6 ways to keep on top of things

If I had my way, our house would always be neat, clean and dust free. All of the drawers and cupboards would be organised and wouldn’t have anything out-of-date, unused or broken in them. The below quotation from William Morris sums up my ideal ethos really well:

If you want a golden rule that will fit everything, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.

Unfortunately life is busy and over the years that dream has become harder and harder to achieve, especially since the new family addition earlier this year. I’ve had to revisit my approach to keeping on top of things in the last few months and have found a few changes have made quite a big difference.

I suspect I’m not alone in finding it tough so here are my tips in case they can help anyone else:

  1. Make lists your friend: We’ve all used lists and used in the right way they can be one of the best tools available. But it’s important not to let lists dominate you; Making one of those incredibly long lists of ‘everything’ and trying to work from that will just result in a crying heap on the floor. What I do is create the following:
    • Themed ‘Everything’ lists: This is a list that outlines everything that needs doing for a particular ‘theme’ such as cleaning, shopping, finances etc. I have one long list of all the house chores that need doing regularly for example. Another one I have is a list of ‘One-Off’ tidying activities. They are pinned-up on our notice board so they are easily accessible but they aren’t lists I actively work from during the day;
    • A single ‘Right Now’ list: Basically this is my list for the current day. I try to keep this short and sweet with 3 – 6 tasks. This list is made up of items from the ‘Everything’ lists and any other ad-hoc tasks for that day.

    “Chores” list replaced every fortnight. It doesn’t get completed every fortnight but we do as much as we can and prioritise the rest on the next list.

  2. Things get in the way, get over it: Pre-parenthood I would often have a Sunday To-Do list of up to 20 things including cleaning, baking, gardening and everything else in between. By 9pm I’d have got 19 of 20 done and I’d feel disappointed! Even getting 1 or 2 things done these days can be a challenge and in the early days with H that would get me down. But I’ve learnt to accept that things come up which take priority and it’s not the end of the world if the clothes stay on the airer an extra day.

    2015-08-19 09.54.32
    They’ve been dry since yesterday morning. I’ll get to them eventually!

  3. Try to predict the future: I’m not talking about world events but just give some thought to what is going on through the week ahead so you can prioritise or organise with time to spare. If you have friends coming over that weekend and want the house to look like a bomb hasn’t hit it then you might want to schedule in a tidy of the lounge. Or if you do your shopping on a Saturday then think about what food you’ll need for the following week so the supermarket visit is quick and you know you have what you need when you’re trying to get dinner made quickly.

    2015-08-18 20.24.34
    I’m in the process of weaning H and she doesn’t eat everything yet. Until cooking for her becomes second nature, I build a rough plan of her meals for the week the weekend before. I do have to adjust it during the week but it means I have a reasonable chance of getting meals cooked and frozen in advance. It also means I know what to ask Sam to get from the supermarket.

  4. Do it, do it now: If a task just takes a couple of minutes then just do it now if you can; If it takes longer leave it and schedule it for another time. Once I have got H down to sleep at night all I really want to do is flop on the sofa. But I know that if I spend a few minutes (okay it’s more than 2 in this case) washing-up her dinner things and wiping down the kitchen then it’ll be easier to make dinner and I won’t still be tidying-up at 8:30pm (It’s my view that mess increases exponentially so if there is already some there you’ll make even more than you would in a clean environment!).

    So fold that top now rather than chucking it on the chair for later. Rinse the shower when you are done so it doesn’t need cleaning quite so soon. Make a note of things you need from the supermarket when you run out so you don’t forget (We have a list taped in the cupboard for this one and it has made a massive difference to the the completeness of our weekly shop). There are loads of little time savers out there if you just give something an extra minute.

    Shopping list that can be added to as necessary so things don’t get forgotten

  5. Don’t get distracted: Ever looked round the house at the end of the day and realised that you’ve left a trail of half finished jobs in your wake? Yep, me too. The reason is usually because I start doing one thing, spot something else and wander off without finishing what I started. A brilliant example is H’s 3-6 month clothes; I cleared her drawers out almost 4 weeks ago to put in her new 6-9 month attire but I only bagged up the 3-6 month clothes yesterday. They have spent the last month getting in my way in front of my wardrobe!

    2015-08-20 15.43.14
    The clothes finally got bagged up and are now waiting in the queue to make it up to the loft!

  6. Think small: This follows from the previous one really in as much as if a task is short and sweet you’re more likely to get it finished. One place I have found this helpful is our ‘Chores’ list. Rather than having a ‘Clean bedroom’ item, I have ‘Dust bedroom’ and ‘Hoover bedroom’. Whilst it seems a bit silly, the two things together take a good half an hour but doing the dusting is quick and then Sam can do the hoovering later on.

I’m sure a lot of this is just stating the obvious. But a lot of us quite often forget to do the obvious things so I hope this helps you make life a little better!

p.s. I’d like to draw this post to a close by saying that ‘Dust the bedroom’ has been on my ‘To Do list’ for almost a week and it’s still not done… *Sigh*

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About Me

About Me

Hello, I'm Angela. I'm Mum to two small people (5 & 2). I'm a Gardener, am houseplant obsessed and addicted to tea. By day I work in tech and also look after my littles. I'm trying to get our family to live a more sustainable life. I also have far too many opinions...hence the blog. You can read more about me here. You can also follow me on Twitter so you never miss a post. Hope you enjoy reading!

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