Do you ever get somewhere and realize that you forgot half of the things that you need?
Do you every find yourself running around in the morning trying to find that one last thing that you need to get out the door?
Have you ever had that “Oh no!” moment of panic when you realize that you forgot an appointment or missed a coffee date with a friend?
Oh, my Friend, you are not alone! We have all had those moments of sheer panic when you just cannot find that lost shoe or your car keys; when you completely forgot where you put your phone or you’re scrambling to gather everything that you need to dash out the door, trying valiantly to be on time and not 5, 15, or 30 minutes late yet again.
But what if…
What if a few simple things, a few very simple changes could start to bring organization to your life?
What if you always knew where your car keys were? (That would be a miracle in and of itself, right?)
What if, by incorporating a few super simple, very do-able solutions you could reduce that overwhelming feeling and sheer panic?
What if you could bring more calm to getting everyone and everything out the door?
What if you could know what is coming on your calendar days ahead of time?
It is possible! Don’t believe me?
I have had those moments of panic and overwhelm and feeling like the chaos is pressing in around me. I have had those times where the chaos felt like it was not only pressing in, but taking over my emotions and my actions. As I stepped back and looked at my life, I realized that there are a few very simple solutions that I could do, very simple tasks that take a very little time in the moment but that save hours of time, frustration, chaos, and overwhelm.
So today, I want to spill my secrets. I want you to experience less panic, less chaos, less overwhelm. I want you to have more joy, more calm, and more space.
Enough talking….let’s get to these simple solutions! Here we go:
Solution #1 ::Create a special spot for your keys.
Okay, I know, this one sounds so simple! But before you jump ahead, think about it for a second: I think it’s pretty universal that we all agree that everyone should have a designated spot for their keys, but how many of us actually do it? How many days do you have to go hunting for your keys? How would it feel if you always knew exactly where your keys were and could grab them at a second’s notice on your way out the door? Pretty good, right?
Now this special spot for your keys will look a little bit different for everyone. It’s going to depend on what door you use to walk into and out of your house. It’s going to depend on what wall space or table space you have near that door that you always use. It’s going to depend on what you can find that will look good with what you already have in that space. I know friends who have chosen to use a dish to hold their keys. I know other friends who have chosen to use a basket. I know other friends who have chosen to use a hook or a series of hooks.
You can make this fancy and get one of those pre-made pictures or a mirror with a few hooks underneath or a shelf with a few hooks underneath or you could make it a DIY project. Personally, I went for a combination of the pre-made and the DIY. I found these cute wire baskets with 3 hooks under each basket and I found enough for everyone in our family! However, they were mounted horizontally and I didn’t have the horizontal space available. So, my husband figured out a way to mount them vertically on a shelf he had built in our laundry room. It works out perfectly for us: the tallest people (my husband and I at the moment) get the top basket for our sunglasses and the top hooks for our keys and even my toddlers get their own baskets for their sunglasses.
The point of this is: It’s less about what specific type of hook or basket or dish or combination you choose and more about having that specific place to keep your keys and teaching yourself the habit of placing them there every time you walk in the house. That way every time you need them you’ll know exactly where they are. Never spend time hunting for your keys again! Teach yourself this habit and you’ll always know where to find your keys.
Solution #2 :: Create a specific spot for you phone.
Your phone. Some might call it your lifeline. Your connection to the outside world. Your brain. Whatever you want to call it, phones have become central to life these days. Years ago, you always knew where the phone was because it was plugged into the wall and had a cable on it. It could literally only go so far and you could always follow the cord like a mini treasure hunt to find it if all else failed!
Not so today! Today phones have become so much more portable (which is fabulous!) but in becoming so much more portable and not physically tethered to anything, they have also become much more lose-able! What do you do? How do you make sure that you know where this all-important piece of technology is when you need it?
