C.H.a.O.S Week One {7 Super Habits}

52 weeks button

Welcome to Week One of 52 Weeks of C.H.a.O.S! This week we’re going to talk about 7 Super Habits that are going to change your life. I know because they’ve already made a huge difference in mine.

If you’re new to C.H.a.O.S., make sure to read last week’s post for an explanation. The short version is that it stands for Complete Home Overhaul System. This is a program for the extremely right-brained. Like me! We’re going to whip our homes (and our lives) into shape over the next year. And we’re going to do it our way. Click the button above to get an email reminder of next week’s post and your copy of the free 23-page C.H.a.O.S. Binder Quick Start Guide.

The 7 Super Habits

For those of us who were born disorganized and right-brained, long lists of things that we’re ‘supposed’ to do can leave us looking like a deer in headlights.

Once we recover, the guilt sets in. Other people can have clean houses and have color-coordinated children and a balanced checkbook, all at the same time. They never, ever get that horrible, sinking feeling that comes when you remember what you forgot just as you’re falling asleep. There must be something wrong with me. Right? It sure feels that way sometimes. I mean, am I the only one who loves the creative aspect of setting up these complicated systems, but then completely loses interest in actually implementing them?

Here’s the thing. If I need your system to help me get myself together enough to keep my house clean and decluttered, I’m really not likely to be the type of person to manage a complicated system for doing that.

I just happen to be a very, very right-brained girl. Trying to follow a plan designed by and for people who were born organized will never work for me. I need to come at this stuff from a different direction. Each day for the next week, we’re going to add a habit. By the end of the week, we’ll be doing all seven of them–five every day and two once a week. I promise that these are so easy and will have such a positive affect on your life. It will be easier to keep doing them than to quit.

The first three habits are tricky little household tasks that give you way more bang than their buck calls for. The second three are about starting to get control of time management. The last is more like a head start than a habit.

I made you a Jump Start Guide you can print out to help you remember the habits this week.

Okay–here we go!

7 super habits

Habit One: Shine Your Sink

This habit comes to you via Pam Young and Peggy Jones, the Sidetracked Sisters and from their predecessor, The Fly Lady. It’s simple. Just make sure your dishes are done before you go to bed. Dry the sink (I usually use the damp towel to wipe the counters down. Easy peasy.) Declare your kitchen closed for the night.

There is something psychologically blah about waking up to yesterday’s mess. Obviously, if you’re thinking about a home overhaul, you probably aren’t one of those born-organized folks and you might have yesterday’s (and the last decade’s) mess all over the place, but if your sink is empty and clean it feels like a fresh start every day. I unload the dishwasher while Ruby’s eating breakfast. Or I delegate that chore to one of my kids.

Just a note of warning. I’ve linked to the Fly Lady site and included a post to read about shining your sink in the action plan below, but don’t let yourself get overwhelmed. If you sign up there, you’re going to get dozens of ‘reminder’ emails a day and if you’re anything like me, that’s just way too much pressure.

Habit Two: Do a Load of Laundry

Start a load of laundry before you go to bed. Put it in the dryer in the morning, then fold it and put it away. Done.

Here’s my secret to this habit. You’re the laundry manager, not the laundry machine. You only need to make sure that a load of laundry gets washed, dried, and put away every day. You don’t have to do it yourself. Delegate it if you can. If all of your kids are small this might all fall on you for now, but switching the laundry to the dryer in the morning is a great chore for older kids. In fact, if you have any kids who are older than say nine or ten, you can assign each of them a day to start their own load of laundry at night, put it in the dryer in the morning, and put it away after school. That totally counts, and you didn’t even have to do anything! Teaching your big kids do their own laundry means that even if you have a large family, you never have to manage more than one load a day.

Habit Three: Keep your Entry Neat

This is the last tricky habit. If your house is anything like my house, the entry is the place where shoes, backpacks, mail, and just about everything else gets dumped by everyone on their way in. If you keep this area of your house picked up, not only will people knocking on your door believe your house is clean, you’ll get a boost out of it, too. Just take a minute when you’re locking up at night and put away anything that needs putting away. If you do this every day, it shouldn’t ever take you more than a few minutes. If someone has left more than a few minutes worth of mess, it’s time for a family meeting!

