I am not an organized person. I married someone with an engineer’s mind. About 5 years into the marriage, I knew I needed to develop systems if I was not going to drive my husband crazy. I slowly developed, tweaked and came up with new systems to make life simpler and smoother.
Here are a couple articles I wrote to see where and if you might need systems:
Below are some systems I use or have used in my home. The object isn’t to copy mine but use them for ideas to create your own systems. See what is working and what is not working in your life. Systems free up a lot of the "what should I do next" decision making process. Giving you more time for what you really want to do.
You can also find systems in my courses:
Declutter System (starts Monday)
Welcome to this week’s issue of Weekly Simplicity Tips.
It was a gorgeous spring Easter weekend. We stayed outside as much as possible. The choir sang twice this week so there was also much music.
Just a note: April’s Declutter Group starts next Monday. It is the last one of the year.
- May is typically when I do a spending fast, only buying what I need. Is this something you want to do?
- Use that changing of the seasons energy to declutter what you don’t want.
- Challenge yourself to eat without a box or a can for a day, week or month.
- Simplify your schedule and see what you are doing only because you want to keep up with the Jones’.
- What problem are you struggling with? Use your creativity to come up with multiple solutions you can try out.
- If it’s not working, do something else. Don’t just try harder.
- Plan to do something that makes your heart happy.
Declutter Group starts Monday April 28th
I asked the last class what they wanted you to know about the Declutter Group and here are some of the comments:
- I got more decluttering done during this class than any time in the past 10 years!
- I am still slowly decluttering, although I haven’t done any decluttering yet today. But I’ve never stayed with it this well before.
- The 5 minute commitment works. It’s reassuring to see others are struggling with it too as there’s some shame/embarrassment when you’ve always got clutter. I think it’s a good supportive environment too that encourages you to continue.
- I thought the manual was excellent.
I’ve found people that have spent years trying to declutter only to quit, make wonderful progress in this group setting.
Join us at the end of the month for my most popular class:
Have you ever found yourself wanting to clean the house like never before? Sometimes, the reason behind this feeling is related to something you are keeping in your closet or in a drawer, a book or a dress… an emotional burden that makes you feel uncomfortable in the most intimate of all spaces, your home. Some other times it is the old furniture or the way in which a room has been used. Be organized, choose what makes you feel comfortable and change whatever feels out of place. Letting go of what hurts will make your life easier, and it can be enjoyable and liberating.
Start with the Closet
Turn on the music, something you like, and start focusing on your closet. Remember that what you wear should feel like a second skin, it should be the mirror of your personality and character. In other words, it should make you feel good. If you can, ask a friend to help you out, it has to be someone who can remind you that you don’t wear that particular dress anymore because you’ve changed. Get rid of whatever makes you feel blue, all the dresses and shirts that drag you back to someone you are not or to a moment you are trying to forget. Clean up your closet, keep the clothes you love and move on. This will be helpful, because it will be way easier to choose your clothes in the morning, and it will allow you to feel like you own yourself once again. Plus, having a well-organized closet will certainly make you feel good, no matter what.
Focus on Books, Music and Furniture
You can start by giving away the books you know you’ll never read again: they just occupy precious space. Then, buy a few book organizers, something nice where you can also put folders and block notes. You should also take care of CDs and albums, making sure that what you have is what you really, emotionally own.
Now, you are ready to move the furniture around. This will change the energy of the house, turning it upside down. Get rid of those old pictures you’ve always despised and all those little objects that populate all your shelves. Keep only the things that make you smile. Remember, your house is the place where you should feel safe and relaxed: never underestimate the importance of feeling at home.
If you hate an old sofa and you can’t get rid of it, buy a cover that mirrors your personality. Remember that who you were is not who you are: it is perfectly normal to feel like you need to turn your house upside down sometimes, because your new "you" needs his/her own space. And if you need a drastic cut with the past, you should also think about repainting the walls. Colors mean so much.
And after your house feels new, don’t forget to clean it. It has to be and feel perfect! Take care of water leaks, pests (here is a good contact), and everything else.
You deserve a fresh start!
A reader asks, "Curious if you have found any good solutions to tackling the pile of recipe cards, clippings and index cards that everyone used to use. I have several family and old recipes that I want to save but I haven’t found the time to sort through them and type them into the computer."
That’s the difficulty of recipes. You find them in magazines, on the internet, handed down on index cards, hastily written down on paper from a friend at a potluck. They are all different sizes so how do you store them?
There are quite a few recipe apps that people use. If you are willing to type everything in, these are considered the best options:
Basil App is for the iPad
Most people don’t want to type everything up though. If you want to stay with paper, using a binder can keep the the recipes organized. There are plastic inserts that you can store cards.
