I have never been very good at the "big picture," and as a result, I have been plagued throughout my life with last minute tasks that seemed to have slipped my mind. I wake up late on an important day when I have to be at work early. My life lurches into overdrive as I try to find something appropriate to wear (that's clean), realize that I could have showered the night before and done something nice with my hair, and ignore chores that I was too tired to do the night before and promised to do in the morning.
My days did not start out well, and I often carried the agitation with me throughout the day. Thankfully, I took the first step. Now, I am slowly trying to improve the quality of my life with a little pre-planning. Here are tips that have enhanced my life 100%:
Since my house is more orderly, I think of things like cleaning drapes, washing my car and regularly cleaning out closets. And, since my last task of the day is to put away anything used that day, I need to have a place for everything, so this process has also de-cluttered my house. To stay un-cluttered, on Friday evenings, I choose an area, pull everything out, clean the area, and put back only what I really need to keep. The rest is given, sold or thrown away. This takes about an hour, on average, and is worth every second that is spent. This helps prevent what I call "Selective Sight," where I look past (without actually seeing) all the junk in a given area to the item I use regularly. Knowing that I will soon be cleaning out an area makes me really look at what is there and ask myself whether I need it or not.
In addition to a schedule, my husband came up with the idea to pay ourselves for the tasks we do. If there is more than one person in the house, this is a wonderful way to reward the one that cleans. We don't pay ourselves much. We pay $1 for a load of dishes, $3 for cleaning the bathroom, etc. It's just enough to feel rewarded for our effort.
Since I generally send a lot of Christmas cards, I also do about ten Christmas cards at each sitting as well. That way, by the time Christmas rolls around, my cards are done. I wait to address them in case of change of address.
In summary, if you are anything like I was a few years ago, this schedule may sound a little overwhelming, but I have never been freer! I can invite people into my home any day of the week and never have to say, "Please excuse the mess." My husband and I eat much better because our kitchen is regularly stocked with fresh food (cleaning the fridge, grocery shopping, and preparing the week's food are on the list). I have gotten rid of unnecessary clutter and items I don't need or use. I look professional and put-together every day for work, even if I woke up with just a half-hour until I have to be at work! I am certainly not perfect, and there are still weeks where nothing gets done. However, things never seem to get as bad as they were before, and it is pretty easy to get back on track since there is a system to it all. Best of all, my life is more peaceful and contented. I have time to think about the really important things.
The progress towards a quality life is very individual. If these tips can help anyone else, I'm thrilled. However, the goal should be to find what works for you in your own life.
"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money, please send it by mailto:MyStory@stretcher.com
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