I was brought up in a very organised (and punctual) household, we call it being Morganised. Here are a few of the domestic systems I operate. I hope they’ll be useful for you too. Remember to KISS, Keep It Simple!
1. A place for everything and everything in its place.
This morning my bare feet were a bit chilly so I went to find my only pair of cashmere socks. Easy! They are always in precisely the same place in the same drawer so I can put my hands on them immediately. I only have one pair, they are a luxury item, I look after them and I can always find them. It saves time to have a place for everything and to put everything in that place as a matter of habit. You can train yourself in this habit. You’ll be glad you did.
Once my niece asked me for a headache tablet when we were sitting in the garden. I told her to go to the top right-hand drawer of the chest of drawers in my bedroom. That’s where I keep all my medicines, such as they are, including my holiday first aid kit. She was amazed to discover that I even have a place where I keep my cotton buds. Someone gave me a gift of a plastic sheep to keep them in. Normally something like that might count as clutter and get short shrift and be recycled within 24 hours but, on this occasion, it works so I use it.
2. I never go shopping, I have no use for shops. Everything is sent round, like Lady Bellamy in Upstairs Downstairs!
It all started with Amazon. I have a desire for something today. I order it online, it arrives tomorrow. No time wasted driving to shops, paying to park etc. I happily pay for postage and packing because I know the value of my own time. Shopping online applies to everything I buy. It’s faster and more efficient. There’s no joy in shopping for me anyway, I find it tiring and time-consuming and it saps my will to live.
3. What doesn’t come from Amazon comes from Ocado
Ocado deliver my groceries and everything else I need too. I don’t have one list and get the same stuff each week or even have the same weekly delivery slot but I do use previous orders to speed up my ordering process. Once you’ve done this for a few weeks it is very fast and efficient. You get into a habit and a rhythm.
The best bit about this is the system I operate of always having one in reserve. As I start a new washing-up liquid, or toothpaste, or shower gel/shampoo or catfood, I put another on next week’s list. This means I never run out of essentials. Never. I always have one in reserve. This only applies to the things you have to buy periodically, not to the things you use every week i.e. daily consumables. There I go for much more ad hoc flexibility. Ish.
I have book-marked the Ocado page and the moment I finish one and start another (the one in reserve), I go then and there to put it on next week’s list. Simples. Takes one second, I am always working at the computer anyway. I use the computer to run my life and keep everything simple and Morganised. I never run out. End of.
4. Changing the bed linen always happens on the same day of the week
My cleaner comes on Thursdays, and I like her to iron my pillow cases for me. So 48 hours before she comes I change my own sheets, putting on the pillow cases she ironed last week. Then the laundry is all clean for her to iron the pillow-cases on her next visit.
This is a good example of If That, Then This. If the cleaner comes on Thursday, I start to prep for her visit on Tuesday. It’s not random. It works like a well-oiled machine. If in doubt, create these for yourself. Find the trigger which starts the whole process going, and make a habit out of operating the trigger. Diarise if necessary. I diarise that today, Wednesday, is the day the dustbins must go out so I never forget, even though I’ve done it every Wednesday since 2008. This way, I cannot forget. I have a system.
5. I have trusted suppliers
I always use the same supplier for everything. I never move from one supplier to another without a very good reason. This makes me a very loyal customer for my dentist, my optician, my telephone/broadband, gas and electric utilities, my cleaner, my stationery supplier (online: Viking Direct, deliveries tomorrow morning), my gardener, the man who cleans my oven, the men who clean my car (loyalty scheme), my visiting hairdresser, my mobile phone, my bank, the managing agents for my rental properties, my accountant, the company formation agent – the list is endless. I don’t shop around. I’ve got better things to do with my time.
There are stressful upheavals involved in changing supplier and I choose not to have that in my life. If it ain’t broke, I don’t look for a fix. I look for peaceful long relationships where my loyalty is rewarded and is its own reward too in reduced admin handling time and associated annoyances. Mostly I am much appreciated as a loyal customer so that people will go the extra mile for me if required occasionally. I am not a very demanding customer, it must be said. I am pathetically grateful when anyone does any service for me. I find they rise to my expectations which are pretty accurate due to knowing suppliers as well as they now me.
6. I colour code my lever arch files
OK, we are getting a bit **** now, I fully appreciate that. But green means my home, yellow means my rental properties, pink means my business (natch) and my investments, red means my personal bills, stripey means creative projects and so on. This means I can always put my hands on the file, without having to hunt through all of them and read the inky annotation on the side to work out which one I want.
I plan to move away from filing completely and go 100% paper free. If I can receive and file online a digital receipt, then I do. And I print almost nothing. There are still certain documents which, for now, need to be filed but this is drastically reduced. Hurrah!
I have amalgamated my filing tray and my waste paper basket. Every piece of paper I handle goes in there because almost every piece of paper has notes on it which I might want to use again later. When it comes to doing the filing, most of it gets shredded and goes into the recycling. I only file what must be filed, whereas we used to file everything until I noticed that most goes into filing but almost nothing ever comes out. I don’t really do “just in case” when it comes to anything anymore. There are exceptions. Apply common sense liberally.
7. Mindfulness and creating new supportive habits
I read yesterday on Facebook that one of my favourite gurus Dr Wayne Dyer used never to be able to find his keys. He and his family just wrote this off to his forgetfulness until he realised he could create a mindful habit and always put them in the same place so he’d always be able to find them, like my cashmere socks.
8. Minimalism helps with everything
I only have one pair of cashmere socks. I only have one handbag, and I keep my only purse and my only mobile phone (which I NEVER use) in there. If you have fewer possessions, it is easier to organise and manage and use and enjoy those you do have. I have very few pairs of shoes for the same reason. And I don’t keep anything in my house I don’t use regularly or which isn’t beautiful.
The same applies to information and data too; minimalist. And all my books are on my kindle, another example of a place for everything.
Despite that, there are always things round here which could go though you might struggle to find them!
9. Choice is exhausting – reduce the number of choices you have to make every day
If I find an item of clothing I like, I buy multiples of them. Which pretty much means I wear the same thing every day, at least when I am working at home. This means I do not have the dilemma of endless choice in the morning, I put on what I am comfortable in and what I know and it’s pretty much always the same. Steve Jobs did the same thing for the same reason. Choice is exhausting, reduce the number of choices you have to make each day and save your energy for things you love to spend your time on. In my case that’s creativity.
I could go on, but I won’t. I realise this could be quite boring for most and irrelevant to the rest of my readers.