6 Strategies to Help You Build Routines That You May Not Have Used Before

6 strategies to build routines

 

Creating and maintaining routines can be crucial for stability and productivity. Non-traditional methods to establish and sustain routines involve approaches that might be less structured but highly effective. Variety builds interest and sustains the habit as a result.  Building routines in a non-traditional way involves creating structures and processes that are innovative, flexible, and tailored to individual needs.

 

Use Environmental Cues

Create cues in your environment to trigger specific actions. For instance, leaving your workout clothes by the bed can prompt you to exercise in the morning. Placing a book on your pillow can signal that it’s time to read before sleep. Pick one habit you want to continue or begin and place a visual cue at the spot where this routine occurs.

 

Incorporate Variety Within Structure

While routines provide structure, they don’t have to be as repetitive and boring as you might think. Incorporate variety by rotating tasks or adding an element of choice within the routine. This prevents boredom and keeps things fresh while maintaining consistency. You can use this strategy with healthy eating, by eating an apple one day and a pear the next. Both have positive health values and give you options for healthy eating. Slight variations prompt you to keep the structure with interest.

 

Gamification of Systems

Utilize elements of games or challenges to structure routines. Introduce points, rewards, or levels within the system to motivate and engage users. This can make tasks more enjoyable and incentivize productivity.  Create a point system and assign points for achieving certain milestones. For instance, you might award yourself points for each mile or kilometer completed, with bonus points for consistency (e.g., extra points for walking every day in a week). You define the levels and rewards linked to the action. Your rewards might look like this.

    • Level 1 (50 points): Reward yourself with a relaxing bath or your favorite treat.
    • Level 2 (100 points): Purchase a new workout outfit or equipment.
    • Level 3 (200 points): Plan a fun outing or a weekend adventure.

Use a tracking system such as an app, a physical chart, or a spreadsheet to log and see your points and progression. Make it visible and easily accessible so you can easily log data and see progress.

 

Visual Mind Mapping or Flowcharts

Use visual tools like mind maps or flowcharts to design systems. Visual representations make routines that are complex processes easier to understand and follow. This non-linear and creative way helps you plan, initiate, and follow through on routines. Examples of these charts are simple charts or drawings that represent glasses of water to drink throughout the day. For instance, draw eight glasses, each representing an 8 oz serving. Hang this chart on your refrigerator or place it in a visible area where you spend most of your time. Or choose a habit tracker app to help you stay on track. Your smartwatch will also help you with reminders and visuals.

 

Two-Minute Rule

Popularized by James Clear, the two-minute rule suggests starting habits with a small, two-minute version of the behavior. This approach makes the habit easy to start, which can lead to a higher probability of completing it. It’s based on the idea that getting started is often the biggest hurdle. Following the Two-Minute Rule, you would start with a much smaller and manageable version of this habit. Instead of aiming to read for an hour before bed, you commit to just “reading one page of a book.” By reducing the habit to a tiny version that can be completed within two minutes (reading one page), you’re more likely to get started. The idea is that once you start and get over that initial hump, you’re more likely to continue reading beyond that single page. Often, the hardest part is beginning, and the Two-Minute Rule helps overcome that initial resistance.

 

Continuous Improvement and Iteration

Continuous improvement builds on the success you are feeling in sustaining a routine. You are continuously iterating and refining your systems and habits. Adopt a mindset that focuses on small, incremental improvements rather than aiming for major changes all at once. You incrementally add to your routine with a small addition to that task. An example of this is after a few weeks of consistently walking for 15 minutes, you notice it’s becoming easier. To continually improve, you decide to add five more minutes to your walk. Now, you’re walking for 20 minutes daily.

 

Choosing a non-traditional strategy for routines helps you build momentum and enthusiasm for routines that have become less interesting. Each of these routine building strategies will help you create systems that work for you.

 

5 Non-Traditional Ways to Declutter Your Space

 

Living with ADHD can present challenges for decluttering and organizing one’s living space. Executive function challenges with planning, initiation, distractions, difficulty in focusing, and feeling overwhelmed by the process are common experiences.  Taking a less linear, more creative approach to decluttering and organizing can add interest and create success in editing and organizing your space. Here are some strategies for ADHD-friendly ways to organize.