In fact, I bet keeping your entry neat is going to make you very aware of just who is dumping all of their stuff and leaving it there, right inside the front door. Sometimes when the whole house is in need of a major overhaul, it’s hard to narrow it down to one thing (like put your backpack on a hook, dude, not on the floor.) Focusing in on just one small area helps.

A Note About the First Three Habits

These first three super habits basically break down to about 15 minutes before you go to bed at night (load your dishwasher, start a load of laundry or make sure someone else does, and straighten up your entryway) and 15 minutes in the morning (unload the dishwasher, make sure that load of laundry is dried and put away.) Maybe even 10 minutes. That takes care of three things that can really build up on you during the week–dishes, laundry, and the place where everyone dumps everything when they come in the front door. Nice, right?

Habit Four: Dump Your Brain

No, really. Dumping your brain is a great way to make sure all that head clutter doesn’t stop up the works. I have two brain dumps. One is a 4X6 yellow legal pad from the Dollar Tree for my desk. The other is a Hipster PDA for my purse.

Brain Dump #1

brain dump 2

I keep a the yellow pad above on my desk. I write down whatever thoughts, ideas, lists, plans, reminders, come to mind. If it’s in my head, it goes on my pad. Any notes I need to take during a telephone call go in this pad. When the grocery ads come in Tuesday’s mail, I write the loss leaders on a page in my brain dump. If I come across something online that I want to research, in it goes. I also keep a running page for any spending I do from my desk. I actually have a notebook dedicated to story ideas, because it’s important to me not to have them all in one place, but otherwise everything else goes in this notebook until I can deal with it. I like it because the pages are big enough for me to hole punch and add to my binder if I want or need to.

Brain Dump #2

hipster pda 1 Hipster pda 2

I’ve struggled with how to manage a brain dump away from my desk. I tried a little notebook, but it went completely ignored because it was never where I needed it, when I needed it. Finally, I remembered reading a few years ago about the Hipster PDA (HPDA)–just a bunch of index cards and a binder clip. Perfect! I think, anyway. I’m just starting to use it. I’ll update you about it in a few weeks when I have a better idea of how and whether it’s going to work. My HPDA has: A brain dump card on top, then a shopping list card for things that I want to keep an eye out for while I’m out and about, 8 or 10 blank cards, a little stapled holder for restaurant coupons (what good are those going to do me on my desk? None! I always end up paying full price), and a PocketMod for keeping track of spending (which nearly always happens outside the house.) I keep the PocketMod folded so that today’s date is on the outside. That way I can write on the brain dump card or write down a purchase without shuffling.

My PocketMod, for what it’s worth, is a weekly thing. I use the ‘This Week’ page as the front page on the template, then the ‘Checkbook’ template for the other seven pages. I don’t really use the weekly calendar, except to date the spending tracker.

I keep my HDPA in my wallet. It’s worked perfectly so far. Especially for writing down spending, which has been difficult for me, since I see it when I pay for something. I’ve seen people trick out their HPDAs to the point that they look like works of rainbow-color-coordinated, inventive-template-heaven pieces of art. I’m not kidding–there are sundials and star charts and miniature Battleship boards. Don’t let yourself get caught up in the fun of setting up something like that, and wind up with something that you will never use.

All you really need are a few index cards and a binder clip.

How to Brain Dump

Pick the system that you think will work for you. Experiment. You want something that you barely have to think about–you just automatically grab your brain dump whenever you have something to dump. It’s okay if it takes some getting used to and some time to find what works for you. Remember, you’re looking for something that’s so effortless, it’s more work for you not to use it. Next week we’ll talk about what to do with the information you dumped out of your brain. For now, just revel in having it out of your head!

Habit Five: Use a Ta-da Book

A ta-da book is really just a to-do list, in book form, with a funny name that makes my 9-year-old laugh. Plus, there really is magic in writing your to-do list down. Ta-da! Things get done.

