Are your kids old enough to help with chores? Did you just move in with a spouse or partner? Or are you just tired of being the only one who makes the kitchen look presentable? If you are the only person who knows where things are or where things go, you cannot realistically expect the other people in your home to maintain your organizing system. I’ll walk you through how to create an objective organizing system for the whole family, so all the tidying up doesn’t need to fall on your shoulders.
Everything needs a home that makes sense
An object’s “home” is the place it is returned to once it’s no longer in use. It’s hard to put something away if “away” isn’t a specific place.
In the kitchen, it’s important to store the things that are used the most in the places that are the easiest to access. It’s also best to store items that are similar to each other together.
When sorting like with like, choose categories that everyone can easily see. For example, its better to have one shelf of the pantry always be for canned goods, rather than using it for the dry ingredients you’re planning to use that week. If your categories are too subjective it will be much harder for other people to keep up with the system.
Label as much as possible
Now that things are organized into clear categories, the next step is to label them. Label every pantry shelf, drawer, cabinet, and container. This is how someone else will know where to put things back. Labels don’t have to show on the outside of a drawer or cabinet to be effective.
Labels might seem like overkill, but they ensure the people in your home will know where to put items back. They are a key piece of invalidating the excuse of not knowing where things go.
Have a family meeting or two in the kitchen and discuss
The last component of eliminating the “I don’t know where it goes” excuse is having a conversation with the whole family about the kitchen. This conversation is also the time to discuss how often the kitchen needs to be cleaned and who will do it. Everyone needs to communicate what matters to them and agree to what their responsibilities will be going forward.
Depending on the size of your family and the ages of your kid(s), you may need to have two conversations. If you have a spouse and kids who don’t already have chores (or if you’d like to change their chores), have a conversation with your spouse first where you decide and agree on the rules and any chores for the kids. During that chat, make sure your spouse is on board with the concept of following the rules to set a good example for the kids.
Give your family a tour of the fruits of your organizing labor. Show them where things will go from now on and why. Be sure to explain what any remotely vague or possibly confusing labels mean. I’ve found this to be an especially common problem in kitchens and pantries. Someone who doesn’t cook often won’t necessarily know that a potato masher and meat tenderizer are called “hand tools.” I’m not suggesting you explain every little detail, but keep your assumptions about everyone being on the same page as you in check.
Be a little flexible
It’s okay for things to not have one exact home. This might sound contradictory to the rest of what I’ve said, but it’s just as important. The more flexible you are, the more success you will have getting your family to help.
The trick is to strike a balance of specific and general homes for things. It’s easier for multiple people to maintain organization when some items’ homes are a shelf or a drawer in general, rather than a specific, exact place on a shelf or drawer.
The true purpose of organizing is to be able to find things quickly. Make that your goal and don’t lose sight of it. The battle of the whisk living in the tall container on the counter, hand tool drawer, or baking drawer might not be worth fighting if you can always find it in one of those three places.
Make it easy to clean the kitchen
It’s so much more of a hassle to wipe down counter tops when you have to clear a bunch of stuff off of them. If several small things are frequently placed on your counter, put a little tray down to corral them. Then you can pick that up instead of all the tiny things when it’s time to clean.
Unless you have a kitchen desk, avoid leaving paper in the kitchen. When people see random paper, they don’t know if it’s trash or important, or where it should go. However, if you have a kitchen desk, people are more likely to pile it there.
If paper needs to land in your kitchen and you don’t have a kitchen desk, you can still use that concept to your advantage. During the kitchen conversation, tell your family the place they can always put any paper found in the kitchen. This might sound like the organizing equivalent of robbing Peter to pay Paul, but once all paper has been sorted into a group together, it will be easier to deal with later.
Do your best to avoid letting the dishes pile up. When you cook, clean up as you go as much as you can. Look around for other reasons someone might be intimidated by the job of cleaning the kitchen. See what you can do to alleviate those issues. You might have gotten some clues during the family meeting. The easier it is for people to see how they could quickly and easily clean the kitchen, the more likely it is that they will participate.
The kitchen is the room that gets dirty the fastest and most frequently because of how many times people eat throughout the day. However, these tips can apply to any room in the house.
I’m not the only one with wisdom. Share an organizing or cleaning trick that’s worked well for you in the comments!
