April 22, 2010

Living an organized life-part 4

What more can there be to say about having a routine, you ask? Haven’t I drilled it into your head enough already? For the most part yes, I have said all there is to say. This will be mostly tips and tricks to help get things running smoothly. In material organization, there are two rules you should follow that also apply to a routine.

Rule #1- Put things where you will use them

Rule #2-Put like items with like items

This applies to routine in this way; when you finish your shower, wipe down the shower stall. When you’ve finished at the bathroom sink, wipe the counter and sink. I do mean every day. I know many people have a “cleaning day” where they do everything, and this drives me crazy. Don’t shower for a week and then time how long it takes you to get clean when you do shower, and how much harder you have to scrub as well. It’s the same thing with your home, if you only wash it once a week, it will take longer, and you will work harder when you do it. There are some housecleaning asks that should be done daily, that won’t take hardly any time, especially if you do them daily. Dusting, cleaning floors, and wiping countertops. I don’t mean you do all of these things together; wipe the kitchen countertops when you’re finished with the dishes. In the beginning, if there is clutter on the counter, wipe around it, and put 1 thing away, in its place-don’t just make a big pile, or spend extra time putting it up, just commit to putting one thing away every day. I can hear some whining voice saying, “But that takes so long!” It took time for it to get the way it is, it will take time to get it cleaned up. Dusting and cleaning the floors-well, when you have five minutes to run around and dust, do it. Once a week, take things and wipe them off appropriately-Martha Stewart has the answer for how to wipe/clean anything. As for cleaning floors, if you have carpet, just vacuum the main walkways, where it’s worn down the most. Floors that must be swept and mopped I’ve found the best time for me is before bed. With two dogs and two children, I find myself cleaning the floors after lunch most days as well. Vacuum main walkways daily, edges and corners weekly-ish, and once to twice a month move furniture and get behind and under. Honestly, I have yet to meet someone that does this daily, no matter what size the house, and reports that it takes them more than 15 minutes for any individual task.

Now is the time to bring up the rest of your household occupants. They should help. If you have kids, they need to learn to do this so that when they move out, they know how. Anyone remember Jessica Simpson’s attempt at cleaning? I’m sure her mother had her reasons for never teaching the girl to do laundry, but unless you know for certain that your children will have maid when they are grown, give them the opportunity to learn these essential life skills. If you’ve never had the family help, start small, and work into a full blown chore list that’s based on age and ability. I don’t recommend a reward system because they aren’t going to get a reward when they do the dishes in their first apartment, or put up their laundry when they live in a dorm.

The other two household chores are revolving; dishes and laundry. Do whatever you can to have an empty sink and dishwasher when you go to bed. Same thing for washer and dryer, don’t have clothes waiting to be folded or put up. This gives you the sense that things are done, when, in reality, these are two areas of life that are never truly done. To stay on top of laundry, take the number of people in your house and divide by two. So, 2 adults, 2 children, equals 4 people. Divide by 2, and you have 2. Do 2 loads of laundry in what I call dirty to the drawer daily, and you will never have a mountain of clothes waiting to be cleaned. These are also areas where the family should be helping.

Tips for making shopping easier:

Have one day that you run errands, and not Saturday. We do a lot of unnecessary running around, and after exhausting yourself by trying to do it in a very short amount of time, you’ll see what is and isn’t important. You can also get a lot of things done faster if you use the internet for research. Check for product availability and best price in advance; you may have to make a few phone calls as well, but these are things that save time and effort in the long run.

Organizedhome.com has pantry, larder and freezer lists you can printout for free. Where ever you store food, or things you buy from the store, put one of these lists, and when it’s time to shop, check the lists to make sure you have everything down that you need.

Keep a list of family shoe and clothing sizes and measurements with you. If you’re a thrift shopper, carry a tape measure with you, and use this to measure clothing to see if it’s the right size-some people donate/yard sell things because they’ve shrunk, so a tag that says large may not measure as a large.

If you know that you want a piece of furniture or accessory in a certain size, carry the measurement with you. Looking for something in the just right color, carry a swatch or paint chip with you so you can match it.

To finish, apply the rules I listed at the beginning when you are planning your routine, think about how things will flow the best. What order do you need to do things in? Sometimes, that is what’s stopping you from getting things done, perhaps you’re trying to vacuum before you leave for work, and it never seems to get done-pick a different time. Routines can and often need to be tweaked and changed, either because circumstances change, or because it’s just not working. A routine is supposed to make your life easier, not stress you out more. Take it slow, and remember, something is better than nothing, always aim for more.

Happy Thoughts!

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