Category Archives: routines

Manis/Pedis. Massages. Bubbles baths.

Manis/Pedis. Massages. Bubbles baths. Chocolate (or your favorite junk food). 

I don’t believe any of these things are really self-care. They’re what society has told us is self-care. 

massages. bubble baths. self-care.

And we’re told that we should be taking care of ourselves. Not feeling guilty for taking that bubble bath or getting a massage. 

And yes, we should be taking care of ourselves. And no, we should not be feeling guilty for filling our cup. 

But we need to take some time to figure out what really feeds our souls. And, we should be taking the time to find activities that we truly enjoy. Not what we think we should be doing. 

We need to be building lives that we don’t need to escape from. 

This means that we don’t need a weekly massage so that we can have an hour of quiet time because we have time to ourselves and for ourselves built into the week (and we actually make that time happen).  

That we’re not hiding in the pantry eating cookies straight from the package while hiding from our kids because we actually enjoy spending time with them. We fill their cups too and we have scheduled breaks from them to fill our cups.  

Yes, I do enjoy my hot chocolate. I believe chocolate feeds my soul. I am also aware that it’s a quick fix. It’s not going to fix whatever it is that got me to this place of feeling drained. 

Now, if you love your weekly massages, then have them. But don’t use them as your only form of self-care. Same for manis/pedis. 

What do you do for self-care? Beyond bubble baths and massages? What really feeds your soul?

For me, going to bed early with a good book fills my cup. Sometimes it’s a long phone call with a friend. 

Want to get started on creating a life you don’t need to escape from? Start with this PDF. Or, contact me and let’s chat!

    The Sunday Scaries and the Need to Escape

    It’s Sunday night. I’m wondering what the heck happened to my weekend. What exactly did we do? I think I crossed a bunch of tasks off my list. The laundry is washed and dried, not necessarily put away. I’m tired. And I’m starting to dread Monday.

    I’m looking at my calendar and tasks for the week. The week looks full. Maybe even overflowing. How am I going to get through this week? I’m tired just thinking about this week. I already wish it was Friday! 

    dread Monday. woman looking overwhelmed at the clothes and mess in her living room.

    Sound familiar? 

    Life doesn’t have to be this way! Because we don’t have to continue to be so busy that we’re exhausted simply thinking about our week. 

    We don’t need to dread Monday!

    What if you designed a life you don’t need to escape from? 

    If you knew your daily priorities and that you were able to complete them? 

    Maybe you even have time for activities you love? For that ever-elusive ‘me-time’? (I promise, it is possible!)

    I want you to do something for me. Spend some time thinking about what you want your life to look like in the (near) future. If you didn’t have the dreaded Sunday scaries.

    Maybe it’s planning something fun that you look forward to for Monday or Tuesday nights. It doesn’t have to be complicated. It could be a regular phone call with a friend. A virtual dance class or yoga class. 

    Try saying no to any new activities that come your way, while you figure out what activities you and your family want to take on next. Not signing up for soccer, dance, and piano lessons for each kid. Pick one activity for each family member (which can, honestly, still be a lot to manage each week). 

    I know that might feel like a lot right now. I’m just asking you to think about it. 

    I think this pandemic has changed so much for all of us. In big and little ways. We’re physically and emotionally exhausted and drained. Our routines are a mess. Our ability to make decisions is fried. We never know if the decisions we’re making are right. 

    Maybe you’ve spent the past year and a half barely surviving each day. It was all you could do to get your work done and take care of your kids. You looked at Facebook and felt like everyone else was taking on a new hobby or finding their passion (whatever that means!). 

    And you know what? That’s ok. 

    Simply getting through each day is sometimes enough. Sometimes that’s all we can do.

    I’m so tired of hearing people talk about getting back to normal. I don’t want to go back to normal. I’m not even sure what that is. I don’t want to go back to who I was in 2019 or even February 2020. I’m not the same person. 

    For me, this pandemic has wiped my slate clean. It’s clarified so much for me. What’s important to me. Who is important to me. What I want my life to look like in the future. 

    Honestly, rebuilding from scratch sounds less exhausting than going back to the way things were. Where you ran from one activity to another without really thinking about it. Attending every birthday party, sports activity, and event you were invited to. Using retail therapy as a way to feel better about how crazy things were. And talking about being busy like it was a badge of honor. 

    How about creating your life with intention. Building a life that you don’t need to escape from. That doesn’t require weekly massages or bubble baths to relax or feel slightly better about things (next week’s topic). 

    What steps can you start on now? They can be the smallest steps necessary! Take that first step and see where it leads you!

