Get Organized with this Simple Daily Habit

how to be more organized how to declutter simple habit

Hey Friend!

A common thing I see in clients' homes is what I affectionately call the "dump zone." It's any area (and there may be a few of ‘em) where we dump the armloads of stuff we carry in from the outside world each day: mail, packages, shopping bags full of goodies, backpacks, purses, coffee mugs, keys, take out containers, or any other stuff that perpetually flows into our homes. It's typically a family affair too; we all love to drop our stuff in that area (usually a flat surface like a counter or table).

The problem is that we often don't deal with this stuff (I call this Processing) until it's oozing everywhere, company is coming over or the housecleaners are coming soon. And sometimes even those things don't persuade us to deal with it, because frankly, we don't even see it anymore because it's been there for ages and sorta blends into everything else.

(Side note: one of my favorite things that happens when working with clients is when I point out a pile of stuff and she looks 100% surprised that it's even there! Proof that we really do stop seeing our stuff. Our brains are hard wired to do this, so don’t feel like it’s just you. It’s not. We all get “clutter blind” to some extent.)

The fix to this messy problem is to develop the habit of dealing with the stuff within the first 5 minutes of walking in the door.

Here’s how to create this simple & effective habit:

*Now this may sound a little goofy, but I want to start us off on the right foot so indulge me for a second: if you need a restroom break first, go, but do not stop anywhere else while you come back to the drop zone. Trust me, if you walk away, you’ll get engrossed in something else. . . I know this because I do it all the time myself. It’s all about self management, my friend. No one is immune to a squirrelly brain.

  1. Ok, let’s do this! Grab your phone and set a timer for 5 minutes. Challenge yourself to see if you can stick to just 5 minutes. You might be surprised to learn that you finish before the timer goes off!

  2. On a flat surface, do a quick sort of the stuff. Your sort might go like this: this thing goes to Kid A, this stuff goes out to the garage, this goes in my closet, this goes to Kid B, these groceries go in the pantry, this mail is junk and goes in the recycling bin and this mail goes to the paperwork station.

    (Don’t have a paperwork station? Let’s fix that. Check out this post and this one too. Need more help? If you’re in Atlanta, contact me here. Outside Atlanta? No problem. See how I can help by clicking here. Slaying the paper monster is my jam. Weird, I know.)

  3. Put the stuff away that goes in the room you are currently in first. Then grab and armload of stuff that goes to an area of the house and go deposit it there. Putting things on beds or next to doorways is permissible. We’re not straightening the whole house, just processing the new stuff that came in.

  4. Enlist the family if they are home! Repeat step #3 until all the little sorted piles in the drop zone are GONE.

  5. Is there something still there? It’s because it doesn’t have a home yet. Ask yourself, “If I were going to look for this, where would I think to look?” Presto, there’s your answer. Do the thing that makes the most sense to YOU because YOU’RE the one that will be looking for it later!

By training ourselves to deal with the "new" stuff coming in right away, "drop zone" piles will quickly diminish and the whole space will feel lighter and clearer. This is a habit that everyone in the household can work on together. Aim for improvement, not perfection. It's a simple, fast and effective way create a more peaceful home.

If you build this 5 minute habit every day, I guarantee you will feel less stress and overwhelm in your home. It’s the perfect place to start when you are feeling like you don’t know where to begin.

Remember, YOU don't have to do all of this yourself, enlist the family to pitch in and take care of the household drop zone stuff too.

xo,

Lisa

How to Clean Your House for Guests FAST (a.k.a. The 40 Minute Speed Clean)

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How to Clean Your House for Last Minute Guests FAST (a.k.a. The 40 Minute Speed Clean)

 

Have you ever flat out refused to have people over because of your messy house? Do you always look for ways to meet up with people outside your home because you'd be too embarrassed to have people see how you live? If this rings true for you, I want to challenge you to push through this fear and let go of your perfectionism that is telling you everything has to be "just so." People are far less judgy then you think and good relationships are worth being a little uncomfortable for. (One of the key indicators of happiness is connecting regularly with other people.) 

So the next time someone announces they are going to drop by “in a bit” and your blood runs cold thinking of the mess before you, don’t sweat it. I’ve got you covered.

