Creating uncluttering and organizing routines: A typical Tuesday

A reader recently emailed asking if I could put together a detail of what my day looks like and how I stay on top of uncluttering and organizing tasks. I’ve written something like this before, but I’ve become a mom since writing the original article, so I thought I’d put together an updated routine. This one-day example shows how a little bit of effort each day can keep most people’s homes in good condition.

Not every Tuesday works exactly like what I have listed here, but this is a fairly accurate representation of how I move throughout my day. All of the chores I share with my husband, so where the schedule says “load the dishwasher” or “take son to school,” it might be either of us who does this activity.

One thing to note is most weekdays I work until 5:00 p.m. The “After-Work Errand Routine” is special just to Tuesdays and allows me to grocery shop and run errands at a time when the stores and streets aren’t crowded. As a result, most Tuesdays I go back to work from 8:45 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. instead of relaxing during that time.

A Typical Tuesday

Morning Home Routine:
6:30 a.m. Wake up, brush teeth, wash face, put on workout clothes, and make bed.
6:40 a.m. Unload dishwasher, make coffee, feed pets, assemble son’s lunch, get breakfast on the table.
7:00 a.m. Sit and do nothing for 10 or 15 minutes with a cup of coffee.
7:15 a.m. Wake up son, everyone eats breakfast.
7:45 a.m. Load dishwasher, sweep floor.
7:50 a.m. Supervise son getting dressed, teeth brushed and flossed, his face cleaned, and backpack loaded.
8:05 a.m. Take son to school.

Morning Work Routine:
8:30 a.m. Work on most important writing/client project.
9:45 a.m. Check email, social media, and administrative work.
10:00 a.m. Work on second most important writing/client project.
11:15 a.m. Check email, social media, and administrative work.

Mid-day Routine:
11:30 a.m. Make and eat lunch, load dishwasher.
12:00 p.m. Exercise or do yard work (like mowing).
12:45 p.m. Shower and get ready.

Afternoon Work Routine:
1:00 p.m. Work on third most important writing/client project.
2:00 p.m. Make another cup of coffee, check email, social media, and administrative work.
2:15 p.m. Wrap up writing/client projects for the day.
2:30 p.m. End-of-day routine for work: set phone to do not disturb, clear desk, set writing agenda for next day, have everything set and ready to go for tomorow.

After-Work Errand Routine: (Tuesdays only)
2:45 p.m. Pick up son from school.
3:05 p.m. Run errands to grocery store (made shopping list on Sunday), post office, dry cleaner, etc.

Evening Home Routine:
4:00 p.m. Return home and sort and shred mail, put away groceries, scan and shred receipts, unload son’s lunchbox and other items from backpack, load lunchbox items into dishwasher.
4:05 p.m. Spend time with son.
5:20 p.m. Put load of son’s laundry into washer.
5:30 p.m. Make dinner and get son’s lunch ready for tomorrow so it only has to be assembled in the morning. Everyone eats dinner.
6:30 p.m. Load dishwasher, run dishwasher, sweep floor.
6:35 p.m. Move son’s clothes to dryer. Everyone does 20 to 30 minutes of general house clean up with special focus on bathrooms. (Other special focus areas: Mondays are kitchen and dining room; Wednesdays are bedrooms; Thursdays are living rooms; Fridays are remaining spaces like hallways, entryways, and garages; and Sundays are meal planning.)
7:00 p.m. Spend time with family.
8:00 p.m. Bathe son and put him to bed.
8:30 p.m. Fold son’s clothes (will put away tomorrow morning after breakfast), get self ready for bed, brush and floss teeth, feed pets.
8:45 p.m. Hang out with husband or do more writing/editing work.
10:30 p.m. Go to bed.

On pages 98 and 99 of my book, Unclutter Your Life in One Week, there is a routine schedule that covers the full week. We’ve made a few additions to the schedule now that we’re parents, but it is still very similar to what we do in our home. It has worked well for us for many years and keeps our weekends free to have as much fun as we desire.

