Devote just 1 week-a project a day-to creating order and you'll be amazed what a calming influence it can be. If 7 days in a row is too much, too soon, take 7 Saturdays in a row. You'll be glad you did.
Monday: Organize your inbox. Slip into the office an hour early for an uninterrupted cleaning session. Activate your out-of-office e-mail reply and turn off the auto chime for 2 hours. Create new electronic folders for contacts, projects, and meetings. Sort alphabetically, then redirect e-mails to folders or delete them. In the future, be relentless and begin filing/deleting e-mails on arrival. When you get a request for a project update, the information will be only a click away.
Tuesday: Calm cabinet chaos. Roll up your sleeves and tackle your kitchen cabinets. Gather two cardboard boxes. Place punch bowls and platters you haven't used in months in basement- or yard sale-bound boxes. Replace cabinet lining and sift through cans, teas, and cracker boxes, throwing out the expired and moving older cans to the front. Pour flour, cereal, and sugar into transparent plastic containers to keep them fresh and protected against bugs.
Wednesday: Create a hassle-free hall closet. Plow through the gear crowding the closet. Pair up miscellaneous shoes and place them on an over-the-door hanger; chuck sporting equipment into large, round wicker baskets and move them to the garage; discard worn-out sneakers. Group similar items such as umbrellas in a stout round container. And keep it seasonal: If sweltering temps have you in tanks every day, relegate the winter items to plastic storage boxes.
Thursday: Lick the linen closet. Pull out all like items and organize by shelf. Keep towels together and group by type: washcloths, hand towels, bath towels, etc. If tattered towels are in the mix, tear them into cleaning rags. Keep top sheets separate from bottom sheets. Put any appliances--hair dryers, irons, curlers--on another shelf, and toiletries on yet another.
Friday: Manage your meds. Sort through the prescriptions in your medicine cabinet. Trash expired drugs and throw out lotions and cosmetics you haven't used in the past 3 or so months. Put cotton swabs and cotton balls in easy-to-reach glass containers. Replace hand soaps and toothbrushes; stock extras for unexpected houseguests.
Saturday: Draft your family. Time to include them in the organization efforts. Identify on a cleaning schedule weekly and monthly tasks for each person. Create incentives: Pitch in and clean today, hit the amusement park next Saturday. Give each family member a job: vacuum, dust, do the laundry, get rid of outdated newspapers. Finish at noon and switch to relaxation mode.
Sunday: Plot your pleasures. This day is all about you! Order takeout, spin your favorite tunes, and resist the boob-tube temptation. In a notebook, scribble wish lists: books and mags to read, movies to see, restaurants to try, old friends to call. Think about the people and places you want to visit in the coming year (keep in mind what's realistic and affordable). Then grab your calendar and schedule your trips.
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