The straw that broke the camel’s back. Heard that saying before? It’s a cliché, yes, but clichés exist because they speak a truth so often told we almost don’t think about their meaning.
Because when I lose it, often at my nearest and dearest, it’s not the big things that tip me over into a monologue of catastrophizing. It’s the little things. Things like not being able to find my wallet, or forgetting to pick up the dry-cleaning after work, or the being unable to wedge shut the full-to-bursting rubbish bin that no-one ever seems to empty. Any of this sounding familiar?
Thankfully (for everyone in the house), I’ve been trying to improve by developing some everyday tricks that attend to those little things. If you’ve also experienced those so-called straws, I hope you find something useful here too.
Can’t find your keys, wallet or phone?
Identify ONE designated place for your wallet, phone, and keys. One of the reasons we lose these items so often is because they often don’t have a set place to live. Invest in a key holder, or if you don’t like the look of them, use something like us- we have a ceramic pineapple and we keep our keys in that. Make it even easier on yourself and place the wallet next to your keys and pop your phone there as well. There are some functional and fabulous key holders / shelves that you can buy for this purpose.
Once you have this place, you need to get into the habit of walking into the house and making sure these three things are the first things you put away. This can be challenging when you have an arm full of school bags or groceries, but it’s critical to the success of ingraining the habit.
Can’t find your keys in your bag?
Still on the keys, I have a handbag that seems to swallow things up and if I’m on edge, riffling through it trying to find said keys can cause a ridiculous level of frustration. However, I have a small pocket at the front of my handbag, so I have trained myself to put the keys in there rather than just dump them into my bag. Look at your own bag and assign a place for those babies. If you don’t have any pockets, you can try options such as buying a clip-on key chain and clipping your keys to your handbag’s handle. (This woman here uses lanyards for this purpose. Her idea is genius and I recommend you check it out).
Keep forgetting the jobs you need to do in town?
Both my husband and I work full time, and we go to work super early (we’re both teachers). We also live in the country, so if there is something we need to remember to do after school we really need to remember it, because once we get home it’s a heck of a long drive back in again. My solution for this is to write the job on a post-it the night before and immediately go stick the post it on the dash of the car (we use the sat nav as it’s right in the middle of the dash). The moment you get in the car after work, boom- you see it. You will never forget these jobs again.
Never remember to return items?
This ties in with the above but kind of in reverse. The idea is that when you have things that belong to other people that need to go back to them, you put them into what I call your “going out” drawer. Then before you leave the house you check the drawer. For me, this drawer is usually full of books I’ve borrowed from people or the library. Other common items include things like bowls or dishes from when people have been over, or clothes they may have left behind.
Always run out of one particular thing?
My husband and I are homebodies. Our job requires us to have a lot of interaction with people. We are also both introverts, so most of the time we aim to stay put on Saturdays at the least. Therefore, there is nothing worse than on a Saturday morning realizing that we are about to run out of coffee and a trip back into town is inevitable if we are to survive the next 48 hours. There is one simple solution to this. Follow the buy one when you see one rule. Now this works, as we only go into the supermarket once a week on average. I can see that this wouldn’t be that sensible if you went every day. But if you have a tendency to run out of bread, milk, toilet paper… consider this approach.
Keep forgetting to put gas in the car and then do some nail-biting journeys on empty?
I used to be one of those people who knew exactly how many kilometres they could drive when the gauge hit E. I have to say this was not a relaxing way to live. In addition, wondering when to fill the car up became a major waste of head space (I’ll do it after work… ugh now I’m too tired and I just want to get home… I’ll do it tomorrow morning. That’s if I can make it). Now the rule is this- as we drive past the service station on a Friday on the way home, we stop and fill up the car. No exceptions! This way we rarely get below ½ a tank.
Always battling with a full kitchen bin?
So we have one of those small bins in the kitchen that looks like a large drawer from the outside. It seems as though this bin is always just shy of being totally full. I swear this to be true. Anyway, for some reason I seem to have in my head that it is my husband’s job to empty this, but it is rarely that he reads my mind and does so. Maybe he expects the same of me. At any rate, we are always trying to cram just a little bit more in. So I decided to change my thinking on this. We empty the bag into a wheelie bin which is in the garage (attached to the house). The laundry area is also in the garage. So every time I’m in the kitchen and have to take anything to the garage or laundry, down goes the rubbish bag as well. No more bulging bins!
So there are my seven tips of little things you can do that can stop the insanity caused by the tiny frustrations. Of course, this doesn’t deal with my tendency to dump on my loved ones, but that’s the work of another day. I hope something here has been helpful to you, and I’d love to hear if that is the case- or if you have any other organizational hacks that make daily life more straightforward!