    Keep reading here and here. And if you want some help on this, check out this PDF. It’ll walk you through steps on designing a life you love!

      A Simple Game Of Mousetrap

      Have you ever played the game of Mousetrap? I remember sitting in my grandparent’s house, putting the game together. I don’t think we ever played the game as designed. Just put the pieces together and sent the marble through the system.

      a game of mousetrap put the pieces together.

      There’s cause and effect. If something goes wrong, the end result is different. But, when things go smoothly, you get what you want at the end (unless you’re the mouse being caught). 

      It builds on itself. You need the pieces to connect in a certain way for it to work. 

      The same can be said for systems (and routines) in our own life. Pieces need to connect in certain ways. And when something is off, things can go wrong. 

      What routines in your life need some work? What systems can you create? 

      As we start a new school year, what routines do you need to build back into your family? 

      Here are a few to think about. What do you need to put in place? What needs to be tweaked?

      • Laundry 
      • Meal planning 
      • Family meetings 
      • Processing emails (personal and work)
      • Recurring work tasks

      This week, as you’re thinking about meal planning, here’s something to help you! My friend, Mary Gaul, designed a Magic Meal Planner for you. No more wasting food, time, or money. 

      The Magic Meal Planning System is a paper planner that includes your meals for the week and a built-in grocery list.  Along with Mary’s systems, tips, and 6 weeks of meal plan ideas, it makes meal planning, shopping, and prepping easy! 

      It helps you have a clear answer to the question – “what’s for dinner tonight?”

      Go to www.magicmealplan.com and get yours today for less than one meal out for a family of 4! 

      Use the code Meals10 to save $10!

      Follow on Facebook: @MagicMealPlan

      Contact Mary with questions at mary@successmagnified.com

      Contact me and let me know what routine you are going to focus on this week!

      Go To Bed

      That’s right. You and your kids need to go to bed. Yes, it’s August and it’s still summer. But, school is going to be here before you know it. Here in the Denver metro area, schools start in mid-August. 

      If you’ve been letting your kids stay up late and sleep in, now is the time to get back on a better schedule. Don’t wait until the night before school starts to enforce an earlier bedtime. It takes several weeks to shift things. Start to shift things by 10 minutes each night. Slowly get back to a school-night bedtime. 

      Spend some time thinking about your evening routines. What can you do at night to make your mornings better? Pack lunches? Pack backpacks and work bags? Set out breakfast? 

      And, you need to go to bed too.

      Sleep is important. If you’ve been skimping on sleep because you feel overwhelmed by everything you need to do, then stop it. Sleep (and taking breaks) actually helps you get more done each day. 

      go to bed bedside table with book and flower.

      When you’re tired, you’re not efficient. 

      You make mistakes. 

      You’re slower both physically and mentally. 

      So go to bed. 

      Ok. Now that you’re getting some sleep, start thinking about your morning routines. Are you getting up earlier than your kids? What needs to happen in the morning to make the rest of your day easier? Run the dishwasher? Put dinner in the crockpot? Here are a few ideas for morning routines. 

      Think about your evening and morning routines now. Start working on sleep habits for you and your family. Start the school year off on the right foot, not kicking and screaming! 

      If you’re not sure what you want your routines to look like (and really, who knows what school is going to look like again this year) let’s talk! I can help you create routines to make your mornings and evening better for everyone.

      Not sure you’re ready to dive into changing your routines but want to get a little bit of support? Sign up for a free PDF on my STRIDE Method. Everything I do in my business (and in my own life) follows these ideas.

        Where Do I Even Start?

        In this beautiful book I read with my kids, Suzy is told by her mom to pick up her room. Her room is such a mess that she’s not even sure where to start. She feels overwhelmed by the mess. What should she do? 

        Man starting at brick wall with question marks on post-it notes. Where to start?

        Have you been there? 

        Have you ever taken a look at your kitchen, the piles of kids’ toys, your to-do list for work, and just stood there? 

        Overwhelmed and unsure of where to even start? 

        I have. 

        The endless lists. The piles that keep appearing, like a game of whack-a-mole. The dishes, laundry, kids’ toys. The emails, slack messages, interruptions. 

        Where do you even start? 

        Do what Suzy and her mom do. (and what I do with my kids when their toys are all over the house). 

        Play the seek and sort game. Pick one task, one list, one subject. And start. 

        Process your emails (not just read them, but respond, delete, file, figure out the next action). 

        Find that one task that’s been lingering on your list and do it. 

        Find all the tasks that will take less than two minutes and see how many you can do in 30 minutes. 

        The point here is to pick one spot, any spot, and tackle it. 

