunt down any information. His taxes were mailed by the end of the first week – without having to lose any sleep! The small change of creating a central place for all tax related information really helped.

Another client was talking to me about doing laundry. For her, laundry is one of those things that just never seems to end – there’s always more to do. To complete the laundry cycle it must be washed, dried, folded, and put away. This client was good about the washed and dried part but emptying the drier, folding and getting the laundry put away was a problem.

In conversation, my client told me that she starts laundry in the evening and remembers to get it out of the washer and into the drier but quite often she forgets about it and then goes to bed. I suggested that she start the laundry in the morning after taking her child to school. This way she’s up and around the house. I also suggested she set a timer to remind herself to take the clothes out of the drier, fold them and put them away. This small change has really worked! Changing the time of day to do the laundry has helped to keep the piles of laundry under control.

What small change can you make in your day which may make a HUGE impact? Write me and let me know.

Feeling Overwhelmed?

February 18, 2014

What do you do when you’re feeling overwhelmed? Do you walk away from whatever it is that is overwhelming you? Many of my clients are challenged by that feeling of overwhelm. It doesn’t matter if it is piles of paper, too much to do and too little time, too many emails to respond to or deal with or too many household chores when you’re feeling overwhelmed you don’t know where to start.

My advice is to pick a place and start small. If we’re talking about household chores, look at your calendar, figure out how much time you can give to this task, turn on some music that you love – it should probably be upbeat – something you can (and want to) move to, set your timer for the allotted amount of time, and start. You don’t have to finish. When the timer goes off you’re done! Do the same thing again everyday for a week tackling a different spot each day. Before you know it those household chores won’t be so monumental.

Use the same technique to conquer your piles of paper. Start with one pile and for a specific amount of time. Label each piece of paper with its next action. File it appropriately. I’ll talk more about filing paper next week. The point is if you start tackling the paper a little bit at a time you will get control of it.

If your to do list has too much on it and that is overwhelming you try to delegate some items. Then, look at the tasks you can’t delegate and prioritize the list. Now, pull out your calendar and schedule a few of the tasks each day. Taking action on these items will reduce your feeling of overwhelm. Try to only have two or three of your ‘to-dos’ scheduled on any one day. It’s less imposing when you have only a few things to take care of.

Small steps can have a big result as long as you keep taking those small steps forward! Give yourself permission to only do a little bit at a time. Don’t think about ALL you have to do – that is overwhelming. Focus on the small tasks you’ve set aside to tackle today. Do them, reward yourself and be done.

Let me know if this helps reduce your feeling of overwhelm!

Maintenance is Key!

February 5, 2014

Are you thinking about getting your home really organized? Do you like the thought that once all your belongings have a place to be you will be able to find what you need when you want it? As a professional organizer I think these are beautiful concepts. The caveat here is that once everything is organized you must maintain the system.

Think about this another way. If you have a car you need to make sure it has gas in the tank. Every now and then the car will need to have the oil changed or undergo a routine servicing so that the car continues to run smoothly. The car will also need to be washed so that you can see clearly out the windshield – front and back. If there is trash in the car – like food wrappers, empty water bottles, or soda cans they can be thrown out so the car can be vacuumed. It’s also good to remove the trash so you have room for people and other things, like groceries, that you really want to carry in your car.

Your home is much the same. You can’t expect to organize once and be done. Schedule a few minutes every morning to make sure the bed is made, dirty clothes in the hamper, and the dishes washed and put away or rinsed and put in the dishwasher. Plan these chores into your morning routine so that when you return home from work you don’t have these chores to tackle before you can begin preparing for dinner.

Schedule a few minutes in the evening to sort the mail. Take the time to at least separate out the mail to be recycled or shredded from the mail that needs attention – like bills or invitations.

As you go from room to room in your house if you see a few things out of place put them where they belong. You’ll thank yourself later. A few things are easy to attend to. That will only take you a short time. It’s when things are left out of place that they tend to multiply. Then it will take you much longer to take care of the out of place items. Don’t indulge yourself by saying “I’ll do it later”. In my experience, later never comes.

Plan time into your day everyday to clean and maintain one room of your home. Just as it’s impossible to organize once and be done it’s impossible to clean once and expect your furniture to remain dust free. It doesn’t take long to dust and vacuum a room when it’s done regularly. As you’re cleaning the furniture put aside anything that has lingered in the room and doesn’t belong there. When you’re finished cleaning take the time to put those out of place items where they belong.

Rotate through the rooms in your house taking care of one a day. Doing this regularly means that nothing is actually that dusty or dirty and it won’t take you very long. This way you don’t have to dedicate an entire day to cleaning your house. It’s much more rewarding to spend your day off doing something you want to do – maybe something fun with a friend or family, maybe something indulgent like a spa treatment, maybe some gardening… the possibilities are endless.

