Life Hacks to Make Your New Year Go Smoother
In my work as a therapist and in real life mothering, I have accumulated countless hours in working with folks with ADHD. They typically have a hard time completing tasks due to inattention, impulsivity or both. I like to implement some cool life hacks to help complete tasks. Turns out these hacks are just good for all of us!
This task trips up a lot of us because it is essentially a five step process: Sort, Wash, Dry, Fold and Put Away. Bonus points if you include ironing and stain removal aids.
My first hack is to automate sorting in a two plus person household by each person having their own laundry basket. This means that the owner of clothes is in charge of washing, drying and folding and putting away their own clothes. A natural sorting happens as the contents of your basket go into the washer - throw in all the darks and pull all the lights for the next load.
The next hack I like to do is with that dreaded journey from the dryer to drawer. I actually have three!
First, I don’t pull my clothes from the dryer until I’m committed to putting it away. That means I hit tumble dry on “wrinkle release” uh... multiple times before I pull it out. Second, fold the clothes in the room they need to be put away. Now you are very close to your drawers and closet and you are more likely to go ahead and put them away at the same time.
My last hack for laundry is for this items you gotta pull clean clothes from the dryer but don’t have time to put it away. Spread it all over your bed as evenly as possible. This helps to eliminate wrinkles and will likely force you to address putting away your clothes before you head to bed at the end of day.
These aren’t perfect hacks for everyone all the time, but they can increase the likelihood of competing your laundry from start to finish in one day!
Lists and Reminders
Are you a list making person? I don’t gravitate to making a list to set out my day, but I greatly benefit from doing a brain dump on paper or on my phone or my calendar.
Why does this work so well?
As human beings, our short term memory isn’t meant to future events for a long time or to juggle too ,any things. It starts to feel stressed when you have to keep saying “self, don’t forget to pick up avocados for dinner tonight, write a blog tonight, and call this person back for work.”
If you jot it down, then you won’t have the stress of reminding yourself multiple times before completing the task. You can just refer to your notebook, planner or phone.
This is a great tool to teach your kids as well - particularly those with ADHD. Have a daily essentials sheet written down for them look at. This teaches them to empower themselves to remember to do the essentials (brush teeth, put shoes away, do homework) rather than rely on an adult to remind them.
We all have mundane things we gotta do that we don’t wanna do, am I right? I like to pair a reward for completion of those boring things. For instance, watching tv and relaxing after dishes are done. Breaking up a long study hour with a few minutes of gaming. The promise of a refreshing hot shower after a good cardio workout. Texting friends after putting laundry away.
Contain Your Stuff
Usually therapists don’t advise containing your stuff - we like you exploring your emotions and baggage! Here, I mean your physical stuff. Do you feel like you own your stuff or does your stuff own you? Meaning, every item you win needs to be taken care of, stored in some way and take up your space.
I like the idea of “bring something in, take something out”. For instance, if I buy a new shirt to hang, and see no available free hangers, I don’t buy more hangers! I find something to donate.
Mess Invites Mess
If you see mail clutter on a counter from yesterday, you are more likely to add today’s mail to the pile to deal with later. If you see dirty dishes in the sink, other people in the house are more likely to add to the sink rather than the dishwasher. Addressing little messes on the daily will avoid bigger messes at the end of the week or month.
Bigger messes tend to make us feel overwhelmed. If you are having a hard time developing the habit of cleaning up daily little messes, this where you might want to write a list down to refer to or pair a reward to completing those small tasks.
The reality is that we aren’t perfect and sometimes life gets messy. Maybe these hacks will help along the way. Cheers!
Jenny Elledge, LMFT is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who specializes in couples counseling, sexual issues, faith and life transitions, mixed-faith relationships and parenting issues. She is well-versed in working with entrepreneurs and telecommuters and the intersection of work/home balance. Additionally, she assists those with anxiety, depression, ADHD, PTSD and trauma work. She offers both therapy and coaching services in-office and online for couples, adults, older children and teenagers.