It’s no secret that I love to plan.
Designing The Productive Home CEO Planner to supplement the 100 Day Home Organization Program was SO fun for me!
Plus, planning your week is a pivotal part of your weekly Sunday Basket tasks.
Even if you don’t love to plan, it’s important. Just one minute of planning time will save you 2-3 minutes in execution. That’s a big return on your investment!
The problem is, finding time to plan is difficult. It’s enough trouble finding the time to actually do the task, let alone plan ahead!
We hear a lot about batching tasks, or doing one category of things all at once. It’s a great productivity strategy, because it allows your brain to stay in one mode for a larger chunk of time. Constant task switching is very taxing on our brains, and can lead to burnout faster. (I wrote all about this and the other executive functions of the mind in my book, How ADHD Affects Home Organization.)
One of the easiest tasks to batch is phone calls. That one precious hour that the house is quiet, or the fifteen minutes waiting in the carpool line; those are great pockets of time to make your phone calls for the entire week.
However, this actually isn’t that useful of a strategy if you don’t have a list of places to call, the phone numbers, and a few notes about what you want to accomplish in that phone call. You have to plan!
Another example of batching tasks is doing laundry. You can do a small load of laundry each day, or you can batch this task and do all your laundry on one day of the week. By batching this task, you can enjoy the six other days of the week you don’t have to do any laundry!
In order to batch any tasks, you need to be focused on what you’re doing. You can’t allow yourself to drift from one thing to the other, or you won’t get anything truly accomplished. And, of course, you have to plan ahead!
Some tasks don’t let themselves to task batching because they have to be done routinely. You wouldn’t be able to do your dishes just one time a week. Even if you rarely eat at home, leaving dishes in the sink for multiple days would look cluttered and start to smell bad, and not give you the relaxing rest days the way that stacking laundry does.
But, it’s also difficult to try and do your dishes and random times throughout each day, or try to do them whenever you think about it, because you’re requiring yourself to use mental energy for the task, rather than building up muscle memory.
For example, if you want to cultivate a habit of clearing off the kitchen counters, build that into your evening routine. Stack that task with the other things you naturally do at night before you go to bed. Instead of turning the dishwasher on, setting the coffee maker, and going to bed, turn the dishwasher on, set the coffee maker, clear the counter, and then go to bed. It won’t feel like that much extra effort (since you’re already doing similar tasks), and with time it will feel like a natural part of your routine.
Planning vs. Executing
We often feel, because we are in constant motion, that we are making progress.
We’re working so hard, and are exhausted at the end of the day. How is that possible, when we are no closer to our goals?
Well, for one thing, we spend a lot of time during the day doing routine tasks. Cleaning the bathrooms is hard work, and they’re just going to get dirty again.
Being busy all day doesn’t mean we are going to make forward progress on our big goals, and that’s the stuff we want to make time for.
Planning to Organize
When you set a goal to organize an area–say, the linen closet–you set aside a pocket of time to do that task. It’s a small part of your home, so it should only take a half hour.
Part of that time is spent thinking. Thinking about the tips I offer in my podcast. Thinking about what should stay, and what should be relocated. Thinking about which linens are still in good condition, and which need to be replaced. Thinking about what to do with those you don’t want to keep. Thinking about how to store what’s left. Thinking about what containers might make the space more functional. If you’re not careful, you could use the entire half hour you set aside just thinking!
What I’m proposing today is that you set aside time beforehand to plan and think. That way, that half hour? It’s yours, and you’ll be ready.
Oh, but you don’t have any extra time, you say? I hear you.
The Secret? Focus.
I love learning. Podcasts are one of my very favorite things (obviously!), and I used to spend just about every quiet moment of my day deep in a podcast episode.
Recently, I’ve made a switch, and instead of listening to others while I clean, drive, or walk, I’m listening to myself. I think deeply and thoroughly about what tasks I have ahead of me, and I visualize how I’m going to do it and what problems I might encounter.
You know I love my index cards, and they are a key player in this habit. I keep them in my car, in my kitchen, in my office, everywhere! Every time I make a decision mentally, I write it down on an index card and put it–you guessed it–in my Sunday Basket. I’ve done all the thinking and planning ahead of time, and now I can schedule the task into my week.
Imagine if you did that thinking about your linen closet ahead of time, and all that was left to do was clear it out, bag up the things you decided to get rid of, move the leftovers around in your predetermined order, and close the door. A half hour seems like more than enough time, doesn’t it?
Give it a try–but don’t give up podcasts completely! Learning is still important, after all.
If you tried any of my suggestions, I’d love to see them! Follow me on Instagram and join the Facebook group for more great organizing tips, then share your photos with me by tagging me @organize365 or using #organize365!