        Set a timer for 15 minutes and work on that task you have been avoiding. 

        And, if you’re really struggling, put all the tasks on separate sheets of paper in a bowl and draw one out. Do it. Repeat. 

        Seek. Sort. Start. 

        Contact me and let’s get you started playing the seek and sort game!

        Or, share your email below for a PDF to help bust you out of procrastination!

          It’s Not That Simple

          I’m standing in my kitchen. I need to empty my coffee maker. I’d like to clean it out too.

          it's not that simple Toys on stair with foot about to step no them.

          But I’m stuck. The compost bin is full and if I attempt to dump coffee grounds in it, the grounds will end up all over the counter.

          I don’t want to take the time to empty the compost bin before I clean out the coffee maker. It’s a few steps, but it feels like too many right now. I have other things I need to get to. 

          So, I do what any sane person would do in this situation, I walk away to deal with it later. 

          While this is a simple (and maybe silly) problem, this feeling of being stuck, of wanting to deal with something but feeling overwhelmed by the steps, is common. 

          It might be wanting to hire a housecleaner or a nanny. Maybe it’s getting your kids to do more around the house. Or you want regular date nights with your partner but don’t have a reliable babysitter.

          Whatever it is, take a few minutes to figure out the steps to get you there. Whether it’s researching babysitters or asking your neighbors for their housecleaner recommendations.

          Whether it’s something where you need to do it yourself or you want to delegate it, getting started is tough.

          But think about what that’s costing you in the long run. If you could hire a nanny or a house cleaner, what kind of time would that get you? 

          Figure out the first step and then take it.

          Join my virtual community, Chaos Contained. We talk about this stuff (and more)!

          And, if you’re based in Denver and that project includes offloading a chore, try https://callemmy.com/

          Or, receive a free PDF to help get you started.

            It’s Just Easier If I Do It Myself

            How often do you find yourself muttering…it’s just easier if I do it? Then spending the rest of the evening resentful that you did something that you feel you shouldn’t always have to do? 

            It's just easier Woman standing in kitchen surrounded by laundry, dishes, and trash.

            What if, instead, there was a conversation about the task and the opportunity for someone else to do it?  Maybe it wouldn’t always be on you. If expectations were set about when and how a task was done (and who was going to complete it), it would happen without you constantly asking. 

            It is possible. 

            Women are conditioned that we’re the more capable parent. So we take over every aspect of raising kids and taking care of our house. 

            This is known as maternal gatekeeping. It impacts relationships with our partners and our kids. It can be unconscious and unintentional. But it’s detrimental. (It can also happen in families where the parents are not together.)

            Our society has told us that if a child isn’t thriving, it’s mom’s fault. If the kids aren’t wearing matching clothes or spending all their waking moments at some enrichment program, that they’re never going to get into a good college and will fail at life. 

            None of this is true. And we need to stop buying into it. 

            My kids have dressed themselves from a young age. They often don’t match. Their clothes are inside out or backward (sometimes both). For me, it’s more important that they got themselves dressed and have agency over their own lives. It doesn’t even matter if they’re wearing weather-appropriate clothes. I just want them dressed.

            And, there are costs to taking on all the emotional and mental labor of a household.

            We’re tired, exhausted, drained, cranky, sleep-deprived. We are not taking care of ourselves so there’s little left to give to others. And we don’t see a way out. 

            We still see dads as clueless, almost like another child we have to take care of. But dads are actually fit to parent. And we need to let them. It might look different than your way, but that’s a good thing. 

            So what can we do about it? 

            First, we can be aware of when we’re doing it. Are you redoing the dishwasher after someone else has loaded it? Do you passive-aggressively complain about how your husband never empties the trash? Are you grumbling about how you always plan the family vacations and never enjoy them because it feels like it’s just as much work as being home? (That last one is me!) 

            Then have a conversation with your partner about it. Without blaming or shaming your partner, talk about how you want things to be fairer around the house. Find a couples counselor who can work with you through this. Schedule time with me to talk about it. Read the book by Eve Rodsky called Fair Play

            Talk about what really matters in your life. What is essential for everyone’s happiness? 

            Want to talk about this more? Schedule some time with me!

            If you want a PDF to help get you started on this, send me your email!

              Helping Is A Lifeskill

              A few weeks ago, we were all picking up the house so that we could more thoroughly clean it. My 5-year-old daughter refused to participate. She’s 5. She’s stubborn and she’s not going to do anything she doesn’t want to do. 

              So I let it go and we all moved on. 

