Sometimes just implementing one or two small changes or adopting a simple new habit can have seemingly miraculous results when it comes to organization and productivity.
Here are some of my most tried and true:
Pad your timing. Tack at least an extra 10 to 20 minutes onto any substantial task and allow for about the same amount of extra time to get to any appointment. Most of us have a tendency to want to please someone by telling them we will get something done faster than is realistic or that we will arrive at the earliest possible time rather than the more practical or even later and more relaxed time. Having to stop for road work, tree work and other things is a constant fact of life and we need to pad for these near-certain occurrences. Being on time is always better than being late for the stress levels of all involved. People will respect a realistic estimate and don’t usually expect superhuman speed.
Now that we have a cellphone with us almost constantly, clocks are not as common as they used to be, but I still like to have one in almost every room and a watch on my wrist. Somehow glancing at a clock to orient oneself and stay on schedule is still much quicker and well-mannered than waking up a phone to check the time — people can’t help wondering if you are checking Instagram or your texts and it feels rude even when it’s just an innocent time check.
Since we do have our phones with us almost constantly, make use of the timer function to let you know when you need to shift gears to a new task or to remember something like turning off the water in the garden. We tell ourselves we will remember, but why take the chance? Letting your brain off the hook for remembering small things allows it to focus on more important thinking.
Have a cache of things to do when you arrive someplace early or are on hold with a government agency. Get your email inbox to zero. Clean out your handbag. Divide up your weekly vitamins into little plastic zip bags so that you can throw them into your lunch box each day.
Depending on the complexity of the issue, instead of playing phone tag, send an email.
Instead of writing a complicated email that may be misunderstood, try a phone call.
Clean as you go. Whether chopping vegetables, putting on make-up or working on an art piece, if we tidy up after each task it prevents the overwhelm at the end of the day that often causes us to abandon the effort to stay organized altogether.
Now that we are standing in line more at the grocery store and for other errands, make sure you stock up a reasonable amount of stuff and try to avoid extra trips. The quick trip to the store is a thing of the past, but I hope a store dash for cilantro is something I can enjoy again someday.
Download any podcasts you’re interested before you get into your car for anything over 20 minutes. I lose cell service around Yountville and when going over to Sonoma County, so it’s nice to have educational and informative things to listen to without worrying about connectivity.
Phone and device chargers are relatively cheap, so have them in every room you spend a lot of time in. I don’t have a TV, so my iPad got a major workout during the shelter in place. I was constantly getting up from wherever I was planted to get a charger and plug it in. Finally, I just put chargers with extension cords where I needed them. The clock by my bed, a BEDDI Glow that I purchased on Amazon, has a couple of USB ports, which makes it do quintuple duty as a clock, an alarm, a nightlight, a radio/music player and a phone charging base. Any time something can multitask that successfully, it’s an organizational keeper.
Angela Hoxsey is a professional organizer based in the Napa Valley. For information about her services, go to www.houseinorder.com or call 707-738-4346. Follow House in Order on Facebook for more organizing tricks and tips.