Archive for Organization
Lives get chaotic, when they don’t get maintained. For each person, thing, body, activity you have in your life it needs to be maintained.
I like to start my day with a daily quiet time to maintain my spiritual life and center.
I usually have a morning smoothie for a burst of health right away. Before I drink my smoothie, I wash the blender because I know how hard it is to clean if it’s not washed immediately.
I get dressed from clothes I have laid out the night before. A load of laundry goes in most mornings so I don’t have to spend all day on laundry.
To maintain my body with exercise, I have a standing walking appointment with a friend, take a class or two a week depending on the time of year and make sure I have DVDs for when I don’t want to leave the house. At the beginning of the week I write down my proposed exercise plan, but allow myself to change depending on what my body is saying. I slacked off this wet and gloomy spring, so now I check in with some friends online to keep me accountable.
When I come home, I get everything out of the car and put it all away. Keys and purse get put away in their spots otherwise I have to search for them because I threw them someplace.
If I menu plan, I already know what is for dinner and can cook when my husband gets home from work. If not, we end up having pizza or sandwiches too often.
My daughter needs new pants so we go to the store. When we get home, the tags are cut off and the clothes are brought to the basement. Then pants that no longer fit get put in a goodwill bag.
My husband makes sure he does maintenance on the cars before something major goes wrong. And does the yard work weekly to keep things looking nice.
All this takes less time than getting sick, locating things before work, or repairing a car whose oil didn’t get changed. If you are finding you don’t have time to maintain what you have, it may be time to let go of some things or projects or activities. Or maybe, you can add in some helpful habits to make things easier to maintain like the ones above.
I know my life goes smoother when I remember the maintenance. Yours can, too.
Sometimes the kids or the spouse or the boss don’t tell you things until the last minute. They may not mean to. But often they just forget. One of my favorite questions to counter this is:
Is there anything I need to know for… (today, tomorrow, this week, this month, this project)?
When I pick my daughter up from someplace I usually ask if there is anything I need to know for tomorrow, so I know if she has last minute plans that require me to drive or her to bike.
At the beginning of the week, I find out what is on the schedule for the various people in my life so I can plan.
If you have a boss that waits until the last second, ask about projects coming up or what you need to know about the upcoming week. This gets them thinking ahead more often.
You can also use this question on yourself at the beginning of the week so you are thinking ahead.
Let me know how this works for you.
One working woman wonders how she can get her priorities done on the weekend with family and friends clamoring for her attention.
First, I want her to know how blessed she is with so many people in her life that love her.
But, it’s hard to get things done when you work and have this lovely group of people in your life.
Get things done during the week
One suggestion would be to get one extra thing done a day during the week. If everything waits until the weekend, it’s not going to get done. Most people I work with say they have no energy after work to do anything. That is usually because they are not giving themselves any breaks to de-stress and work out their emotions during the day so by the time they get home they are exhausted.
Many of our jobs are not physical, so it is not normally physical exhaustion but mental and emotional exhaustion. Sitting on the couch actually makes that worse. Getting yourself up to exercise or do physical chores like laundry can move that stress out of your body.
Doing one thing each evening that you usually save for the weekend, gives the weekend more free time. Monday can be mopping. Tuesday dusting. Wednesday vacuuming. Thursday errands. Friday paperwork and bills. Play around with a schedule and see what works for you.
Check with family and friends early
Often with kids and grandkids, they will just pop over or call at the last minute. Or you run into a friend at the grocery store and you make spontaneous plan. Those can be fun. But to be able to plan more for the weekend, you can ask your family or friends earlier in the week to see what plans they have. Say something like, "I may not be available at all times this weekend and I was wondering if or when you plan on visiting."
Make plans with friends for certain times on the weekend so you can plan out when to do your priorities. Or make plans with friends that include your priorities. You can exercise together, get together for brunch after church, run errands together, declutter (one weekend your house, the next hers), do something creative like scrapbooking or photography.
Watch sleeping in
I find when I sleep in on the weekend, I am more groggy. Plus I miss the morning which is when I am most productive. I have an 8am Zumba class on Saturday mornings so I make sure I am up. And church Sunday mornings where I sing in the choir so I can’t slack off. I probably wouldn’t get up early if I hadn’t built in this incentives.
If you are up early you can get things done before many people are even out of bed. Errands especially take less time.
Make a list
Weekends are usually less mapped out than the week. Which can be fine, unless you are frustrated that you haven’t done what you wanted at the end of the weekend.
