Let’s be honest. Who among us doesn’t want a clean and well-organized home? If our house isn’t always in this condition, our problem isn’t a lack of desire. Instead, we lack the time and energy to get it all done. The good news is that there are a few habits and strategies you can easily add to your life that will take very little time and energy, but will net you big results in productivity. Here are 10 ways to get more done every day that work for me.
Make a to-do list
This is especially helpful for people who are visual, but it’s a proven strategy for everyone. It only takes a minute to make one. It will keep you on task throughout the day because you will have an easy way to remember what it is you’re supposed to be doing. Plus, it will apply the slightest pressure to accomplish your tasks because there is a strange satisfaction one gets when they check or cross off an item from their to-do list.
Make a got–done list
If you are the type of person who responds to peer pressure or if you have a competitive personality, the got-done list will make you get more done than a 32 oz. coffee. Choose a friend (or several) and e-mail her a list of what you got done for the day at a set time each evening. Trust me, you will find yourself doing all sorts of things that you would routinely avoid just so you can add to your list to impress your friend(s). Before you know it, your ceiling fans and window sills will be spotless, your e-mail inbox will be empty, and your photos from the past 10 years will be organized.
Do a 10-15 minute before bed walkthrough of the house
At some point after every one in the family has settled for the night, commit to spending 10 to 15 minutes walking through your house to tidy up. Put away the laundry, fold throw blankets, make sure jackets and backpacks are put up, declutter all the main living areas. This will prevent the gradual creep that occurs with household clutter, a big problem for those of us who are pilers not filers.
Keep cleaning wipes at every sink
Once a day, use a wet cleaning wipe to wipe down the surface areas of your bathroom and kitchen. Don’t do them all at once, just as you happen to find yourself in the bathroom or kitchen. If you wipe down daily, you never have to worry about being embarrassed when someone drops by AND your regular cleaning will be much easier.
Knock out your folding or dusting while chatting on the phone
My sister-in-law and I used to have our weekly catch-up conversations while we were folding laundry. It gave us our much needed sanity-saving bonding time minus any guilt for sitting around since we were being productive during our chat. One down side to folding while talking is that you might inadvertently mess up your sorting, adding your kindergartener’s underwear to your 10-year old’s laundry pile, but at least everything gets folded. You can avoid this by opting to dust instead, but since I hate dusting it was never my choice.
Keep greeting cards, envelopes, and stamps in a folder or bag in your car
How often do you find yourself waiting in your car to pick up your child from school or an activity? Instead of sacrificing those minutes to boredom, use them to knock out your thank you card and birthday greeting obligations.
Clip coupons in your car
Assuming you aren’t rushing around from party to party and don’t have several hundred close friends and family members to whom you’re sending birthday and anniversary cards, you can also use waiting in your car time to clip your grocery coupons. As an added bonus, by keeping your coupon organizer in the car, you will always have your coupons with you when you make an emergency stop at the grocery store for those few things you forgot on your regular run.
Wipe down one section of baseboard with a used fabric softener sheet every time you finish a load of laundry
I know this sounds weird, but a fabric softener sheet (new or used) is great for picking up dust and hair, even the old stuck-on dust that you typically find on your baseboards. So, before you throw away that used dryer sheet, take a few seconds and wipe down the baseboard along one wall. If you do laundry as much as I do, you’ll have all of your baseboards clean in a week.
Wake up earlier
This tip won’t be popular, but I promise you it will make a big difference if you can do it. While there are a few night owls out there who manage to get a lot done in the late evening hours, most moms tend to be their most productive in the morning. If you can wake up half an hour earlier, you will find you can get more done in that half hour before the rest of the family starts making demands on you, than you can in 2 hours at any other time of the day. My workout buddy and I started going to the gym BEFORE the kids got up instead of waiting until after they left for school and I literally gained 4 hours of productivity by waking up an hour earlier.
Give your family members each a small, simple daily chore
My husband has 13 siblings. His parents have a huge home and they do NOT have a cleaning lady. Her house is always presentable and always has been for as long as I’ve known her, including when I first visited her when I was 19 and she had 10 children still living at home. Each morning before school, every child had one task they were responsible for getting done (in addition to the regular chores of making their beds and getting ready for school) so that by the time they walked out the door the house looked clean and orderly and not like a pack of children had just been whirling around acting like children. The trick is to keep the chores small and manageable so they are easy to fit in right before or after school (e.g. sweeping the stairs, wiping down the bathroom sink, cleaning the sliding glass door).
If the whole list is too much to tackle at once, try one or two of the tips to see if they work for you. I have tried all of them and they all worked for me to varying degrees. Like everything in life, consistency is the key to long-term success so if you try one of these strategies and find it helps—stick with it!