Also, twice a year we spend a weekend doing major uncluttering work throughout the entire house. Even with daily maintenance, we find we still need to give everything we own a good review every six months. Usually our major uncluttering weekends are held the weekends preceding our fall and spring cleaning weekends. We like to get rid of clutter before doing the spring and fall cleanings so there is less to clean and maintain. You can find our cleaning guides in my book on pages 100 and 185. We usually do the “Dedicated Cleaner” plan.

Finally, we try our best to put things away after we use them and to have a permanent storage space for everything we own. These two simple actions aid us significantly in keeping our home uncluttered and organized.

35 Comments for “Creating uncluttering and organizing routines: A typical Tuesday”

  1. posted by tba on

    Hi Erin,
    I was wondering, which part of this schedule does writing blog posts belong to? Is it part of the social media time? I know you’ve got a lot of practise writing for your blog, still hats off to writing posts in 15 minutes! Mine take ages..

  2. posted by Dusty on

    Wow, that is an insane schedule. Mine has half the stuff and I still get behind!

  3. Avatar of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @tba — It’s usually my “most important writing project” for the day. Sometimes it’s all three of my writing projects for the day. A single post, from writing to uploading, usually takes me 2.5 hours.

  4. posted by WilliamB on

    “4:00 p.m. Return home and sort and shred mail, put away groceries, scan and shred receipts, unload son’s lunchbox and other items from backpack, load lunchbox items into dishwasher.”

    This takes you 5 minutes? How small is your shopping list? It can take me more than 5 min just to get the groceries in from the car, and I am not a dawdler.

  5. Avatar of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @WilliamB — There are three of us carrying in groceries, so it doesn’t take that long. My husband usually puts stuff away and my son cleans out his backpack while I’m sorting/shredding mail and scanning the receipts (I use a small hand-held Fujitsu ScanSnap). It may take more than 5 minutes, but not much longer. And, since I just hang out with my son afterward, we aren’t usually rushing to get anywhere. Maybe it takes 10 minutes? Definitely not longer than that.

  6. posted by Kai on

    I am curious as to the making lunch the night before, then assembling it in the morning. What is the reason for the division into two tasks? Seems to me that when I make lunch, it’s pretty assembled already..

  7. posted by Ann on

    Whew!!! I find your schedule to be VERY cluttered.

  8. Avatar of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @Kai — “Assembling” usually means adding an ice pack from the freezer. It doesn’t stay cold enough if you put the ice pack in the freezer with the rest of the lunch the night before. It gets melty.

  9. Avatar of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @Ann — What do you find to be cluttered? Things regarding taking care of one’s self (brushing teeth, exercising)? Things regarding taking care of one’s responsibilities (working, cleaning up after a meal)? Or things regarding child care (bathing child, picking child up from school)? I don’t see much here that a responsible adult who is a member of a family with young children could give up. Or did you mean my presentation of the information is cluttered?

  10. posted by Kelster on

    I love the sentence regarding having a decluttering weekend prior to the deep clean weekend. I hadn’t thought of it like that before and the way you worded it “clicked” in my brain! :)

    The schedule initially reads as busy, however I suspect it’s because you broke down exactly what’s happening at each step for us – which I appreciated to get a good grasp of how your day runs & potentially mine can as well. E.g.

    3:05 Run errands to grocery store (made shopping list on Sunday), post office, dry cleaner, etc.

    vs:

    3:05 Run errands

    Thanks for sharing as I’m using this as a jumping off point for adjusting my current schedule which isn’t running so well.

  11. posted by Kai on

    Ah! That stage of assembly makes sense, and of course wouldn’t work the night before. Thanks for the explanation.
    I don’t think in terms of ice packs any more as my husband and I both have short commutes and work refrigerators.

  12. posted by Pamela on

    5:30 p.m. Make dinner and get son’s lunch ready for tomorrow so it only has to be assembled in the morning. Everyone eats dinner.

