6 things I (try to) do every day to keep things running smoothly

Monday, January 15, 2018
I have been trying to live life in a more focused and mindful way (my words of the year!) by cutting out multitasking and keeping my eyes on the prize, making sure I take care of myself and don't make myself busy at the expense of making myself happy. There are a few things that I have always done randomly when I want to be more organized/keep my life put together that I am trying to implement every day or at least consistently, to keep my life and our household running smoothly.

Now, an important disclaimer: I am not perfect. I do not always remember or make time to do everything. In fact, a lot of the time, only one or two things get done each day – but when everything works out and everything goes as planned, my day goes a lot better and I feel a lot less pressure to get a lot done in not a lot of time! Planning ahead and making time for small tasks takes away the urge to multitask and rush and not take care of yourself, later!

Here are the five things I push hard to do every day so I can keep my productivity high and my stress level low.

1. Every night, I sit down and plan out the next day.

This is a no-brainer for me and unless it's a weekend, I always make time for this. I ordered a Day Designer planner and this has been a great system for me. I make a list of everything I need to do and then block out time for it around my meetings – making sure to leave time for random tasks and the inevitable projects or assignments that come up during the day and need to be done ASAP. 

This can be as small as "Put frozen chicken in the fridge to dethaw for dinner by 9 am" or "Start the breadmaker at 3 pm for pizza dough." Just knowing what my day holds makes me wake up with a lot less holding me down.

2. When I say I'll do something or am asked to complete a task, I write it down

This is my worst flaw: I say yes to everything, but I don't write it down so I don't remember I ever said yes to it. What's the good in offering to help people or participate in a project if you totally forgot you offered? So, I am working hard to make sure I add things to my Day Designer to do list or to Trello when things come across my desk – whether in an email, a text message or a Slack message, or in a conversation with a person in real-life. I take a lot of notes in my bullet journal and on sticky notes, and then I make sure the notes get somewhere where they won't be lost.

3. I throw a small load of laundry in the washing machine every day.

Patrick looked at me once and said, "Does it feel like we are always doing laundry?" Well, that is because we are. I try to do one load a day and put it away, because I hate folding and putting away laundry in huge batches. Small batches here and there are way less horrifying.

4. I let the dishwasher run overnight and empty it first thing in the morning.

Nothing holds me back more than knowing my sink is overflowing with dirty dishes. Or knowing that my favorite coffee mug is still dirty. I hand wash most of my pots to make sure they last as long as possible (they are All Clad and super nice, I baby them!) as well as my nice knives that I got for Christmas, and I try to do that every night before I go to bed if it didn't get done after dinner (usually it does, love you, Patrick!) and make sure the dishwasher runs while we're asleep, then unload it in the morning or early afternoon while I'm making something to eat. 

5. I set an alarm to be in bed an hour before I really need to be asleep.

This is huge for me. Days when I fall into bed and go straight to sleep are days when I probably didn't get to read, or plan out the day ahead, or have some time to myself to think and snuggle with Theo before I go to sleep. Our bedroom is (mostly) my happy place: 99% of the time, I don't work in bed, I only read and journal and plan. So, that hour before I go to sleep is a great time for me to make sure I start my next morning happy and in control. And of course I have to make time to read! My books are taking over my house!

6. I delegated tasks that I hate and take me more time than they're worth.

I got two things for Christmas that were huge for me: A Roomba and a food processor. 

Why I got a Roomba: I hate to vacuum, and I would put it off for days and days and days until it took hours to get all of the fur and Theo dirt up off the floor. Now, I vacuum three to five times a week and just let Roomba do the work in the mid-afternoon or morning when we're not up to anything. All I do is pick up Theo's toys and bones and call it a day.

Why I got a food processor: I love to cook, so getting pots and pans and a Crockpot were just ways for me to cook more, not to make something I hate easier. But I HATE the time it takes to do prep work! Using my food processor to cut onions, peppers, even tomatoes and spices makes my life 1,000 times easier and cuts the time I spend chopping things in half. 

I also ask Patrick to fold laundry and load the dishwasher after I cook dinner – two things I hate to do – as his share of the household work. And he doesn't mind that nearly as much as he minds things like cleaning bathrooms, which he hates and I don't mind at all! So it works out.

Basically, my strategy for this is: Determine a few tasks you hate, and figure out what you can do about those tasks to take them off your to do list entirely or make them easier, at least. For example, do you hate grocery shopping? Consider using an app like Instacart or pickup at your local grocery store so someone else shops for you – there's a fee, but if you'd be able to dedicate time to something more important to you, it's worth it. Do you hate cooking? Use a Crockpot and whip up some dump meals. 


Those are my strategies for being more focused on my goals in 2018! What do you do every day to keep your life and your house running smoothly? I'd love more tips!


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