There is a Chinese proverb that reads:
“The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones”.
Small and quick routines are like those stones.
If we start and then continue to practice small routines it leads to tremendous changes in our lives. If a person sets a goal of getting healthier, maybe their small routine is to park a little further away from their destination. If a person sets a goal of being more positive, maybe their routine is to smile at everyone they make eye-contact with at grocery store. Each of these routines would take less than 5 minutes of your day.
When is comes to being more organized, the same is true.
Have you ever timed how long it takes to make your bed? I did, right around 2.5 minutes. What an easy and (life changing) routine to start immediately. When I feel I am running a little late – I tell myself you have 2.5 minutes – it is such a small amount of time some people can even hold their breath that long! The same is true with the dishwasher. Every morning, after I make my husband’s lunch, I unload the dishwasher. I am the first to admit, although it seems very silly, I really HATE unloading the dishwasher. So I timed it – three minutes! Only three!! So when I don’t feel like it, I tell myself – IT’S only THREE MINUTES!
As these small routines become habit we can then start stacking them together. As we stack more routines in our lives it will make for a calmer environment, a more positive outlook on your day, and a higher level of organization. Just think the time you save – you can spend it on activities that you are passionate about. Wouldn’t you rather enjoy some music or read an interesting article rather than fishing around in a heap of shoes to find the mate to the one shoe on your foot?
Here are a few routines to try.
Just start with one and be consistent for two weeks.
When you feel you have that one, try another.
You will be amazed how quick and easy these changes can be.
- Keep reusable grocery bags in the driver side door of your car so you remember to take them in. When you unload the groceries in the kitchen take the bags immediately back to your car so they are ready for the next trip.
- Run your dishwasher every night. It may not be jammed packed full but not only will it start to set a routine, it won’t smell like salmon the next morning when you go to put your cereal bowl in.
- Unload your dishwasher every morning as you are waiting for your coffee to brew or the Keurig to complete its cycle.
- Make your bed as soon as you get out of it or when you are waiting for the shower to get hot.
- If you are out running errands, look in your car for any garbage or throw away items. Often there is a trash can directly outside the next store you are headed for. Bring the few items (empty Starbucks cup) with you and throw it away as you enter the next store.
- After dinner do the dishes immediately, dry them and put them away. If you have a partner or children, have them help. The more people the faster it will be.
- As soon as you are done with a magazine or newspaper, take it to the recycling area of your home. This allows more space for the next one coming in and you don’t have to ask yourself “Did I read that one?”
- When you get save-the-date cards, appointment cards, or invitations, RSVP immediately or put the important date and information in your phone or calendar at a later date so you can respond. There is no need for these small clutter items to take up visual space on your counter let alone your refrigerator
- I am Canadian and part of that is taking our shoes off when we enter a residence. Take your shoes and put them where they live! Place them on the rack or in your closet – it may take a few more steps but you won’t end up with the “monster pile” of shoes that you need to fish through the next morning to find the ones you want
- If I have items to drop off, return, or exchange, place those in your car or a staging area in your home. I have a counter in my laundry room which leads to the garage. Anything I need to exchange, give back to friends, return to a store, lives there until I can schedule it. This serves two purposes. It reminds me every day of the tasks I need to complete and also saves time because they are always in the same spot. If I know I am going to have time the next day, they go directly to my car!
- When getting out of your car, have everyone involved bring all their items into the house. This can include toys that kids have taken to play with, your gym bag from your workout in the morning, the mail you picked up at 3:00pm. Take everything out and put it back where it belongs in your home. I know this may sound overwhelming but there are very few items that need to “live” in our car. Maybe a blanket or emergency kit in the back or if you have a bin full of work supplies that you use on a daily basis, but most things can come out and be returned to their rightful spot in your home.