Friday evening make a list of your priorities in categories. Then star the three or so that you want to get done most. Do those as early in the day and weekend as possible. Make a note of what has to be done, rather than what would be nice to get done. Then make sure you let yourself feel satisfied and good even if only those three get done. Often it’s not you don’t get much done, it’s the expectation that you should get an impossible amount done.
If friends or family visit, see if you can include them. Or do some work while they are there. Get the grandkids involved. I know I did quite a bit of raking and gardening at my grandparents.
If possible, get work and chores done on one day so the other day you can spend with social activities, spiritual replenishment and fun.
Plan for fun
Part of the fun, is anticipating. So instead of the same old get-togethers, plan a fun outing to the beach. Or plan a picnic. Or a play out with your husband. What lights you up and gives you energy? Plan at least one of those for the weekend. Then look forward to it during the work week.
But, don’t plan every moment. Have in your mind the top 3 from your list, your fun idea and maybe one or two social events. Then you can flow with what is happening the rest of the time.
Have downtime, but use that time for activities that really renew you. A walk in the woods or a good book is usually more renewing than watching TV or surfing the net. Using less technology on the weekends can give us respite from being always connected.
How about you, readers? Do you have any tips of getting things done on the weekends and still having fun?
A reader asked for tips to simplify a wedding so they can plan quicker to have the wedding before family has to go back overseas.
Since my simple wedding will be 21 years ago June 1, I asked at facebook for some new ideas.
Rhiannon reminds us to prioritize the stuff that lasts like rings and flowers, rather than music and flowers. Meghan says, "all the frou-frou little accessories for a wedding were not going to be the things I remembered later on (and I was correct about that!), so it wasn’t worth putting time into them or even having them; the only ones I gave the green light to were ones people wanted to give me as gifts, or that it meant a great deal to one of our mothers to have."
And she also says delegate, even if it means giving up some control. Others want to help you and tend to take care of the things you ask them to handle. Decorating is a great place to invite help. Branch out thought and don’t rely on the same 2-3 people.
Debbie says to make a note about what is important to you and your soon-to-be spouse. Stick to it and simplify the rest. And have fun! (Plus the more relaxed you are, the more fun all your guests will have.)
"Finally, relax. You’re getting married. That’s the point. No one cares if the the fruit you serve is cut into heart shapes or if they get a little plastic tube of bubbles to blow at you when you leave. You and your loved one will get married that day, and that is what makes the day perfect. Not any of the other details. And of course: less is more." Meghan reminds you.
- Debra says ask family and friends to help out with food. Potluck is a big time savor.
- Buffet style instead getting servers, says LA Lovely Ink.
- If you have it a a B&B, Laura says they might cater for you.
- Instead of flower centerpieces you can have small tiered cakes to eat when it’s time to cut the cake, Brooke suggests.
- Have a simple reception like Diana’s daughter had – cake, punch, nuts, mints, vegetables. They made their own wedding cake out of 6 round cakes.
- Cheryl says a cocktail reception instead of a sit-down dinner
- In fact, depending on the time of day, Sherri says you can have a cake only reception.
- Wedding cupcakes (see above)
- If you have lots of fantastic pie makers in your family and friends circle you can have them each bring a pie in lieu of having wedding cake.
- Rent a dress
- Get an outfit, rather than a wedding dress
- Diana ordered her daughter’s wedding dress from ebay seller "Quick Gowns" inexpensive and allows returns if in two days
- Get a dress off the rack instead of scouring and fitting, says Faith.
- The easiest way to limit the chaos of a wedding is to invite less people. You can have an intimate family wedding, then have a party with friends after family leaves.
- Also use less attendants which will simplify many aspects
- Have a Day of Coordinator – a main person to handle to details.
- Can a friend take the pictures?
- Or have everyone take pictures with disposable cameras that you can develop
- Framed photos of the bride and groom
- Recruit someone getting married to take down the decorations and keep what she wants (love this idea, Diana!)
- You can use silk flowers if you want them to last longer
- The Dollar Tree has inexpensive table centerpieces, says Julie. And Peggy says you can make simple floral or candle centerpieces there.
- Most people don’t need party favors, but Pamela said she loved at a Saturday night wedding when they go bagels, cream cheese and the Sunday paper before they left.
- Also, Lisa’s parents went to a wedding a few years ago where small jars of local honey were given as favors with a cute label they printed. I think it had their names, the date and something like "Meant to Bee".
