Folding the laundry and putting it away.
What usually happens is that either The Maestro or I bring up the newly dried clothes in a basket, and set the basket in our back room with the intention of folding them soon. But we don't get to it, and it's hidden away there in the back room, and soon enough two or three more baskets of clean laundry join the first. After several days of this, The Maestro and I finally get sick of the girls throwing the clean laundry all over the place in search of clean underwear and lug it all up to the TV room where we fold it all while catching up on our favorite show.
It usually takes us at least two episodes to get all of the laundry folded and put away. Every time we go through this exercise I swear that I am not going to do it again—that I'm going to get each load folded and put away immediately.
And then I don't.
But the thing is I know a trick. It's a super simple, obvious tip as most of the best ones are. It's one of those small habits that is so easy to do but packs a huge punch. But it's also easy NOT to do, just as all small habits are. It's easy not to do because it's easy to just say, "It's not that big of a deal—I'll get to it eventually."
But we all know that eventually never actually arrives, and the baskets of clean laundry start piling up. Pretty soon you have to summit Mount McLaundry just so your kids can wear clean clothes to school and it's all just so overwhelming.
This does not have to happen, and I'm embarrassed that it continues to happen in our household.
The Simple Laundry Hack That Saves Time and Sanity
Ready for it?
Fold the laundry as you take it out of the dryer and put it away immediately.
I told you it was simple.
Here's the thing. Most of us are great at doing the first part of the laundry. We dutifully wash it and move it to the dryer. And many of us actually take it out of the dryer and put it into the basket. But that seems to be where it usually stops.
What if we just finished each load of laundry right away?
Folding it right out of the dryer will take a little more time than throwing it all into a basket, yes. I've timed it before, and in general it takes me about 8-10 minutes to fold one load, depending on the type of wash it was. Towels are super fast, socks not so much.
Putting it away should only take another 5-10 minutes, depending on how many rooms you have to visit for that load.
But that 20 minutes will save so much time in the long run. It will save you the 120 minute folding marathon. It will save you from having to rewash the laundry that your kids threw all over the place while looking for clean underwear and then walked all over. It will save you the worry that someone might walk past your Mount McLaundry while visiting your home.
Most of all, it just feels good.
We've been working on finishing things at our house lately—FINISH is our family theme for this school year. I went to an organizing class taught by Marie Ricks before school started and the most important take away for me was that word.
She taught us that most of us do not finish our tasks. We get about 85% percent finished and then we move on to something else. All of the unfinished things build up and create disorganization and frustration.
Laundry is not finished until it is folded and put away.
Dinner is not finished until the dishes are done and the kitchen is clean.
Showers are not finished until the towels are hung up and dirty clothes are put in the hamper.
You get the point.
The main thing I've learned from this family theme is that we are not very good finishers. It has taken my children two months to figure out what on earth I mean when I tell them they are not finished with their showers when they are in their pjs and brushing out their wet hair. They are still a little perplexed when I ask them to please finish making their lunches when their lunchboxes are full and in the fridge already but the counter is still filled with peanut butter jars and dirty utensils.
This principle works for laundry, but it works for everything else, too.
Do not move on to the next thing until you are finished with the task you are working on now.
And fold your laundry right out of the dryer.
Small Habit: Fold laundry straight out of the dryer, finish all tasks.
Big Difference: Save lots of time, frustration, and have a cleaner home.
This post is part of my Small Habits That Will Make a Big Difference 30 day challenge. To see all of the posts in this series, click here. Or, join the challenge and receive a daily email with a new small habit that can affect your life in a big way.