    Do you really start making dinner, along with your son’s lunch, set the table (I’m assuming) and eat dinner all within one hour? How do you do this?

  13. posted by Joanne on

    I run very seat-of-my-pants, with a structure provided by working 8-3:30 and then driving 3 tweens to various activities after school.
    I appreciate that you go into so much detail. It will help me by adding a 15 minute job here and there in my day on a regular basis.

  14. posted by Edella on

    I do all my house shopping at our very nice UK supermarket (waitrose). I was hospitalised then homebound for over a yer, and switched over to their internet shopping. I’ve continued doing this in the following year as well as buying anything else I need online as well. As you may guess, I have always considered physical shopping irksome, so this solution is ideal. My friends who ‘live to shop’ are horrified.

  15. Avatar of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @Pamela — I’m usually the one who makes dinner, my husband makes my son’s lunch, and my son will set the table (with a little help from dad). I load pots, pans, and prep utensils into the dishwasher as I dirty them. And, after dinner, everyone is responsible for clearing the table and loading their items into the dishwasher. As I’ve mentioned, the “chores” are divided. I’m not doing the chores alone.

  16. posted by Devyn on

    That would be great, but when you have two young kids, this is impossible. I find it hard to find time to exercise, to shower or to get really anything done at all between taking care of kids, getting my work done and taking care of myself.

  17. Avatar of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @Devyn — It will be interesting to see how our schedule changes when baby #2 arrives. We found that when my son came along three years ago, the routine actually improved things for us. When we slip off our routine, chaos breaks out and we don’t get to exercise or shower or get food on the table before everyone turns hangry (hungry+angry). The routine greatly improved things for us with an infant in the house, and has continued to work through his toddler years. It could all go to crap, though, when the second one arrives … at least during the infant stage … but once they’re three and six, my guess is we’ll be back on a routine. I don’t know how else I’d get all the things done that need to get done.

  18. posted by Devyn on

    @Erin – (don’t know how to reply) … if you figure out a great uncluttered schedule with two small children (I have a 4 year old and a 1 year old) please let me know! I would be ever in your debt. Good luck!

  19. posted by Renee on

    I love the detail you have provided – most schedules are way too general.

    The thing your schedule helps me most with is to realize you can’t really get that much “concentrated work” done in a day after all the basic life stuff – typically about 4 hours – so I feel like I am normal after all. Basic life tasks are most of the day – so we definitely need to find ways to enjoy them!

    This way of life pleases me as it is not helter-skelter doing everything by the seat of your pants. I’ve noticed women whose homes are disasters are trying to do way too much..you have to use self-control in how much you can take on regarding weekday meetings, Bible studies, book clubs, etc. They all sound so fun, but is it worth it in the long run??

  20. posted by Renee on

    Just wanted to add that I only have 4 hours – Erin you probably might have 5 or more – my husband leaves for work at 7:30 am and returns home at 6:30 pm and since I am full-time homemaker – I do ALL the household chores. Found out a couple years ago my husband does not know how to start the washing machine! Ha.

  21. posted by bytheway on

    “I don’t know how else I’d get all the things done that need to get done.” YES. When my second child came along, the detailed schedule we kept was a lifesaver. Much saner parents, therefore, happier children. If it helps, Erin, as I read your post, I see that our schedules are very similar even now. If one doesn’t take advantage of those little chores in 10-15 mins during the day, it all piles up at night–like the I Love Lucy episode where she and Ethel work in the chocolate factory and the conveyor belt speeds up!

    Now that my children are a bit older (4.5 and 6), we have handed several daily or weekly chores over to the kids (emptying garbage bins, sorting recycling, stripping beds, putting away their clothes, sorting dirty clothes into light-dark piles, dusting, straightening toys and bookshelves, loading and unloading dishwasher, shaking rugs, yardwork such as picking up sticks, picking garden produce, helping cook / assemble simple meals or the next-day lunches). We supervise, but never re-do their work. And it’s been so gratifying. Never an argument about what we’re doing, because we do these chores simultaneously and then go have fun!