- Cheryl suggests asking the venue if they have house candleabras/candles instead of buying centerpieces
- Your church
- Regular hall
- Church basement/hall
- B & B
- Find the location ASAP – those book up Faith reminds us
- Restaurant (Maree had a fabulous champagne and seafood lunch and got married there.)
- Print your own or use an online invitation service like Evites, suggests Lisa
I love Lynette’s wedding, "For our wedding, we invited family and friends to my soon to be husband’s birthday party, and then had a surprise wedding. We announced the marriage with fortunes in fortune cookies. I wore a colorful dress, he wore a suit. In front of fireplace and 60 guests in a very small house, ferns hanging, garden bouquets, a beautiful cake, guitar player, banquet, Catholic priest, believe it or not. Done. 21Yrs later our first child, still married since 1984. Cheap, but I had just bought a house. Fairly low stress (only in retrospect -) other than getting the house in perfect order. I wouldn’t do it any different today."
And Diana says they saw a wedding where the grandmother’s performed the role of flower girls with great joy and to applause. And instead of tossing bouquet to embarrassed single women, her daughter’s chose to award the bouquet to the couple married the longest.
If you have any more ideas for our bride-to-be, I’d love to see them in the comments.
Wedding cupcake photo by Clever Cupcakes
How you think about yourself as a housekeeper can affect how you care for your home.
If "other people" have the pretty, organized homes you are less likely to have that kind of home.
If you think you are disorganized, lazy, scattered you are more likely to act that way.
In my classes, we talk a lot about breaking through the beliefs that are holding you back. The beliefs that limit you. That tell you what is possible.
Organizing, cleaning and decluttering are much more about habits that who you are as a person. I was not "born organized". I needed to learn skills and habits to live the life I wanted. And you can too.
What do you need to believe to experience a simpler, saner life?
I don’t get more done when I hurry.
I can create habits that support me.
I desire a more peaceful home.
I can create the atmosphere in my home.
Notice your beliefs regarding you and your home.
A retreat I went on Sunday talked about Cultivating Joy – intentionally noticing and creating joy. Our sermon last Sunday talked about living intentionally. My daughter was telling me she appreciated the childhood we had for her with lots of family time. I got to tell her we did that intentionally.
It’s easy to get caught up in putting out fires, running from crisis to crisis never thinking ahead or thinking, "Is this the way I want to live?" Life becomes overwhelming, everything seems a priority. Mindlessly going from one activity to another as fast as we can. Multi-tasking along the way.
Intentional living is an important facet to simple living. When you intentionally think about what you want and how you want to live, the fluff and distractions are noticeably less important. You craft your life with thought. You don’t follow only what everyone else is doing. Or live vicariously through other people’s Facebook posts. Instead you live life on purpose.
You can start intentional living by taking time alone to answer these questions:
What’s most important to you?
What do you really want to accomplish (you – not your family, friends or society)?
Who do you want to be?
How do you want to feel?
What are your strengths and how can you use them?
Journal, talk about these questions, pray on these questions, contemplate these questions, dance them. Use whatever way feels right to you to uncover your true priorities.
Narrow these priorities down for the moment to five. The clearer you are, the easier it is to say no to other things.
Now that you know what’s most important, create routines that remind you of your priorities. Do you want to spend time with God, exercise, get yourself started thinking positively? Those are great things to put in a morning routine. Do you want to journal, play with the kids or set yourself up for a great tomorrow? Put those actions into an evening routine. Then write these routines down and post them where you will see them or have your phone send you reminders.
As you go throughout your day, pause before reacting. Be intentional with what you say and how you act. Are you responding in a way that connects with your values? Are you doing the right thing? Pause between activities to see what is really needed next instead of rushing to the next thing on the list. Add pauses in your day to think about things, to reflect on the day, to notice. (Red lights, waiting time instead of playing with your phone, in the shower.) Decide things based on your priorities instead of allowing life to make the decisions for you. You can put a reminder in your phone or computer to pause throughout the day until it gets habitual.
Set up your environment to help you with your intentions. Clean out the fridge and set out your exercise clothes if health is one of your main priorities. Get in a mastermind if one of your priorities is to start your own business. If connection is important to you, put in your calendar to set up dates with your friends and family. What are your priorities? How can you create an environment that will make them easier?
Plan. Plan weekly to see if there is anything you can do to make things go smoother, so you are putting out less fires. Look at your calendar and see if you are currently living your priorities. Plan monthly so you can include things that are important to you like 1:1 time with the kids, exercise classes, remembering birthdays, or saving up for vacation. Plan seasonally – what seasonal activities don’t you want to miss this year? And is it time to update your 5 priorities? Put your planning time into your calendar.
