You need to pay the bills. I’m pretty sure you don’t sit down at your desk, pay one bill, then go and clean the toilet. Well, maybe you do. But probably you sit down and pay all the bills all at once, writing out the checks, stamping the envelopes and filing away the invoices.

Try using this system—it is a system—for other like tasks. For example:

Telephone calls.
Replying to emails
Running errands

There are two ways to clean a house. One way is one room at a time. It’s nice to have one room completely done. Another day, you do another room. But this is not the best system for saving time. For each room, you have to gather your equipment—vacuum cleaner, dust mop, dust rag, cleaning solution(s), high mop–and take them to the room. Then you have to put them all away. Next room, another day, repeat. What I do is vacuum the whole house one day (I also wash the kitchen floor that day). On another day, I dry mop the floors and dust. Another day, I clean the bathrooms and kitchen. Done on a regular schedule, everything remains clean enough for company.

There is something called mindfulness. For me this means paying attention to what you’re doing. Take stock every so often. Then see if you can figure out a better way to do the routine things you have to do every day, week, month, and year. This is a great way to get your life streamlined, leaving you time to do the things you enjoy the most.

Have you ever done this with a particular chore? Tell us about it in the comments. I love learning new tricks.


Most of us have things that we just don’t like to do for one reason or another. Depending on what those things are, we can blow them off most of the time (is it absolutely necessary for you to write a holiday newsletter every year?) or we absolutely have to do them (sorry, the kitchen has to be cleaned on a regular basis).

And it may be that you can blow it off, but you’re really rather do whatever-it-is because it will move your most-favored goals forward. Your most-favored goals are those that you have at the top of your goal list. You have a goal list, right? And you have put it in order of priority. If not, stop a few minutes and do that, now.

What has been proven the best way to move your most-favored goals ahead? Do whatever-it-is first. At the start of your day. Your resistance is lower then, but your motivation is highest. This is when you have the most optimism for getting things done. And once you do this a few times, you’ll realize that it makes the rest of your day so much better. You can pat yourself on the back for getting that chore out of the way and over with.

This is a particularly important thing to do when it involves your most important goals in life. That’s why so many people who exercise regularly (even those who don’t particularly enjoy exercising) do it first thing in the morning. This is why so many creative people get up before the rest of their family to create their art. This is how the best businesspeople get the best results. And this is how many great housekeepers keep the house spotless—tackle that dirty oven or cluttered, needs-cleaning refrigerator first thing.

Try it for three weeks (the time it usually takes to form a new habit) and see if it works for you.


Something you need to do soon, or want done by the end of the week? Place an object in sight that will catch your eye and thus nag you frequently during the day.

  • I have a problem with magazines piling up, unread. Probably because I stash them away, out of sight. Now I plop one on the table next to where I sit to remind me to read through it when I have a few moments. After I’m done with it, I get another one out. I also tear out the ads and pages as I read them and throw them away because I tend to skip around instead of reading straight through. Each magazine gets smaller and smaller, I don’t have to remember what I read and haven’t read, and it helps me realize it won’t take that long to finish it. Husband reads from front to back, and he simply folds down the last page he read. Do what’s best for you.
  • Been putting off the dusting? Take whatever you dust with—rag, feather duster, micro cloth–and put it where your glance will catch it often. Get out the vacuum or dust mop if your dusting is up to date. I don’t recommend putting the toilet brush within sight, though. You’re just going to have to remember that chore on your own.
  • Need to send a sympathy/birthday/get well card, but you’ve been putting it off because you have to look up the address and put a stamp on the envelope? Put it right next to where you sit to relax.
  • Keep forgetting to empty the dishwasher? Open the door when it’s finished running, even if you don’t have time to empty it right then. The open door will remind you to put everything away.

You get the idea. What tricks can you think of to nag, er, help you remember to get something done that really, really needs doing?