 

The Spark Joy method: Inspired by Marie Kondo, this method involves decluttering and organizing by category rather than by room. Decluttering focuses on keeping items that “spark joy” and encourages discarding items that create stress, anxiety, or unhappiness.  Start by gathering the items together for one category. Once you see these together, make decisions on what to keep rather than what to let go.

 

Decluttering Challenges: Decluttering challenges bring energy to the editing process. There are many versions of these Challenges. The “One-A-Day Challenge” involves getting rid of one item every day for a set period. Or try the “30-Day Minimalism Game,” where you get rid of one item on the first day, two on the second, three on the third, and so on for 30 days. There are also social media groups that set challenges and help each member with accountability. Get started with the easiest of Challenges and track your success.

 

The ‘Just-in-Case’ Box: Too many times items stay in our space “just in case.” Create a box for items in this category. Seal it and put a date on it to open it in six months or a year from now. If nothing has been retrieved, donate the box. Get started with this with the paperwork you have struggled to declutter. Out of sight can help you be less attached to the items as well, making these easier to eliminate.

 

The 20-20 Rule: This rule was made popular by the Minimalists. Consider letting go of an item you can replace in 20 minutes or for $20. The 20-20 rules frees you up from making every decision. Get started by reviewing items that have been without a home in your space.

 

Partner Up: Invite a friend or family member to help you declutter. Having someone alongside you can offer motivation, support, and accountability. This can make the process more enjoyable and efficient. If you prefer to declutter alone but still want that sense of someone being present, consider using video calls or apps that allow you to connect with a friend or professional organizer virtually. You can both work on decluttering your respective spaces while staying connected.

 

No matter which strategy you use, committing to decluttering your space frees you up emotionally and physically.

Baby Steps for Decluttering

 

We are all always on a decluttering journey. Some times we feel we are ahead of the curve however mainly we sense we are not. Likely you do not have time or energy for full on decluttering. Choose one or more of these baby steps for decluttering to keep your space organized.

 

Set a timer

In as few as 15 minutes, you can make a difference with decluttering.

  • Walk around your home with a trash bag and remove all the trash.
  • Review papers that have built up around your house, then shred or recycle.
  • Do a reset. Put away laundry and place items back in their homes.

Find a small spot

Start small and build momentum.

  • Declutter one drawer at a time. Toss, donate and categorize your small space.
  • Use a shopping bag to let go right away of what is unused or less loved. Drop that bag off each week.
  • Practice the “one in, two out rule” as new items come into your space.

Say no to one activity, event or commitment

Your time and calendar are cluttered too.

  • Add self-care to your calendar with exercise, doctor’s appointments and time with friends.
  • Know how much time to allocate to tasks, projects and transitions. Use white space between time blocks to give yourself wiggle room.
  • Add in preparation time, dedicated to being sure you are ready for fun.

Enlist your team

There is power in numbers. Add more team members to declutter.

  • Choose an organizing playlist and include your family in decluttering.
  • Call a local charity to pick up your donations.
  • Hire a certified professional organizer or coach to speed up the process.

Empower your editing

Your mindset empowers your decluttering.

  • Establish a mantra for living with less. Gretchen Rubin’s mantra is outer order inspires inner calm. Write out your mantra to keep you on track with editing.
  • Follow a rule for living. Peter Shankman’s rules include only black clothes in his closet to keep his attire simple. Create simple, effective rules for your living space.

Stay away from swiping

Clutter comes in quickly from online purchases.

  • Pause before purchasing. Give yourself 24 hours before purchasing items online.
  • Remember the adage, when something seems too good to be true, it generally is.
  • Make returns quickly when a purchase is not a good fit. Drop off items at your local USPS, UPS or other location within a week of delivery. You save money this way also.
  • Less coming in means less to declutter later. It is hard to remember to shop your own closet, review your school supplies and find what you need in your home.

 

Using quick and easy decluttering strategies will help you enjoy your space!