It’s that time of year again: national procrastination week! There seems to be a week, month, or “holiday” for just about everything nowadays. I’ve noticed that a lot of them are less random than they seem at first glance. This week is perfectly timed between the high of New Years resolutions wearing off and our nation’s favorite April deadline.
If you tend to put things off, try celebrating national procrastination week this year by doing the things you’ve been procrastinating on instead! This repeatable procrastination assassination process will help you achieve peak productivity.
Step 1: Decide and commit to change your procrastination habits
In order to change something, you have to want to change it. How does procrastination negatively impact your life and the people around you? How does it feel to procrastinate? What would it be like if you were someone who almost never procrastinated? If you believe your procrastination is a problem, want to fix it, and are willing to do something different to change it, you can check the first step off your list!
Step 2: Make a plan with clear steps
Sometimes we procrastinate because we don’t know where to start and/or we feel overwhelmed. Concentrating on little steps is the cure for overwhelm. The best little step to start just about any project is making a plan.
Take a moment to write out everything this project entails in a stream of consciousness style. Next, revise it into a list of action steps in chronological order. If any of the steps are giving you anxiety, try starting it with a doable verb like “call” or “Google” rather than fuzzy or daunting words like “finish” or “do.” This can help you break down each step into the right size for you.
Sometimes a step is daunting because it’s going to take several hours, even though you know exactly what to do during that step. In these cases, write the step as something like “make a dent in” or “work on” when you copy it onto a daily to do list. This way you can scratch it off even if the whole step isn’t completely finished yet. Some big chunks of projects are inevitably going to take several days. It’s just as important to feel accomplished when you’ve made progress as it is to keep track of what you need to get done.
Step 3: Add the steps and/or deadlines you invented to your calendar
Have you ever thought about the phrase, “waiting until the last minute?” It’s not literal. It’s the point in time when panic has set in. The deadline is dangerously close, but far enough away that the task could feasibly still get done if you start now and work really hard. It’s usually pretty arbitrary.
It’s possible to use the deadline-driven trait many procrastinators share in a better way. Invent your own deadlines for each section of the plan. These are now the new “last minutes.” Put them on your calendar so you’re focused on finishing each step by its deadline. When you see a deadline approaching, use it to light that metaphorical fire under your butt.
Calendars are one of the most powerful and effective time management tools. What get scheduled gets done. If you are not deadline-driven, try scheduling when you’ll get each step done instead of the deadline. One way to do that is to make an appointment with yourself by assigning an exact time on a certain day. Another way is to make a note on a certain day.
Step 4: Take a moment of mindfulness to beat the temptation of distraction
The anguish of procrastination comes from being pulled in two directions: part of you wants to get the thing done, and part of you just doesn’t feel like working on it right now. The time to get crackin’ rolls around but the mood to work does not strike. For many people, this the absolute hardest part, even with a clear bite-sized steps. They find the siren call of distractions as deafening as it is irresistible. When this moment arrives, don’t try to force yourself to work just yet.
Freeze. Stop and think for just a few seconds. Say “no” to the distraction, for now. This is a key moment. Acknowledge the part of you that doesn’t want to get started. The mindfulness happens here. Observe your thoughts and feelings instead of just letting them happen behind the scenes.
Next, remember your feelings and reasons from Step 1. Grab the part of you that wants to get things done and yank them into the present moment. Take a deep breath. Think about how much worse the end of a two hour social media scroll session will feel than how getting started feels.
Now, see if you can hear this in your head. Or this. Or find your own productivity anthem that pumps you up for the tasks you have a hard time starting.
Step 5: Do a little bit. Celebrate! Repeat.
Now that you are in touch with why you want to make this happen now, set your work station up for success. Put your phone on silent and set it down so the screen isn’t visible. Get yourself a drink. Turn on your computer and open your document or whatever else you need to do. If you’ve gotten this far, give yourself a pat on the back! You’ve overcome a lot already.
It’s so much easier to get things done once you’ve already started. For some people, setting up their work station sucks them right into the task. Others find that psyching themselves into it thinking they’re only going to do a little bit of work is what they need to get over the hump of starting. The once they’re in the groove of the project, they get totally absorbed and feel like working. If you’ve set up your work station but are still having reservations about getting started, set a timer for 10 minutes. When it goes off, you are allowed to stop working, but you don’t have to. If you’re in the mood to keep going, go for it! If not, that’s okay. Either way, notice you’re that much further along! Woo! You’re now getting things done because you beat the temptation to procrastinate! If that’s not something to celebrate, then I don’t know what is.