              A little while later, I hear her saying she’s cleaning up to help me. Because mom needs it. 

              helping is a lifeskill. boy cleaning up toys

              Now, I understand that often our kids do stuff around the house to help mom. Mom’s the one who manages the chores and house cleaning (more on why this is a problem at a later date. 

              But I didn’t like the way she said this. I didn’t like that she was only doing it because mom was mad. 

              My kids need to learn how to pick up after themselves. And participating in a team (family) is a life skill. Helping is a lifeskill. So it cleaning up after yourself. Our kids need to know how to do this stuff on their own. 

              We need to all participate in keeping the house functioning. 

              Here are some ideas to get everyone involved: 

              • Make it fun. Don’t tell your kid to go clean their room. Their brains will shut down and it won’t happen. 
                • Help them play the seek and sort game.  
                • Turn it into a game. We play basketball with my kids’ laundry. You can do the same with any toys that go into a bin. (side note, don’t use bins with lids. 
                • Have kids race against you (never against each other. Siblings are already competitive enough). See if they can put something away faster than you. 
              • Make it easy to put things away. (Lids add one more step). 
              • Have special time with them first. 
              • Do something fun together as a family once you’re done. 

              If your kids are older, these same guidelines apply. Get them to participate. Ask them how they want to participate (and skipping out is not an option). 

              Keep it small. We clean half the house each weekend so it’s not overwhelming. We pick up most of the mess each day so it doesn’t get overwhelming. 

              How cluttered your house gets is up to you and those who live there. What is your level of acceptance of mess? I don’t have the energy for a spotless house every day. I do like a weekly reset. Figure out what works for your family. 

              What steps can you take this week to get back on track? If you want some help with this, schedule a call with me or look at how we can work together.

              Overwhelmed By The Options

              As we’re coming out of the pandemic fog and intentionally rebuilding our lives, let’s take a look at our task lists. There might be piles of things that need to be cleaned out or purged. Maybe you have lists of house projects you wanted to do during this past year but never got around to. You might have activities you want to get yourself and your family back into. Are you overwhelmed by the options?

              man looking at stickie notes of question marks on the wall. Overwhelmed by the options.

              Around here, we had delayed doctor’s appointments (dentist, eye doctor, physicals, etc.). We had closets full of things we’d purged but hadn’t donated. There are projects around the house we’ve been delaying. All of these are decisions weighing on our brains that we’re not taking care of. So they rattle around in our heads because our brains wonder why we’re not immediately taking care of them. 

              We’ve been talking about what we want the next few months to look like. Our kids won’t be vaccinated for a while, so not much is going to change for us. We’d like to spend much of the summer camping. There are a few friends we’d like to see. Otherwise, we’re going to continue staying home, hanging out in our backyard. Making homemade ice cream and playing in the sprinkler.

              Last week I asked you to start thinking about the things you want to keep or shift going forward. How’d that go?

              Are you diving back into everything or taking it slow? 

              One of the things I’ve most appreciated about this past year is how it forced families to slow down. To stop running from one activity to another. Families are no longer spending their weekends attending birthday parties and soccer games or other sports. And no longer reaching Sunday night exhausted and not ready to start the next week. 

              I think society has us conditioned to believe that we must say yes to everything that comes our way. Our kids won’t get into a good college if they’re not playing multiple sports in elementary school. That our kids are going to cause trouble if every moment is not scheduled. 

              But what does that do to our family time and our own sanity? When we simply become activity directors and drivers for our kids. Scheduling playdates, music lessons, sports, etc. for every minute of the day? When do our kids simply get to be kids and learn how to entertain themselves? It is possible for your kids to learn how to entertain themselves. It might take some time, but it can be done. 

              As you discuss what you’re going to start doing over the next few months, think about creating family meta-decisions. This is an overarching guideline used to make decisions. It could be that each family member gets 1 activity per semester, including parents. Maybe it’s one sport and one other activity. One could be that each parent has one night each week where they are out of the house. Every Friday is a family movie and pizza night. Whatever works for your family. 

              Create these guidelines and they’ll make your schedule easier to figure out. These guidelines create guardrails against the craziness of diving right back into everything we think we missed. They will help contain the chaos! 

              Read more about meta-decisions here.

              If you want to talk more about how to incorporate meta-decisions in your life, schedule some time with me.

              And, if you want a PDF on how to start thinking about these ideas, sign up below.

                The Dishes. Again.

                The dishes. Again. 

                With four people home all the time, we run our dishwasher a lot. There is often a clean load in the dishwasher, with even more dishes sitting on the kitchen counter waiting to be dealt with. 