Get a little notebook. I like the kind you can buy two for a buck at Staples. Use one page per day to keep a to-do list. I start mine at night, when I look at my calendar for the next day, and finish it in the morning.

I keep my ta-da book on my desk. If I have something that needs to come with me (for instance, directions to an appointment or a complicated list of things to do outside the house on a certain day), I write that on an index card and put it in my HPDA. My suggestion, though, is not to get too uptight about your to-do list. Don’t beat yourself up if something doesn’t get done. It can be transferred to tomorrow’s list.

Here’s the inside of my ta-da book. As you can see, I just put the date and the day on the top line and start listing in no particular order. I list my writing goals, any calls I need to make, my blog post for the day, any housework I want to make sure to do, appointments, Ruby’s soccer practice and games, errands to run, anywhere I need to be that day. I don’t write down things that are automatic (take a shower, get dressed, brush my teeth, drive Ruby to school, etc.)

to do book

Habit Six: Make a Menu Plan

I’m going to give you one printable today. It’s an easy weekly menu plan. Just write in what you plan on cooking (or if you have other plans for dinner) each day. We’ll talk more about meal planning another week. For now, just print out the printable (double-sided if you can. Otherwise, only print the first page.) Since you don’t have a binder yet, you can do what my grandma always did. Clip it to a clipboard, stick a push pin into the inside of a cupboard door, and hang it up. Voila.

menu planner

You can probably definitely find prettier printables out there. Here’s the thing, though. I don’t like to waste ink (especially color ink) , so you won’t find pictures or shaded boxes or coordinated colors here. Remember, our goal is SIMPLE. And also cheap. Mine are so simple that you could just whip one up with a pen and paper.

Here’s one of mine filled out. The note reminds me to get out my second slow cooker for Friday night. The star on the meal means that I’ll be taking pictures to share with you guys. Here’s a tip for you that I actually learned with this particular meal plan. Write in the meals with pencil, or you will very likely wind up having to start fresh when you have so many cross outs and arrows that you don’t know what you’re supposed to cook.

menu planner


Habit Seven: Get 25 Things Out of Your House

You know all those grocery bags you have clogging up a corner of your hall closet/pantry/junk drawer? Grab a couple and pick a place in your house that needs some serious decluttering. Find 25 things that you can get out of there. I’m not talking about things to put away or regular old garbage to throw away. I mean THINGS. Put them in the grocery bags, put the grocery bags in your trunk. Drop them off next time you’re near a thrift store. Find 25 things in one day, or maybe 6 things a day every day–that’s 28 things. Bonus! If your entry way is cluttered, maybe start there. I’m going to start in my hall closet, which is in that area of my house.

My advice is not to get over confident and decide you’re going to do 25 things every day. You don’t want to burn out. Good places to start are junk drawers, hall closets, anyone’s clothes, books, kitchen cupboards. You get the idea.

Day-by-Day breakdown

MONDAY: Shine your sink before you go to bed.

TUESDAY: Unload the dishwasher. Shine your sink AND start a load of laundry before you go to bed.

WEDNESDAY: Unload the dishwasher. Shine your sink AND start a load of laundry AND pick up your entryway before you go to bed.

THURSDAY: Unload the dishwasher. Dry last night’s laundry and put it away. Throughout the day, dump your brain into a little notebook. Shine your sink AND start a load of laundry AND pick up your entryway before you go to bed.

FRIDAY: Unload the dishwasher. Dry last night’s laundry and put it away. Write your to-do list in your to-do book. Throughout the day, dump your brain into a little notebook. Shine your sink AND start a load of laundry AND pick up your entryway before you go to bed.

SATURDAY:  Unload the dishwasher. Dry last night’s laundry and put it away. Write your to-do list in your to-do book. Throughout the day, dump your brain into a little notebook. Make a menu for next week. Shine your sink AND start a load of laundry AND pick up your entryway before you go to bed.

SUNDAY: Unload the dishwasher. Dry last night’s laundry and put it away. Write your to-do list in your to-do book. Throughout the day, dump your brain into a little notebook. Find 25 things to get out of your house. Shine your sink AND start a load of laundry AND pick up your entryway before you go to bed.

