As soon as your kids' heads hit the pillow, what is your evening routine? Do you clean up, get ready for the next day, or simply just veg out in front of a screen with a glass of wine? The latter is a necessity at times, but nights like those don’t make you feel any better about the mess that awaits the next day. If your kids are anything like mine, the next day is probably starting at 6:50 am on the dot like clockwork, no matter how late I stayed up the night before.
I had a client that said “At night after bedtime routine, I just don’t know where to start!” She had Recognized the Overwhelm, and wanted to tackle the clutter in her great room, just staring back as the days went on. With a busy 2.5 year old running amok, she could barely tame the clutter snowball affect.
I reminded her of a wise saying:
“No effort forward is an effort wasted” - Unknown
Then, I gave her the following 5 Simple Steps to get started:
Once you have your plan, you are ready to dive in to Step #2:
2. Focus -
When actually diving in, have crystal clear focus on the area or category of items and set a timer.
Have you heard of the Pomodoro tecnhinque? My take on it is to simply set a timer for 25 minutes, and do not allow yourself to get off track from the task at hand. If your plan says that tonight you are going to tackle one pile on your kitchen table, then put the blinders on and only work on finding the proper home for everything in that pile until the timer goes off.
If some things in the pile need to go to the bathroom, and some to your bedroom, put those in piles near the door and take them at the end. If you take them during this focused time, you risk getting diverted to cleaning the bathroom sink or making your bed or the million other things that pull our attention.
When the timer does go off, take a 5 minute break to grab a drink of water or whatever you need to do to relax, and then you can start another 25 minute round of tidying with focus.
3. Sort, Sort, Sort - then Decide:
When jumping into any tidying project, first you want to set the stage in your room and have a corner or bag for things that will leave your house. An important step to focusing is perhaps doing a mass-sort right there, like these are school papers, and this is unopened mail, and so on.
Sorting does not mean to actually read those papers or open the mail - that comes later. This is just a high level sorting step where you put everything in buckets.
Only once you’ve sorted, then you can decide on what you are keeping in each category of items.
4. Reward yourself!
Have a relaxing cup of tea, watch a show or just take 5 minutes doing something you do to relax, spending time for YOURSELF to rejuvenate.
One of my fav guilty pleasures, Leah Remini It’s all Relative or fun videos on YouTube (WhatsUpMoms).
Simply repeat the next day. The key is setting aside the small amount of time and you will make huge strides.
Most people skip steps numbers 1 and 4 - do not skip those!
Formulating a plan and rewarding yourself are two steps that are critical for success. When you have a plan, even a small plan for the next few days, you will feel so accomplished at the end of it, I guarantee it. Also, if you don’t properly reward yourself, you are missing out big-time.
After implementing these 5 simple steps: formulating a plan, applying focus, sort-sort-sort - then decide, rewarding yourself, and hitting the REPEAT button, my client is breathing easier at night and having more of those unwinding wine-in-front-of-a-screen nights. Keep these simple steps in mind and you too can tame the clutter, start to live better and live life to the fullest.
Remember, no effort forward is an effort wasted. You got this.
Sarah is passionate about helping people transform family chaos into stress-free and happy living.