Celebrating frequently is a crucial part of keeping the momentum up. It doesn’t need to be champagne and fireworks; a simple mental high five will do. The goal is to notice when you’ve accomplished something. Give yourself credit that you’re that much further along. Too often, people only look what they still need to do and then feel like they didn’t get enough done because they’re not finished. This is a real buzz-kill. Negativity is a slippery slope back into procrastination.
When you have a day that leaves you feeling bad about your productivity, you can dig yourself out of the well of self-pity by reflecting on everything you have done. Make a to-done list of everything you’ve moved from not done to done. Count every little thing from getting dressed to eating lunch to getting the mail out of the mailbox. Tomorrow is a fresh opportunity to get even more done. Set yourself up to take advantage of that by ending the day with as much positive reflection and gratitude as you can muster. Positivity fuels productivity.
Your new norm can be getting things done and then enjoying some stress-free relaxation rather than an anxiety-fueled Netflix/YouTube/Instagram binge that ends in half-assing whatever you need to do… if you want it bad enough. Procrastination assassination involves as much emotional awareness as logical thinking and planning. When we learn to acknowledge and observe ourselves, we can change our thoughts so our feelings will follow.
You have the power to define the “last minute” intentionally each step of the way. If you can’t take your own invented deadlines seriously, find someone to be your accountability buddy. If this is something you need help with, reach out to me at 608-571-7003 for a free discovery call.
What does national procrastination week have in store for you this year? How will you be celebrating? Let me know in the comments.
Did you know February is national time management month? Time management is one of the hardest and most important life skills we need. Our lives are literally made up of time, so it’s essential that we learn how to manage it well.
Taking steps to reduce interruptions while you work is one of the best things you can do to accomplish more throughout your day. Research shows it takes roughly 20-25 minutes to get back into flow after changing tasks. If you successfully avoid three interruptions, you’ve won back over an hour of your time. Some interruptions are worth saying “yes” to, so focus your efforts on avoiding unnecessary ones, like checking your phone or email too frequently or for reasons unrelated to what you’re doing in the moment.
Discover and maximize your personal productivity peaks
Everyone has the potential to be more or less productive under certain circumstances. Many people find their most productive time is the morning. Some people thrive after a power nap. Others notice what they eat or drink has a big impact on their ability to get into and maintain flow. Pay attention to and reflect on the times you feel most focused. What was (and wasn’t) going on during and before it happened? What the time of day was it? Once you find your sweet spot(s), recreate those circumstances as best you can and plan to get your most important work done then whenever possible.
When in doubt, over-estimate how long something will take
Did you know people tend to under-estimate the amount of time it takes to do things they do frequently, and over-estimate the amount of time doing something new will take? Learning to accurately estimate time is one of the trickiest parts of time management. I’ve written a whole post about honing that skill. You might think you’re not making the best of use of time if you misallocate it somewhere that it wasn’t needed by over-estimating. But in reality, the worst-case scenario is that you’ll end up with a little extra downtime, which really isn’t bad at all.
Make use of unexpected downtime and commutes
Always have a plan for something specific to do during commutes*, extra minutes to “kill” from arriving early, waiting in waiting rooms, etc. If you happen to have a low-key fear of arriving early, this is the antidote. Smart phones make it easy to read e-books and articles, deal with some email, or watch an interesting video, but don’t limit your options to your phone. You can take can analog route with hard copy books, papers to grade, or a sketchbook as well. If possible, pick something you can start and stop on a whim. See how you can squeeze whatever you’d like to have more time for into some of your chunks of in-between time. If you’re short on you-time, there’s no shame in using this time to relax with something fun like a game.
*If you are driving on your commute, you can relax with some new music you want to check out, a podcast, or an audio book. Even if you’re going to be sitting in stop-and-go, pick something that doesn’t require your full focus or your eyes.
Thinking in advance about what you want to use this kind of time for will also help you feel better about your commute and life in general, which makes you more productive in general by keeping your positive momentum rolling.
Get your space organized
The more organized your stuff is, the less time you’ll waste looking for things, getting distracted, and making unnecessary shopping trips. A lot of time management boils down to learning how to organize time.
I know the title promised these were easy, and this one may not be for you. If getting organized is hard because you’re overwhelmed, email me at Miranda@wiselyorganized.net to set up a free consultation call to see if hands-on or virtual organizing is a good fit for you.