Let's go for GOOD ENOUGH. Clear out the main areas of your home where you and your guest(s) will hang out and forget the rest of the house. Seriously.

Don't let a mess get between you and your happiness. 

With these few tried and true steps, you can relax knowing your house will presentable in 40 minutes flat.  Just stick to the plan and don’t worry about the detail cleaning! We are going for PRESENTABLE not PERFECT.

 

Let's do this! 

 

FIRST THINGS FIRST. Set yourself up:

1) Put on some music

2) Use a timer on your microwave, oven or phone (but only if you won't be tempted to check other things)

3) Put your phone on airplane mode; turn off your tv

4) Do not check Facebook, text messages, email, etc.!! That can be your reward when you are done or after your guest leaves!

 

Your guests will probably hang out in your kitchen, your living room and may need to use your guest bathroom. These are the areas of FOCUS. If you have any extra time AFTER you’ve completed these areas, you can work on a few other areas that will make your house look even more polished (those tasks are at the bottom of this post).

 

(EACH TASK HAS AN ASSIGNED TIME LIMIT. TRY TO STICK TO THAT NUMBER EVEN IF YOU FEEL LIKE IT'S NOT ENOUGH. PROGRESS, NOT PERFECTION!!)
 

 

PART ONE: THE KITCHEN. Total cleaning time 20 minutes

 

Always work from left to right and top to bottom in any room you are cleaning/straightening. This is a massive time saver and will help you stay focused on the task at hand. Put your blinders on and don’t worry about the details. Just keep moving! This is not the time to rearrange your stuff, deep clean your counters or decide you need to swap out decor.

 

  1. Put dishes in the dishwasher or a sink full of hot soapy water. (4 minutes)

  2. Put away any food that is on the counters. (This makes a massive difference!) (3 minutes)

  3. Spray your counter tops with all purpose cleaner, let the spray do its magic for 2-3 minutes then wipe your counters dry (do not worry about the details just some quick swipes of all the flat surfaces will do) (4 minutes)  

  4. SIDENOTE: I love the less chemical laden and more natural cleaners I get delivered to my door each month from subscription service The Grove. Check them out here and get $10 off your first purchase. I've been using them for over a year and loooooove my subscription. #cleaningnerd #allaboutthefreshsmellingstuff

  5. If you have a kitchen table and usually sit there with company, be sure to spend an extra 2 minutes making sure it’s nice a clean. (3 minutes)

  6. Gather all trash/recycling and take outside, then replace garbage bag (4 minutes)

  7. Sweep the main crumbs up off the floor. (1 minute)

  8. Put out fresh dish towels. (1 minute)


 

PART TWO: THE LIVING ROOM/DEN. Total cleaning time 10 minutes

 

  1. Gather up coffee mugs/glasses/dishes and put in kitchen sink. (2 min)

  2. Put loose papers, newspapers, magazines, books etc. in one pile, ideally in a basket or tray (2 minutes)

  3. Refold couch throw blankets and fluff pillows (3 minutes)

  4. Pick up anything on the floor and toss into a basket or bag (SORT THESE LATER) (2 minutes)

  5. Spray a touch of all purpose cleaner on a rag/paper towel -- I love this one --and wipe end tables and coffee table (1 minute) 

 

PART THREE: THE GUEST/MAIN BATHROOM: Total cleaning time 10 minutes

 

  1. Gather up all wet, used towels and toss in laundry baskets. Put out 1-2 fresh towels. (3 minutes)

  2. Put away anything on the counters (even if you usually leave stuff out). Fresh clean surfaces look far tidier than items left out. (2 minutes)

  3. Grab some glass cleaner and spray the mirror at eye level (don’t clean the whole mirror unless it’s pretty small), then spray the counter and sink, then spray down the toilet lifting up the lid and seat and floor around the toilet. (30 seconds)

  4. Fold a cleaning rag/2-3 paper towels in half and then into quarters. Following the same pattern that you sprayed the glass cleaner, wipe down the mirror, then the counter, then the sink using an "S" pattern (buffing in circles spreads the dirt around instead of lifting it up and off). Use a fresh quarter of your rag/paper towels as you move on to the next surface so you always have a clean section of rag to work with. Finally, wipe the toilet down starting with the tank, then the lid, then the seat and finally the floor. Give the toilet a quick swish with your toilet brush and toss the used rag in the laundry or trash if you’ve use paper towels. (4 minutes 30 seconds)

  5. Take out the trash as you leave the room. (1 minute)

 

Total time spent: 40 minutes

 

WHEW!!! I know I had you hustling there but 40 minutes of focused work can make your whole home feel freshened up and tidy(er).

