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Springtime offers a sense of renewal similar to the start of the new year. However, many use the first three months to figure out what is and isn’t working and edit accordingly. It’s only after the first quarter that people begin to spring into action and tidy up areas of their life.
As you decide how you want your year to go, remember an optimal work-life balance doesn’t have to look good for everyone, it just has to look good for you. Rather than wait for the mess of life to spin out of control, here are a few 15-minute tips for spring-cleaning your life and maintaining it throughout the rest of the year.
Related: 7 Ways to Make Your Life More Organized and Efficient
Schedule prep on Sunday
A too-busy schedule can easily lead to burnout and make you less productive and effective overall. Reviewing your calendar before embarking on the work week can save you a lot of time and frustration come Monday. While no one necessarily wants to work over the weekend, think of this as a simple tidying-up task.
Set an alarm for 15 minutes to look at your week ahead and make adjustments. This time restriction will prevent you from getting lost down a rabbit hole of emails and calendar invites. Clear out any meetings that can be shortened, rescheduled or eliminated. Add time for a proper meal, daily breaks and transition time between tasks and meetings.
Having an idea of what to expect and prioritizing at least a few minutes for yourself every day will help you feel in control of your schedule and not the other way around.
Empty everything unused
If Sunday is your jumpstart to the week, consider Friday a time to declutter before the weekend. Again, take 15 minutes to declutter your space. This will prevent things from piling up to an overwhelming amount. First, dust your workspace and empty the trash. Take dishes to the sink and wipe down your screens. Then, take a look at your emails and delete or organize them as needed.
An overflowing inbox instantly feels overwhelming to tackle, so if yours is out of control, start with 10. Choose ten emails to delete or file away. Doing this more frequently will give you a better idea of what’s important to read and save and what’s junk. Then, once you’ve done a quick clean of your desktop, do the same with your fridge.
Trash leftovers from the week and expired foods. It’s all too easy to shove everything to the back of the refrigerator, where it’ll eventually turn rotten and make cleanup a longer, a messier chore. Tidying up your desk space, inbox and refrigerator often feels more ominous than it is. It can be cleaned up quickly, and you’ll feel like working from a clean slate come Monday.
Put your to-do list into action
A to-do list can easily become a place for procrastination if not edited and acted upon regularly. Write down all the upcoming appointments and errands you need to do and break them down by week. Tackle one or two at a time rather than trying to handle everything all at once. Prolonging the to-do only makes it much harder to be motivated to take action.
Prioritize your list from most to least important tasks. Also, take advantage of time-saving technology to ease your responsibilities. For example, scheduling a telehealth appointment versus planning an in-person doctor’s visit. Set up a grocery delivery rather than battling lines at the store. Then, the time saved on your to-dos can be redistributed for “fun ” tasks, like meeting a friend for coffee, taking a walk around the park or reading a few chapters of a book.
To clean up your to-do list, create tasks in the way you’ll get them done. Meaning for some, this is adding to a digital calendar. For others, it’s physically writing them down and crossing them off as they’re completed. Wherever you create and manage your list, make it a place you’ll check often and work into your day-to-day rather than think of whenever you have a “spare moment.”
Related: 7 Productivity Tips to Help You Accomplish Your Biggest Goals
Plan for the future
While there may be times it feels like keeping your head above water is the most you can manage, it’s important also to carve out time to plan for your future. Whether financially, physically or for enjoyment, make an appointment with yourself to go over your goals and interests.
It’s easy to become solely driven by what others need or expect from us. However, it’s not a sustainable way to live a happy life. Planning your future might entail reprioritizing how you spend your time. For instance, if you sit down and spend an hour on social media every evening, maybe reduce it to a half hour to start. Fill in the remaining time by focusing on what matters to you.
In our hyper-productive world, taking a few minutes for yourself may feel indulgent and even take some time to get used to. But you might be surprised to find how many small pockets of time there are when spring cleaning your life. A 15-minute effort regularly can make a big lifestyle difference.