"The best times you are going to have in life are at the dinner table and in bed." Old Italian saying. So relax, and enjoy the simple things!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Simple Organizing: Go With the Flow: Organizing to Your Daily Routine




wall calendar
 Daily Routine copyright 2012
We tend to lay out our house to look nice, not to flow with our daily rituals. Often we decorate our house as we go a long without forethought. Oh, I bought this item today. “It looks nice here.” or, “I don't really have a space for it, I'll just put it hear for now.” And that is where IT ends up staying because we never find the time to move IT.

  This weekend I want you to step back from your work day routine and really look at what you do when you get up in the morning, come home from work, cook dinner, get ready for the next day, and prepare for sleep.  Be as objective as you can, follow your path through your house, and really think about the flow and placement of the objects in your home. 

   Is this item in a convent spot for what I do with it? Do I waste time every morning looking for my hairbrush or make-up?  When I make coffee in the morning are all the items I use stored together? Are my coffee mugs on the opposite side of the counter that I keep my coffee pot?  

Move your things together, so that they are grouped by activity. The bottom line is: you will only put things away when the place you have designated for them is easy and conveniently located within your normal activity flow. 
   Morning Routine: Group all morning grooming products as closely together as possible in a medicine cabinet or closet. I have labels on baskets that say: hair drying stuff, make-up, medicine, back stock (extra toothbrushes, soap, etc.)
As I get ready in the morning. I pull out a basket, use the items, and then throw them back in to the basket.  No one sees the mess, when you open the closet. You see a neat line of organized and labeled baskets. Occasionally, when I find that it is taking too long to find something, I sort through the items in the basket.

   I discard anything I haven't used in a while, (donate unused items), and then I neatly put everything back in to the basket. The neatness lasts for a little while, usually until I am running late one morning. Hey it’s OK, the basket which is the foundation of the organization is still there. The items may not stay neatly together, but they are still together by catagory. The physical basket itself maintains a neat facade. A neat appearance is always nice to have, and I find it calming too. 
Home from Work/School Routine: When you pull into your driveway, arriving home from your day at work do you stop and get the mail or do you leave it in the box until you see it seeping out, and then go empty it? When you enter your house, do you throw your coat on a chair, lay your pocketbook, briefcase and keys wherever they land? Do you check if the phone has any messages?  Do your kids come in the door and plop their backpacks and jackets on the floor? 

Well, if you don't have a designated place to hang all the items just mentioned; walking into your house each day is creating a disorganized mess. You will either have to deal with the mess later in the day when you should be relaxing; or you will push it aside each day until you can't walk through your hallways anymore, and then you will have to spend a day of your weekend cleaning instead of doing something fun.

Establish homes for every item. If you don't have a closet to hang coats, put up some hooks enough for: backpacks, pocketbooks and briefcases. Place a basket on the table by the door and throw the mail and your keys in it as you walk into the house. 

A solid, consist routine will keep your home organized. The hard part is the initial discipline needed to train yourself and your family to follow the routine. You may have to spend a week standing guard at your door and directing everyone into the routine. Pointing your finger saying, “ Coats over here, bags there.”

A coming home routine can look something like this: pull into driveway, get mail, walk in door, hang coat, put purse and briefcase on a hook. Deposit keys and mail into the basket by the door. Kids enter and hang up coats and backpacks on hooks. (OK, this one may be a fantasy.) They sit down for a snack, while you check their backpacks, immediately reading, discussing and discarding notes each day at the same time.

Next, look through your mail daily. All bills to be paid are place directly into a basket designated for bills. When you sit down to pay them they are all together. No hunting on countertops and no late fees for lost bills. I put all junk mail right into my recycling bin, so it doesn't accumulate on my counters.

Prepare for the next day during this transition time. Insert any notes, etc., into backpacks, pack lunches, write your "to do list" for tomorrow. Now you are ready to prepare dinner.  Refer to the menu plan that you made at the beginning of the week. Because you went grocery shopping for an entire week's worth of dinners, you can switch and choose whatever meal you feel like preparing for that night. It doesn't matter which one you choose, because you have the ingredients on hand for all of your dinners. Though do keep in mind to use the most perishable items first.

After dinner you want to establish a set routine for clean up. Who does the dishes? Who wipes down the table?  If your kids are younger, now is a good time to get them ready for bed.  Again, establish a routine. Clothes go in this hamper, floss before you brush, etc. The same routine, in the same order every day. Sounds BORING, IT IS! But, it is also FREEING. Kids crave consistency and routine, it makes them feel secure knowing what is expect of them, and what will happen next in their day.  

If you tackle each task as it presents itself in the day, things "to do" will not build up. You end up having free time to relax and enjoy, your quiet time or family time. If you don't pick up the mail when you drive past the mailbox, and you don't check backpacks and prep for your next day when you have those items in your hand, you are going to have to backtrack. Backtracking wastes time. Precious time to enjoy with family and friends and precious time to sleep.

   Bedtime Routine: On the topic of sleep, did you know that a 100 years ago people sleep 8-9 ½ hours a night. What has changed? We work longer, we have our kids involved in more activities, our homes are a blaze with bright lights, TV's, and computers are on all evening long.  How can your body relax enough to sleep with this much stimulation? 

   Sleep, unless you are ultra-exhausted does not happen instantaneously. You have to spend up to an hour doing relaxing activities to transition into sleep. The word transition is key. Transition requires time, and because we over fill our schedules and are unorganized, we don't allow for the time in ours and our children's schedule for relaxation.  

You can be physically in need of sleep, but you will not fall asleep until your mind is also relaxed. So, how do you get a good night's sleep?  Establish a bedtime routine that you begin at the same time each night. This routine needs to start a least an hour before you want to fall asleep. Read a book, watch the news, take a bath, talk on the phone with friends, have a conversation with your spouse or kids. 

If you wrote down your “to do list” for the next day earlier, and took care of all the sorting and cleaning that needed to be done when you arrived home, you shouldn't have anything preoccupying your mind.  Preoccupations can cause anxiety that will prevent or disturb sleep.  If you think of something else you need "to do" tomorrow, don't fret about it, just add it to your list.  A “to do list” can be very calming. It presents you with a structure for your next day and insures that you will not forget to do something important. 

To signal to your mind and body that is time to get ready for sleep dim the lights. Some people's bodies are more light sensitive and need to be exposed to less and less artificial light as their bedtime approaches or their bodies will not release the hormones needed to induce sleepiness. Computers, because of how close you sit to the monitor, can be too stimulating to use before bedtime. Also, avoid caffeine after, whatever time in the afternoon that you find it will affect your sleep. You might need to cut off caffeine after 12pm or you might not need to cut it off until 3pm. You should ask yourself on nights you have trouble falling or stay asleep: how much, and at what times did I have caffeine?  

  How do you know if you had enough sleep? When you wake up before your alarm rings and you are refreshed. Keep moving back your bedtime 15 minutes a night until you wake up naturally at the time you need to rise.

Life truly is simpler when you establish routines. You do need to slow down for a moment and step back from your life, and really look at the workings of your day to decide which routines work and which ones do not. With a little tweaking and a lot of determination things can run more smoothly in your life and you can have time to socialize and relax.
copyright 2012

2 comments:

  1. Love these ideas! With our kitchen remodeling, it's helped me re-evaluate a lot of what I have. I'm sure I'll still be moving things around for awhile, but it's so much nicer than it had been (and cleaner!). We also went out last night to specifically purchase items for specific spots in the kitchen. It's oh so nice!

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  2. Organization in the kitchen is essential to cooking. It makes it sooo much more pleasant. Good Luck with your kitchen!

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