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How to Stay Organized When You Hate Making Lists

I love lists. They are ridiculously satisfying to write. They’re not so much fun to follow through with — especially during a busy work week like the one I just had. If you’re like me, you may have started your weekend routines before you made the list and then, halfway through, decided to make one that included all of the things you’ve already gotten done. That’s not cheating. That’s just feeling better about yourself since you actually did accomplish something.

Routines help me when I am not in the mood for a list. For instance, every Saturday I clean the stove in the kitchen. We try mightily to get the dishes done right after we’re done eating, but we have been known to go a few days when everyone is busy and not eating a dinnertime meal together with a few dirty dishes piling up on the countertop. Even when that happens, by Saturday morning I’m ready to get going on projects and housekeeping. I know that this particular routine will do just enough to get me in the mood to get other things done.

Since I’m a sometimes list-maker, I thought I’d offer a few other tips on staying organized for those who hate making lists. Naturally, it’s in the form of a list. Sometimes I can’t break a bad habit, you know?

1. Write out one thing — just one — that you’d like to get done. Sometimes I take a tiny sticky note and post it on my refrigerator so that I know that that’s the thing that has to be complete. I may write BATHE DOG or VACUUM UPSTAIRS on it and that lets me know that if I can only get one thing complete then this is the one thing. When I know I have errands to run that will keep me from being at home to clean, this makes me feel fulfilled. For the record, EAT AN ENTIRE CHEESECAKE, isn’t allowed to be on that list.

2.  No cleaning, just purging. Take a day to just purge. If your goal is to keep organized then it’s probably a good idea to decide what should stay and what should go. Make this a day when you throw envelopes away that bills came in or start a bag of donated clothes from the entire family. On days when I think I have too much to do and that I’ll be overwhelmed, I start getting rid of things that are clogging my life. It’s good to de-clutter at least once every six months or so.

3. Pick a side. This one worked well with my children when they were younger and had lots of toys and books in their rooms. I would tell them to pick just one side of the room to clean. They could clean the other side the next day if they wanted, but this worked because it basically just started their engines and once they got to cleaning they decided just to finish. Of course, I have that one obstinate child who never liked to finish so I would go in and help, but it works well for me, too. When I look at the living room or dining room or even my messy after-a-busy-week bedroom, I tell myself to pick one side to work on and even if that’s the only thing I get done I feel better about it.

4. Look for inspiration. There are a few online stores and websites and Pinterest boards I look to for motivation to get things done. The things that inspire me are always with clean lines, interesting uses of space, and neatly organized. Since it’s easy to get lost online at these places I go directly for what room I’m working on and give myself no more than 10 minutes to search. If I can’t decide which room to begin with, I start searching right away. Once, it was simply a dresser with an interesting array of perfume bottles that boosted me to clean off the top of my dresser and, before I knew it, I dusted, folded clothes, and got another load in the washing machine.

5. Use a calendar or your smartphone to stay on-task. My smartphone is my reminder for everything from doctor’s appointments to picking up children to sending an e-mail to a friend. When someone is telling me that their favorite band is playing at a festival I whip out my phone and make a note of it right away. Using Siri on my iPhone has been an incredibly easy way to stay organized so I don’t miss things like Parent/Teacher conferences or picking up my dry cleaning.

My life is far from the perfection of Martha Stewart or the boards I see on Pinterest. But making this list just now is helping to spur on my efforts to wake up tomorrow on a Saturday and try to get through my weekend with a few things I can list as DONE by the end of the weekend.

What am I missing on this list? Could I be managing my time even better? What kinds of things do you do to keep organized?

Photo credit to Cat Sidh

Read more from Kelly at her personal blog, Mocha Momma

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More of Kelly on Mocha Momma Has Something To Say: Read her Organizational series with Home Depot here.

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