As a matter of fact, I don't like this kind of projects, that's why I suggested one, immediately.
You wonder why I don't like this type of projects? Simply because @Home is cluttered by too many items already that are neither single next actions nor project next actions, but habits. I'm quite frank about it: if you put «Take out garbage» on your @Home todo list, there is something wrong. Fundamentally wrong.
Ok, so what's the weekend project, then? It will simply be: Write a list of habits that keeps your @Home todo list as short as possible. To highlight the difference between those lists, I'm calling the new one @Home.2Minutes. I'll be collecting short (effort is less than 2 minutes) actions that
- «should» go without saying,
- make a significant difference when repeated often (become a habit),
- can be completed in every average home, again and again
Well, and the list should be valid in 5 or maybe 10 years, still.
@Home.2Minutes: the list
So you're at home. A fuzzy feeling encourages you to get organized, but your energy level says: no way beyond 2 minutes. What can you do, in the twinkling of an eye?
- Rotate your posters.
Most people have more posters than walls to hang them on. Be it a beautiful souvenir or a learning aid: whatever seemed worth spending money on should not gather dust in a corner. Take a poster off the wall and put up a different one, from time to time.
- Prepare some fruit and serve it to your loved one(s).
Immediate joy guaranteed. Plus, it supersedes bad snacking habits.
- Pick up a cookbook and choose a great recipe for your next weekend.
Write its name on a Post-it and put that over your cooker, so you can look forward to it and won't forget it.
- Look around for one of your personal «broken windows» and turn the repair into a project if you can't fix it within 2 minutes. A «broken window» is something that «should» have been fixed immediately but wasn't - so it has become a precedence for future sins of omission, a source of hassles to come.
- Reward somebody by adopting one of his or her tedious tasks.
Think about who did something lately that really deserves a reward. Don't grab for your purse or consider other tangible rewards. Instead, complete a small task for her or him, preferably one that he or she really hates to handle.
- Clean the shower sink.
You do it anyway whenever you had a shower, don't you...?
- Collect your used dishes from all over the room and clean it. Put it into the dishwasher, if you have one.
Don't be a pyramid constructor. This human species is thriving in many homes (and offices) on the belief that «Mom» is always there and always happy to gather your cups from everywhere or to move a dish pyramid from the kitchen sink into the dishwasher.
- Put one unread book back onto the shelf.
As long as you really don't want to read it, it doesn't need to clutter your table.
- Throw away one old newspaper or magazine.
You're ain't gonna read it anymore. Even better: throw your newspaper basket away, too. Such a piece of furniture is just an invitation for cluttering.
- Clear away one piece of clothing.
Either you put it back into the closet or into the laundry basket. Otherwise, after a few days of waiting everything ends up in the laundry basket anyway.
- Clear a single horizontal surface.
Look around for a pile of things that definitely aren't where they belong. Without cluttering another surface, put them where they belong to clear that surface.
- Air your room for 5 minutes.
Obviously, this doesn't work if your room has air condition and locked windows to prevent you from doing just that. Then, at least walk out of your room for two minutes, just to get a sense of what normal air feels like, compared to what comes out of a pipe.
- Take out one unnecessary thing from your wallet or handbag.
For instance, throw away a receipt (if accounting doesn't need it), tickets (bus, movies). Warning: take credit cards or debit cards back to your bank to have it shredded.
- Drink one glass of water.
When you're feeling thirsty, it's already too late, so drink water more often. Many people wait for too long. Not surprisingly, then, they get the impression that the recommended total intake of water per day was «insane» and would cost them quite an effort to swallow.
- Neatly label one manila folder or rename one file or directory.
Pick the ugliest folder you can find (the one with the scribbled label that is a real pain to the eye) and print a neat label for it. Alternatively, skim through your disk directories until you bump into a folder name that doesn't speak to you. As soon as you've found out what is inside, rename the folder appropriately.
What else should be on this list? Give me a hint by adding a comment below!
- Stephen contributed this one:
«Go to the refrigerator and throw out the old leftovers and expired items. Put fresh replacements on your shopping list. (You do keep your shopping list on the fridge, don't you?)»
Plus, lets hope we don't let items expire anymore after we've done this a couple of times. Good idea to make checking the fridge content a habit, Stephen!
- Claire Phillips suggests:
«Coupled with cleaning out the refigerator, add clean out one or more shelves in your freezer or pantry. If you mark items with the date you put them away, it will make it easier to decide what is outdated/has sat around way too long and needs to be discarded.»
Good reminder! My mother uses waterproof pens to write contents and dates on the boxes and bags filled with the food she grows in her garden. I'm not exactly Mr Garden, but at least I stack what I bought in the freezer in a way that allows me to spot the best-before dates immediately... ;-)
- mmurray added:
«Put one DVD back in its case.»
- darlakbrown said:
«Do a headstand or shoulder stand - this gets the juices flowing - you probably shouldn't try this unless you do yoga or gymnastics.
Organize a drawer.
Water a plant.
Floss my teeth.»
Please choose a different plant, each time... ;-)
- dschaffner suggested: «Simply counting the breath can be practiced for 2 minutes.»
Some suggestions and sources that may take a little more than 2 Minutes:
- Unclutterer is my first stop for ideas when it seems there is some clutter I just can't get rid off. Beware: oddly enough, Unclutterer has a tendency to present myriads of «useful» gadgets that end up being clutter themselves.
- Leo Babauta's zenhabits is one of my favorite blogs. Leo lives and blogs on Guam, he is (currently) a six-fold father and still manages day by day to write excellent postings of lasting value. I owe several ideas for the above list to his Clean-as-you-go.
- Gretchen Rubin is investigating probably every thinkable behavior that is supposed to lead to more happiness. Her blog aptly goes by the name of «The Happiness Project». Not being a native English speaker, I find her blog an inspiring read free of pretentious, quick-fix marketing speech. See her Seven tips for making yourself happier IN THE NEXT HOUR for some inspiration.
- [2007-09-12 Update, via imgriff.com] CNN ran a nice story on How to clean your home in 19 minutes per day; they also linked to the RealSimple website which hosts a lot of 2-minute ideas.
- [Updates: Some things that may take a little more than 2 Minutes, suggested by readers:
Brainstorm on another project.
Think up ten questions about something (birds, house building, wood; whatever).
Observe your work from a higher level. Is it useful? How useful? Could you be doing it better?»]