Sure, I want you to go full out and organize EVERYTHING, but let’s be realistic.
We know that an organized space can save us time and bring happiness. I’ve got the solution for the greatest impact on your time and sanity when your schedule is insane: bare minimum weekly organizing schedule.
Let’s break down each day.
Monday – Trash & Floors
If you miss the Monday activities, that’s not going to kill you because Monday will come around again in 7 days. However, you might have a LOT of trash stinking up your house if you neglect to take it out of the house and into the dumpster. Trash collection day is Tuesday for us, so on Mondays I round up all the trash and then roll the dumpster to the curb. I usually have to take out the kitchen trash more than once a week, but if I do it at least once a week, I’m in a much better position to keep the house uncluttered and so are you.
Floors are another biggie. Go around with a basket and collect all the things on the floors that don’t belong there: trash, dirty laundry, games, legos (you know why!), bags, and books to name a few. All of these items should ideally have homes that they can be returned to, but if you’re just trying to establish a bare minimum survival edit then putting the items in a basket and placing the basket in a central location is better than nothing. (Except for the trash, but you figured that one out, right? It gets returned to its rightful home in the wastebasket.) You can’t mop or vacuum your floors when there’s clutter all around, so set yourself up for the possibility of cleanliness by making your floors accessible and safe to walk on at least once a week.
Tuesday – Meal Plan & Bills
I hate meal planning. Really, you can read about it here. However, meal planning can save you time and money at the grocery store, eliminate the number of random trips you’re making to pick up ingredients you forgotten, and save you TONS of energy when it comes to actually preparing your meals. I use a 4-week list, but even if you can get a 7-day list set up, you’re in for earned time, energy, and sanity.
Bills and paperwork can add up even after just a few days. The best way to stay on top of bills and paperwork is to deal with it daily. But, remember, this isn’t the best-case-scenario. This is how to survive when life is crazy and pulling you in a thousand directions. Give yourself a break by collecting all your mail in a “mail basket” that you’ll only touch once a week. At the minimum, grab the bills and pay them. If you have time, toss the junk mail, file the necessary paperwork, and begin the next 7-day collection with an empty bin.
Wednesday – Entryway & Shoes
No matter how old your family is, the entryway can make or break your entrance and exit of a home. If you can’t find your keys, your wallet, or your volleyball uniform, panic ensues and all-out riffling occurs. Don’t get caught in that drama. Declutter your main entrance/exit once a week to ensure speedy and easy passage.
Shoes go hand-in-hand with entryways. This is typically where most shoes get dropped and left for dead. If you can drop them in a basket or bin, you’re already 1000x better off than the person who lets them flop around as trip hazards. If you’ve got kids, tripping is the least of your worries. The separated pair of cherished glitter shoes can generate a massive meltdown. Put shoes (with their mates) in a designated area. Only keep shoes worn 5x a week hanging out near an entryway (if you must). All other shoes need to go back to the closets they came from, or at least to the owner’s bedroom.
Thursday – Laundry & Dishes
Laundry is the bane of our existence. No one really LIKES to do laundry. Ok, maybe some people. But for the most part, laundry is a stinky task that requires lifting, shifting, and folding stretched out over 45 minute segments. It’s hard to manage your time and REMEMBER to come back to swap loads, unless you’re sitting on top of the machine like you did in college with your econ book and highlighter in hand. To top it off, once the cleaning part is finished, the folding part looks just too hard. It’s a mountain that we just don’t want to climb. I totally hear ya.
But you have to do it. At least once a week. Probably more like two to three times a week if you want it to be EASIER. The biggest problem with laundry today is that people have too much of it – clean AND dirty. When you have enough outfits to get you through two to four weeks between laundering, you have a problem. You’re making laundry impossible. Dealing with the dirty clothes, washing and drying them, and then folding and returning to closets or drawers is a MUST. You’ll save a hunk of time daily when you know exactly what clothes you own and where they are (ready to wear vs. in the hamper). Clothes that get stuck in the Bermuda Triangle of clean clothes piles are worthless. They require additional ironing and a treasure map just to locate.
Dishes are another beast. Can I be brutally honest? If you want to avoid bug infestations, you’ve got to do this more often than once a week. Food is a magnet for mice and roaches. Do you really want them hanging out where you cook? Probably not. Clean up all food items within 24 hours of getting them out if not sooner. If dishes must sit on the counters or in the sink for over 24 hours, make sure they’re rinsed off very well. But I should tell you, you aren’t really saving time by avoiding the soapy part. When you’re living alone, you may only run the dishwasher once or twice a week. I’ve been there. But don’t forget to empty the clean dishes once the load is finished.
Friday – Counters & Tabletops.
Counters and tabletops are also magnets for clutter: snacks, stacks of mail, kids’ school projects, shopping bags, sewing projects, you name it. Clutter sticks to flat surfaces like white on rice. This is your BIGGEST battle --- even more than floors. If you clear your counters and tabletops WEEKLY, your space will have a dramatic improvement! Stress levels are most easily affected by piles and editing these items weekly will combat your stress levels like none other. In all fairness, the task of making decisions about all the random stuff you might find on counters and tabletops will be the hardest. So here’s your bare minimum plan: start with just one counter or tabletop a week until you can get through all of them in your home. Then when you’ve become a counter, tabletop ninja, work to clear ALL of them once a week.