If you have a spouse or partner and/or children involve them in the maintenance routine. Teach them to put their belongings away. You can make a game out of it. Put on some good music and let everyone know that now is the time to gather things up if they are out of place and put them away. Let each person have a part in keeping your home clean and tidy. Doing this you accomplish several things. You teach your children how to pick up and put away and you teach them to care for their home in a responsible manner.

Remember the key to having a clean and well organized home is maintenance. Create the system and then work it.

What To Do At Home When You Can’t Go Out

January 6, 2014

Does this cold weather have you staying home wondering what to do? I have a few suggestions for you which will also help you organize your home.

Take a look in your closet. Are there a few pieces of clothing that are:

1. too small

2. too big

3. in need of repair or alterations

4. haven’t been worn in the past season

5. when you put it on, you decide not to wear it and then put it back in the closet

Take these items out of your closet and make some decisions. Either schedule a day and time in your calendar to have alterations made or put the items in a shopping bag to take to your local Goodwill.

Miscellaneous Drawer

Everyone has a drawer where they put small things that don’t have an immediate home. Empty the drawer and start sorting. Put the small change in a change jar. Put the pens and pencils in a pencil can or drawer. Figure out if the other odds and ends like batteries, rubber bands, golf balls or whatever can be put away. If not, do you need them or want them?

Filing Cabinet

Get out some extra manila files and a pen or a labeler if you have one. Go through your files. Make the 2014 files for your financial documents, investments, and taxes and any others that you switch out from year to year. Remove the 2013 files and put them in a place where you can work on them to get your taxes done ahead of time!

Now go through your other files, one at a time. Determine if there are any files that are obsolete. Shred them, if necessary. As you’re going through your other files – be sure to look at each piece of paper – determine if there are any papers in those files which you don’t need any more. Shred them, too, if need be.

You want to do this every year so that you don’t just accumulate paper. Know what you have in your filing cabinet.

Kitchen

Maybe this is a good time to empty the kitchen drawers, one at a time. Wash them, dry them, and then put the items back where they belong. If you come across something that doesn’t belong, or that you don’t want, or that is broken either find it a home, donate it, or toss it.

Children’s Art and School work

This could be a great time to go through your children’s art work and school work with your children. Weed out the things the two of you decide you want to keep and put them in a memorabilia box. Recycle the others.

There are lots and lots of things to keep you busy, not bored, at home during this cold snap. These are just a few suggestions. I’d love to hear if you take me up on any of these ideas and if it leads to further organizing in your home!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summertime Scheduling

June 5, 2013

Summer ….don’t you just love summer? It’s a great time to relax, kick back and enjoy all the fun things we can do outside with friends and family; walks in the park, going canoeing, tubing sailing, swimming, attending parades and more.

How do you schedule those fun activities and take care of your household chores and garden?

Make your calendar your best friend. Schedule your daily tasks and make a weekly or bi-weekly household chores list so that you regularly hit all the chores you need to do to keep your home organized. Have the chores be a family affair so that you are not the only one taking care of everything. Share the wealth! Rotate the chores so that each person living in the home has a chance to tackle almost every chore. Having said that, if you have small children you will want to make the chores you assign to them age appropriate. The sooner your children learn to help out around the house the better it will be for you and for them. You are teaching them skills they will have for the rest of their lives!

Scheduling and prioritizing your chores will allow you to have some flex time for all the fun summer time activities in which we all like to participate! One of my favorite summer activities is gardening!

I love to be out in my garden. I have a large flower garden and really enjoy the weeding, clipping, and other chores that go hand in hand with having a lovely garden. I schedule a little gardening time into my day everyday that it’s not pouring rain. I do that so that I continue to enjoy the process and so that I don’t become overwhelmed by the enormity of the task.

If I did not work in my garden consistently I would have more weeds than flowers. The result would be a garden that is not particularly lovely and it would be a monumental chore to get the garden back in shape. Doing a little bit everyday allows me to keep the weeds to a bare minimum, even if I miss a day here or there it’s O.K.

For more information on scheduling household chores you can download The Sample Weekly Cleaning Routine for a small fee from my website.

Is it Spring yet?

March 14, 2013

I know Spring is coming. I can see it in the sunshine. The light is brighter and it’s staying light longer, particularly now that Daylight Saving Time is here! I love Spring. I’m a huge fan of gardening and my fingers are just itching to be spending my free time outside working in my garden. I have all sorts of plans for my planters and garden beds which will be fun for me to implement. I’m digressing. What I want to share is that while it’s still a little too cool to be outside for long periods I’m focusing my energy on the inside of my house. Tackling my spring cleaning!

