Leave a Breadcrumb Trail

Remember Hansel and Gretel? Part of planning to succeed is marking a path, leaving yourself reminders. Set yourself up to do what you have determined is best. Or, set yourself up for success.

Put reminders in your path. If you need to bring a present to the shower, put it by the front door. Tripping over something can be such an effective reminder.

Keep a basket on the stairway of items to go upstairs — and make a habit to check it each time your hands are empty on the way up.

Put the discussion questions for the book club meeting in your planner in the week of the meeting. You won’t need them until then, but you’ll have them when you do need them.

Set alarms. Many have found this a top benefit of the smartphone. You can remind yourself to stop doing something because your time is up. You can remind yourself to start doing something so you can be ready in time. Set an alarm to remind you to change the laundry or start making dinner.

Race the stopwatch or egg timer with routine cleaning tasks. Give yourself 20 minutes to power nap. Play with it and do what works best for you — but make the most of the tool.

Schedule time on a regular basis to accomplish the steps in your plan. If you know you will need a lot of time, over a good chunk of time, go ahead and schedule it. You will run into the calendar entry, hopefully, and remember to chip away at the project.

If you block time on your schedule on a monthly and weekly basis, you make sure you stumble over what you need to do. Some of us need that extra help! Often distractions consume our days, but if your calendar simply reminds you that you need to spend an hour paying bills today in spite of those distractions, you have a helping hand.

Leaving the House Without Losing Your Mind

The title for this one came from a friend. Pretty descriptive, isn’t it? For those of us who can instantly relate to the phrase, here are some things to think about.

Be ready before you get ready to leave. Allowing enough time in your day to get ready is key here. When you do your daily planning, know what is coming and make sure you can prepare effectively. If not, rearrange or cut something out. Set yourself up for success.

On the way out the door to the ballgame is not the time to think about the snacks you volunteered to bring. If you look at your calendar before grocery shopping, you’ll have the box ready and waiting when it’s time.

It’s so tempting to put off getting gas, but it hurts to have to stop when you are running late. Keep the tank maintained, and you’ll be ready to go.

Replenish the diaper bag when you come home (and still remember that you are used all the clean clothes), and you will be ready to pick it up and walk out the door. It may not be possible the minute you walk in the door, but resetting soon, after immediate needs are met, will save you time and energy in the long run.

Keep items that need to go somewhere in a spot by the door. I have a bench ¬†and a shelf by the front door so I see stuff that should come with me (i.e., a book to return at the library, a gift for a friend). If it’s not the very next trip, I will see it again before the trip I need it.

Strategic things in strategic places. If you always need tissues or wipes wherever you are, keep a pack in your purse, in your car, in your backpack — wherever you are regularly. The less you need to remember to bring with you, the less time you spend.

We have a bowl of individually packaged snacks on the kitchen island, ready to grab on the way out the door as needed. No need to go scrounging at the last minute. They are replenished when needed when groceries are put away, not when it’s time to leave.

Take a minute to plan. Your stops, your route, what you need, etc. Know what you are doing before you pull out of the driveway. It’s safer, for one thing, but it also will eliminate U-turns and confusion. That minute up front pays off with no frustrating minutes later. This also gives you one last chance to remember something you may need to bring with you.

Cleaning up after yourself along the way helps here too. You don’t need to stop to clean the house before you leave just to avoid coming back to a mess. Pick up messes as you go, and you can walk in and out the door with a (reasonably) clean view.