As we head into summer, most of us are more than ready for a break. We’re desperate to complete our long, end-of-the-school-year to-do lists and hit the pool or the beach. I get it.
Although you probably feel like you don’t have even one minute to spare over the next couple of weeks, I recommend a few additions to your already jam-packed schedule. Doing these six things will give you a real sense of accomplishment as you close out the school year, save you time between now and August and, maybe most important, give you some peace of mind.
Clean out the car: You’ve logged more hours in your car since the beginning of the year than you’d like to acknowledge — shuttling kids around, going to and from work, and running errands. Now is the perfect time to thoroughly clean out your mobile home before summer road trips. Remove everything from the trunk, center console, glove compartment and seat pockets, and give it a thorough cleaning. Either wipe down the surfaces and vacuum the floors yourself, or take it to a carwash. Don’t just put the items you’ve removed in a bag and set it in the garage — actually go through the items and put them away, toss them or give them away. This should only take 30 to 60 minutes.
Update the calendar: Summer schedule changes are both refreshing and stressful. To save time and keep frustration to a minimum, make sure your house or family calendar is updated, visible and accessible to everyone. The desire for a less structured and hectic summer makes people want to forget about keeping a calendar, but the changes in routine make a calendar even more necessary. Use a whiteboard or a large paper calendar to jot down all major dates from now until the start of school. Include camp start and end dates, vacation dates with details such as flight times, when you’ll be hosting visitors, and even when back-to-school events are scheduled. Encourage family members to update and add to the calendar.
Empty backpacks: Go through your kids’ school papers and artwork. It’s not going to be any more fun if you put it off for months or years. Empty the backpacks and bags filled with artwork and the contents of their lockers. Put report cards, school photos and a few representative pieces of work, awards and favorite projects in a labeled file or box. Perfection is not the goal here. Getting it done is.
Organize the coat closet: Take everything out of your coat closet and clean the floor. Wash and store coats, hats, gloves and mittens in labeled plastic bins and put them in the attic or basement. Give away or donate any coats your kids have outgrown and dry clean items if necessary. Organize spring coats, hats, umbrellas, shoes and sports equipment using baskets, drawers or an over-the-door hanger.
Take donations to destinations: Nearly everyone has a bag of clothing or housewares that they’ve set aside to be donated but have not gotten around to dropping off. Put the bag in your car and mark a time on your calendar to drop it off.
Round up tax documents: Gather all of the documents related to last year’s tax return and put them in a labeled file or box. You’ll want to keep old returns for at least three years, but possibly up to seven depending on your circumstances. While you’re at it, shred any old returns and documents you no longer need and start a new file or box for this year’s papers. Place the file somewhere accessible to put tax documents away as they arrive.
Anzia is owner of Neatnik.