I don’t need to tell you that staying on top of all the paper that flows through our homes is difficult. To add to that, more and more information is being delivered to us electronically through email which also requires management. Developing new habits and routines around this information will help us manage it so it doesn’t create clutter in our homes and important things don’t fall through the cracks. I put together this household management checklist to help my clients manage their paper, email and the tasks they need to accomplish each day, week, month and year. Having a system in place that works for you will contain the physical and mental clutter and save you time.
Review your daily “to do” list each morning to assure the goal you set for yourself at the beginning of the week is still realistic. If unforeseen events have occurred or your priorities have changed, make adjustments. These tasks could be errands, calls, a part of a project, anything.
Process your email only once or twice a day and set a time limit. Checking too often consumes a lot of your time and signals that you’re always available.
Open/sort mail, as well as any paper that comes home from work or school. Toss junk mail immediately. Place documents for things that require further action into desktop files.
Complete anything that takes 2 minutes or less (RSVPs, quick calls, filing).
Review your central “to do” list before the start of each week to prioritize and determine what you want/need to accomplish that week. Block time on your calendar to do these things. Focus on the highest priority item(s) and be realistic about what you can accomplish.
Clear out completed emails – delete or archive. Eventually your email inbox should only have items pending further action or resolution.
Establish a time each week to complete “action” items requiring further work. This includes filing mail, paying bills, going through the ‘to do’ folder to make sure you’re not missing any deadlines or important priorities.
Review your family calendar at the start of each week to clarify everyone’s commitments and make sure there are no surprises. This goes hand-in-hand with blocking your own calendar to accomplish your goals.
Clear your computer desktop, filing documents in appropriate folders and deleting trash monthly.
Clear your email trash, draft and junk folders periodically to speed up processing.
Set up the family calendar for the month, including scheduled activities and other events for each person in the household.
Clean out file folders of old and unnecessary documents annually. A good time to do this is right after the first of the year when you’re preparing your taxes for your accountant. I help many clients with this.
Do the same clean out of your computer files and folders. Just like your office desk, this will make it easier to find things and will also speed up computer processing.