Tips on Getting Organised and Reducing Stress That Work for Me by Boutaina
Motherhood is a full-time job in itself. Add on co-founding a company while raising three young children, all in the midst of a global pandemic, and you have a recipe for utter chaos! Though I wouldn’t have it any other way, it can really feel like having multiple full-time jobs that require 100% of my attention 24/7. And when you’re that busy, it’s natural for things to get messy at home. I like my living space to be relatively neat, so a messy home can really add on to my stress.
So, I take matters into my own hands. As a full-time co-founder and mum, making time and headspace for anything else can get really difficult. And so, I found a way to kill two birds with one stone – organising! Organising is a great way for me to destress. It’s a time that I carve out for myself to reorganise my home as well as my mind.
I’ve gathered some great tips from fellow mumpreneurs, stay-at-home mums and my own experiences that have worked well for me so far, so if you’re a mum looking to get organised and reduce stress, check them out below!
Declutter Your Home
Decluttering is my first step to getting organised. Toys, clothes, books – all things that children grow out of very quickly and if you’re not on top of things, you can find them piling up and cluttering your home really fast.
For me personally, reducing clutter helps me clear my mind as well. I also see it as a way of being kind towards my future self, reducing her stress when she’s looking for something urgently.
The most effective way for me to declutter my home is to first take stock of what I have, need, want and can do without. After that, I sort those into 4 different piles – things to keep, donate and throw. Anything that I haven’t reached for in the last 6-8 months automatically goes into the donate pile. This helps to keep the things in my house down to those that we actually need and use regularly.
As a mum of three children under 10, the toy-pocalypse hits my house quite regularly. I’m constantly tripping over toys that my children somehow grow bored of very quickly. What I’ve found is that regularly rotating the toys that my children play with every couple of months helps keep them “new”, even though they might have had them for a while. This also helps them understand the value of the toys and they’re in turn more likely to play with them longer. Their playroom and the rest of the house is also kept clutter-free, which makes me a very happy camper!
Set up a personal space wherever I am
Personal time and space are something that you get to enjoy once in a blue moon when you’re a full-time mum and co-founder. The pandemic and the resulting home-schooling and increased time spent at home has resulted in my personal study being very lovingly invaded by my kids. I try to work around it by having a set of items that I always take around with me wherever I am in the house, to help me keep track of my day.
My most important item is my productivity planner, from Jordan Page’s funcheaporfree. I refer to it constantly to see what’s next on my task list for the day. Next are my budget planner, work notebook and laptop for work-related activities. Lastly, it’s my pencil case. I like to go old-school with my note-taking and task lists, so I use coloured pens and pencils that I dedicate to each entity e.g. my children, my company etc. This way, at a quick glance, I am able to see who and what I need to work on next.
Taking these items with me around the house helps ground me in whatever tasks I’m doing at that moment.
Planning my day
As a working mum, sometimes my days tend to melt together, between school runs, meetings and social responsibilities.
A couple of disastrous mix-ups early on very quickly taught me the importance of planning ahead. Before the start of the week, I do a “brain dump” and populate my to-do list with everything I need to do for the next few days, and I mean, everything – from organising board meetings to ordering cat food. I then assign these tasks to myself to be completed during specific “hour-blocks” throughout the day and week. I group similar tasks together, in terms of location, type or difficulty level. I personally was not able to follow a timetable with specific timings for each task, because the extremely dynamic nature of my work and life meant that things inevitable got delayed and spilled over and ended up adding on to my stress instead. I found that visualising my day using this hour-block method of organising my tasks gives me a lot more breathing room and freedom to rearrange them to my convenience.
Every night, I double check my calendar for the following day’s events and set reminders on my phone for important tasks. It’s a ten-minute task right before I head to bed but really helps me start my day right. I also get to avoid any unnecessary stress and anxiety that I have to face.
I love using Productivity Planners from funcheaporfree (disclaimer: they do not ship to Singapore). They’re incredible useful and super handy to carry around the house and office. If you’re more tech-inclined, there are many productivity apps like Todoist, Notion and Evernote that can help you keep your life neatly organised on the go.
However, no matter how much you plan, the universe might have other plans and mess things up. I admit, I do get very flustered when things go off-track and I’m caught unawares. I try my best to have a Plan B and C for such days, but that still requires a lot of self-reassurance that I might not always be able to summon.
By no means is this a definitive guide for reducing stress through organising After much trial and error, I’ve found a rhythm that I personally have seen work best for me, and I hope some of it, if not all, resonates with you and everyone who can relate.
Some days are good and some days can be bad, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you find yourself struggling to manage. Pick yourself up, ask for help and restart. Everyone’s on their own journey and we’ll get there eventually!