Frustrating, isn’t it?
It’s been a tough day. But the kids are finally asleep.
A sigh of relief.
You get some precious time to sit down and…
You notice that those new dishes you bought sitting on the kitchen counters waiting to be put away. But the cupboards are full.
And the laundry that needs putting away.
And then there’s that stack of papers on the table you’ve been meaning to deal with.
Just where are you supposed to start?
Problem is when your to-do list is already on its fourth – or fifth- page, it’s usually just easier to reach for the wine and watch the repeats of Grey’s Anatomy.
Knowing where to get started is one of the most common obstacles to getting organized. Today, I’d like to share with you a simple process for figuring out where to start when you want to get your home organized.
1| Write a master to-do list
When I’m overwhelmed, I find it helpful to create a master list of all the things that I want to organize.
Here are 3 different ways you might choose to do this.
Pick whichever you think will work best for you:
i. Keep a notebook and pen with you throughout the day – write down everything that annoys you; OR...
ii. Go around the home with a notepad and write down everything that annoys you (best if you want to take a detailed inventory to create a long term organizing plan); OR...
iii. Take a careful look around the room that is bothering you the most and write down everything you want to deal with (best if you’re really feeling overwhelmed and just want to start small).
i. Decide which way of creating your master to-do list works for you;
ii Create your own master to-do list.
2| Prioritize the master to-do list
Take a look at your master list. Frightening isn’t it? But you can’t do everything at once. So at this point you need to prioritize your list.
‘But how exactly do I prioritize this monster list of jobs?’
We’re all different so there’s no perfect one-size-fits-all answer. Pick the way that suits you, your home and your current season of life.
Choose the task that annoys you the most:
o Those shoes in the entryway you keep tripping over;
o That stack of paper on the kitchen counter;
o The toys all over the living room floor.
Cross that job off your master list and you'll feel all the calmer for it.
Choose a task you have the time for:
Could you manage 5 minutes? 10 minutes? Maybe squeeze in 30 minutes? Check through your master list to find a job that realistically fits into the time you have.
Choose a task you have the energy for:
Sleepless nights, hectic days, and motherhood in general can sap your emotional and physical energy. So be honest and gentle with yourself. Is a large scale organizing project going to be realistic right now?
Even if such a project would bring you lots of benefits, if you don’t have the energy, it’s just not going to happen.
Rate your energy on a scale of 1-10 and find a job that you think will realistically align with that number. If you only have the energy for a tiny task, that’s fine. Remember: From little acorns do big oaks grow.
Choose the task you dread the most:
Once you’ve completed the task you’re most dreading, things can only get better. Right? You’ll have a huge sense of accomplishment and relief.
Choose the easiest task first:
This is a great way to rack up some small victories which can really get you motivated to carry on and tackle those more challenging areas.
Choose the task that will end up saving you (or making you) money:
If If you’re losing track of bills you need to pay, you might decide to set up a system to deal with incoming mail more effectively. Or you may decide to make some extra money by selling some clothes you no longer wear.
Choose the task that will save you time:
Who wouldn’t like an extra 10 or 20 minutes a day?
If you're wasting time in the kitchen every evening panicking about what to cook for dinner, why not create a meal plan? If you find yourself wasting time every morning trying to find clothes you actually want to wear, maybe a closet declutter should be first on your list.
Choose something just for you:
Why not prioritize yourself? Organize a small oasis just for you. A bedside table. A desk. If you’re short on space, perhaps just a basket in the bathroom for home-spa treatments.
Carve out a small space and stake your claim to it.
Organizing your own things is usually easier than organizing communal areas (which depend on other people to keep them tidy).
Choose the one of the three foundation tasks:
If you still can’t decide where to start, I highly encourage you tackle one of these 3 areas of your home life first:
i. Meal planning;
ii. Laundry system;
ii. Budget management and tracking.
I call these the Three Foundation Tasks because everybody has to eat, have clean clothes and pay their bills.
i. Decide how you’re going to prioritize.
ii. Pick one task from your master list to begin work on.
iii. File your master list somewhere safe but out of sight. You don’t need to be worrying about anything else on that list until your one task is done.
Congratulations! These might feel like baby steps but they're actually giant leaps.
Don't be discouraged if your master list is long (everyone else's master list is long too, mama). Don't be overwhelmed at the scale of the task. And don't tell yourself it's better not to even start trying to get organized.
You got to start somewhere.
There once was a time when Michael Phelps couldn't swim, when Usain Bolt couldn't walk and when Serena Williams couldn't even hold a full size tennis racket. Look how far they came.
Getting organized? You can do this, I believe in you.
I'd love to know what's next on your organizing agenda. Leave me a comment below and let me know.