                I realized recently that I had it in my head that my husband expected me to deal with the dishes. Yes, we’re both home all day. But my schedule is more flexible, I’m with the kids more during the day, working while they’re in their remote learning classes. So, of course, why wouldn’t I be the one to deal with all the household tasks too? 

                 dishes. again. let's change the narratives.

                Then I realized how incorrect this thinking is. It wasn’t that he expected me to do it. He wasn’t thinking about it at all. He was focused on work. And he would deal with the dishes later, after work, while he was making dinner. 

                I read an article in the Atlantic about how men and women are equally messy. But men don’t notice as much. Women feel a lot of pressure to keep their spaces clean and organized and pretty. Ourselves too. Now, I will leave space in here on how we feel more in control of our lives when we’ve cleaned and purged our house. I too clean and organized when I’m stressed out.

                But, women are conditioned from a young age that keeping the house and family organized is our responsibility. We wrap our worth up in it. Women operate on a different time scale than men. So it appears that we take it all on because men won’t. When men just haven’t been conditioned to deal with it as quickly as women. 

                And the pattern continues. Women take on the tasks because we think men aren’t going to do it, instead of letting them do it on their own time. Then the men just stop doing tasks around the house, because the women do it all anyway. And it continues. 

                And our kids see this. They see mom doing all the household chores and the organizing of schedules and planning of everything. And they grow up thinking that’s how it’s done. 

                It’s time to change that narrative. 

                I realize that I’m asking women to take on one more thing here. I’m also asking women to get their partners in on this. To start having these conversations together. To start shifting the dynamics in your house to more equity. Involve everyone in the household. Down to the youngest child. 

                When my kids complain about not wanting to do something around the house, I remind them that we all live here. We all contribute to the household and we all need to work together. And then we read a book titled The Great Zooberry Debacle: A Tale of Many Hands.

                Here are some more thoughts on this topic. And if you want to talk more about this, schedule a 30-minute phone call with me.

                If you want more information on how to start this work, sign up below! You’ll receive a free PDF with questions to help get you started.

                  Who Has The Time?

                  Do you time block? Do you know that is? Time blocking is assigning a specific time to a specific task. This could work in several ways. 

                  time block. rock in sand.
                  • Processing emails at specific times (30 minutes at lunch and the last 30 minutes of your workday).
                  • Scheduling all the calls you need to make for work on Thursday morning. 
                  • Blocking time once a week for planning the next few weeks (so important to keep you on top of things!). 
                  • Mondays are for marketing, Tuesdays are for staff meetings and open office doors for any staff questions, and Wednesday morning is for creative planning, etc. 
                  • Scheduling time each week for bigger projects that require focused deep work for several hours.
                  • Do laundry or buy groceries on certain days. 

                  Time blocking ensures you get the big stuff done. It’s scheduling the big rocks and letting all the sand fall around them.

                  Spend your days focusing on your priorities, not flinging from one task to another. You get ahead of the fires and last-minute urgent tasks.

                  And when you block the time on your calendar, you’ve made time for those priorities. Your brain can rest because it knows the important tasks are taken care of.

                  What happens if you’ve blocked your time but a crisis interrupts it? Good question.

                  If this happens, it helps to have a handle on your tasks and schedule over the next few days or even weeks. Then you know what time blocks to switch around. Take some time to reschedule a few things so you can deal with the interruptions. And do this only after deciding whether the interruption needs to be dealt with right away or if it can wait.

                  Read more about where your time goes here. And if you want to talk about how to incorporate time blocking in your days, schedule a call with me.

                  Sign up below for a PDF to get you started in changing your relationship with time.

                    But I’m Good At Multitasking!

                    Are you constantly checking email while on phone calls? Or jumping back and forth between tasks on your computer?

                    Do you end your days feeling frazzled, like you got nothing done and wondering where your time went?

                    Studies have shown that effectiveness drops by 69% for women when we multitask! That’s huge! I’ve also heard that it can take 90 seconds to get back to a task for each email notification that distracts us (turn off your notifications!) Think about how many emails you get in a day and much time is wasted with these distractions!

                    multitask

                    Imagine how much more you could get done in a day if you focused on one task at a time?! Our brains can’t work efficiently when focusing on more than one task at a time.

                    Yes, some things can be done simultaneously. Running a load of laundry while you’re cleaning the kitchen. Exercising while listening to your favorite podcast or talking to a friend. Stirring something on the stove while talking on the phone. Tasks that require little focus (or no focus, like laundry) can be done together.

                    But if you’re working on a big work project, only focus on the tasks associated with that project. Processing emails count as needing focus. (and please, no talking or texting while driving. Driving counts as one of those high-functioning tasks that you should focus on while doing it).

