If you know what you need to do but can’t get yourself to actually do it, then you need to know the single easiest productivity hack in the world.
It works for even the toughest cases of chronic disorganization and it’s so easy that few people ever think to try it.
Start With a To Do List
When most people make a to-do list, it’s based on the things they have to do.
- Put the clothes away from your “sacrificial laundry day.”
- Clean the master bathroom.
- Call and change the doctor’s appointment time.
- Make a detailed schedule for the child care facility helping my kids through Zoom meetings.
But since we always have the bare minimum to do, anything on your list is also added to the basics of dishes, laundry, and schedule book.
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Warning: There’s a pretty strong disclaimer on this productivity hack.
Usually, I spend all of my time trying to get you to focus on the bare minimum (dishes, laundry, and schedule book) instead of the to-do lists you’re making.
Do the Bare Minimum
If you’re new here, you’re going to get more accomplished by just doing the bare minimum and then walking away. Instead of trying to pack in extra stuff.
It’s a weird psychology but it works, and it’s been proven over and over again in Hot Mess to Home Success.
Does that mean you can’t do anything other than those things?
Of course not, but it does mean if you don’t prioritize those bare minimum takes and taking TIME OFF from doing more as a reward, you’ll always stay in the trashed to untrashed cycle.
Start With The Basics
I think it’s really important to start off by saying that when I give you tips and advice. Because the tips and advice will only work the way I intend it to if you already understand the basics.
While this will work in any circumstance, I don’t want you to fill your day with “things that don’t matter” just because you learned a productivity hack to motivate yourself to do it.
Will you be more productive?
Will your house get cleaner?
Because while you’re off being a busy bee and getting stuff done, if you don’t have the foundation to keep it clean, it’ll fall back into disarray in no time at all.
And if you don’t prioritize the time it takes to reward yourself for doing the bare minimum effort, then you’ll eventually be like… “Huh, I’m getting more done but I’m not any happier.”
Which means you’ll eventually say screw it and fall into scrolling Instagram and binge watching old Bachelor in Paradise Seasons because without any reward, it’s impossible to find the motivation long term.
That’s a lot of disclaimers for a productivity hack, and with good reason. It’s a powerful tip.
From Task Based to Time Based
Whenever you write a to do list, change the way you think about it from a task based action to a time based action.
Meaning if your task is “clean the laundry room”…
Most people will write down “clean the laundry room” and then cross it off when the laundry room is clean.
Depending on your personality, some people will see that task and…
- Clean the laundry room right away and cross it off.
- Kind of clean the laundry room (at least tame the worst of it) just to cross it off.
- Get overwhelmed with how messy the laundry room is and push it off till tomorrow.
- Get overwhelmed and push it off every day for weeks or months.
If you naturally do #1, you can stop reading this and go do something else. You don’t need me.
I focus on behavior modification, specializing in chronically disorganized people.
The Easiest Productivity Hack
For the rest of you, what if instead of writing “clean the laundry room” you listed that task (and thought of it as) “15 minute block-laundry room.”
You’d set a timer for 15 minutes, put your phone on silent (and put it someplace awkwardly inconvenient to hide it), and then go clean for that 15 minutes.
Knowing that when 15 minutes is done, you’ve completed the task. And, if it’s necessary, you can complete an additional 15 minutes tomorrow.
Bonus tip: We have a wildly popular life planner that helps you do this and gives you a weekly tracker for the bare minimum so you never have to worry about how to prioritize.
Pro tip: Never do a block of time longer than 25 minutes (unless you’ve been doing this for years and you’ve proven that you can stay focused for that long). And always plan at least a 5-minute break after a 25-minute time block.
25 minutes can be overwhelming if you’re an easily distracted person. It will likely be easier for you to start with 15 minutes.
If you have ADD, ADHD, executive dysfunction, or chronic pain… consider doing 3 blocks of 5 minutes each instead of one 15 minute block.
Fun fact: You’d be shocked to know how many tasks (that seem like they will take hours) don’t need more than 15 minutes to complete.
You don’t have to commit to some crazy big plan here. Just start the next time you have a to-do list, and write 15 minutes next to the task. Then cross it off when you’ve done your 15 minutes. It’s the easiest productivity hack ever.
And if nothing else, do it to prove me wrong. 🤷
P.S. If you’re feeling like no matter what you do you can’t get your house under control (not to mention your budget!) we completely understand. If you are sick of spending all day “catching up”, only to have it completely trashed again in a few days, then you should check out our FREE training “Why Your House is Trashed: The 3 Step Shortcut to Transform Your Home For Good With No Extra Time” which will walk you through how to break that cycle once and for all.
The training will walk you step by step through the three foundational routines that will help you manage all aspects of your home no matter how bad your situation is right now.
Implementing this core foundation allows you to work with your personality (and your specific situation) to create a custom plan to manage your dishes, laundry, schedule book, meal planning, budgeting, and a cleaning routine in less than one hour a day. You read that right, ONE HOUR A DAY.
If you want to take it a step further, we can teach you how to automate a ton of stuff in your home (without paying for it), giving you back HOURS of your life (yes, even your crazy life!). Then once you get the foundation set, we move on to more complex skills like meal planning, budgeting, and cleaning.
This is a proven system that’s been field-tested by thousands of people. People that have tried everything and could never keep their house clean or stick to a budget.
If you are ready to get started, you can sign up for the FREE one-hour training “Why Your House is Trashed: The 3 Step Shortcut to Transform Your Home For Good With No Extra Time” here…
Going along with your suggestion to set blocks aside to complete tasks…
I think one strong tip is to “batch” tasks together. Using your laundry example, it might make sense to fold the laundry and cycle your summer/winter clothes out since you’re already in there.
It might make sense to clean the bathroom tub at the same time as you’re mopping the floors up. You’ve got similar tools/supplies needed for both cases and you might cut a little out of the total task time by batching them together for efficiency.
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As someone who finds it extremely hard to get motivated when it comes to housework, I find a few things that really help me are music, and dividing the room up. Music, because – who can function without it! Dividing the room up also helps, so if I have a large messy room, such as kitchen or bedroom, I will start with the sides, then the floor, then the cupboards/ wardrobes etc. Breaking them down into smaller tasks makes it less daunting!