Decide to outsource
Delegation really is an art. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you need to be the person that does it, nor does it mean you’re the best person for the job. I learned all about web design in college. I could have made this website for my business. It would have taken a long time, been a little fun but mostly frustrating, and wouldn’t look nearly as awesome. Instead, I hired a fantastic web designer who I worked with collaboratively. The only tasks you never want to delegate are the things you’re good at and enjoy doing.
Basic household tasks can be delegated without breaking the bank. It’s possible to hire a housekeeper just once a month for some deep cleaning. You can have groceries delivered to your house for a small fee. High school aged neighbors can be hired for yard work. By the time my daughter was 18 months old she knew how to put her dirty laundry down the chute, throw away trash, and pick up her room. Perhaps your spouse could pick up some slack. The delegation solutions are out there; you just have to decide they’re important enough to find.
Prioritization is something that needs to be done consciously. Otherwise, even if you're very "busy" you won't necessarily be productive. What’s urgent is not always what’s actually important. Get clear on what really matters. Put your focus there. What is the most important thing you need to do today? What about the top three? Are those extensions of your top priorities in life? Ask yourself these questions on a regular basis. Prioritization is the heart of time management.
Mastering the skill of time management is a lifelong endeavor. Time management systems need to be tweaked when life transitions such as a new baby, move, or the next level of school occur. Time management month is a great time to evaluate your lists, calendars, priorities, and expectations.
What time management technique have you implemented that’s made the biggest impact on your life? Share in the comments!
The “mental load” that society unfairly expects women to carry has gotten a lot of attention in the past few years. Several articles have recently pointed out how Marie Kondo’s new Netflix show Tidying Up shines a bright light on this reality. “Mental load” (also sometimes called “emotional labor”) refers to managing the household, which is a different set of tasks than doing chores like dishes and laundry. It includes things like managing kids’ schedules, knowing what needs to be purchased and when, meal planning, how things in the house are organized, etc. It’s a bunch of invisible labor that often goes unnoticed and unappreciated.
The way the mental load is carried drastically changes the experience of carrying it. The recent articles (as well as many others written on the topic) discuss several unfortunate factors which can’t be changed overnight, or sometimes at all.
But some part of how you carry the mental load is within your control. What most of the mental load amounts to is keeping track of things. Keeping everything in your head is one of the things that makes it unpleasant because it multiplies the amount of work! Below is a list of ways you can diminish the mental load instead.
Set Your Bills On Auto-Pay
Auto-pay eliminates the need to remember to pay bills. (And the opportunity to forget to pay them!) I recommend setting up your auto-pay to debit directly through your checking account so you don’t have to worry about card expiration dates. The set up is a small time investment that will pay huge dividends in the hassle department.
Come up with a family user name and password with your partner. Be sure your family password includes a capital letter, number, and special character so it will meet any requirement that’s thrown at it. Agree about a location to write it down and store any other passwords you both need there.
Bonus tip: While you’re logged in to each of your accounts, you can sign up for paperless billing to cut down on mail.
Utilize Amazon Subscriptions
Wish you could put things like paper towels and diapers on auto-pay and just forget about them? Check out Amazon’s subscribe feature to auto-reorder regularly purchased items in the amount of time you typically run out of them.
If you don’t want to predict when you’ll need something next, check out the Dash Buttons. In your dashboard, you can order things you frequently order at the touch of a button. You can customize the buttons to represent all the things you’d like to order from Amazon on a regular basis.
Make A Grocery List Everyone Can Access & Easily Add Things To
No one can add to or access a grocery list that lives in your head.
This is a photo of the little magnetic marker board on the refrigerator in my house. When my husband or I want something from the store or notice we are low on something, we write it on the board. When it’s time to go to the store, we snap a picture of the list on our phone.
Bonus tip: Delete the photo while your groceries are being bagged!
There are also several ways to share grocery lists electronically.
Share Your Calendars
You can’t answer, “do we have a thing on Tuesday?” with “look at your calendar” if it’s not on his calendar. There are tons of different kinds of electronic calendars and ways to share them.
However, if the world of electronic calendars doesn’t offer a good solution for you, there’s always the old-fashioned paper (or marker board) option that you can hang on the wall. Put it somewhere central, like on the wall in the kitchen.
The most important thing is to stop keeping track of events and reminders in your head. You may not be able to prevent someone from asking you about events, but you can at least give them another place to find that information. Keeping event information somewhere it can be accessed by everyone who needs it feeds both birds with one hand.