Turning Over a New Leaf: ADHD Friendly Fall Decluttering Strategies

 

adhd friendly fall decluttering strategies

 

As the Fall begins, the energy of the season moves us forward to declutter our space. For those with ADHD, the idea and action of editing might feel overwhelming. With the right strategies, you can turn that energy into momentum. Here are some practical methods that are tailored to ADHD minds to bring clarity and organization to your spaces.

 

Understanding the challenges that come with ADHD

Decluttering can be especially challenging due to difficulties with decision-making, sequencing, and sustained attention. In addition, challenges with initiation and perfectionism may make it more difficult to start or finish decluttering in your space. These strategies are curated to align with these challenges.

 

Fall decluttering strategies

Set yourself up for success with these tips.

  • Set small goals for your work.  Rather than decluttering an entire home, start with smaller areas to work. You can focus on one drawer, one shelf, or a small surface.  Starting small will help you have a shorter time to work, making it easier to maintain focus. You will have fewer decisions to make in a smaller area. These small successes will boost your motivation and confidence.
  • Use a timer to keep on task. With the Pomodoro Technique, you can set a timer for 20 minutes and declutter. Then you can take a 5-minute break. Alternate work and breaks for 3 segments. The timer will help you maintain attention and focus.
  • Sort by categories. Using context can make a difference in knowing what to keep and how many to keep. Sorting into categories makes decision-making easier.  You can sort by season, and decluttering from the summer knowing what you have used or what is ready to go. You can tackle books one day, clothes another day and kitchen items another day. It is easier to make decisions.
  • Ask a friend to be your clutter buddy. As your clutter buddy, they are working as a body double with you.

 

Fall maintenance strategies

Keep your space organized with these strategies.

  • Make it as easy as possible to maintain your space with simple rules. Use the five-minute rule to put away items ASAP. This prevents clutter from building up and becoming overwhelming.
  • As items come in, use a two-out and one-in rule. Adopt the rule that for every item that comes in, two items leave.
  • Remember that easy maintenance prevents stress. Resetting your space every Sunday is prepping for a successful week.
  • Every item needs a home. Before you purchase, review what you have and know what you need. Never shop without a list so you know what you need.
  • Make it a team effort. Work with your family or bring in a helper to get stuff back to its home. Outsourcing assistance makes it easier to maintain your space.

Embracing the energy of Fall with decluttering can be manageable by tailoring your strengths to your work. As you clear the clutter, you will find that your mental clarity and focus also improve.

 

Summer Decluttering Checklist

Summer Decluttering checklist

 

Summer is the time to let go of all that extra clutter that has built up during the school year. The kids are available to be extra helping hands while you bag up and donate items that you no longer need or use in your home. Declutter these items to be ready for summer fun!

 

Your decluttering plan

Start your Summer decluttering by setting goals and deadlines for your work. Establish which areas you will work on, when you will work, and when you want to be finished with decluttering. Having specific assignments with dates helps you stay on track and keep you accountable for editing and letting go. Start small with small spaces to declutter and small amounts of time like 30 minutes. You will keep moving forward without being overwhelmed. A simple system for sorting is to use clear garbage bags to move stuff to your car. Having a drop-off routine keeps your decluttering moving forward.

 

What to declutter

If the item is “good”, it can be donated. Items can be swapped online through neighborhood online groups. Define how many you want of certain items. Find a “home” to store the items for easy access and keep that category together in one spot.

Kids:

  • Swim toys, suits, and goggles
  • Kids outgrown clothes
  • Books for younger kids
  • Outgrown toys

Home:

  • Food from the pantry
  • Old magazines and school books
  • Patio, lawn, and garden equipment
  • Plants
  • Nightstands
  • Technology and extra cords

Personal:

  • Personal care and makeup, including sunscreen and bug spray
  • Hair accessories
  • Sunglasses
  • Summer hats and baseball caps
  • Swimwear and cover-ups
  • Travel gear and travel toiletries

 

Decluttering the hard stuff

Paper is the hardest stuff to declutter. Do your paper work when you are high energy!