Just like with your keys, your phone needs a specific spot. Now, if you’re anything like me, your phone already has a specific spot when you’re on the go: that side pocket of your favorite bag or your back pocket when you’re at the park with the kids or that space on the center console of your car when you need to glance at a map. But what about in your house? Does your phone have a specific spot? Or does it just float?
I suggest that you create a specific spot that is the spot for your phone. This could be a special mat or a basket or a dish or it could be as simple as just a specific area on the counter. I have a spot on the corner of my counter that my calendar lives (it’s a big binder, so it never moves!) and my phone simply sits on top of it. I find two major benefits to this spot: First, it is right near an extra phone charger so if my battery is getting low during the day, I can plug it in and still keep it in its spot. Second, because my phone always lives in that spot if one of my kids uses my phone to talk to their grandparents or for any reason, they know that when they are done, Mommy’s phone goes back in it’s spot.
This one simple solution of creating a specific spot for my phone near a charger has saved me no end of “I can’t find my phone!” panic moments! I cannot recommend this one highly enough to you!
Solution #3 :: Preparing the night before.
Have you ever heard the phrase “Five minutes of planning will save you 2 hours in your day”? I’m not sure who first said this, but I can attest to the truth of it in my life! Advanced planning and preparation is essential for survival in my house!
Now, before you get all scared, don’t think that this means that you have to have a masters degree in strategic planning to pull this one off. It’s really an incredibly simple concept when you think about it: Pull the stuff that you will need together the night before. That way, when morning comes and you need to get out the door quickly, you can just focus on getting yourself and your children ready and simply grab the already-prepared bags on your way out the door, fully confident that you’ll have everything that you need.
Great concept, right? But how on earth do you do it? Well, let’s break it down. Start with the essentials: Do you have a little one in diapers? Make sure that your diaper bag is restocked with diapers, wipes, and that extra outfit just in case! Do you have a toddler that is in the potty training stage? Make sure that you have that “just in case” bag with an extra full outfit or two and a plastic bag in case there are any wet clothes to bring home. Are you going to the library? Collect all the library books that you are planning on returning and put them in a bag ready to go – better yet, just put the bag in the car once it’s packed! That way you won’t even have to carry it to the car in the morning! Are you going to the park? Will you need snacks or lunch? Fill the water bottles, pack the lunch or the snacks.
Do you see what I mean? Simply think through what you’re going to do the next day and take 5 minutes to prepare the night before. You will save yourself so much time, energy, and frustration in the morning! Seriously, think what it would be like to be able to get everyone up, ready, and out the door with time to spare and simply enjoying what you’re doing: no rushing, no super craziness, so much less overwhelm, and so much more calm. Sounds almost too good to be true, right? I promise you, this one is super attainable! All it takes is a few minutes of planning and preparation.
One final thought for you on this one: If your children are older and are able to help, get them involved in this process! Have them help fill the water bottles, make the peanut butter sandwiches or hunt down the library books. It’s less work for you and it starts to teach them this life-long time saving habit early!
Solution #4 :: Create a specific spot for the items that you need for the next day.
This simple solution goes hand-in-hand with number 3: once you have those bags prepped, packed, and ready to go for morning, make sure that you have a specific spot to put them! A packed and prepped bag will do you absolutely no good if you can’t seem to find it in the morning when you need it! If you have 3 bags that you need to take with you as you leave the house, one is near the door, one is upstairs in a child’s room, and one got unpacked by your children and all the neatly packed items in the bag are now strewn all over your living room floor mixed in with toys and stuffed animals… Well, let’s face it, that’s not going to reduce or eliminate chaos, stress, and overwhelm – it’s going to create more!
So how do you get around this? How do you preempt the inevitable from happening? While I firmly believe that you cannot plan ahead for every possible unknown factor, I do believe that you can take steps to make your morning (or whatever time you are leaving your house) much more smooth.