Hire A Certified Professional Organizer®
If an important appliance in your house was broken and you and your partner didn’t know how (or have time) to fix it, you’d probably hire someone else to do it. If there is clutter on your surfaces because items in your house don’t have specific places to go, the organizing system in your house is broken.
Creating systems for finding and keeping track of things is what organizers do. Despite the fact we all have homes full of stuff, organizing isn’t a skill everyone has mastered (or automatically knows how to do because of their gender.) No one knows anything without learning it first. A good organizer will not only dig you out of the piles of overwhelm, but will also teach you the skills you need in order to maintain organization. Tidying Up has done a great job of showing America the profound effect hiring a professional organizer can have, as well as the inequity of the mental load.
When your partner asks you a question about something you wish you weren’t solely keeping track of, such as where something is or when something is happening, realize that it’s a clue about a system that needs tweaking.
Make a list of all the invisible tasks in your mental load. Brainstorm about how you can automate, divide, or delegate more of it. Instead of just asking your spouse to do routine tasks day after day, ask him to be in charge of part of the mental load. Find something he cares about as much as or more than you do, and work out a solution together. For example, he could agree to wash the towels every Tuesday, freeing you up from laundering them and thinking about when they’re dirty.
How do you deal with the mental load? What works in your household? Share your tips and tricks in the comments!
Now that my daughter has turned one, I’ve had some time to reflect on the tools that took my work life as a new mom to the next level. After the three months of maternity leave, I was excited to get back to work. In my business, I either work from home on my business or doing virtual work for clients, or I’m at my client’s homes or offices either organizing, consulting, or speaking. I also did quite a bit of traveling without my daughter in her first year and continued to breastfeed successfully. If you have (or are expecting) a baby and wondering how you can get some tasks done while home alone with the baby, read on.
Freemie cups & battery pack for your breast pump
If you plan to pump at work or while traveling, not just any breast pump will do. I highly recommend a double electric pump that is mobile or compatible with some kind of battery pack and works with Freemie cups. Health insurance will often pay for a variety of breast pumps, so be sure to look into what they’ll pay for and how that works before spending any money.
Here is my complete work/travel set up. I stored the milk in the top part with a couple of freezer blocks and the pump with its accessories in the bottom. I usually kept a little rag (which has come in handy numerous times for various reasons) and an extra set of batteries in there too. When I brought a lot of milk back after traveling, I stored it in the bottom with more freezer blocks that I packed in my suitcase. In that case, I’d put the pump and its accessories in large handbag or tote that I also kept my wallet, keys, and phone in so I could pack my purse in my suitcase.
Freemie cups fit inside your bra and collect the milk there. You look a bit like Dolly Parton with them in, but your shirt and maybe a scarf can give you all the modesty you need while putting them in, wearing them, and taking them out. I recommend sticking breast pads towards the bottom of your bra cups in advance to absorb any leakage from the cups, which can happen from time to time.
With Freemie cups and a battery pack for your pump, all you need to pump is a place to sit. No privacy or outlet required. A flat surface to set things on while prepping is nice, too. The Freemie cups also made typing on the computer while pumping much more comfortable. I’ve now pumped on so many flights I’ve lost count, in airports, in cars (not while driving!), on the beach, at client’s houses while eating lunch… the world is my oyster for pumping. I recently discovered Freemie makes a quiet pump with a timer that can clip onto your pants, so you can even pump while walking or sleeping!
Baby carrier for babywearing
Babywearing has incredible productivity benefits, as well as benefits for your baby. I do not know how a mom can do so much as put away a single load of laundry or go to Target with a baby (who’s not ready to sit in the cart yet) without one of these. The Baby Bjorn was instrumental to my sanity (and my husband’s!).
I mostly wore her in the Bjorn when I needed to do household chores and run errands, which must be why this seems to be the only photo I can find of her in the carrier. Usually she would fuss if I sat down for more than a minute while wearing her, so we were pretty much always on the go. On the rare occasion baby girl would fall asleep and stay asleep in the carrier, I was able to get some work done on the computer. Getting things done post-baby is all about observing, planning, and maximizing opportunities.