    I grew up on a farm and my husband and I believe that kids want to contribute–but it has to be real stuff, not fake work, and only if their parents model that kind of teamwork and an attitude of “we can do this, let’s get it done.” I say, good on you–and best wishes as you transition to a family of 4!

  22. posted by Cassandra Stout on

    Hi Erin,
    Thank you so much for this breakdown of your life! It’s amazing how many tasks your family can cram in there.

    Are you interested in making a schedule for those of us who are disabled? I have bipolar disorder and find it very difficult to ascertain what my limitations are (or even what I should be doing) at any given moment.

  23. Avatar of

    posted by Another Deb on

    Cassandra, Just a thought…Since there are so many kinds of disabilities and lifestyles, I would suggest that you first collect data on what you are doing and how it meets your needs. Keep a time diary for a week.

    This might help you identify your routine, the trouble spots that need to be addressed, and the topics where you might need to come back to this blog and ask some specific questions.

    I think I might so this to help DH, who is constantly stressed and depressed about the job, yet stays up playing computer games instead of sleeping enough, exercising or preparing for work.

    I know for myself, I do not prioritize well. I get lots of things done in procrastination mode, and none of them are the most critical thing. There was an awesome article here recently about getting that exact habit to work for you! Having a list of “stuff to do that is a break from #1 priority item” helps me get more done and feel less overwhelmed.

    I had been wasting a lot of time worrying about priority #1 and putting other things on the back burner because I was supposed to be doing the Big Job first. Then I’d just be in zombie mode trying to make my tired brain work on the hardest problem. Now I just try to be productive on something else for awhile and come back to Big Job with a better attitude.

  24. Avatar of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @Cassandra — The advice Another Deb gives is terrific! I’d definitely try keeping a log of what you do and when for a week or two. This type of record can be immensely helpful.

  25. posted by Anita on

    Thanks for this glimpse into your life, Erin! I love that you structure your work into manageable chunks and set time limits on work even though you work from home. That’s something I haven’t quite mastered yet – working from home usually means I work well into the night.

    Right now I’m working full-time (not from home) and running my dance school – it makes for a very cluttered schedule, and Tuesdays and Wednesdays are my busiest days.

    My Tuesday:
    7:00-7:30am – wake up (it’s a long, slow process)
    7:30-8:20am – brush teeth, wash face, clean litterbox, feed cats, get dressed and ready for work
    8:20-8:45am – walk to work
    8:45-11:50am – work (time breakdown varies day to day)
    11:50-1:00pm – gym or errands (depending on the day) + lunch
    1:00-4:45pm – work (again, time breakdown varies day to day)
    4:45-5:30pm – leave work, run more errands, have a snack and walk to my dance studio
    5:30-5:45pm – studio administration; change and prep for classes
    5:45-6:00pm – greet students, answer questions, help them review & practice
    6:00-7:00pm – teach class
    7:00-8:00pm – student practice time; help out, deal with more administrative tasks
    8:00-9:00pm – help out in the second class of the day (taught by another teacher)
    9:00-10:15pm – more student practice time; help out, finish any administrative stuff
    10:15-10:30pm – clean up, put away supplies, water plants, close the studio
    10:30-10:50pm – walk home
    10:50-whenever – get home; process mail; feed cats; clean litterbox; shower; brush & floss teeth; get ready for bed; respond to email; catch up on social networking; read a bit to clear my head; sleep.

    I’m trying to declutter my day job and focus solely on my business; my ideal schedule would be to have mornings to myself (for working out, dealing with household stuff, relaxing with a cup of tea), work from home in the afternoon (administrative and promotional stuff mostly), and teach and go out dancing in the evenings. Sigh… here’s hoping.

