The [only] way to really “do” laundry

Laundry is one of those tasks that can cause so much chaos in a home and put people over the edge.  I’ve seen it happen many times to clients who say they they can never get on top of laundry, that it feels like it is never done.  Ever.

What a crappy way to have to look at a task that you really have to do.

Part of the issue with laundry feeling so overwhelming is that it gets out of control. You don’t have properly built around doing the laundry. I have clients who before we systematized things had laundry strewn about in different rooms of the house, left in piles on the dining room table, in laundry baskets on the bedroom floor. There are some who had laundry still in the dryer, or worse still in the washer just hanging out until someone either needs a clean pair of pants or the next load is ready to go in.

No wonder it is never “done”.

It never makes its way home. Developing the correct home need not be difficult, my friend! Home for clean clothes is in a dresser or a closet – not on any flat surface like a chair, the end of a bed, or on a table. Home for dirty laundry is in a laundry basket, not on the floor, not even on the floor of the laundry room itself. I suggest each person in the house should have their own laundry basket and not one that is too big. Remember we are like goldfish. We grow to our environment. The bigger the basket, the more you put in it. The more you put in it, the bigger the task of “doing” laundry is which just makes it a more daunting task. And it is unnecessary to do that.

Because laundry too often never makes it’s way home, it piles up and you spend – no, waste – precious time looking for articles of clothing and getting stressed out by the chaos the incomplete task creates. You literally get buried by laundry!

One of the biggest tenets of being organized applies here: Everything must have a home.

Where else would you expect to find clean and matching socks?

If your laundry is in the correct home, then dirty laundry is in a basket, preferably in a closet, awaiting laundry day. Your put folded clean laundry in a dresser or hung in the closet.  Period. There really is no in between – not if you expect to stay sane and on top of it all.

Here is where you make mistakes. Not only do you need to schedule when you will do laundry (the same time weekly will become habit and feel second-nature in no time) but you need to be sure you complete all 3 steps of doing laundry.

Yes. There are steps to doing laundry.

You need to do all three steps. You can’t skip a step and expect the laundry to be completed. In fact, chaos prevails when you skip steps. That chaos is often in the form of laundry being left in piles in laundry baskets – for days on end. Sound familiar?

To prevent chaos, do the following 3 easy steps:

1. Wash and dry each load

Sounds simple enough. But you get tripped up when you put the laundry into the washer and forget it. Or leave for the day! Whatever you do, if you can help it at all don’t put a load of laundry into the washer if you aren’t around to put it in the dryer. If it sits too long it will start to smell musty and then you’ll have to do it all over again. Instead, find a time to put laundry in the wash, perhaps before you start dinner, negotiate a deal in your home office or before you go out for a run. You can also assign this simple task to someone who will be home. When the wash cycle completes, as promptly as possible put necessary items in the dryer.

2. Fold each load

No one likes this part. And I know why. First of all, people think things need to folded like a display shelf in a department store. I describe my “filing system” of folding laundry in this video. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Just folded.

The other reason I think people despise the task of folding is because of how laundry subconsciously makes them feel once they see it in a basket. Laundry that has just come out of the washer is one big basket of clutter. Meaning it is a whole bunch of different items (socks, shirts, pants, undergarments) and to the brain it looks jumbled. And it is. The brain likes like-items and it likes to easily match them up, quickly. And when it can’t the overall task is unappealing. Anyone who likes to do puzzles 🙋🏻‍♀️ will likely find this task more appealing. I like to sit in front of the television and fold. When I do I put all the like items together back into the laundry basket so when I do step three it is easy as pie.

3. Put clothes away – pronto!

This means bring your basket up to your bedroom and put clothes in the dresser, or on the shelf or hung in the closet. And then leave the empty basket in the closet to start the process all over again. I can’t stress this step enough. If you leave clean clothes in the basket, you have no place for dirty clothes! That alone causes an issue. It gives you permission, if you will, to toss clothes any number of other places.

Ideally, you will do all three steps in one day. I say ideally because I know life gets in the way. But if you skip step 2 and leave a basket of unfolded laundry for the next day it is just going to feel more like a weight and become an even more unappealing task than it actually has to be. In fact, just the site of it skews your perception of how much time it will take you to complete the true task.

Think it might be okay to skip step 3 and just…wait to do it? Think again.

You’ll never feel the reward of the completed task and you’ll always be fishing from a laundry basket as you try to plan clothing for the day and week ahead. No bueno. Put the clothes away. If not for the feeling of completing a task, do it for the utter sense of total tidy-ness you achieve in the one room from where rejuvenation comes – the bedroom.

Keep your loads small. Aim to do them in one day (it is possible with a wee bit of planning, I promise). Enlist the help of others to complete any one of the steps. I was 8 when I started doing my own laundry. Introducing this chore to children instills a sense of responsibility in them, and a greater understanding of what they own.

Keep the task of laundry simple. If you don’t, you make more work for yourself and create more anxiety and disorder than necessary. You need to get the chore done.  But it doesn’t have to create chaos in the process.

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