This may be a bit abstract but I assure you it is as essential as everything else on this list. I heard, “you will get NOTHING done after the baby comes” countless times. This is not exactly true and obviously ends at some point, but hearing it again and again lowered my expectations all the way under the ground. From there, I was able to make little micro-goals and slowly learn from scratch what I could realistically get done in a day when I have my baby with me. I also learned how other factors like naps, being mom-tired, and someone else watching her (in vs. out of my house) for a few hours affected this. Set your expectations based on your experiences as a mom rather than your old life or what you’d like to get done. Paying attention will pay off. Repeat what works and give up what doesn’t. The sooner you accept the reality of this season of life, the more you will be able to enjoy it for what it is.
You have a high chair, a playpen, a baby swing, a baby carrier, a bassinet, a crib, and a jumper… why do you need a Bumbo? The beauty of the Bumbo is how easily you can move it and how little space it takes up.
I put her in it when I play fetch with my dog outside and get ready in the bathroom. I use it in places where I can’t get the jumper or playpen through the door. I can also throw it in the car if I’m taking her somewhere like a picnic in the park. If your baby has thunderous little thighs, they may not fit in the Bumbo for long, so get one as soon as your baby can sit with support. I wish I’d gotten one way sooner. It’s also possible to use a high chair in these instances, but it’s not as convenient. And in my case, she gets tired of being in the same place or seat for very long. You can also buy a Bumbo that doubles as a high chair.
A slow cooker with a timer
The most cost-effective way to simplify meals is to use a slow cooker with a timer. The timer is key because once it goes off, it changes the temperature of the food at the right moment so you don’t have to.
There is a lot of flexibility and room for meal-planning customization with this one-time purchase. You can do some dinner prep the night before when baby is asleep and the rest (or all prep) in the morning when baby is in the high chair having breakfast or just hanging out with a toy.
Depending on the recipe, you may need do a few specific steps around the time the timer goes off before dinner is ready. After that, you have a ton of leftovers for future dinners or lunches. You can even freeze half of what you made and eat that in the future for more variety now and less work later. You can also assemble freezer meals in advance for putting in the slow cooker later. So many options! Slow cooking does require some planning, but as long as you keep a record of your favorites, you don’t have to keep reinventing the meal-planning wheel.
Paper plates and plastic or biodegradable cutlery are a great shortcut for times when you want to minimize clean up too. Having some on hand before our baby arrived made those first few weeks much easier.
Wireless Bluetooth headset or earpiece
Before baby, I had no problem plugging little earbuds in when I wanted to type while I was on the phone. This was also the only instance I ever needed my hands free while on the phone. Earbuds do not work with a baby who has started to grab at things. Setting my phone down elsewhere and speaking on a wireless device works much better. I can hold her and walk around, breastfeed, or wear her in the carrier if I want to do something else with my hands during the call. I opted for a headset because the reviews for sound quality were much better. However, she eventually started grabbing at the mic part, so an earpiece might have been better after all.
Motherhood is a fantastic opportunity to practice your delegation skills. Just like at work, the more people you have on your team, the more you’ll get done. It’s great to be able to lean on a partner or family members to help watch your baby so you can have a break. It is my sincere hope that every new mother can find some support in that area. However, help is also available in the form of various service providers such as housekeepers, dog walkers, CPAs, errand runners, Task Rabbit, restaurants who have delivery (or even take-out), and of course, professional organizers like myself. I recommend outsourcing the tasks you're tired of doing personally as much as you can.
Family and friends can also help with various tasks. Don’t dismiss offers for help or food because you think they’re not serious, you’re too embarrassed, or you think you need to do it all. One of the moms in my moms’ group wouldn’t let visiting guests hold her baby until they did a chore! Pretty brilliant.
The year you have a baby might be the most fun, stressful, fulfilling, or exhausting one you’ve had yet, but it probably won’t be the most productive. And that’s okay. But at some point, “sleep when the baby sleeps” ends and you will return to getting things done – even if what that means for you is trying to stay on top of housework rather than going back to work. What tools helped you get things done after baby? Let us know in the comments!
Do you ever find yourself daydreaming about making some money off of the stuff you have laying around that you don't use? It's an appealing idea. If you used the flow chart in my latest newsletter and discovered that a garage sale isn't going to work for you, you may be wondering about some alternatives. (If you missed the newsletter, make sure you subscribe at the bottom of this page!) Below are three other options.
