Tip of the Week, November 14, 2004
Large organizing projects (such as creating a filing system or overhauling your closets) can require a large investment of time and effort. As the days get shorter, the holidays get closer, and our schedules get busier, undertaking big changes can seem out of the question. However, there are plenty of small organizing tasks you can do to keep your home running smoothly and your sanity in check--and the best part is that each of these tasks can be done in 10 minutes or less. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Keeping kitchen chaos at bay
Bed and bath tips
- Make your bed as soon as you get up or immediately after you shower. This task generally takes a minute or less, and it can go a long way toward making the room look neater and more pulled together. If you have kids, get them to add bed making to their morning routines, too.
- Put your clothes away or in the hamper as soon as you take them off. This is another job that will take you less than 60 seconds, and will save you from having to dig through piles of clothes after they've accumulated. It can also save time by preventing wrinkles, helping keep clothes clean, and making sure clothes always get returned to their proper homes.
- Be sure there are enough towel hooks or racks in your bathroom for everyone in the house to hang his or her towels. If family members wear towels back to their rooms, add towel hooks on the back of each door to prevent heaps of wet terry cloth on the floor.
Living room and beyond
- Make it a habit (and encourage others in your household to do the same) to return items to their proper homes as soon as you're done with them. Putting the scissors back on the desk after you've used them takes about 10 seconds; searching for them after they've been buried somewhere in the living room takes much longer.
- Create a space near your front door to line up bags, umbrellas, papers, keys--anything you or your family members will need when leaving the house. Have everyone spend a few minutes each evening getting things ready for the next day to prevent a mad rush in the morning.
- Do the Ten Minute Tidy: set a timer for 10 minutes and challenge yourself to pick up and put away as many things as possible before time is up. This can be a great activity with younger kids, too; make it a challenge, and offer a prize (a special snack, a trip to the playground, etc.) to the winner.
Do it now
All of the ideas above stem from one premise: a small upfront investment of time can have a big payoff in the end. As you go through your day, challenge yourself to find small tasks you can do right away that will help prevent larger tasks later. Spending a few minutes, or even a few seconds, putting things away, cleaning up, or taking care of small jobs can leave you more time to do the things you want to do.