                    We’re so used to multitasking, what can we do about it? Here are some ways to break the habit:

                    • Be aware of when you start to multitask. Catch yourself and get yourself to focus on one task.
                    • Set a timer for 15 minutes and focus on one task. You can stop when the timer goes off, or you can reset it for another 15 minutes.
                    • Focus on one task at a time. If another task pops into your brain while you’re working on something, quickly write it down on a nearby piece of paper and get back to the task.
                    • Know your top 3-5 tasks for the day and have a general plan.

                    ​Let me know how you feel about multitasking. Do you think you’re good at it or do you feel that it pulls you in too many directions?

                    Are You Tired Of The Interruptions?

                    We’re spending this month talking about interruptions. Last week we looked at how this pandemic has been one big life interruption (and 2021 isn’t shaping up to be all that different!) and how now is a great time to really examine the life we are creating. What activities, people, habits, things do we want in our lives? What is important to us?

                    This week we’re going to look at a practical idea for dealing with interruptions both in your house and at work.

                    interruptions, office hours

                    Think about scheduling office hours. This minimizes interruptions and can be used in the office or when working at home. You get to focus on deep work, the stuff you never get to because you’re always being interrupted.

                    Let people know that during certain hours, you do not want to be interrupted unless it’s an emergency. If someone does interrupt when it’s not office hours, ask if they can come back. If not, decide if it’s worth the interruption. And make a note of what you were working on so you can get back to it when it’s time.

                    Find a way to mark your office door, calendar, or wherever you work so your family or colleagues know you’re working.

                    Then, during certain hours, your door is open and people can ask questions and talk to you. Focus on work that can be easily interrupted, such as processing emails, work that requires less thinking, etc.

                    Yes, it might take some time for your family to understand and learn to respect these boundaries. Especially if they’re used to interrupting you and having you respond immediately.

                    But hold to these boundaries. Everyone will be happier in the long run, mostly because you’ll be less annoyed!

                    Want to talk more about dealing with interruptions in your life? Schedule a free 30-minute phone call!

                    Morning and Evening Routines

                    morning and evening routinesSeptember is almost over. The school year has been underway for several weeks now. Hopefully, your command center is set up, your kids’ homework stations are working, and packing lunches are easy! Let’s take a few minutes to check in on your morning and evening routines. Are they still working for you?

                    Let’s start with your evening routine. The more you do the night before, the easier your morning is going to be. Here are some tips for your evening routine.

                    • Plan breakfast for the next morning.
                    • Pull out anything that needs to defrost for dinner and put it in the fridge.
                    • Pack lunches for the next day.
                    • Pack backpacks, purses, and bags with items needed for the next day. What events (soccer practice, piano lessons, choir, etc.) are happening? What does each person need for their activities?
                    • Sign all permission slips and place them in backpacks.
                    • Pick your clothes out (and have your kids’ pick out theirs).
                    • Set alarm clocks!

                    Now that you’re ready for the next day, your morning should run a bit smoother. Give yourself plenty of time to get ready before the kids get up. This will help you feel less rushed. And make sure your kids get up with plenty of time to get ready. My daughter likes to read books or play for a bit before we head off to school. I plan time into our morning for that.

                    What other tasks do you need to complete in the morning? Get the dishwasher running, or dinner in the crockpot? Have a checklist on the wall by the door to make sure you have everything you need as you head out the door!

                    What changes do you need to make to your routines for your mornings smoother? Call me and let’s chat! Continue reading Morning and Evening Routines

                    Using Bins for Organizing Your Stuff

                    Today I want to talk about using bins or baskets for organizing stuff. I’ve recently switched my kids’ bookshelf to 2 white bins. My youngest likes to pull books off the shelf and this way she can pull one book at a time and the whole pile doesn’t come crashing off the shelf.

                    Bins should never have lids unless they’re storing something in a dusty room or aren’t in regular use. Keep the lids off hampers so you, your spouse, and your kids can easily toss clothes in them. Open bins for kids’ toys are also a good idea. I use bins of various sizes for my kids toys. My daughter’s legos are all in 1 open bin. It’s easy to get them out, easy to put them away. Her baby doll stuff is all in 1 bin. She likes to dump the whole bin on the floor, but we make a game out of putting them away. We simply see who can toss the clothes in the quickest.

                    I have a collection of weights and bands I use for physical therapy for my shoulder. I recently put the items in a bin so they’re not cluttering up my desk. I can easily pull them out when I need them and put them back when I’m done. We use bins in our pantry to keep onions separate from our potatoes. In our bathroom, each person’s toothbrush/floss/etc, are in separate bins in a drawer. It keeps them organized within the drawer and makes it easy for everyone to find their own stuff.