Sell Top Items Online
Neighborhood groups, Facebook groups, eBay, Craigslist… there are many places online to list the highest value items. If they’re large items, you’ll need to sell locally using a site like Craigslist to avoid shipping. Be sure to follow safety precautions when selling locally. You can get the most for designer items on places like eBay, the Real Real, and Facebook groups that specify they’re for nicer things. However, just like garage sale customers, a lot of the folks shopping online for used things in nicer places are mainly looking for a deal. When possible, list your items in multiple locations to reach the biggest market.
Plato’s Closet, Culture Clothing, Style Encore, and the bi-annual Just Between Friends Sale are examples of places in Lubbock that you can drop off your items and possibly make some money quickly. Different places take different kinds of items. With all consignment options, there are clear limitations about what you can sell. Read up on those before you pack up and drive. This route is best for popular items (especially clothing) in great condition.
If you can fit everything you want to get rid of in your car, you can drive it over to Goodwill or some other thrift store or charity. If you have some large items, (especially ones that are in okay but not fantastic condition) you can call a charity to pick up your things for free. In Lubbock, the Disabled Vets will pick up. Before you donate, ask your tax preparer what info you need in order for it to count as a tax deduction.
Trying to sell items, no matter how you do it, is a higher risk/return of time and money than simply donating everything. That’s why I usually end up recommending donation to my clients who are decluttering. (Plus, each of my hands-on organizing sessions comes with a carload of donations hauled away to Goodwill.) Donating to charity may give you back the least amount of money, but you do get to "cash in" on the most warm & fuzzies from helping out a good cause.
Have you had luck with any of these alternatives? How about with garage sales? Share your stories in the comments.
I’m a big fan of mantras and sayings. They’re really helpful for me. This year, I’ve decided to not only lose my baby weight, but also get back down to where I was before I moved to Texas. I’m using two tools: a calorie counting app and a mantra.
My mantra is a twist on something I heard a minor character say in an episode of Monk. “No food tastes as good as fitting in my regular clothes feels.” I say this to myself every time I want to eat something that will probably foil my calorie goal for the day. It’s been working amazingly well.
I find myself repeating certain organizing phrases over and over to different clients. I realized these phrases are essentially organizing mantras that express some of the most key concepts.
Sort before you pare down.
Sorting before deciding what to get rid of makes decluttering easier because it provides the context you need in order to make informed keep/toss decisions. You can see how many of that item you have, which ones are your favorite, how unique or similar they all are, and which ones are in the best condition. Picking up a pair of yoga pants from a pile of all the yoga pants you own is a very different experience than picking up a random pair off of the floor and trying to decide how you feel about them.
You can keep the sentiment and get rid of the gift.
This is what I say when clients tell me, “I don’t really want to keep this, but it was a gift from so-and-so…” If the person who gave you the gift knew that it was causing you clutter induced stress, they’d be alright with you getting rid of it. The purpose of a gift is enjoyment. If the gift is no longer bringing you joy, it can go.
All paper is A.R.T.
I made this saying up and use it frequently. (I did not make up what A.R.T. stands for, though I’ve never heard anyone else put the acronym in this order.) All paper falls into one of three categories: action, reference, or toss. Action paper is paper you need to take action on, such as a bill you need to pay. Reference paper is what’s inside filing cabinets – the paper you’ll probably want later. Paper in the toss category ideally goes into the recycling bin ASAP. Thinking about paper in this way makes organizing it much easier. Why? Check out my blog post on paper organizing.
Touch it once (also known as O.H.I.O. - Only Handle It Once).
Every item you set down in a temporary place, like on a random surface, you’ll inevitably want to move later. The more often you immediately put things in their places, the less “picking up” you’ll have to do. Now when it’s time to clean up, you can focus on removing dust and grime instead of clutter.
One in, one out.
The idea here is that if you have a full space, like a sock drawer, you get rid of your least favorite pair of socks when you buy a new pair. The concept applies more broadly as well. Before you bring something new into your space, consider where you will put it. Will you need to get rid of something so it will fit in your space? If so, what can you let go of that will make enough room? It doesn’t necessarily have to be the same type of item.
Getting organized may be a one-time project, but staying organized is a lifestyle choice. I hope these mantras help you with both. Do you have any mantras you love, about organizing or something else? Leave them in the comments!
Last year, while very pregnant, I delivered my signature workshop, "Making and Breaking Habits" at Texas Tech University. I recently uploaded this clip to my YouTube channel. I'll be posting more videos in the future.
Did you learn something from this video? Let me know in the comments!
