Start by doing one of each - it should take you about 5 minutes - at the same time each day (first thing in the morning, after school drop off, just before bed - when ever works best for you), and when you have established that routine you can then ramp it up to do a few of each, or one of each at both the start and end of the day. Choose just one area to work in for each 5 step exercise - the kitchen bench, the kids' room, your desk, etc - it will help concentrate your efforts and make more of a visible difference.
The idea behind this is to only choose items which can quickly be actioned, not items which you need to think long and hard about before deciding what to do. The more difficult decision-making process is the topic of a forthcoming blog post, so just stick with the quick and easy stuff for now.
Step 1: Get rid of it
If there is anything in your chosen area which you have thought "I really should throw that away", now is your chance. Find one thing which needs to be put in the rubbish or recycling bin, and do it. Also, if there is an item which has been sitting around for months waiting to be fixed and there is no chance of you getting around to doing it soon, and especially if no one has missed it, just throw it out.
Step 2: Put it away
I know it's much easier to just put something on your desk than in the filing cabinet, or on the chair instead of in the wardrobe, but this is how piles of clutter can quickly develop. Again just choose one thing in your chosen area which is not in its right place and which you know has a proper home, and go put it away. If it doesn't have a proper home or you don't know what to do with it, leave it - remember we are just looking for items which can be actioned quickly.
Step 3: Do it
Make that phone call, send that email, book that appointment, change that lightbulb - choose one quick task which has been hanging around on your "to do" list and get it done.
Step 4: Schedule it
If it is not a quick task that can be done as part of this exercise, then schedule it in your diary or calendar. A "to do" without a "when" will never get done, so schedule it in and allocate the time required to get it done.
Step 5: Straighten it
That very large pile of paper on your desk is not going to be solved in this quick exercise, so straighten it up into a neat pile and straighten up everything else on your desk, and the visual effect will instantly be pleasing and less chaotic for your brain to process while sitting there. The same applies to any other area you are working on - if you just neaten up the piles of clutter it will make it much easier for you to work through your quick 5 steps the next time round. Plus you are less likely to just dump something down in a neat area than you are in a messy area.
If you stick with these 5 steps it will soon become habit and you will action these items immediately, instead of waiting for piles to form which will need to be addressed later. Let me know how you get on with this exercise - I would love to hear your feedback.
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