                    Bins are an easy way to keep stuff organized and collected. How can you use bins in your life? If you need help getting organized, call me today!

                    organize with bins

                    organize with bins

                    Organizing For A New Baby

                    Oh, babies bring such joy, exhaustion, smiles, and stuff to your life. Stores, other parents, grandparents, and others you meet will have lists of stuff and advice you need to get organized for your new baby. But do you really need all this stuff?organizing for new baby

                    I received a gift at my baby shower that the person said she used all the time and it was a necessity. I carried it around in my diaper bag for 6 months before I decided I’d never use it and I needed to stop lugging it around. I had enough stuff in there. The baby swing we barely used for my now 3 year old was used often with my 2nd child. But this time, my older child used it to push her stuffed animals in. Occasionally we put the infant in it, but again, my older child pushed her and it was more entertaining than soothing. We never used it to put the baby to sleep.

                    The lesson here is that you never know what is going to work for you and your family. Every child and parent is different.

                    Babies also grow fast. My children were born in opposite seasons (Winter and Summer). I figured this meant I’d be buying all new clothes the second time around. But my youngest grew so fast that she’s able to fit into her sister’s hand-me-downs.

                    Do I Really Need All This Stuff?

                    Here are some suggestions for preparing for your baby, as well as managing the stuff that shows up that first year.

                    • Don’t go out and buy everything on that suggested registry list. All you need to prepare are some diapers (newborn and size 1), some onesies (newborn and 0-3), a place for the baby to sleep, and a car seat. Babies don’t do much but eat and sleep those first few months, so you can buy the right size clothes and start thinking about other items you might need after the baby shows up.
                    • Borrow items from friends to see if it works for you, your space, and your child. Can you borrow a swing from a friend and see if your baby likes it? Do you really need that play mat or will a blanket and some toys on the floor work?
                    • Do you have friends you can swap stuff with? If their kids are older or younger, passing items along gets it out of your house or saves you money if it’s your turn.
                    • If you have space, label bins with sizes (o-6 months, 6-9 months, etc.) and toss clothes in as your child outgrows them. Now they’re ready to pass on to the next person.
                    • If you have space, have a bin or two for the stuff you don’t use. Whenever you see something that your child has outgrown or you know you won’t use, it goes in the bin. You may try several types of baby bottles before you find one your baby likes. Don’t let the others clog up your kitchen space.
                    • If you’re not holding on to items for your next child or your friends children, have a plan for where to send this stuff when you’re done with it. Is there a consignment shop nearby? Or a donation place for families in need? Know where the stuff is going to go next so you can let it go, clearing space for the next round of toddler toys and clothes!
                    What About Gifts?

                    And as your child nears his or her first birthday, think about asking for experiences instead of gifts. A membership to the zoo or museum is more meaningful than another stuffed animal or toy. You can spend the morning looking at animals or playing in bubbles at the children’s museum. You both have fun and your house isn’t covered in toys (at least not for those few hours).

                    I hope this helps as you prepare for your new little bundle of joy. And, congratulations!

                    Why Should I Bother Getting Organized?

                    That’s a great question. You feel like you’re functioning just fine with all of your stuff. Maybe you spend 20 minutes in the morning looking for a pair of shoes (yours or your kids), every now and then. You can find something important on your desk if given a few minutes to search for something. And you rarely miss any appointments. So why bother getting organized?why bother getting organized

                    Maybe, taking the time to get yourself organized would greatly benefit you. It might give you more time with your family. Or maybe your mornings won’t feel so hectic and you’ll get to work focused and ready for the day. Your evenings won’t leave you feeling exhausted and wanting to collapse on the couch. And you won’t spend your weekends frantically trying to get everything done that didn’t get done during the week.

                    You will be less stressed. If you clean up your desk at the end of the day and prepare for tomorrow’s tasks, you can start each day in a much more efficient manner. You won’t spend the morning trying to figure out what you need to do that day, you can just dive right in.

                    Being more efficient during the day means you just might get to leave work before the sun sets. So you can get yourself to the gym or dinner with friends. Or home to see the kids before they go to bed.

                    When things have a home, as in your keys go in the same place every time you walk in the house, your kids know where to take their shoes off, and your pantry items are where they belong, you won’t spend so much time looking for things.

                    If you’re staying on top of your tasks and clutter, you can focus on what’s important to you. You won’t spend dinner with your family thinking about all of the things you didn’t get done today and all the things you need to do tomorrow. You may still be writing to-do lists on the shower wall every now and then. But you’ll know that you have a clear path to getting those things done as necessary.

