If you improve how you manage different areas of your home by just 1%, would that lead to staying more organized in the long run? You bet.
This brilliant concept, called “aggregation of marginal gains” was utilized by Dave Brailsford, who took a historically good but un-winning U.K. cycling team and made many small improvements, which contributed to their win of the Tour De France just three years later.
For the U.K. cycling team, this meant 1% improvement in a whole slew of things from aerodynamics, nutrition, healthcare, the list goes on and on, but the sum of all those incremental changes contributed to the Tour de France win. Great athletes, with incremental changes and improvements in their training regime became winning athletes.
Some families suffer from chronic disorganization and benefit from outside assistance to get to a base level of functionality. Marginal gains would be helpful but not enough for those families. For many of us, who have average organizational struggles, we can identify a list of problem areas that are causing us to be late, unproductive, stressed, scattered or anxious. Tiny changes in each of these problem areas will contribute to marginal gains, thus more productivity, less stress, and lower anxiety in the long run.
Problem: There is paper everywhere and bills are being paid late resulting in late fees and interest charges.
1. You can have some of your bills charged to your credit card. This will reduce the number of bills you deal with. Paying one bill instead of five can help in getting those bills paid on-time.
2. Sign up for online bill pay. Automation and email reminders will help you get your bills paid on-time.
3. Designate a specific time one evening a week to paying bills, filing and taking care of paperwork. Recycle or shred unnecessary or old bills. Refer to our paper retention guide to find out how long you need to keep certain documents.
Problem: It takes you a long time to get ready in the morning, causing you stress and making you late to work.
1. Set your phone alarm for when you need to be out of the shower. Set another alarm for when you need to be dressed. Set an alarm for five minutes before you have to leave the house.
2. Post a checklist (where you will be sure to see it) of everything you need to accomplish in the morning before you leave for work. Following a checklist (with a time when each item needs to be completed) takes the decision making out of your morning.
3. Pick out your outfit the night before. We wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time, so donate the old, ill-fitting and unflattering. With more space in your closet, getting dressed will take less time and energy.
Problem: Your child’s art, schoolwork, and craft supplies have taken over – everywhere!
1. Empty backpacks regularly. Weekly works best. Holiday school breaks can be a good cue to empty the backpacks. Recycle anything that is no longer needed. Save only a sample of your child’s best work. (Macaroni art doesn’t stand the test of time) Take photos of items that are difficult to store. Take photos of art pieces and save only “frame worthy” pieces.
2. Store craft supplies in labeled plastic bins or a craft storage tower with drawers. Limit your supplies to what fits in the storage bins.
3. Have a designated homework/craft area, keeping the supplies in one location.