My Simple “Ten Things” Strategy

Sometimes life is overwhelming and everything just seems…complicated, which is the opposite of simple. I’m totally not on board with complicated. Away from me, Complicated!

When my life is feeling complicated and I don’t know where to start, I turn to my little bag of simple tricks. One of my favorites is my ridiculously simple, but highly effective “Ten Things” Strategy. It goes like this. Pay attention now.

Do ten things.

Do ten things! Simple life strategies from The Simple Homemaker.

That’s it! That’s the whole strategy.

You could stop reading right now and go do ten things, or you could procrastinate hang out here and let me break it down for you. Hangin’ around? Okay. Here’s the gist of my simple “Ten Things” Strategy.

If your backside is plastered to the couch, tell your backside, “Listen up, Backside. You can do ten things. You really can!” Backside may whine a little, but eventually it comes around and says, “Hey, you may be right about that. Let’s do it!” (Please tell me you have conversations with your backside, too.) Between the two of you (you and Backside, that is), you can quickly blast through ten things.

Sometimes doing ten things doesn’t make much of a difference, but if you and Backside work smart, those ten things can really add up.

Here are ten ways to be smart about my simple “Ten Things” Strategy.

1) Do ten simple things that make a big difference, like picking up the big blankets on the floor in the family room, or making the bed in your bedroom or putting ten big things in the dishwasher or picking up the ten biggest toys in the playroom.

2) Enlist your children. When I enlist all of my kiddos, that’s 8 people at work. That means 73 things gets done or picked up or folded or washed. (That’s 73 instead of 80 because the one-year-old can only count to three, so she stops there.)

3) Don’t give it too much thought. If you’re a TV watcher, hop up as soon as the commercial hits or the Netflix episode ends and do your ten things. If you walk into your bedroom and it isn’t inviting, quickly do ten things and then continue with your day.

4) Just do it, even if (or especially when) you don’t feel like it. If you’re just feeling blah and you want to ignore the mess in the kitchen and eat hot popcorn with chocolate chips melted in it, throw ten things in the dishwasher first, or clear ten things off the table. Whatever!

5) Let your progress fuel you. Sometimes (like in my alternate reality) there are only twelve things that need to be done. When I get through ten, I find myself motivated to do the last little bit.

6) Listen to your body, but don’t listen to your body if you’re in a funk. In other words, if you’re really hurting, pick up ten dirty socks and call it a day. If you’re just feeling unmotivated and whiny, pick up all the dirty socks and call it one thing–the dirty socks.

7) Apply this to anything–a pile of paperwork, a full email inbox, messy bedrooms, garage sale items needing pricing, unfolded laundry, lonely socks looking for soulmates, bushy eyebrows, unwrapped presents, thank you notes, dusty knick-knacks (no knick-knacks, no dust…just sayin’), fund-raiser phone calls, push-ups needing pushing.

8) I’m not above bribery. When my backside is feeling particularly unmotivated, I say, “Hey ,Backside, we do ten things, we’re eatin’ ten M&Ms.” It’s not pie, but it works.

(If you’re one of my food nazi friends (love ya!) cringing at the thought of my eating ten M&Ms, two things: 1, I don’t eat M&Ms because they make my stomach hurt and cause the air around me to turn a rather unpleasant shade of green (a humiliating, but amusing post for another day), and 2, chill. Still love ya.)

9) For a bigger impact, do ten things in ten areas of your life. Do ten things in the bedroom, bathroom, office, purse, sock drawer, email inbox, junk drawer, garage, van, laundry room, piano bench, spice cupboard, junk drawer, pantry, tool box, play room. That’s pretty intense. Usually I stick to ten simple things.

10) Use the ten things strategy in reverse to keep your playtime in check. “I will only pin ten things, read ten blogs posts, eat ten cookies (What?! They’re little!), chat on the phone for ten minutes, read ten pages.” Mmmm…cookies.

My “Ten Things” Strategy is so ridiculously simple, that it really didn’t need a ten step expose. Still, that was fun, wasn’t it? Yup, fun over. Now it’s time for you and Backside to get down to business. Now, right now, let’s get up and do ten things. (Eating ten cookies doesn’t count.) Ready? Break!

For Monday through Friday “Do Ten Things at Ten” reminders and fun, join me on Facebook or Twitter. Are there cookies? You’ll just have to find that out for yourself.

Did you do it? Did you do ten things? What’d ya do?

An important note: After reading the comments from some of my Simple Homemaker Facebook friends and Twitter tweeps who are doing a daily Ten Things Challenge with me, I’m noticing some confusion. When I say “Do Ten Things!” I do not mean these ten things:

  1. Clean the bathroom until it shines, AND
  2. Cook dinner…for a month, AND
  3. Do all the laundry in the house…or neighborhood, AND
  4. Change the tire on your car, AND
  5. Mow the lawn, AND
  6. Run for President, AND
  7. Get your doctorate, AND
  8. Write lesson plans for your child’s entire educational career, AND
  9. Get married and have children, AND
  10. Get therapy.

I mean something more like this:

  1. Wash ten dishes, OR
  2. Pick up ten toys, OR
  3. Trim ten little toenails, OR
  4. Address ten Christmas cards, OR
  5. Tackle ten things in your paperwork pile, OR
  6. Fold ten things from the clean laundry basket that’s become a permanent household fixture, OR
  7. Put away ten things from the dishwasher, OR
  8. Put away ten things on the kitchen counter, OR
  9. Pick up ten things on the family room floor, OR
  10. Dust ten things on the mantle (which, by the way, you would never have to do if you didn’t have ten things on the mantle, you know. Less is more because less is less dust, less work, less clutter, which means more time, more fun, more living!).

Please don’t feel like I’m telling you to work for an hour or wear yourself out. This is a simple strategy to make a little dent in a big project or to extinguish a hot spot or to tidy up a small mess. It’s simple! Of course, if you can and want to, go ahead and run for President and get your doctorate this morning…but don’t feel you have to. Are we clear? Good! Now go do ten simple things!