                    There are many benefits to being organized. These are just a few to get you thinking about what reasons you might have to get organized this year. If you’d like some help figure this out in your life, schedule a call or send me a message!

                    Let’s Be More Productive!

                    be more productive

                    As we wrap up February, I thought I’d share a few productivity tips. I don’t know about you, but my to-do list seems to grow longer each month instead of shorter. Somedays it’s downright overwhelming. Maybe it’s being home with a 14 month-old who doesn’t like to nap. Or maybe it’s me. Either way, I could certainly use to follow some of the advice below to be more productive!

                    • Find a calendar you love and commit to it. It may be on your phone, on your iPad, or a paper version. Find one and use it. 
                    • Create a list of everything you need to do. You can have separate lists for work and home, but don’t keep too many separate lists. Things get lost this way.
                    • Manage your technology, don’t let it manage you. Check your email at certain times each day and have a specific time to respond to emails. Make sure the blogs and other items you receive are supporting you, not taking away your focus from something important.
                    • Schedule downtime. Otherwise, that elusive spare time will never happen. It’s perfectly fine to put it on the calendar.
                    • Break down tasks in to smaller steps. I’ve been wanting to work on my scrapbook for months now. As a whole, it feels very overwhelming. But I sat down a few weeks ago and put everything in my scrapbook box in order. Then I sat down and over a week went through pictures (all on the computer) to see what to print. Then I printed them. Next, I need to take those prints and get them mixed in with everything else. Then I can sit down and start scrap booking. Tiny steps means I’m on my way to catching up with it.

                    These are just a few productivity steps to help wrap up February. Start thinking about how you can use them in March. If you want some guidance in how best to use your time, schedule a call with me or send me a message!

                    Cleaning Out Your Computer

                    cleaning out computer The 2nd Monday in February is Clean Out Your Computer Day. Maybe instead of a day, you need a week or a month. How about spending just a few minutes at the end of each day cleaning off files. Get in the habit of doing this regularly and you can keep your computer clutter free.

                    Here are a few tips to get you started. (Some of these can apply to your smartphone as well).

                    • Delete any software or apps that you no longer use.
                    • Take a look at your computer’s desktop and delete any files you know you no longer need. Last week’s list of errands is probably no longer relevant.
                    • Go through any folders you’ve created and delete files you no longer need.
                    • Delete duplicates of any files. Do you really need 4 versions of something? Keep only the most recent.
                    • Create folders for each person in the house and start putting relevant files into each person’s subsequent folder (if it’s necessary to keep).
                    • Go through iTunes and delete any music you no longer listen to or want to keep.
                    • Go through your photos and delete any duplicates, blurry photos, etc.
                    • Create files for your photos to keep them organized. For example, mine are labeled by year-month-topic (2013-3-Trip to Santa Fe). Use a naming system that makes sense to you.
                    • Clear out old emails in Outlook or Mail. Archive old emails if you have many you want to keep.
                    • Go through your contact list and delete duplicates or remove any contact that is no longer useful.

                    This list should get you started. Schedule some time to back up your computer and get in the habit of cleaning up your computer’s desktop and files on a regular basis. A clutter free computer is a happy computer! If you want some guidance in cleaning out your computer, schedule a call with me or send me a message!

                    While You’re At It

                    quick declutteringWe’re busy. It can be hard to find time to tackle an organizing project. So, I have another suggestion, similar to my previous post about quick decluttering. Take a look at your shelves while you’re doing something else.

                    • While you’re brushing your teeth, take a glance at your medicine cabinet. Do you need everything that’s in there? Are there bottles of expired medicine / lotions / etc.? Get rid of what you don’t need.
                    • While you’re doing the laundry, take a look at clothes you’re putting away and the clothes already in the closet. Does the item still fit you (or the appropriate family member)? When was the last time it was worn? Is it the right season (should it be stored with the other off-season clothes)? Or should it go in your donation box (which you have right there, in the closet)?
                    • While you’re putting away the groceries, take a look at your fridge and pantry. Better yet, take a look at them while you’re making your grocery list. What is expired or about to expire? What can you work with to make a meal out of this week?
                    • While you’re dusting or putting other household items away, take a look at what you have and where it is located. Do you still need it? Is this the best location for it? If not, where else could it go?

                    You get the picture. As you’re taking care of one task, take a few minutes to see if there’s anything you can get rid of or find a better home for. You may be surprised at what you find.

                    If you want some guidance in decluttering, schedule a call with me or send me a message!