Organizational inertia is that “stuck” feeling most people get when they think about an organizational task they have yet to do, like cleaning out a messy closet or getting ahead of hectic schedules. Until you start, the mere thought of the energy and time required to deal with a task is paralyzing. So you procrastinate.
Happily, breaking through to get momentum working in your favor is actually easier than you might think. All you need is five minutes -- you can get much more crossed off your list in five minutes than you might think.
Here are 15 thought starters for you.
1. Make a dent on your closet
Start by getting rid of dry-cleaner bags and setting orphan hangers aside to recycle with your dry cleaner. Getting rid of those will make a significant visual impact. If you don’t believe that you can make a dent in five minutes, watch this YouTube video of Sarah making over a very messy closet and pay particular attention at the :55 mark. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?vLH3X4DfAMJc&listUUHjMpg—XqQ4r-NAVGFEG69Q&index2&featureplcphttp://)
2. Fold lingering laundry
If you’ve got a basket waiting, or a bunch of items in the dryer, tackle them. Just be sure to set your timer for five minutes -- somehow folding this way unleashes your inner “beat the clock” competitor.
3. Pay bills online
Most banks offer very streamlined online bill-payment systems, which make crossing a payment off your list as easy as one or two points and clicks.
4. Make a meal plan
Make a menu plan for the next two or three days. Use Buttoned Up’s free printable menu-planning sheet to organize your ideas in one place. You can find the free download at www.GetButtonedUp.com/tools/
5. Say thanks
Dash off a thank-you note, address it and put it in your “to post” pile. If you have stamps handy, put a stamp on it and put it out by your mailbox so the postman will pick it up on his next visit.
6. De-junk a drawer
Tackle a junk drawer. If you haven’t touched an item in it within 12 months, don’t let it paralyze you. Simply get rid of it or recycle it.
7. Get your priorities straight
Write down your top priorities for the day or week ahead and schedule them. A great way to get in the five-minute habit of doing this is to sit down with a structured notepad each morning before you open your computer to check emails.
8. Toss inkless pens
There’s nothing more annoying then hunting for a pen only to find that every one in your drawer has long since run out of ink. Test all the pens in your bag or on your desk. If you find a pen that has no ink, toss it.
9. Reduce your mail pile
Toss/recycle your junk mail. All in, it takes probably two minutes to cycle through a stack while standing over the recycle bin.
10. Give your car a pit-stop clean
Pull into a gas station. Take all of the trash out of your car and toss.
11. Make your own cleaning solution
Sarah recently was on TV to show busy people how to whip up a batch of homemade cleaning solutions in less than five minutes. She whipped up three concoctions in four minutes with ease. You can, too. Get free printable recipes and stickers here: www.GetButtonedUp.com/tools.
12. Prepare for your next errand run
Map your errands on a note pad before running them so that you get this week’s done more efficiently and spend less while you’re at it because you have a list.
13. Reduce your future junk mail
Get on the do-not-mail list via www.updater.com.
14. Schedule a donation pickup
Log on to http://www.scheduleapickup.com to schedule a pick up of items you want to donate, from clothes to furniture.
15. Breathe. Just breathe
Practice 3-3-6 breathing. Breathe in through your nose for three seconds, hold for three seconds and exhale for six seconds. Deep breathing has been shown to alleviate stress, energize your body, and regulate emotions -- all things that will make you more productive.
The writers are co-founders of Buttoned Up, a company dedicated to helping stressed women get organized. For more columns, go to scrippsnews.com.