How to avoid being both messy and late (part 1)

Sheila Chandra - Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Are messiness and lateness related? Often they’ll show up together and create a nasty vicious circle that it’s hard to break out of. Here’s how they can gang up on you and what to do about it...

How being messy and late are related

Being perpetually late for things will tempt you to leave your house in a mess as you rush to make that appointment or deadline. And the mess in your space will leave you tripping over items you don’t need and battling through them against the clock to find the ones you do, creating even more mess, and even more time crunches. Both of these experiences leave you convinced that you don’t have the time for something as mundane and unimportant as ‘tidying up’. And so the circle of life (for your mess anyway) is perpetuated… Once this pattern is established, clutter can seem almost like a virus that gets a grip on you and finds a way of producing more ‘colonies’ over time, until it is strangling your whole house.

The first step to avoiding being messy and late altogether

Being in this situation feels awful. So, here’s how to break the cycle. First of all, steal a little time on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon when you’d normally be relaxing. Just half an hour. You’ll probably feel a bit resentful about this, when you’ve rushed around in chaos all week, but it’ll be worth it, I promise. Get yourself a pen and paper, and walk around the house listing the all the tasks you do in the morning. Yes, the really basic ones you do every day, like ‘get dressed’, ‘make packed lunches’, ‘make breakfast for family’ etc. Creating more time and flow around these often repeated tasks is what is going to pay big dividends in terms of your mental peace in the morning.

Make things easy for yourself

Now pick one of these tasks, such as ‘make packed lunches’ and re-arrange everything you need in order to do that in a single efficient workstation, as if you were working in a factory and being timed on every lunch that you do. In fact, if you were paying someone else by the minute to make your lunches you’d want them to be that well organised. Imagine that you’re organising their workstation. Every item you need should be placed within arms length of the task. So perhaps you want to put the bread bin by the fridge, with the butter, and the sandwich bags in the drawer beneath, and the lunchboxes on top of the fridge, and clear a bit of counter space for your bread board, and put the sweet snacks, and small cartons of juice in the cupboard above. Take a few minutes to organise this.

Learn an essential habit to avoid being messy and late

Next time you’re doing your packed lunch, you’re going to find it much easier to get the task done quickly, but I’m going to ask you to incorporate one more trick. Use some of the time you’ve gained to clear up the crumbs afterwards and put the sandwich bags back in the drawer and the bread back in the bin etc. In other words allow a few seconds to leave the workstation as you found it.

Work your way through your list of tasks that make you late

Once you’ve got the hang of this for a week, and enjoyed the extra time it creates for you, you can use another stolen half hour the next weekend to organise another workstation around another task. Don’t forget to leave time every morning to maintain the new workstation at the end of the task. Over the course of three or four weeks, your mornings should become much more peaceful and efficient.

Next time, I’ll talk about how to solve your time deficit from the ‘top down’…

To learn more about how to avoid being messy with absolutely no effort download an excerpt of ‘Banish Clutter Forever’. It’s a much more peaceful way to live…

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