Once I stopped working in a structured environment and then had my first child, the lack of discipline in my life wreaked havoc on my productivity and mental state. I tweaked a few things and started living my Life In Increments. You can read more about it here.
Since currently our lives don't yet revolve around a school schedule, I can't blame that for our lazy days of summer. We've been very unstructured for the last several months and it's starting to catch up with me. I'm entering a heavy nesting period, but before I tackle the lists of things to be done before Baby Boys arrival I've been relying on three simple steps that keep me from going completely crazy even amidst summer chaos:
1. Finish the task. Pregnancy makes me a complete airhead, but I can be a little scatterbrained even when I'm not hormonal. My mantra has become Finish The Whole Task At Hand. I don't tend to walk away from a half-emptied dishwasher, but I have been known to make a bowl of cereal and then leave the milk out on the counter for....forever. If I make myself finish every step of the task at hand - put away the milk, throw away the empty cereal box, then wash the dish and spoon after eating - then it leaves less clutter in my life and less to do later. Which equals more mindspace. I force myself to finish every step of a task instead of leaving the last little bit for later. It make take two extra minutes, but it is always worth it.
2. Do It Now. I like to make To Do lists and random things pop into my head all the time, but many of them can and should be done right when I think of them. If walking past the windows reminds me that I need to call the pool heater guy, instead of doodling it down in my moleskine planner, I really should just pick up the phone and do it right then. Ta Da! Done. One less thing in my brain. Of course sometimes you're in the shower when you think of these things, or out and about and it's something that has to be done at home. But when able, I channel Nike and Just Do It.
3. Never Leave a Room Empty-Handed. In my house, there is always something that is in one place that really belongs in another. An empty cup to be taken to the kitchen, a wayward sweater that needs to go in the closet. This one comes and goes, but lately I've been more aware about the transfer of all of life's stuff from one place to another. Taking a few things in my hand whenever I go up or downstairs makes an enormous difference in the amount of general clutter.
One last thought that has helped me this summer:
Identify Small Happiness Makers. If you can identify just a couple of things that take under five minutes yet make your day substantially better, and then follow through on just those, it makes any day feel less like a mess. These things could be making the bed, taking the extra few minutes to straighten you hair, washing your face at night, having a clean car, keeping a small stash of candy, whatever. So many times just the littlest tweak can make the difference in your attitude.
Have you tried the Life In Increments philosophy? What are your current mantras or happiness makers? Sound off in the comments!