One simple tip for a calmer, more productive day

Complete the circle. Finish the job. Close the loop.

Whatever you call it, this one practice can make such a big difference in your day to day life.

We have a lot on our plates and everything feels important and urgent, so it’s no surprise that we can easily get distracted when doing any task or working on any project.

You start making dinner but the sink is full of dirty dishes from lunch and your sandwich press is still on the counter with melted cheese and crumbs on it. Now your two choices are cook dinner around the mess (overwhelming) or clean up before you start cooking (dinner will be late and now the kids will be cranky, which makes cooking even harder).

You start decluttering your wardrobe and a half hour later there are clothes all over the bed and the floor, one kid interrupts you to ask for a snack, and while you’re getting it another kid gets into your make up bag and there’s so much mess when you return.

You go to put a load of washing on, and while you’re in your kid’s room picking up dirty clothes, you notice some dirty dishes, so you put the laundry basket down and take the dishes to the kitchen. You start washing the dishes and notice the rubbish bin is full so you stop and take it out. When you’re outside you realise no one put the outdoor toys away and it’s going to rain so you start to pack them away yourself.. and the next morning in the school rush you realise you forgot to put the washing on and the kids don’t have clean clothes for school.

We all struggle with this and it’s simply because of the sheer volume of stuff we have to manage - physical stuff and the mental load.

We all know what it’s like, that feeling like we have to cram as much into the day as possible just to keep up.

That’s why I found it so interesting when I decided to slow down and stop multi tasking.

To close the loop on each activity:

To focus on the one job I was doing until it was done and ask people to please wait or help themselves if I was in the middle of doing something.

To let a few things slide and see whether it really was a big deal that it didn't get done.

To show my family that while I can juggle lots of things at once, it takes its toll and it’s not worth it for the burnout I experience as a result.

Now, if I’m in the kitchen, that’s my kitchen time. I’m focused on what I’m doing there. I still wash dishes as dinner simmers on the stovetop, or clean a shelf of the pantry while I wait for the water to boil, and in fact that version of multi tasking doesn’t feel like work, because I’m in my kitchen, doing kitchen things, at kitchen time.

When I’m doing washing and the machine finishes the cycle, that’s my laundry time. I hang the wet clothes, I take down and fold the dry clothes, I put them away. I finish the whole job. I close the loop, and then I don’t think about washing again until tomorrow.

If I’m cleaning the bathroom, that’s bathroom time. I spray and wipe the counters, I change the bins, stock the toilet roll. Clean the bath and then run it, lots of bubbles, candles, a book.. and I take a long bath and really enjoy that clean bathroom while in soak in the tub. When I'm done, I tidy up after myself before I walk out to get dressed, so the next person doesn't walk into a room with wet towels on the floor and I don't have to go back and tidy it later.

When you start a job and only focus on that until it’s done, it takes a lot of pressure off and becomes more enjoyable.

It’s like you’ve yourself permission to do things at a regular pace. There’s no rush anymore.

Some of the things that felt urgent and important before now don’t seem like world enders if they don’t get done.

Because you’re focused on just one thing, it feels more gentle and smooth. You’re not bouncing from one thing to another anymore.

Your family can see what you’re working on (instead of just a whirlwind of action) and if they need something else from you, they realise it’s not that hard to wait or pitch in so that you can get your thing done and then help them.

You do less, and prioritise the non negotiables like food and basic cleaning.

You simplify and lower the bar for yourself.

Simple lunches and dinners, closing the kids bedroom door instead of tidying it, doing just one load of washing a day, wearing clothes multiple times before you wash them. Asking for help with the less important things without checking to see if it got done.

You let go of the need for perfection and realise good enough is fine. You hold yourself to the standards you set when you visit friends - no need to have everything just right.

You find easier ways to do things, shortcuts that save time and effort, because you’re not reacting to things anymore and have the mental space to consider how you’d like to do it.

It’s a calmer way to live. You have more time to rest, so you have more energy, the things you do don’t feel hard anymore.

And the important things, they still get done.

I hope you found this helpful. If you’re ready for the next step in organising your home, you might want to check out my popular House & Family Binder. It’s a simple set of prints to help you get organised and run your household without stress and overwhelm.