Do you struggle to keep a routine? Do you have your routine standards set to high? Is having or not having a routine stressing you out? I know for most of my life I have tried so many ways to get use to a routine. What comes to mind when you think of a routine? Brushing your teeth, taking a shower, eating breakfast?
While all these things are very much apart of your routine and you should definitely do them. Right now, we are going to focus on the not so obvious parts of a routine. The tasks that will help you stay on top of things so you don't end up with piles of dishes or loads of laundry to do all at one time.
Adding small tasks to your routine not only keeps you productive but keeps you motivated. Naturally, when we see a clean surface or complete a task our minds trigger the, "I want more of this," trigger. Signaling to your brain you are satisfied.
Do not treat these little things you do every day as trivial. Emptying the dishwasher, putting a load of laundry in, all while having a good mindset is something to be very proud of. There are so many things to do every day and we get overwhelmed that we need to do it ALL, but this is simply not true.
1. Know how long it takes you to complete tasks.
You can time yourself, but I can tell you that it takes me as long as it takes my toast to pop up out of the toaster to clean out the dishwasher. The first time I discovered this it started to change the way I look at all household chores.
Time yourself putting in a wash and you will be amazed at how long it actually took. I do smaller loads of laundry than I use to. If I know there is a small load in the dryer and it literally is going to take me 3 minutes to fold then it encourages me to do it. I find I am more likely to fold and put the clothes away if it is a more manageable pile.
Oh you know the eye role you give the dryer when it stops...NOPE, not right now you say out loud, I'll do it later, but you know that doing it right then is the only way you will ever get it efficiently done. If you wait you will end up turning the dryer on 3 times to warm your clothes back up before you get those close out to fold.
Try putting in a smaller load, you'll thank yourself later. Get in the habit of checking the laundry every morning, there are days I don't have a wash load but creating a habit of checking means you are more likely to do it when there is a load.
2. Create habits you do every single day.
Referring back to number one. Every morning I empty the dishwasher, every day I check the laundry, most every day I put in a load of wash.
Every night I start the dishwasher, wipe down the counters, stove and table and put away pots, pans and cutting boards that may be drying in the sink.
Throughout the day I look for small tasks that I can complete on my way to do something else. See more in Tip 3.
3. Clean up as you go.
I have mindfully made it a habit to clean up the kitchen as I cook. Wash pots, pans and mixing bowls while something is simmering or while waiting for the oven to beep.
Load the dishwasher with anything you can. Put away pots, pans and cutting boards that might be drying in the sink. If I clean up as I go I can spend about 10 minutes after dinner, not 30 minutes, and be on with my night.
Prepping for your meals and keeping it simple help with this as well. See my post on Minimal Time In the Kitchen - Planning Meals a Whole New Way.
There are plenty of places to clean up throughout the day, but sometimes, I understand you have to leave it for later. Focus on one thing at a time and then it will become natural to clean up as you go everywhere.
Cleaning up and putting things away becomes so much easier when you are organized. See my post on What Does "Being Organized" Really Mean?
Practice and train yourself, if you get up to go to the kitchen and half way there you realize you forgot your bowl you had your lunch in, turn around and go get it. You will not be happy about this at the time but believe me it will become a habit and eventually it will become automatic.
When I first started this method I started with the kitchen because that is where I spend most of my time.
4. Have a good mindset.
Tasks and chores can sometimes be daunting. Our thoughts and our attitude reflect how we accomplish the task and how we feel afterwards. If we fill our heads with, why do I always have to do this? Or, did nobody else see this dirty dish? The day and your mindset can take a turn.
We are not perfect and thoughts will inevitably creep into your head, but you don't have to keep them there. Just smile, remind yourself of the actual time it is taking you to complete the task and think about the way your clean and orderly space makes you feel.
5. Enjoy and Treat yourself for sticking to it.
Rewarding yourself for sticking to your tasks is a must. I really wish I could justify getting a Starbucks every time I folded and put away laundry, but sadly, I cannot. However I can justify once or twice a week for a Starbucks. I can justify lighting my favorite candle and letting that sucker burn filling up my house with its goodness of fragrance.
We must concentrate on the little things, dwell on them. What makes your day, your hour, your minute? Fresh flowers in the house, the smell of an all natural cleaner?
Reflect on what keeps you going, invest in those things, keep it simple and love the life you live.