  • Backpacks and school work that come home at the end of the school year.
    • Review your kids’ schoolwork and art projects together.
    • Together keep the best work and create a photo art book or add this to an archival bin for the year.
  • Mail and incoming papers
    • Recycle or shred advertisements
    • Set aside payments and action items

 

Getting started is the hardest part of decluttering. Put on an energizing playlist, grab bags for donation and get going.

 

To help you avoid the pitfalls of organizing, check out my ideas and those of my colleagues here.

 

How to Create a System that Works for You

how to create systems that work for you

 

“I need a system!”

Creating systems is one of the best ways to be organized, save time and maximize productivity. A system is a method or process that you create to carry out repeated actions in a consistent way. Even better, systems can be automated and streamlined to maximize efficiency. A system is the best way to save your sanity.

There are systems to implement in all areas of your life. Home systems include meal preparation, laundry, and cleaning. Work systems include onboarding a new client or payment methods. Use this step-by-step method to create systems that work for you.

 

Reflect and take stock of the systems that are working

Take a step back and reflect on your current goals and projects, as well as self-care. Where you feel productive and energized, that’s a system that works for you. When frustration and fatigue bubble up, that’s an indicator that a system will help you. Review where there is an obstacle in your home tasks. That’s another area that can use an improved system. Start small by starting only one new system at a time.

Example: Your laundry piles up but your dishes never do. What’s holding you back with the laundry?

Example: You meet with clients daily but you have trouble billing them regularly. What’s the obstacle to billing?

 

Assess your working systems

Use your successful systems to create new ones that work well. Analyze what you are currently doing that leads to success. What and how many steps are you taking? What tools and strategies are you using? How can you simplify an existing system, improve it, and apply it to another area?

Remember that simple, easy systems with few steps make it more likely the system will work and be consistently used.

Example: What’s working? Dishes go directly into the dishwasher.

Example: What’s not working? It is easier to meet with a client than stay at home to create the invoice.

 

Plan a new system

Now you are ready to create a process that streamlines your task. What’s the result you are looking for? What’s the least number of steps to achieve this goal? Would a checklist or template help if there are multiple steps? Is there a better tool to use for this than what I have currently?

Example: Could the laundry skip the sorting stage and go directly into the washing machine?

Example: Could you bill the client immediately at the end of the session?

 

Execute the system

Now you are ready to put your plan into action. Think of it is as a practice session for the first few times you work on your new system. Apply the process you created and evaluate the results. Make any adjustments as you work on your system.

Example: Did the laundry get started? Did the laundry get completed and back into closets?

Example: Did you receive payment regularly from clients with this process?

 

Continuous improvement

Now your system is working however there is always room for improvement. Are there ways to make this system even better by adding technology or delegating this to someone else? Once you have created one system, you may be ready to add more systems to your life. Small improvements keep your system functional and consistent.

 

Some of the systems that my clients have shared with me might be helpful to you!

  • Plan a Door Dash night every Friday night.
  • Cooks most proteins on Sunday.
  • Host a “cafeteria night” every Thursday with leftovers.
  • Do one load of laundry a day, every day.
  • Store your kids’ clothes in the laundry room instead of storing them in their rooms.
  • Every kid has a color. That means we all know that the pink cup, the blue folder, the green lunchbox, the orange towel, etc have a rightful owner.
  • If your family is very resistant to helping at home, hire help for cleaning and picking up.
  • Always check when you’re leaving a room for something that belongs elsewhere and take it with you.
  • Every Sunday I gather and review my notes for the last week to ensure I haven’t missed any action items. It’s part of my planning routine which has a checklist for places to look.
  • Have a permanent donation box.

 

Once you are ready with your system, back up your system with habits. Habits are the actions that follow through on the systems you have established. Systems and habits work together to make life easier.

 

ADHD Friendly Tips for How to Declutter

 

Has a space become chaotic and cluttered in your home? Are you keeping a lot of unnecessary items just in case with no place to store these? Has clutter been keeping you in a funk? These are some of the challenges of ADHD and organization.  Here are some tips for how to declutter with an ADHD-friendly approach.

 

Getting ready

You have been thinking a lot about decluttering and have yet to start. It is overwhelming because you are not sure where to start or what to let go of. Start with what will create some urgency for you. That’s a deadline! Aim for an important date with a holiday, family event, or company coming. A deadline will make this task a real activity.