Watch doing a bunch of things at once. Your mind will be in a million directions and it’s difficult to be intentional without that focus. Close down the iPad while watching TV. Put the phone down when you are with others. Close your tabs on your computer so you can concentrate. Turn off the email ping. Don’t have 10 projects going at the same time. Start with 20 minutes focusing on one activity then see if you can focus longer.
Of course events will get you off track and things may not always go as planned. And you will still be closer to living the life you want when you live intentionally instead of floating.
If you aren’t intentional with your life, your life will flow by other’s demands, the day to day details, and stuff instead of what is important to you. You have to plan and decide because no one can do that for you. But, it’s more fulfilling to live in a life you designed.
So what do you do when you end up taking on something on hindsight you shouldn’t have? It’s easier to notice after you say yes how this is negatively affecting your life.
1) Notice that getting yourself into situations like this is not fun. Feel the pain so you remember for next time. Examine why you said yes – maybe you were looking for approval, maybe the project didn’t look as big and time consuming as it ended up, maybe you said yes automatically without looking at your schedule. Figure out why you said yes and put in place boundaries so you are less likely to say yes in that kind of situation. You could decide never to say yes unless you look at your calendar. You could practice with a friend different ways to say no. You can make sure you get a time commitment up front.
2) Next, decide if you want to get out of duty/project/leadership position. In some instances you may have to bow out if it is negatively affecting you and your family. I know you always want to keep your commitments, but sometimes you can’t. You can only focus on so many activities at a time. Make sure it is worth it.
- Be honest right away with the people affected. Don’t drag it on hoping you will be able to do it. They will be relying on you more as time goes on.
- Let them know you didn’t realize the time commitment would be so much or whatever your reasoning.
- Help them find solutions, perhaps finding one or two people to take your place.
- Have down on paper what specifically you have been working on so someone can get right in.
3) If you decide to stay on for the project, look at the rest of your life. What other projects can you put on hold for the time being? Can you decide no social media for the next three weeks?
- Is there anyone you could ask that might be able to help you?
- Talk about ways to streamline and simplify the duty or project.
- Be clear on how much time you can spend on this and stick with that.
- During busy times like this it is even more imperative to relax sometime during the day and get at least 10 min of exercise in for stress relief.
- Cut yourself some slack with the house and cooking. Ask for more help at home.
- Make sure everyone is clear on the expectations and make sure they are realistic.
My husband and I were taking a Jeep ride through the country last weekend. I noticed a couple houses still had their wreaths up. I figured it is probably less about no time to take it down and more about not noticing the wreath is still up.
I have gotten in the habit of asking myself at the end of any to do, "What is the follow up or next step?"
So when the Christmas decorations go up, I also calendar when they come down.
If I write someone, I put in my calendar when I need to follow up with them.
If I have to stop in the middle of a project, I write down the next step for the next day I plan on doing the project.
When I put the clothes in the washer, I make sure I use the timers soclothes get all the way from washing to drying to folding to put away.
When I get off a call, I immediately write down the action steps in my to do list before they fall out of my brain.
It takes a few seconds to write down the next step or the followup, right after you do something. Much easier than fumbling with your memory trying to recall what you were going to do next. Or worse, never remember you were going to follow up until something gets way behind.
Life has too many moving parts for me to rely on my memory. Why don’t you try this out and see how it works for you?
Wreath photo by Ms.Tea
Do you have a coming home routine?
One of the main reasons it’s so difficult to get out the door on time, is because the coming home is haphazard with things getting thrown where ever.
But, if you practice a routine when you come home, it will be much easier to leave on time.
- Come home
- Put the keys on the key rack
- Take off shoes or boots at the door with the shoe cubby and boot tray
- Put my gloves, ear muffs, sunglasses away in the container for these
- Hang up my coat
- Take my phone out of my purse and put on desk
- Hang up my purse in my office
- Put away anything that I brought in with me
So when it’s time to go, I only have trouble when I don’t do one of the things above. Then it’s, "Have you seen my keys?" and "Where did I put my purse?"
(Can you tell which two I don’t do the most?)
You can also teach your kids a routine so getting to school on time is easier. (Even putting it in the back of the closet door or a similar reminder.)
If you are coming home to people at home, it’s fun to add hugs and kisses.
Photo by Love Maegan