Do you have any fun ‘efficiency rules’ that you live by? I have a couple and I was chuckling to myself about them the other day as I was reading The Happiness Project (a book which I pick up every few months and flip through for inspiration). The author and I have a few quirks in common, though I have much to learn from her.
So, family and friends who are reading this post – no judging when you come over and my house is not tidy… but for the record, here’s what I try to live by:
1. Never leave a room empty handed. If I’m leaving the living room and on my way to the bedroom, I always scoop up some random pieces of miscellaneous knowing that I’ll be walking through the kitchen and by the girls’ room. Could be a pink shoe, a glass of water from the night before, a stuffed animal that needs to find its way home. Boy does it actually make a difference! Little by little a room unclutters itself.
PS I started this tradition by always picking up three things to take with me (read that somewhere) and it slowly grew into how-much-can-I-stuff-into-my-arms.
2. The one-minute rule. This one can be hard to follow (especially when you’re in a hurry or feeling quite lazy), but if any task takes under one minute to complete, it deserves to be done right then and there. That could mean shredding mail, filling out a permission slip or unloading a bag of groceries. This is one I’m still working on – so easy to leave that bag from the beach on the deck for a couple of days or toss shoes into the girls’ room rather than walk them over to the correct shoe bin – but I think it’s a good one to take note of.
3. Organized piles. This might be in direct contradiction to #2 in a few select cases, but I tend to save similar mundane tasks until there are several similar mundane tasks to tackle all at once. I call these my organized piles.
Papers awaiting filing are an excellent example. I have a pile going on the edge of my desk of work receipts and bills that is growing ever larger day by day – sure, I could file each one right away, but it makes more sense to me time-wise to let that little pile grow until it becomes an actual stack, and then I pull out my metal file cabinet from the first drawer on our bookshelf in the office and sort accordingly.
4. Straightening up before bed. There’s something so calming about starting your day with a fresh, clean slate. I like to do a walk through of our three main living spaces – the kitchen, dining room and living room – at the end of the night to pick up what might be out of place. Even if it means just clearing and wiping down the counters in the kitchen and filling up the sink with dishes awaiting their turn in the dishwasher (loading them is an even better bonus).
Command center that’s 10% as full as it usually is. And on any normal day there’s a diaper bag, briefcase, a couple of pairs of shoes, miscellaneous toddler clothing, etc gathering at its base…
Things I don’t mind include: visual clutter (school notices, birth announcements and paintings by Liv that fill up our ‘command center’ set of cork boards in the kitchen), anything stacking up in my office (this is my free zone – the space that I’m allowed to let unfinished projects rest and to throw a bag of to-be-sorted play clothes into), stuff in my car (no food or old wrappers, promise, but I actually don’t mind a few toys on the ground or bags of unopened fishies in the pocket organizer thing that hangs on the back of my seat. Just, you know, no melted crayons on the seat).
Gretchen Rubin, the author of The Happiness Project, notes that “one of life’s small pleasures is to return something to it’s proper place.” I would couple that with the feeling of satisfaction when walking out of a clean room. There’s just something so gratifying about it, no?
photo credit: middle and last by Katie Beverley