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It?s Not The Same Old Routine

We are constantly inundated with routine (often boring!) tasks around the house. This can cause major frustration because many of us don't do them efficiently, and most of us fail to complete our entire list of chores! You may take comfort in comment from a commiserating colleague: "A creative mind always has more ideas than the physical body is able to carry out. The only people who finish their 'to do' list are dead." So, relax, there is only so much time in the day, and ask yourself, "What's the most important thing to do today?"

It is important to make the most of your time and energy, but many of us take the long road to accomplish our work, when it turns out there was a short cut all along. Wouldn't you love to lower your stress and add "free" time to your day? Here are a few tips you might try to accomplish your routine work more easily.

? Create a communication center on the fridge for messages, chores etc. Add a cartoon now and then to add a smile to your day!
? Make a master calendar for scheduling family commitments. Use a different color for each family member.
? Create a checklist for groceries arranged in the order of your grocery store aisles posted where family members can add items as you run out.
? Sort recipes in categories that make sense to you ? "potluck ideas" or "company ideas."
? Keep related items together, for example the coffee filters and coffee "live" above or near the coffee maker.
? Designate every location or container for a specific purpose -- a drawer for tools, a shelf for single size linens, or an attractive wastebasket for umbrellas.
? Keep cleaning supplies in a bucket other plastic container for easy portability.
? Identify a specific place to put car keys, gloves, umbrellas etc., for quick access when you leave the house.
? Use an answering machine or service to control calls. Return calls at your convenience. Keep a notebook by the phone for messages. Identify messages for family members with initials.
? Teach your children to use an alarm clock or clock radio.
? Choose clothing and accessories and pack lunches the night before.
? Start a child's file system with a simple container, basket, file or shelf. It may contain information about their medical records, medicines, education, extra curricular activities, memorabilia, etc.
? Run errands at non-rush hour times if possible. Keep stops sequential to avoid driving in circles. Take one child along for one-on-one time and stop for ice cream or a look at the petstore.
? When opening your incoming e-mail, apply The FAT System? (File-Act-Toss). Sort actions requiring action by category such as "Call," "Discuss" or "Pay."
? Attach the old message when replying to an e-mail to help the recipient remember its original content.
? Keep your filing system simple. Don't create too many categories, it's better to put information into the largest general category first, and break it down when it becomes too bulky.
? Finish one task at a time. Distractions will leave you with a lot of chores that are half way done.
? Practice the Art of Wastebasketry?. Ask yourself, "What's the worst possible thing that would happen if I didn't have this? If you can live with your answer, toss it ? and live happily ever after!

Your daily routine will take time. And don't beat yourself up if you can't get it all done. But remember, a little organization can go a long way. Often it's a simple change that makes a big difference. You may find your self saying "why didn't I think of that before?" You can contemplate that thought at the end of the day, while you relax in a lounge chair, enjoying your free time.

? Barbara Hemphill is the author of Kiplinger's Taming the Paper Tiger at Work and Taming the Paper Tiger at Home and co-author of Love It or Lose It: Living Clutter-Free Forever. The mission of Hemphill Productivity Institute is to help individuals and organizations create and sustain a productive environment so they can accomplish their work and enjoy their lives. We do this by organizing space, information, and time. We can be reached at 800-427-0237 or at www.ProductiveEnvironment.com

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