How do I know that this takes 40 minutes? Because I've timed myself! Yup, sometimes I need a kick in the rear too so I created my own plan to follow myself. :)

 

If you have a few extra minutes, these next few tasks make a big impact with very little effort:

 

  • Open two windows (regardless of the weather) for at least 5 minutes. Ideally, opening two windows on opposite sides of a room to create a nice cross breeze. Fresh air makes everything smell and feel cleaner.

  • Sweep the kitchen (5 minutes)

  • Do Just The Basics vacuum of the living room (5 minutes)

  • Spray your front door/s with some cleaner and wipe up the smudges and fingerprints (3 minutes)

  • Sweep your porch (3 minutes)

  • Toss any dead/dying plants or floral arrangements (3 minutes)

  • Add a bowl of fresh fruit to your kitchen counter (2 minutes)

  • Put on some fun music (3 minutes)

SMELL: A fresh smelling scent can fool us into thinking a space is cleaner than it is! Try one of these quick tips:

  • Light a softly scented candle (being mindful that some people are sensitive to strong smells

  • Put a few drops of your favorite essential oils in your aromatherapy diffuser. Here are some of my absolute favorite combinations to diffuse:

  • Minty Clean: Lemon + Peppermint (5 drops each)

  • Spa Zone: Eucalyptus + Lavender (5 drops each) (smells like a spa treatment!)

  • Connect + Relax: Lavender + Rosemary (5 drops each)

  • Warm + Cozy: Orange + Clove (5 drops each)

  • Clean Home: Lemon + Lavender (5 drops each)

  • Use your favorite!

 

That's it! I hope you take me up on my challenge and push yourself a bit to have people over if you don't normally do that. Leave a comment below and tell me how it goes. 

Big hugs and high fives-

Lisa

PS Don't forget to grab the  $10 off your first purchase coupon when you join the amazeballs subscription to The Grove. I am seriously obsessed with all of my products from them and the subscription is super duper easy to switch up, with no pressure to purchase whatsoever. Love that. This is not a sponsored post, I just love to support eco friendly products that make life more fun! 

How to Set Goals You Will Actually (want to) Achieve

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Hey Lovely! 

Are you a self-help book enthusiast like me? If you are, then you know there a countless books on goal setting. I've read a ton of them, partly because I enjoy reading self help books, but if I'm being honest, mostly I read them because I think I should (argh that word should be deleted from the English language) be better at creating goals and achieving them.

 

I'm surrounded by people who live and breathe daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly goals. They thrive chasing some predetermined number; whether it's dollars, pounds or minutes, they are going to CRUSH that number and ACHIEVE that goal.

 

I am not built like that. I've tried to be. I'm just not.

 

I'm more of the open ended, live life day-to-day, things happen as they are supposed to sorta person. Yet, I want to be my best self and push/cajole/entice myself in a way that gets me out of my comfort zone. These two things are often at war in my head.

 

I think, "I'm going to achieve X goal. I'll map out everything, break it all down and then schedule it out so that I don't have to think about what's next, I'll just do it. Once it's all scheduled out success will be mine and I'll FINALLY be like all my goal crushing colleagues!

 

ENTER: Project Better Me.

 

Project Better Me looks like this:

 

1) Brain dump out all ideas using a lot of different colored pens and nice paper.  I love color coding things.

2) Sort ideas. I love sorting and categorizing. I used to be a librarian! 

3) Pick one or two main ideas and then list out what needs to happen.

4) Plot them out on my calendar with deadlines; add reminders.

5) Do day one of assigned task, feel confined and cranky because my inner rebel/perfectionist doesn't like be told what to do. Do it anyway.
 

>>>>>6) Day two, ignore entire project, find something new to work on that has suddenly gained MASSIVE IMPORTANCE in my brain, kinda like cleaning your grout when there is a paper due in the morning.<<<<<<<
 

7) Beat self up for sucking at following own plan. Ditch plan. Possibly eat some french fries.