Plastic sleeves can hold magazine clippings and printed digital recipes.
The main problem with the binder system is finding a recipe. You can only organize in one way.
I like using Evernote. It’s a digital notebook that allows you to take things from the web, emails, and photos. It allows you to integrate all your different methods of gathering recipes.
So if you don’t want to type your recipe cards in, you can take a picture of the recipe card. As a bonus, you get to have the special handwriting of whomever gave you the card. You can also scan the cards if you prefer.
Then you can tag your note. The best part is you can add more than one tag. Some possible tags: beverages, sweet, vegetable, potluck, fast, and winter. When we look for recipes it’s not always by meat, side, and salad.
You can also add to your note with the photo recipe card. "use just under 2 cups flour" Or, "daughter likes, husband doesn’t."
Clipping recipes from the internet is simple if you use Evernote’s Web Clipper. It’s a browser plugin that lets you grab parts of a webpage and put it directly into Evernote.
Evernote also has a food app, that I haven’t used. Evernote Food
I am ultra sensitive to overwhelm, which allows me to catch it before I drown in it. And I’ve had to create a life of as much space and quiet time as I can.
So when a few weeks happen like they have recently where I am working later and have quick turn around times as I help someone launch a product I know I can handle it.
One reason is because I know there is an end in sight. My life is usually not crazy busy by design.
I take more breaks if I am working 12 hours – watch a dance on Dancing with the Stars, or read a chapter in a novel or eat lunch on the porch.
I make sure I get some exercise even if it’s 15 minutes of yoga or an evening walk around the block. The more stress and tension, the more we need to release it through exercise. I still got in my weekly walk with a friend.
Asking for more help from the family during this time means less dishes for me to wash. I did do daily things like keep my desk clear so it’s easier to work. I think clearer that way. But, some things like vacuuming and dusting didn’t get done at all one week. Meals were super quick and simple like soup and sandwiches.
The computer went off at least an hour before bed so I could sleep.
If your life is always crazy busy and you don’t like it that way, it’s time to make some deliberate choices.
Even in the most serene life, weeks of overwhelm pop up. But, you can handle it with some strategies like above.
What are you favorite tips for busy weeks?
I had a lovely reader ask how to prepare for retiring as far as the house and time goes. I have not retired and most likely will be working a long while yet. So I needed to do some research for this one.
Whether you downsize or not, most people don’t want to be surrounded by clutter if they are going to be home more:
Not sure if you are going to downsize? Here is a guide to reassessing your needs.
21 Day Early Retirement Makeover has some great tips for retiring and simplifying
Mentally decluttering your retirement before you retire
AARP tells how to declutter your finances
TIME has questions to ask before you retire
Based on a study, Forbes Magazine says Time Management is Crucial for Retirees
A Whole Blog: Retirement – Only the Beginning
And as I have some retired readers, I’d love to hear about retiring from you.
Photo by Northern Ireland Railfan
Many people come to me so they can get more done. But, that’s not really what I do. I help people discover what they don’t need to do or can do with less perfectionism that allows them to do what is important to them.
But, that only works if you are willing to let go of the mask of perfection. If you allow others to see some flaws or dust. Holding onto to the mask takes tons of energy. The mask doesn’t even protect the ego as intended because the ego always finds something to not be happy about. Being as we are human and aren’t perfect it’s a waste of time as well.
Think about the less time you pushed past limits in order to get something done perfectly or squeeze one more obligation in? How did you feel after doing it? How would you rather feel on a daily basis?
We often say we have to do things perfectly because our spouse, friend, boss expects it. But, more often I find it’s us who expect it. We put the pressure on ourselves.
Where can you let go of some of your mask today?
I’ve had quite a lot of emails saying they can’t remember the password to the calendar. Or to the chat room.
Each site has different rules – must contain a number, must contain a special character, must not contain a special character, must be at least 6 characters, must be a four number pin. Plus it’s not safe to have the same password for every site anyway.
I have tons of passwords to remember. I wouldn’t be able to if I really had to remember them.
I use Last Pass to keep track of my passwords. I have one master password and Last Pass remembers the rest. It even comes up with tricky passwords for places if it want it to. I like it because I can use it on my computer, my laptop and my phone allowing me to work wherever.
I also like to use it for filling out forms. You add your profile and it will fill out the forms at shopping sites, etc. No need to type it in each time. I love the time it saves.
Dashlane is a similar program if you want to try that one.
If you have passwords you need to share with a team, Mitro is a good option.
This is how I sort my mail each week.