Early Days

5 ways to simplify your life

We horsey gals are much busier than the average non-horsey gals. Between rides and shows and a whole slew of extra errands and chores that come with horses, regular life chores like dishes and laundry and meal planning may take a backseat. So here are 5 things that I have learned over the last few years that have helped my life run smoother overall:

#1. Just a few minutes. Set a timer.
You come home from the barn, and you feel your anxiety start to climb as you notice the sink full of dirty dishes and a whole heap of clothes that need to get folded. You’re already tired and know you can’t muster the energy to take care of it all right now. But, you can chip away at it for just 15 minutes. Or 10 minutes. Whatever. Get your phone out and set a timer, then tackle the dishes or the clothes. When the timer goes off, the end. It doesn’t have to be “all or nothing” with chores. Little bits add up.

#2. Keep rags and all-purpose cleaner under each sink.
Cleaning the bathroom or the kitchen doesn’t have to be “all or nothing” either. Keeping cleaning supplies handy allows you to do a spray-and-wipe of counter tops and other surfaces quickly. After you brush your teeth or grab a glass of water, grab a rag and the spray bottle and do a quick wipe. Don’t move any stuff, just wipe what’s clear. The Fly Lady’s Swish & Swipe has helped me have “guest-ready” restrooms at all times. I keep a plastic bag under the sink too for the used rags. Again, little efforts adding up.

#3. Put away clean dishes before doing dirty dishes.
This is one of those simple things I wish someone would have told me years ago. Instead, I invented this method (as I am sure many others have also done) in a fit of frustration when doing dishes, realizing I have no where to put a clean dish because the drying rack or dishwasher is full! Sometimes just changing the order of how we do things can reduce stress and simplify our lives.

#4. A place for everything, and everything in it’s place.
The first half of that sentence is the most important. When you are doing a quick tidy-up of a room, and you have some items that don’t belong there, it can be stressful when you don’t know where to put something. It probably gets shoved in the miscellaneous drawer, or a corner of the closet or something. The next time this happens, ask yourself where this item’s permanent home should be. Making a decision about where an item belongs is freeing – it means you relocate it once instead of multiple times.

#5. Map your grocery list.

Do you shop at the same grocery store every time? If not, consider it. Before you go shopping, sit down with your grocery list and identify where each item is located in the store. For example, I put “D” next to items found in the deli/produce, R for items on the right-hand side of the store, M for middle, L for left. If my list is long, I’ll re-write the list on a fresh piece of paper, sorting everything by location. Then when you shop, start from one side of the store and go to the other side. If you don’t know where an item is, put it at the top of the list. Shopping at the same grocery store is key to learning where items are. This has saved me at least 20 minutes each shopping trip – I used to go back and forth all over the store!

Bonus #6. Delegate.
Wedding planning made me realize that its OK to ask for help, and that people are willing to help you if you simply ask nicely. Kindly requesting that your husband or roommate or mom or friend help you with something may result in them doing it for you. And if they say no, then that’s okay. But help is often there for the asking. Also, think about your regular recurring household chores and responsibilities. Paying the mortgage, putting trash bins out, cleaning up dog poop in the yard, watering plants, etc – if you live with someone, are the responsibilities divided evenly? Might be time for a chat. In our house, I do the chores that Rick hates, and he does the chores that I hate, and the result is that we are both doing chores but get to avoid the ones that really bug us.

6 comments on “5 ways to simplify your life

  1. Love the advice. tThanks for the post. :)


  2. Love the timer idea!


  3. Great post :)


  4. Good ideas!


  5. All great ideas, Sarah. :0)

    I'll admit it. I am the QUEEN of organized. Being organized is what allows me to spend an hour and a half each day, Monday through Friday at the barn. I spend 3 – 4 hours a day over the weekend.

    In my early twenties, I let the pile of stuff overwhelm me to the point that nothing was getting done until a marathon clean up day on Saturdays. I realized that I hated spending the WHOLE day cleaning house, doing, laundry, etc. so I did something similar to your timer idea. I set myself the task of doing just three things after work every day. Before too long, some of the tasks became my routine, like dealing with the mail, and I had to find more things to do. :0)

    I'd like to add a few things to your list if I may. For #2, I keep containers of Clorox wet wipes under every sink. They do a good job of wiping things down without the need for doing laundry.

    For #3, I put away last night's dishes as I prepare my lunch and breakfast in the morning.

    For #5, this is my biggest time saver. I don't map out the list, but I shop at the same store so I already know where everything is. I make my complete week's menu on one side of the list and all necessary items on the other side. When I get home, I put the menu side on the 'fridge, and my evening dinner preparation is a snap. I know I have everything, and I don't have to think about what to prepare. This is a good thing because by the time I am done at the barn and have showered, it's often 6:30 and we're both pretty hungry.

    I didn't start using number #6 until a few years ago. I've also had a housekeeper for 20 years, so that helps a ton as well. Hubby started doing his own laundry a few years ago. I realized that he could do more around the house, and was even willing; I just hadn't asked him. Now, he deals with the mail, the trash, the dog poop, and even emptying the dishwasher.

    I am always on a quest to maximize time, especially my barn time. Thanks for the great ideas.


  6. Mapping my grocery list has helped me SO MUCH. I even took pictures of the signs for each aisle and categorize that way, so I don't waste time going down aisles I don't need to.


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