Pay special attention to Friday’s list. That’s pretty much what you’ll be doing every day. You only need to get rid of 25 things and make a menu once a week. There’s an Jump Start Guide in the Action Plan below that might help you.

That’s it!

Don’t beat yourself up if it takes more than a week for all of these to become real habits for you. Do the best you can, and just keep going. I’d love to know how this week goes for you if you want to send me a note at shauntagrimes@gmail.com!

Action Plan

Click here for a printable action plan.

Sign up to get a notice of next week’s C.H.a.O.S. post in your email. (And your free C.H.a.O.S. Binder Quick Start Guide.)

Gather your supplies for this week:

Two little notebooks. I like the kind you can get two for a buck at Staples. Little spiral-bound notebooks work well, too. (Or one notebook and some index cards and a binder clip if you want to try the HPDA.)

A clipboard for your menu plan. You can keep your jump start guide on it as well. You can make a cute one yourself with cardboard and a binder clip if you don’t own one already.

7 Super Habits:

Print out the 7 Super Habits  Jump Start Guide.

Start implimenting the 7 Super Habits.

Brain Dump:

Put a pad of paper on your desk and use it to write down all the thoughts, ideas, notes, and plans that come to mind during the day.

Get a notebook or put together a Hipster PDA to use as a brain dump for your purse.

Meal Plan:

Print out your menu planning worksheet. Remember, only print both pages if you can print double sided. If your printer only does single sided, only print the first page. You might want to print up four or five to get you through the next month.

Put your filled out meal plan on a clipboard and hang it somewhere easily accessible, like inside a cupboard in your kitchen.

Gather your supplies for next week. You’re going to need:

For next week, you’ll need a 1 inch three-ring binder, a set of 8 dividers, a three-hole punch, and notebook paper.


Fly Lady’s post about shining your sink.

Introducing the Hipster PDA.

See you next week! We’re going to start building our binders.

* * *

Subscribe to Going Reno to get your free 23-page C.H.a.O.S. Binder Quick Start Guide

* * *

This post is linked to these awesome blogs:

Free Homeschool Deals,  Raising Memories, The Sits Girls, Show-and-Share Saturday, My Favorite Things,  Sparkles of Inspiration, Snickerdoodle Sunday, Think Pink Sunday, Life on Lakeshore Drive, It’s Over Flowing, Bewitchin’ Projects, Tumbleweek Contessa, You’re Gonna Love it Tuesday, The Scoop, Mommy Monday, Titus 2 Tuesday, Feeding Big, Turn it Up Tuesdays, Hip Homeschool HopA Bowl Full of Lemons, The Maker’s Link PartyInspire Us Tuesday, Elizabeth & Co., Beyond the Picket FenceJoy DareWhimsy WednesdayMommy Club Link Up, Wow Me WednesdayMom’s Morning CoffeeWhat You Wish Wednesday

9 thoughts on “C.H.a.O.S Week One {7 Super Habits}

  1. This is a great plan! I read that Fly Lady book years ago – I think I might have it still. Anyhow – some of her ways were too much for me and I figured out my own system. Since reading her book though I have always made sure kitchen is completely clean at end of evening and dishwasher running and coffee maker ready for the morning. I need to start the laundry thing though and have my kids (16 & two 13 yrs olds) help put in dryer in morning – that is a great idea! Also like that “brain dump” thing and the idea of the index cards. Pinned this.


  2. Awesome. I love the brain dump and how you reframed to-do into ta-da! What a great way to look at things. I am going to get a lot done today – ta-da!!


  3. Pingback: 9 Steps to Kicking Email Inbox Butt | Going Reno

  4. Pingback: C.H.a.O.S. {Binder: Calendar} | Going Reno

  5. Nice to meet another flybaby doing it her own way. Btw, there is a 24/7 flylady chat room (found through at the bottom of the flylady.net site,,,the people in it are wonderfully friendly and help cheer you on as you go about each day. There is a password, but not hard to figure out or you can email for it easily.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s