This is a great time to clean out closets. I made a plan to go through the different closets & cupboards in my house. I want to figure out what was not worn or used this past winter. Those items I will donate. The best way to do this is to schedule a specific day and time for each closet and set of cupboards. Do not, under any circumstance, say to yourself “today, I’m going to clean out every cupboard and every closet in my house”. That would be a recipe for procrastination. Why would you want to spend an entire day doing this? I know I wouldn’t. Instead decide where you will begin and schedule this cleaning out over the next couple of weeks.

So, another tip is to completely empty the closet or cupboard. Give it a good and thorough cleaning out. Get out the vacuum for the floor and those hard to get at corners. Have a few cleaning cloths and a bucket filled with a vinegar/ water mixture. Wipe the shelves and walls using this mixture and then dry them completely.

Now, as you get ready to put the items back really look over each and every item. Ask yourself these questions: Do you use it (or wear it)? Do you love it? Do you want to keep it? Is it broken or in need of repair? Is it missing a part?

Only put back the items that you honestly want to have in your home. Take the rest to a donation site such as Goodwill.

Now that the inside of the cupboards and closets are organized and clean it’s time to spend as much time as possible outside enjoying this beautiful spring season!

Daily Habits

January 30, 2013

I have a several things (chores, actually) that I do everyday. I have done them so often now that taking care of these chores is a habit for me. You can call it a daily habit. Do you have tasks or chores that you’d like to be sure to do everyday? Take a look at the tasks you really want to accomplish on a daily basis. Maybe something like walking your dog or cleaning out the kitty litter? Walking the dog every morning accomplishes two things it gives you and your dog exercise. Cleaning out the kitty litter on a daily basis helps to combat the odor and eliminates the need for you to completely empty and refill the litter box as frequently. When you take care of the laundry frequently it doesn’t pile up and become a monumental or overwhelming task. Even just sorting the laundry regularly helps. You can see from the volume of clothes if you had better set aside some time to do a whites load or a colors load.

Once you decide which chores you want to do daily start by scheduling one task into your day everyday. When that becomes a routine for you – after a week or two – try adding another chore. Continue this process until you have created the habit of doing the tasks you want to do regularly. I’m not suggesting that you create a lengthy list. On the contrary, your list of things to do daily should only take about 30 – 45 minutes to complete (unless laundry is a task…that takes about 90 minutes total).

My daily habits include walking my dog, watering my plants (I grow orchids and check them daily), tidying the bathroom, and laundry. Write me back and let me know what chores you are going to turn into habits.

Priorities

August 10, 2011

Do you ever say things with conviction and then not follow through? I know I do sometimes. I have made promises to myself and then, I guess, not made that promise a priority – so it never happens. I have done that regarding this blog. I have told myself time and again that Wednesday mornings I will take a few minutes and create a new blog post. As you can see from the date of my last blog post a full month has gone by. What have I done with my Wednesday morning blog time? I can give you lots of things, lists of things I have done other than write this blog. The fact of the matter is that I have not made this a priority. It’s really pretty funny because I think of lots of things to write about when I am out walking my dog, Mr. Miles, every morning. So, I can’t tell you that I don’t sit down to do this because I don’t have anything to say. Also, I really do enjoy the writing process – I have fun putting the sentences together to, hopefully, create a meaningful (or at the very least interesting) blog. What do I think is preventing me from keeping this promise? The answer to that question is that I have not made writing a priority. I have not put the other things that come up aside. Writing this blog must become a scheduled activity on my Wednesday calendar – I’m going to put it in at 9:30am and we’ll see what happens next week.

Sometimes people put off doing things for no real reason. It could be they don’t make time (or schedule the time) to do them. It could be they are not really interested in …(fill in the blank). It could also be that whatever it is has not be made into a priority, so has not been scheduled.

I’m interested to know if there is something you could make into a priority. Is there something that you really want to do but don’t? Could you write it into your weekly calendar on a specific day and time to make it happen?

 

Gardens

June 23, 2010

I love to play in the dirt. I get a real kick out of seeing my garden flourish. There’s nothing like harvesting your own vegetables, picking berries from your own plants, and cutting flowers from your garden to display in your home. Gardens need tender loving care – as does your home. To stay as lovely as you would like it to be a garden needs regular maintenance. As a professional organizer, this is right up my alley. I am all about scheduling time to get things done. I like to think about certain garden tasks in the same way as I think about household chores. Who doesn’t like the way a beautiful garden looks? To maintain that beauty you have to do some weeding, some pruning, some feeding – you get the idea. I really don’t mind weeding if I can do a little at a time. So, I schedule about 10 – 15 minutes a day in different sections of my garden. That way everything gets weeded, pruned, or fed (as needed) and I don’t have to spend an entire day doing it and have a backache as a reward. I think it is the same thing as doing some chores around the house. I don’t really love doing them. I do love knowing that my house is clean, though. So, I take a few minutes at the end of the day to wipe up any spills and generally straighten up. Interesting, isn’t it?