Do you feel like you’re becoming a master juggler? Create a soothing environment and bring a sense of balance back by sorting out those time and energy snarls that cause stress.
1 Give everything a home
We’ve all found ourselves hunting for things we know are ‘somewhere’ in the house. It’s a frustrating exercise and wastes time and energy. But it can be avoided by following that wise mantra: a place for everything and everything in its place. An orderly environment sets the tone for a calm, controlled lifestyle. Make sure each room has a main function. Your bedroom is a place for relaxation and sleep, not a dumping ground for odds and ends.
Take note of the things that pile up around the house – shoes, mail, keys – then give each a designated area in which to ‘live’. This doesn’t mean everything has to be perfectly organised. It may be as simple as a basket in the lounge to throw shoes into, or hooks at the front door for keys. Knowing there’s a place for everything will make sure your blood pressure doesn’t skyrocket when you can’t find what you need.
2 Label it
A sense of ownership over things allows us to unconsciously ‘stock-take’, and make ourselves aware of our possessions, as well as creating order in the home.
Use a labelling machine, handwritten stickers, marker pens or trendy personalised labels. Start with your medicine cabinet and make designated areas for different medication. Label containers ‘ointment’ or ‘plasters’. The more effectively things are labelled, the less you’ll be scratching round for stuff and leaving a mess in your wake.
3 Store like with like
Storing similar objects together allows you to grab what you need in a hurry and is much easier on the mind and eye. It also means you won’t end up with drawers filled with random objects from around the house. It doesn’t mean you can’t keep collections of different things, because we all do. Even if you do have a drawer full of ribbons, that’s exactly what it should be: a place for ribbons and wrapping paper, and only that.
Find a container you can allocate specifically to certain items and write on the container what’s going inside it. Now, find a permanent spot for it. The physical act of writing ‘nail polishes’ or ‘sewing kit’ on the container means you’ll register that this is their proper place, and you won’t have an excuse to throw bits and pieces into a drawer and create clutter.
4 Finish your business
Nothing saps us more than unfinished business lurking. It weighs you down and leaves you feeling guilty. Even worse, it feeds procrastination and makes you feel you’re in a never-ending game of catch-up.
Get a big sheet of paper and a marker. Next, randomly write down everything on your mental to-do list. Write quickly, without giving it too much thought, which will allow you to do a ‘mind-sweep’. Sometimes we don’t make notes of certain things we need to do, such as phone a family member, but these things are just as important as your next dentist appointment. The list you write down will range from a big work project to buying a gift or booking a mammogram. Next, work out what it will take to complete each one, then pair them: one big, one small, to do at the same time. This makes them seem less daunting and will allow you to get through the list quickly. Delegating will also leave you feeling calmer. You can only take on what you’re capable of doing, so learn to pass things on when needed, which will free up your time for more important tasks.
5 Plan ahead
Red-flag the moments in your day when there are ‘bottlenecks’ that cause stress. Is it never having the right ingredients to cook with or getting out the door on time in the mornings? Whittle these down to the most pressing tasks, then see what you can tackle today.
Planning ahead is the easiest way to avoid bottlenecks. Make a list of your recipes for the week, as well as the ingredients needed, and buy them in advance. Pack your gym bag, lunch and work clothes the night before, and check you haven’t forgotten anything.