 

Gather your stuff together

Marie Kondo suggests gathering your same items together to be ready to declutter. I agree! Group items by category in order to see how many you have in order to make a decision on which items to keep.  Gather your stuff by category no matter where it is currently being stored. Start with a large group to gather, such as clothes, so you can make a big impact.

 

Make it fun

Organizing with a team or using an “organizing playlist” brings joy to your work. Find what is fun for you!

 

Conquering the clutter

  • Get going! Use a timer to set the amount of time you are working.
  • Make it a manageable task. Break your decluttering into chunks of work that work with your schedule. That could mean 15-minute organizing bursts too.
  • Here are twelve rules that my colleagues and I have shared about decluttering. These rules include rules for emotions such as do I love this item, physical space such as large items first, or a timeline with how recently did you wear or use the item.

 

Set up a system that works for you

Your goal should be not only to declutter but also to create a storage spot (“home”) for each category. That storage depends on your strengths. If you are a highly visual person, make sure your system plays well with your system. Lists and labels empower this strength. An auditory learner might talk through the system as it is being created. A kinesthetic learner might set up a system that includes movement and physical processes. Each of these systems amplifies the learning style and maintains the system.

 

Keep your system intact

The most difficult part of organizing is keeping it going. Maintain your space by setting up routines that support your decluttering. Routines for laundry and trash pick up keep your space tidy and organized. Set up a plan and a time frame for how often you will declutter, since organizing is a journey that goes on and on and stuff keeps coming in. Having a plan for your ongoing decluttering will keep your space in balance.

 

Decluttering and editing end when it is easy to find the items in your house which make you happy.  Letting go of what is bogging you down, taking more energy, and taking time away will be your ultimate goal.

 

 

 

 

 

ADHD Friendly Tips for Successful Family Meetings

 

adhd friendly family meeting tips

 

Family meetings are a part of weekly organizing and productivity. Communicating what is coming up, preparing for activities and academics, and discussing family engagement are key reasons to be sure you host your meeting. At times the meeting gets bogged down or skipped entirely. Here are ideas on how to keep your family meeting moving forward and valuable.

Create a consistent agenda

Every meeting needs a great agenda. That is true for your family meeting.  According to Psychology Today, here are some valuable topics.

  • What happened last week and how did it go
  • What’s happening this week and future/holiday plans
  • Old stuff that needs a family decision
  • New stuff that needs a family decision
  • Money stuff
  • Family stuff
  • Taking care of our stuff

Pro tip: If your family loses interest, shorten the agenda to three topics.

 

Keep it short

Every meeting becomes yawn-worthy when it takes too long. You, your partner, and all your family will appreciate brevity.  Know the meeting priorities, keep a high level, and use visual aids as needed for your meeting.

Pro tip: Play Beat the Clock to energize your meeting. Set the timer and keep your session ahead of schedule. Everyone will stay on track with this tip. 

 

Add interest and fun

Just the word meeting can make this time together less fun.  Shake it up with fun! Fun can mean a special dessert or a family activity that concludes the meeting.

Pro tip: Use wacky ways to add fun, including Crazy Hats or a Walk and Talk meeting. You can meet at different locations inside and outside your home. 

 

Schedule regularly

Consistent family meetings help everyone maintain consistent communication. When you host this meeting weekly, you have more up-to-date information and better communication. Find the best time to meet and meet at that time regularly.

Pro tip: You may need to try different times of the week to meet or rotate the days of the week. The goal is to meet weekly. 

 

Rotate responsibilities

Share the responsibilities of leadership with your family.  You are building leadership with your children leading the meeting. One person can be a scribe to add information to the family calendar. When you share the responsibilities, kids also have more buy-in for the meeting. Your kids enjoy the fun of being in charge. One person can be the time keeper to be sure the meeting starts and ends on time.

Pro tip: Establish a pattern to share the roles between your family so everyone knows the expectations and when roles will change. 

 

Always remember that the goal of your family meeting is to connect. No matter if you complete the agenda or have an agreement on the next family event, you are modeling and nurturing connection.

