I am an organized mind, living in a messy, tired, cluttered world. And unfortunately, the more disorganized my world becomes, the more disorganized my mind becomes. So over the last few years I’ve been looking for ways to improve the mess without going crazy.
I wouldn’t call our house dirty (though walking barefoot on a weekend will result in a fine crust of Cheerios on your toes) ok that’s pretty gross, I guess we are a dirty house. We’ve never really learned the art of putting things away when we’re done with them, it’s much more of a put it down right there and hope for the best situation.
And to make things infinitely more ridiculous, I have a nanny who works in our home 50+ hours a week keeping things tidy during the day, and a once a week housekeeper who does all the deep cleaning. So pretty much any issues with our home being cluttered or disorganized are completely our stupid, first-world-problem faults.
To be fair to us, we are at work a lot. During the winter it’s especially arduous because we’re both coaching, so every night there is only one of us at home for pre-bedtime hours. We leave at 7:15am and on a good day get home at 5:00. On a long/coaching/bad traffic day it can be 7:30pm. That’s 10-12 hours a day out of the house either working, coaching, in meetings, or just getting to and from the school. And most evenings it can be really hard to have any sort of productive time before the kids are in bed. We want to spend that time playing, making dinner and being a family. Once the kiddos are in bed, it’s a combo of being exhausted, wanting veg time, wanting to spend time together and looking around the house in disgust at our lazy messes.
It is becoming more and more common to just leave it for the people we pay to keep our lives running smoothly. I have no idea how we will function if we ever have to live full time without help. This will probably have a big impact on how long we live abroad. And unfortunately, as much as they can help keep things clean, they can’t decide what to give away, how to organize things or where things should be kept. Though, to be honest, if there was a way for me to just give the part of my brain that cares about stuff like that to Valya and let her sort it all out, I think we would both be happier.
For the longest time I tried for perfection. Dishes done after each meal, crumbs swept, living room cleared every night, shelves organized and counters mess free. But what I realized is that in order to achieve that, I had to sacrifice time with the kids, time with Ryan, or even getting some much needed “me” time every day. And to be honest, going to bed exhausted with a “perfect” house didn’t fill me with as much satisfaction as I hoped it would.
So my new routine is a bit of a compromise. I know that I need to chip away at the mountain of tasks, but a long to do list each day is too much.
I’ve been keeping a bullet journal for the last year and one of my favorite organizational strategies I discovered was the mind dump. When I get that overwhelming feeling that there are too many things needed to be done and I’m laying in bed with those thoughts instead of falling asleep, I know it’s time for a brain dump.
You just start writing, every little thought that has been recirculating in your brain. The best thing about this spread is that it’s not a list of things to do right now, it’s just a way to write down everything I’m thinking about. Some of the items are ideas for things to look into, some are things that need to be done, and others are little things that are taking up space in my brain. Once they’re down on paper it’s like my mind can finally relax because nothing is going to be forgotten, it’s all there for me to get things sorted when there’s time.
Every few weeks I do a new brain dump, empty all those scattered thoughts and come back to my list when I’m feeling focused and have the energy to get sh*t done. I try to organize the mind dump into different categories. That way when there’s extra time at work, I can look at my work list and get some things done. Same for personal and my biggest list, the home list. There are so many things that need to be done, and the list is continually growing, I know I will never completely finish it. What I’ve found works best is each work day to choose one small thing that needs to be done to organize our house and add that to my day’s agenda
It’s usually something that will only take about 5 min when I get home. This way I can chip away at that mountain, feel productive, but not get overwhelmed. And I usually wait till that morning to add my evening’s task, because some nights are busier than others.
Overall, my main goal with this strategy is to move away from complete laziness, while giving myself a break to enjoy my family and limited relaxation time.
Some weeks are really great and I get something done every day, and other weeks that same 5 minute task keeps getting migrated every day. And that’s ok. I don’t need to do everything right now. And the biggest truth I keep trying to remember is that my kids won’t need as much of my time in the coming years. In fact, every day they need me a little bit less. The household tasks will still be there in 10 years, my kid’s childhoods will not.
So if you’re looking to get super organized in a short span of time, this probably isn’t the strategy for you. This is a Bird by Bird strategy and for this stage of my life, that seems to be about all I can handle. And that is ok. No really Devin, repeat after me, it’s ok.