  26. posted by Leann on

    Setting a schedule and staying on schedule are easy compared to getting back on schedule after a trip or other major disruption. What suggestions do you have for managing your schedule after it breaks down?

  27. posted by eccoyle on

    @Cassandra Do you have a therapist? Have you discussed this with your therapist? I would highly recommend collecting the data as suggested by Deb and then bringing it into therapy for discussion. Then, your therapist will be able to help you with managing the trouble spots while managing the bipolar.

  28. posted by eccoyle on

    Erin, I remember that last year you had a new personal/uncluttering goal each month. When do you work on those types of projects? Do you integrate them into your daily routine? Or set aside a weekend a month for them?

    That is what I struggle with – how to get done the big stuff while maintaining the little/daily stuff

  29. posted by Rae Tardif on

    This is an amazing schedule! I really only have one question and it’s my biggest challenege with my own schedule. You indicate that you “shower and get ready” at 12:45pm and your next scheduled activity is 1pm.

    I spend 8-12 minutes in the shower (wash hair and face, condition hair, shave legs, rinse hair, body wash entire body, rinse) then another 2 to 3 minutes to dry with a towel and q-tips for those crevices in my ears. So now I’m naked and dry and I need to moisturize (especially legs that were just shaved, very drying, and my scaly feet) which takes another 2 to 3 minutes. Then 2 to 3 minutes to dress. But guess what – my hair is still soaking wet! And I haven’t even addressed face makeup because I truly think it’s optional and shouldn’t take more that a few moments.

    So at this point I’m at about 21 minutes into this ritual which I think should be relaxing and renewing and I have yet to do anything with my hair. So tack on another 10-20 minutes depending on what I want to do with it. (And pelase don’t say leave it wet – that absolutely doesn’t fly in winter)

    After all this my question is: how on earth do you have a relaxing time renewing your spririt through bathing and grooming only spending 15 minutes?

  30. Avatar of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @Rae — My main priority with showering is to get rid of the stink from the workout or get the dirt and bugs off me after mowing the lawn/doing yard work. I don’t think about it as relaxing or renewing. Having naturally curly hair that I let air dry most days certainly helps with this. I guess I would describe it as getting ready in a gym locker room instead of a day at the spa, if that makes any sense.

  31. Avatar of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @eccoyle — It depends on what my monthly goal is. When I was working on my son’s baby album, for instance, I’d work on it in the evening from like 8:45 to 9:30 while watching tv or listening to an audio book. When I worked on my posture (which is once again my goal for this month) I do it while I’m at my desk working for the day. A larger project like cleaning out the garage was done on a series of Saturdays.

  32. posted by hkw on

    This is very helpful, thanks! I’m envious of the amount of control you have over your daily schedule by working at home, which allows you both fewer interruptions and the ability to sit right down and get to work, then exercise/shower when you need a break, as opposed to showering/dressing for work in the early hours along with the pressing morning tasks. That’s the biggest struggle in our house.

    I’m also impressed you can do shopping/post office/dry cleaner/other errands with a kid in tow in under an hour! Boy, I wish…

  33. posted by Renee on

    For Rae: It takes me 45 min to “get ready” with all you listed plus blow dry hair and curling iron. I can even stretch that to an hour if I have the time. (Add taking vitamins, hanging up pajamas, etc.) Having naturally curly hair would mean 20 minutes extra time every day. Like my Momma said – Life isn’t fair! :)

  34. posted by Amanda on

    Quite a schedule! I’ve discovered that writing out my schedule the night before is incredibly helpful. Even if I don’t follow it carefully, just the process of writing it out does wonders for my productivity and peace of mind.

  35. posted by Cassandra on

    @Another Deb – Hi there! Apologies for the late reply, but your tips re: the time diary and the uses of procrastination are brilliant! I’ll be starting a time diary next week, so that I have a Sun-Sun schedule. Best of luck with your DH–depression can be a beast.

    @eccoyle – I do indeed have a therapist and will be discussing the time diary with her. :) Thanks for the suggestion!

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