How many years have you made New Year’s resolutions? How many years have you accomplished your New Year’s resolutions? Over the years, I’ve identified three common mistakes people make when they resolve to change in the next year.
1. Failure to make a plan with clear steps
“Lose weight.” “Get organized.” “Travel more.” These are some of the most common resolutions people make. They’re also “amorphous blobs of undoability,” as David Allen would say. Every goal starts out with the desire to achieve something. But a goal without a plan is just a wish.
2. Failure to prioritize getting it done
To paraphrase Barbara Sher, “You can have it all, but you can’t have it all at once.” The year you write your first novel will not also be the year you’re planning your wedding, moving across the country to start a new job, and training for a triathlon. Yet all of those things and more can easily happen in one lifetime. The key is to focus on one thing at a time and follow through with your plan by making your goal your priority. Personally, I find it helpful to envision what my year is going to look like in terms of things like upcoming life events, what will be going on with my family, current finances, trips that have been booked, etc. before deciding what goal makes the most sense to prioritize.
3. Failure to check in periodically
New Year’s resolutions are notorious for being abandoned by February. Making a goal you don’t think about again is unlikely to be achieved. When was the last time you were assigned a huge project at work that no one ever asked you about again? In addition to making a plan with steps, and prioritizing doing those steps, evaluating your success periodically is essential.
There is a snowball effect with these three pitfalls. The first failure of not making a plan with clear steps leads to the other failures because it’s hard to take action when you don’t know exactly what that action looks like. The snowball effect works the other way around too – making a plan leads to following through and following up.
When it comes to goal-setting, I’m a big fan of S.M.A.R.T. goals. There are some variants for what S.M.A.R.T. stands for. My favorite is:
I recommend turning your New Year’s resolution into a S.M.A.R.T. goal by answering questions for each letter, but in a different order than the acronym.
1. What exactly do you want? (specific)
2. Is now the best time to work toward this? (relevant)
3. How will you know when you’ve attained it? (measurable)
4. What actions will you take achieve the goal? Is this plan something you can realistically do? (achievable)
5. When will you take the steps? What is a realistic deadline you can set to have accomplished the goal by? (time-bound)
What do you want to accomplish in 2018? Leave your New Year’s resolution challenges, successes, and questions in the comments. Happy New Year!
The further along in school you are, the more complicated your homework becomes. Juggling research papers, group projects, routine math homework, study time for tests and more is increasingly challenging as you make your way through school.
For a student that prefers electronic devices over paper calendars and notebooks, there are many ways to manage your homework projects on a smartphone. In this day and age, most people take a smartphone everywhere they go. This makes phones excellent planners because they are a convenient and reliable place to make a note of something when you first hear about it.
Keep a master homework list in your phone's Memo or Notes feature
A “master to do list” is a complete list of every thing someone needs to do. It’s a great way to remember everything going on so nothing slips through the cracks. Having a complete list of all your classes and the homework for each is an easy way to keep track of it all.
It’s important to have only one list like this, rather than writing bits here and there in various places. That way the master list becomes a reliable source of information, and you build a habit of always putting homework related information in one place.
Schedule your homework into your calendar
Estimate how long your homework will take and schedule it into your phone’s calendar app like you would a doctor’s appointment. Scheduling a specific time to do something is a classic time management technique.
Some calendar apps have the ability to let you schedule a reminder when you create the event. If you’re new to making appointments with yourself, it’s a good idea to add an alert to go off a few minutes before you need to start. Set the alarm early enough to give yourself time to quit what you’re doing beforehand and gather your materials.
Use the myHomework app
This is a fantastic free app for managing your schoolwork. It’s available through the iPhone App Store, Mac App Store, Chrome Web Store, Google Play, Kindle Fire, and the Windows Store, so you can get it on a wide variety of devices. You make an account inside the app, which means you can use it on your phone on the go and then use it at your desk on your computer if you wish.
You can input your tests, class schedule, and all outside class work in the app. It also allows you to rate assignments by priority, set up reminders, and see a calendar of all your classes and due dates. There is a premium version of the app you can buy for a few bucks that allows you to attach files, not see ads, access decorative themes, and more.
There’s also version of the app for teachers called Teachers.io, If your teacher uses it, you can find your class in the app and have resources, assignments, and announcements synced within your myHomework app.
I’d love to hear about your homework planning challenges and successes. Please share your stories in the comments. Your experiences and ideas can help other readers change their habits and learn something new.
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