 

 

5 Tips for an Easy, Organized and Productive Fall

fall organizing

 

Summer is wrapping up and fall weather is coming soon! While we are all hoping for an early dip in the temperature, we can get started organizing for fall. Here is a short list of 5 spots to tackle for fall organizing. Getting organized now will save you time this fall when you are busy with activities, sports, and more.

 

Edit summer items then bring in fall attire.

The end of the season is the best time to edit and declutter. What has not been worn this season is ready to consign or donate. Edit out bathing suits, shorts, dresses and pants so that you have less to store and more space for fall clothing. Once you have decluttered, bring in seasonal attire gradually with heavier clothing added in November. If you have not already gifted yourself with slim line hangers, now is a great time to switch up. An organized closet helps you get ready easily every day.

 

Refresh your pantry.

Fall brings more structure to our days and to our meal planning. Start meal planning with pantry-made meals that make dinner easy to get on the table. Pantry meals include beans, pasta, rice, and ramen. Refresh your pantry with staples, organize your snacks into bins, and decant your flour for upcoming baking. Labeling your pantry makes it easy for everyone to find items and put away groceries.

 

Update your medicine and first aid supplies.

Before fall allergies hit and while COVID continues, update your medicines and first aid supplies. Review your expired prescriptions and recycle these at a local pharmacy. Categorize your supplies by use so you can easily find what you need. Using 3-tier small drawer storage, you can group like items together and label the drawer.

 

Sharpen up your landing strip.

Busy people need a place for stuff to come and go from the house. That includes backpacks, bags, incoming packages, and returns.  Sharpen up your landing strip with hooks for bags and a bench for packages, with baskets below for shoes. Not only is it easier to get those packages out the door, everyone is ready to go and can grab their bags.

 

Get ahead for the holidays.

Look ahead to the holidays and lessen your stress by organizing spaces in your home and holiday supplies.

  • Start now by decluttering your guest room so it is “company ready” by the time the holidays arrive. Let go of additional supplies from finished projects and distribute items to where they belong.
  • Donate kids’ toys now to make room for upcoming gifts. Your kiddos will play more with a smaller number of toys and appreciate the new gifts. If there are unopened toys, donate those for upcoming holiday toy drives.
  • Check out your Halloween, Fall, Thanksgiving, and Holiday decorations. It is time to let go of extra decorations that clutter the attic or basement. Rearrange decoration bins by holiday and label what is stored in each. You will especially appreciate this when you are setting up for each holiday.

 

Taking a proactive approach to your fall organizing helps you be ready for all the fun that is coming soon!

 

Top Ten Categories of Clutter in Your Space

Top 10 Clutter Categories

 

I recently saw a list of top common clutter categories shared by my colleagues on my National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals site. The list is compiled of categories of items in people’s homes regardless of socioeconomic status that causes clutter. It was interesting to see where many people have challenges with clutter.  Do you recognize these categories in your home?  Check out the list!

 

Common Clutter Categories

  1. The paper includes junk mail, catalogs, magazines, newspapers, and unopened mail.
  2. Empty boxes including shipping boxes, shoe boxes without shoes, technology, and product boxes
  3. Free condiments from fast food or other take-out restaurants including ketchup, salt, soy sauce, and plastic cutlery
  4. Free toiletries including those from travel and gifts with purchases
  5. Bags including zip locks, gift bags, and reusable shopping bags
  6. Cords, cables, telephone wires, and other outdated technology
  7. Linens including blankets, extra sheets, towels, and comforters
  8. Trash includes half-empty water bottles, opened junk mail, paper plates, and grocery sacks.
  9. Hangers including wire hangers and plastic hangers from stores where clothing was purchased
  10. Excessive quantities of any item, including plastic bags, shoes, clothes, and books

 

Now you are ready for change!

Now if you have identified any of these clutter-causing items in your space, you are ready to make a change. Take advantage of a power period for organizing and declutter your space. That is write an appointment with yourself for a time block to edit and let go of one or more of these categories. Allow time to drop off at a local philanthropy and you will already see a big difference in your space. Consider this a challenge for your organizing this season and share your successes with others.