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It’s one of those little habits you can develop a little bit at a time, and grow it until it encompasses a lot of what you do and makes your life much easier.

How many times in a day do you notice some little thing that would take 2 seconds to attend to, and you leave it, ignore it, walk past it, or just get annoyed by it?  Lots?

Here are some examples. 

- You look at the floor and it appears dirty, and you think it will take over an hour to do a full vacuum, but you could just take a minute to pick up the bits of fluff and dirt you can see, and use a dustpan and brush for that little pile of cornflakes on the kitchen floor.  It won’t hurt you, and you’ve removed the most obvious distracting signs of dirt.

- You dump a new pile of papers on your desk, and notice that the last pile of papers you dumped there is still there.  There could be people living in that pile before too long.  But you could just take a few minutes to sort the stuff into folders, open the mail, read some items that can have a decision made and be dealt with very quickly, and take that coffee cup to the kitchen with you.  It might hurt a little bit at first, but it’s only a few minutes of your life, and it will grow on you.

- As you’re doing the dishes you give the stove top or the oven a quick wipe.  Ok, it may only make a small difference if it is really dirty, but if you make this a habit anyway, well, you see what I mean.

- You open your email and find an overwhelming number of new ones, added to the ones you didn’t get to yesterday.  You can get depressed, complain that people are sending you time wasting stuff, feel guilty that there are important things in there you know you need to attend to, just look at the interesting ones, or, you can make a new habit.  1.  Delete all the rubbish.  2.  Pick one email, the most important one that needs attending to, and attend to it.  Make a decision, look up information if you need to, and reply.  Keep going for as long as you can stand, but do at least one, the most important one, every day.  (My next article is about managing emails).

- Put things away when you have finished with them.  This is so simple, and yet we so often ignore it.  Hang up your coat, take your dishes to the sink, put away the tools properly after you have finished using them, put the TV remote back in it’s correct spot, put the phone back on the charger.  And insist that your kids do these simple things too.  Really!  I believe its good parenting both to set an example and to insist your kids develop these simple habits, just as you teach them to say please and thank you.

- When you come home in your car, empty it of everything that does not belong there immediately, every time.  Keep a stash of rubbish bags or a basket in there if you need to.  Carting 5 children here and there with jackets, hats, backpacks and so on, I have an astonishing amount of stuff to cart in and out of the car several times a day.  I insist each child carries what they can of their own belongings.  They get used to it, as do you.

- When you bring your shopping inside, put it all away, in the right places, immediately.  A tedious job I know, but it has to be done sometime, and right now is the best time to do it, unless you have an emergency nappy to change first or something.

- If you have young children, you get mountains of artwork, whether made at home or at childcare or pre-school or kindergarten.  It can be a difficult and overwhelming task to sort it all out and decide what to keep, but if you always name and date each piece as it arrives, your decision making will be easier.  I’ll write another article all about sorting children’s art and school keepsakes etc.

- When you get undressed for bed, make a decision about each item of clothing on the spot.  Does it need to be washed?  Put it straight in your washing bag or basket.  Is it ok to go another day?  Those without small children with sticky fingers can often get more than a day out of a pair of jeans.  Then place it neatly in your designated spot, perhaps a chair or a shelf in your room, and while you’re at it, choose the rest of your clothes for tomorrow!  No more rummaging through piles.  When you need to do the washing you don’t have to make any decisions.

- Remember, it’s all about decision making.  If you know where something goes, or you only have to think about it for a few seconds, DO IT NOW!!

- Just between you and me, - as I mentioned I’ve been Ill and struggling lately, and my desk is where our whole world is managed from.  I had not yet signed camp permission forms for my daughter, and she needed them quickly.  I said “the school notice folder is on my desk”.  She found it and brought me the form to sign.  I looked sadly at the stuff piling up, and wrote myself a big note and stuck it up on the PC.

The note says:  Pick 1 thing
  Do some filing
  Take away things that don’t belong here
  Put things in their spot
  Deal with 1 piece of paper

It might sound silly, but sometimes I just need to have a little talk to myself to stop myself from running away from a scary situation, like my desk and how it can look half a day after I had it perfectly organized.  Picking one thing and doing it is my little trick to overcoming inertia.

I have an appointment tomorrow for my eye test, to get my new multifocal glasses and reading glasses to go over my contacts.  I’m hoping that this will lead to me finally finishing reading (and of course taking notes on) the book I have been trying to read: Getting Things Done by David Allen, which discusses one of my favourite topics – using lists.  It’s ever so full of corporate speak, so I’m hoping I can take some good information and ideas from it and translate them into something accessible to more people (like me). 

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#2 Noon 2012-11-16 21:10
It has taken this long for me to sort out my emails and paperwork.
Thanks a lot for sharing your knowledge.
#1 Elinor 2010-10-31 05:36
Just found this site and it speaks absolute volumes to me. Everything I read, I just say "thats me, thats me". One of my biggest problems is that I don't put things away after myself and neither does my family. Thank you so much for the motivation this letter has given me. Take care.


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