🤫 Shhh. Don't tell anyone...but I struggle with the maintenance side of organization. Always have. Mainly because the "routine" aspect of maintenance seemed boring. I'd rather be doing something fun like playing, or reading, or organizing, or...almost anything else. I also thought putting things back where I got them would take too much time away from my fun. But what I didn't take into account was that delayed maintenance doesn't just add up, it multiplies the time you'll have to spend later. For me "maintenance" includes all the routine and repetitive tasks I need to do to maintain my home and business.
Maintenance is less of a struggle for me because I use these 3 strategies and teach them to my clients:
3. Build smaller chunks of maintenance into the system
Your paper system is an excellent place to build in smaller chunks of maintenance with MONTHLY files rather than individual category or vendor files. This is assuming that you aren't 100% paperless and you keep copies of your bills and statements. Rather than create a file for each utility or credit card company, place this month's bills, statements, or receipts, into this month's file. If it's tax paperwork, then it needs to go in this year's file. For more details go to Build in Your File Maintenance and get directions to creating smaller chunks for your tax archives.
Your supply drawer (including the ubiquitous "junk drawer") is another place to establish your personal strategy of smaller chunks. Rather than putting off organizing your desk drawer, junk drawer, or that basket in the bathroom for another day, consider doing the 5 in 5 purge. The next time the drawer doesn't close easily, find 5 items in 5 minutes you can toss, recycle, pass on, or put it back where it belongs. 5 in 5 works in your closet, too.
This "build smaller chunks" strategy also applies to projects you've been putting off. For example, developing a home inventory list. Rather than wait until you have the time and interest to compile a whole-house list of your belongings, consider doing it a room at a time; the living room today and the kitchen next week. You could start with recording a video on your phone as you walk around your house. Take 15 minutes now and get a start on the inventory list. Check out Creating your Home Inventory is easier than you think.
Where can you convert the maintenance into smaller chunks?
2. Set a specific date and time.
It's too easy to put off your maintenance until someday. We know that someday turns into never rather quickly. If you want to increase the likelihood of doing the maintenance, then set a day AND time for it. If I say I will do XYZ on Monday, but don't schedule it for a specific time, it's too easy to let the maintenance slip from the morning to the afternoon and before I know it, I can push it back to Tuesday or Wednesday. But if you know that 9 a.m. on Monday is available for you to do your mail, your bills, or collect your statements for your taxes, you're more likely to sit down and do it on Monday (even if it's not at 9 a.m. sharp).
When (day & time) will you take on your maintenance task?
1. Time it
There might be maintenance activities you dread, hate, despise, or just plain don't want to do because they'll take FOREVER...But before you put that task off once more, time how long it really takes to do it. I bet it takes less time than you think.
I first realized the power of determining how long something takes when I was training for a triathlon years ago. I figured out I spent more time complaining about my training runs than I actually spent running. If I had only shut up, gone for my run, I'd have been done. But no, I had to whine and complain for at least a half hour before the run and still had to go for the run. Now if I find myself griping about a particular task, I get out my phone's timer app and find out how long it takes. Then I decide if it's worth my time to continue grumbling about it, or just do it.
The last chore I used this strategy with was washing dishes. Yes, I really hate washing dishes and we don't have a dishwasher. The kitchen is the next home improvement project, but for now — no dishwasher. However, I love the look of a clear counter more than I hate dish washing. So between my husband doing dishes on some nights and knowing that it takes me less than 10 minutes to do the dishes, this chore is covered.
Other tasks my clients have timed and found they take less time than expected include putting the shopping away, folding clothes, filing, and submitting expense reports. Check out these tasks and organizing activities that take 15 minutes or less.
How long do your grumbly tasks take?
Getting the needed maintenance done is easier with these three strategies. Another strategy that my clients find useful is getting an accountability partner to help them stay focused on the task and moving forward with the project. An accountability partner helps sustain your commitment to realizing your goal.
Sometimes you need more than just checking in with your accountability partner. Sometimes you need to make an appointment to do your paperwork or clear out your closet with someone who will help you keep that appointment. Consider hiring me as your accountability partner and creating the space in your schedule (i.e. set an appointment you’ll keep) to work on your goal, project, or dream for two hours.
Clients who have scheduled sessions with me are amazed at how much paperwork they get done. Whether it’s the administrative tasks they’ve been putting off or sorting through the piles of delayed decisions that have stacked up — they get more accomplished in two hours than they ever have before on their own. Other clients schedule time with me to clear out a closet, write a book (or blog), empty their email Inbox, organize their photos, or gather their statements and receipts for taxes.
Go to my Paperwork Party Facebook page. The free monthly party event is pinned to the top. Choose Interested or Going and I'll send you link to join us on the internet. Or you can buy a package at dhucks.com/paperwork-party.