Life Hacks

10 Ways to Rein in the Chaos in Your Life

Remember gym class? That big rubbery ball, hurtling towards you, the look of the ball bearer’s intense eyes singling you out, and kids’ limbs flaying around in desperate attempts to escape? The P.E. teacher called this controlled chaos. If organizing a group of 30 kids in a deadly game of dodge ball can be done, manifesting the mess and organization in your own life should be a cinch. Here’s 10 super, surefire ways to guarantee no more “balls” come rocketing your way.


Tip 10: Spring renews our senses, energy, overall mood, and let’s face it, over the course of winter, our houses beg for it. Designate one Saturday to giving your home a complete, frenzied clean. Recruit kids, neighbors….your mother. She’ll gladly help out, though you might brace yourself for unsolicited advice on how to organize your garage. Make a list of the most neglected areas of your home-mopboards, hard to reach alcoves, and the dreaded behind the fridge goo that has begun to grow. If it takes more than a day to “Spring Clean,” mark your calendar for future dates. You won’t believe how your windows shine again with a little elbow grease.

Spring Cleaning Checklist:

-wash all windows

-pressure wash exterior walls and walkways

-dust alcoves, ceiling fans, electronics, and floor boards

-clean fridge and behind other appliances

-clean out pantry

-mop and vacuum all floors

-clean and organize garage

-organize finances and kids’ school clutter

-clean play room/kids’ rooms

-clean out bathroom drawers

-wipe down all bathroom floors and behind toilets


Tip 9: We all have unfinished projects lurking in our homes. Whether it’s restaining the porch or deck, decluttering the basement, or remodeling that guest bathroom, decide who, when, and how the project will get done. Write all the steps out. If supplies are needed to update the mudroom, decide what needs to be purchased, what the budget is, who is going to do the work, and when it will get done. Set goals for your projects. Revisit progress regularly and keep a journal. If your mind is focused on it, the more determination and drive you have to finish it.


Tip 8: A picture is worth a thousand words, so take before shots of your home super messy, and those coveted after pictures when all seems to shine again. When a mountain of clothes is avalanching out your laundry room, it’s easy to say to yourself, it’s time to do some folding, but when your house is actually semi-clean (i.e. holidays or when you before-hand know someone is coming over) having evidence of past chaos will remind you of how much harder it is to get things functioning again. Having the physical, mental picture of how beautiful things should be will inspire you to keep them that way.


Tip 7: Once you set in motion the driving force to get more unfinished projects underway, set reasonable and affordable rewards for yourself. This may go a long way in promising your hubby to make shelves in the kid’s room in return for tickets to his favorite sports event. Even if it’s everyday cleaning and spot checking, reward yourself by snuggling up with your favorite book and a cup of coffee. Having something to look forward to after completing what you set out to do, is often more satisfying than the reward itself.


Tip 6: Decide what day of the week will be laundry day, yard day, clean out the car day, dusting day, etc…Whatever needs you have to be more functional, celebrate with streamers and party hats….or do it quietly to yourself. If you’re a young mom, cleaning the car out one day each week will keep Cheerios from rooting themselves in between the back seat. If your yard is in constant need of upkeep, decide on a day and what small chores will keep your yard tidy. For a handy reminder for you and the fam’, keeping a weekly chore list posted will not only help you focus on what needs to be done, but everyone will know the expectations you’ve set.


Tip 5: Call in the worker ants. Your family is not just a close-knit unit of love and loyalty, they are a built in force of free labor…so use them. Little kids will not only learn the value of time management and responsibility, but greatly lighten your load. Depending on ages, taking time to teach kids the proper way to wash cars, windows, etc…will award more time for you to organize finances, paperwork, and anything else on your list. Again, posting chores, responsibilities, and designating a day and time, will help you be even more sufficient.


Tip 4: It’s easy to say declutter your home, but what that entails is a very overwhelming, stressed-filled reality that actually makes your home look worse before it looks better. In the decluttering phase, your house looks like it had a bad case of the flu-hurled clothes, papers, toys, and everything imaginable is heaped in piles as you’re sifting through rejected items and holiday décor. Having a plan before you start will greatly help with this initial step. Knowing where you want to put winter clothes before you start throwing sweaters in a black Hefty bag will save you some anxiety. Making a list of all the things you need to store or organize, knowing the type of storage unit or container you’ll use, and where you’re going to tuck it all away will make you a bona-fide storage designer. Visualizing it all before hand will make the process a lot less overwhelming.


Tip 3: There’s women whose whole existence thrives on controlling the chaos-Martha Stewart, Pinterest queens, and just plain people with OCD to name a few, who have devoted breathtaking sites to their wallpapered pantry. If you want to decoupage the inside of your sock drawer with fancy paper, knock yourself out. For those of us with limited time, sloppy husbands, a herd of kids, and a full time job, just being organized without the Pottery Barn chalkboard labels is enough.  Innovation begins by using what you already have. Yogurt cups for crayons, sour cream containers for earrings or jewelry, laundry baskets for summer and winter clothes, all make for great organization solutions. The point is control the chaos, not make it prettier. If you can’t find anything in your closet, but it has great wallpaper, what’s the point?


Tip 2: Once you have a general idea of all the areas in your home that need organizing, pick one. Start off with a closet or pantry or one out-of-control drawer. Biting off more than you can chew is like getting smacked in the face with that red dodge ball all over again. Have your plan and execute. Organize something that will ease you into everything else. Having the type of bins or containers will provide the job to go along smoothly. Before you know it, one small task will be done, and you can move onto the next.


Tip 1: In another post, I mentioned planning your life out for an entire year. Executing this last one might prove to be a little daunting, but it will ensure the best possible way to be rigorously organized and prepared for almost anything. Most of us think of events on a week to week basis, if we’re lucky. Thinking ahead months in advance is significantly far trickier. When Christmas lights begin sparkling towards November that’s when most of us even start thinking about the events and plans for December.

Planning your year out in advance can help you think ahead of scenarios and activities you want to be prepared for. Holiday dinners, summer vacations, and budgets for back to school shopping can all be accounted for and noted way before they actually take place. Anytime is a good time to start mapping, even if the year is halfway over.


Print off a 12 month calendar. Laying each month out, you have a broad view of your life for the year. Mark important dates like birthdays, holidays, etc…If you know of time off for kids, having their school calendar will aide in planning events. If you know your oldest will be involved in soccer in July, plan light activities around the tentative times. Nothing has to be set in stone, but it gives a general guide in planning. If you’ve always wanted to take the kids on a Disney Cruise, write it down as a tentative date. If you plan to go in March, set aside a budget, knowing how much you need to save each month to make it happen.

Doing this type of mapping can help you see visually how much time you have from now, and with proper planning, a bulk of the stress and money will already be figured out. Eventually, the more time you put into your yearly map, the more elaborate it will be. Finding recipes you love, but they’d work better in cooler months, put it on a date in October. If you remember how much your kids loved a certain festival in your town, mark it on your calendar. To make holidays even more memorable, plan to do some pumpkin carving or Christmas light scavenger hunts on the yearly map. You might not know exactly the 23rd or the 20th of December, but writing it down will help you make time for it, and the days and months won’t just pass you by anymore without plans and activities to spend with friends and family.

We may no longer be kids anymore, but life can still feel like a constant game of dodge ball.  The catching, throwing, and getting hit out of nowhere may never fully be avoided, but with creative planning, ingenuity, and motivated follow-through, we don’t have to feel like we’re in fourth grade, running frantically from what life throws us. With these 10 tips, you too can master the art of controlled chaos.


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