My simple solution? Have a designated spot for the packed bags! Ideally, this spot should be near the door that you will be using – perhaps right next to or right under your keys! Again, this spot is going to look different for everyone. For some, it might be as simple as making a lineup of bags against the wall underneath the key hook. For some, it might be setting the bags on a bench or a shelf that is right near the door. For some, it might be putting the bags underneath the bench or in cubbies underneath the bench. For still others, it could be putting them in a cubby shelving unit. The options are endless, but the essential point remains the same: Find a spot that will work for you and where your bags will wait, packed and ready for you until that moment when you walk out of the door.
Solution #5 :: Keep a centrally located family calendar.
Calendars. That word seems to bring up either joy and glee for those who love to plan and schedule, loathing for those who just can’t bring themselves to stick to the schedule they create, excitement in looking forward to the things that are coming up ahead, dread and overwhelm in looking forward to all the things that are coming up, and more! If we’re being totally honest here, I would say that calendars bring up a mix of these feelings and more, right? It never seems to be just one of these emotions.
One simple solution that I have found that reduces the amount of stress and overwhelm in our family is to have a family calendar. Now, before you get all intimidated and tune me out, hear me out, okay?
The big idea behind this is simply so that everyone can know what events are coming up for you as a family. I’m not talking about putting everyone’s work appointments and every single little thing that is scheduled on this calendar. I’m simply talking about putting the highlights, the big events that effect everyone on this calendar. For example: Your haircut where you need to make sure that your husband is home to watch the kids, that family vacation, that day that you planned to meet good friends at the park and talk while you let the kids play. Those sorts of things.
This is such a simple solution because if everyone starts using this calendar, it really prevents double-booking, everyone can see what is coming up that week or that month, and it gives you a physical picture of whether or not you’re doing too much.
Now, so many people get into the debate of “what kind of calendar should we use”? Should it be digital or paper? Whiteboard or chalkboard? Purchase it or DIY? The choices seem endless, don’t they? Here’s my suggestion: start with something free, whether that’s a calendar you already have, a free printable, or a google calendar and start! The first calendar you choose does not have to be your forever calendar. The key here is to choose something and get started!
I am a paper and pen/pencil girl all the way. My husband is digital all the way. When we started a family calendar, I started it on paper using pencil. The challenge that we ran into was that the calendar was not with us all the time and every time my husband needed to schedule something when he was away from the house, he was texting me to see what was going on and what days would work. So, we decided to shift gears. We moved our family calendar to a shared google calendar where we can both see any appointments or events that are going on as well as add, edit, or change what needs to be adjusted. Now, I still keep a paper calendar for me that has more things specific to my day, but all of the events that effect our family are housed on the google calendar. I don’t share that with you to say, “Look at me! I’m doing it right and this is the only way that you should do this!” I simply want to share that this is the solution that our family has found that works for us. On top of that, it took us some trial and error to find the exact right solution for us!
If your first family calendar method doesn’t work right, don’t despair! Try another method – and another one if you need to! The right system, the right calendar is out there for you. Keep trying until you find the way that works best for you and your family whether that’s a google calendar or another online calendar, whether it’s a piece of paper taped to the refrigerator, or a whiteboard mounted on your wall. Don’t give up!
Always remember, we’re going for progress, not perfection here. There will still be days when you lose your keys or you can’t find your phone or you’re scrambling to get out the door. However, if you work to incorporate one, two, or all five of these simple solutions into your life, you will start working towards that beautiful goal of leaving overwhelm and chaos and stress behind and start moving towards more joy, more calm and more peace. You see, it’s all about tackling seemingly big tasks in small ways to make a big long-term impact.
Oh, and don’t forget to grab your checklist of this five simple solutions below!
- 20 Secrets To Be More Organized
- Choosing the Perfect Calendar for You
- Finding Your Perfect To-Do List
- 5 Simple Steps to Take You from Scattered to Organized
Elizabeth Tatham, founder of Inspiration in the Everyday, is a homeschooling momma of 5 who loves helping other homeschooling mommas create a unique homeschooling adventure your kids will love…without the overwhelm! Join in on the journey with 7 simple steps to make your homeschooling day go faster, easier, and with less tears here.