Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Erase Your Evidence!

Wouldn't it be lovely if every to-do was scratched off the list by the end of the day and every project was completed in a timely manner?  What if daily routines ran smoothly, all the time, and the house was orderly, day in and day out?  Well, we have good news and bad news.  

First of all, that ain't gonna happen - ever  (bad news)!  The good news is, however, our Big O: Organization Series featuring Monica Ricci, brings you one step closer, each episode, leading you down a path of a more simple, organized, productive and happy life in which those things are really possible ... a satisfying to-do list, finished projects, a de-cluttered house and easy routines!

Our listeners guide our show with helpful comments, questions and stories - before and after the release - and we thank you for those!  Here is a recent question from Michelle, one we had to share because we can all probably stand to improve our organizing habits!

Q:  I think my #1 household problem is a lack of "erasing the evidence" or "closing the loops" as you have said before, nobody in my house (yes, including myself) does this! My husband works out of our house, and we have 3 kids - (6 and 3 yrs) and at the end of the day you could probably retrace everything that happened that day. Do you have any tips on how to become more mindful of this, get in the habit and how to train everyone else? I just don't think about it, but I think we would all appreciate a clutter-free home.  Michelle :-)

A:  Michelle,  Sounds as if your kids haven't learned to "erase the evidence", as my colleague Maria Gracia says, because you and your husband haven't really modeled it, and perhaps you haven't explained it directly to them. Kids, like adults, need constant reinforcement until behaviors become habits. Erasing the evidence is largely about two things:

1. Paying attention to your own behaviors
2. Slowing down for the few seconds it takes to actually DO the erasing

Your challenge sounds like a game in the making to me! To teach your kids to "erase the evidence" as my colleague Maria Gracia says, try playing a game where they watch you or your husband doing a routine task such as making a sandwich. Ask them to yell FREEZE at the moment they see you leaving evidence. So, for example, you might open the mayonnaise, spread it, then lay the knife on the counter, leave the jar out and begin walking away. They kids yell FREEZE! (and you know how kids like to yell) Haha… then ask them what the evidence is that they see.

Or perhaps you might walk around a room looking for "evidence" to pick up and ask your kids to play the "you're getting hotter/colder" game as you approach items that have been left behind. Of course the sillier and louder it is, and the more you pick up the wrong items, the more fun it will be and the better the lesson.

One last way I can think of would be to use a monetary incentive to create the habit, although your little one won't give a hoot about that. If anyone picks up "evidence" that someone ELSE left behind, the person the item belongs to (or whomever left it) pays the picker-upper a quarter. A turnaround would be when someone sees someone else erasing their OWN evidence, they say "great job erasing" (or something) and the person erasing gets a quarter or a checkmark on a list that gets paid out at the end of the week. The idea is to catch someone either in the habit of LEAVING or ERASING evidence, so they begin to notice when it's happening AND how little time it takes to erase.

Of course, no matter what games you choose, use positive reinforcement until the behaviors become habitual. The more you can make it fun and not nag-o-rific, the more everyone in your house will begin paying attention to themselves and erasing their own evidence. 

Thanks so much for listening!! Monica 

And thank YOU Monica for being our star organizer, always here to motivate and inspire us!  For more organizing tips, check out Monica's award-winning blog and The Big O Series.  You too can ask for advice - - anytime!

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