 

As you can see, steps 1-5 work. Every time. I feel better when I do this, it gives me a ton of clarity and energy to figure out a path forward on something I want to do. I teach my clients how to do this. It’s actually pretty fun to do.

 

The problem is #6. That inner voice is an idea killer. It creeps in and tell us “why bother” “this is going to take forever” “everyone else is doing this better I must suck” etc.. When we believe that voice, we can go from gung-ho to paralyzed in a split second. I know you know what I'm talking about. That, my friends, is perfectionism speaking. If I can’t do it perfectly, then why do it at all?

 

So how do you get around this persistent roadblock?

 

Break it down. Is the next step scary or super uncomfortable? Do I need some emotional support to do it? Can I reward myself somehow? Is the result of me NOT doing it going to have a negative consequence? (Think about how you are motivated--with rewards or negative consequences. This is valuable information about yourself!) If you need it, ASK FOR HELP. This is not a sign of weakness!!

 

Micro-steps are where it’s at. We want to make major dents in our progress so we will be motivated to keep going, right? The fact is, if make our goals TOO big, we get intimidated (hello, Perfectionism) and don’t start or get past the first couple of days. That’s why making micro-steps, or teeny tiny daily goals are far more helpful. Want to declutter your home? Start with committing to spending 15 minutes a day decluttering one tiny area of one quadrant of one room per day. Nope, I’m not exaggerating. Pick ONE drawer on one side of your kitchen per day. Spend 15 minutes on it. Move from drawer to drawer to cupboard to countertop to appliance...each day just picking one small area to work on. In a month, you will have a totally decluttered kitchen. Can you do it faster? Yeah, you can. But will you if you haven’t done it up until now? Ehhhhh...probably not. Micro-steps are not glamorous but dang, do they WORK.

 

Keep an accomplishment list. You know that to-do list you have that you cross your stuff off of? (And if you don’t, I highly recommend that you do!!!) On the bottom of that list, I want you to write down the stuff you’ve accomplished. Yes, it can seem redundant if you’ve already crossed things off, but trust me on this one, rewriting those items and adding in allllllllll the other things you did that weren’t even on your origianl list will be a major eye opener for you. You, my friend, get far more done each day than you give yourself credit for.

 

Recognize you WILL deviate from the path, it’s part of the journey. If we think about it, it’s crazy that we ditch our goals when we have an off day, week, or month. Life is unpredictable. Sometimes we make choices that don’t support our goals but don’t make those choices mean more than they do. Cut yourself some slack, try to take the emotion out of it (I know, easier said than done) and KEEP GOING. You ate the candy bar? Ok. It’s a choice you made. It’s not the end of the world, nor is it the end of your path to your goal. Don’t throw in the towel and make your way through your entire Trader Joe’s stash of treats. You went bananas at your favorite store and bought a ton of stuff you don’t really need? Ok. It’s a choice you made. You can return things, give some other stuff away or just enjoy your new stuff. It’s ok. Keep going on your path to decluttering your house. Learn from the decisions you make but don’t give them more power than they deserve.

 

Understand that perfectionism is a very persuasive voice in your head who is not at all interested in your best interests. Her role is to keep you “comfortable” where you are, not improving, not stretching, not growing into your full potential.  Do you remember the fable of the boiling frog? If you put that (poor imaginary) frog in a pot of boiling water, she’ll jump right out, but if you put her in tepid water and slowly raise the temperature of the pot, she will be accustomed to the change and not realize she’s being boiled to death. Ok, that is one seriously morbid parable but it is a good point. Don’t let perfectionism be your pot of water!!

 

Make yourself accountable. Find a buddy who is also tackling something tricky and ask if you can be accountability buddies. Check in with each other often and report how it’s going. This is strictly for encouragement so be sure to pick someone who is a good cheerleader! I joined an accountability group and we all share what we are working on each week and then report on what we've done. It's super helpful to be able to share wins AND share what we're stuck on. Ain't no shame in that game! Start a group, join a Facebook community, email your best friend or tell your dog what you're doing this week. Just do it. You'll be amazed at how helpful it is. 




 
Now it's your turn.  Do you struggle with goal setting or you a goal crusher?  Comment below !

 
I believe in YOU.  

xo,
Lisa