Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Day #30 - 30 Days to a Simpler Life

It's day 30 of 30 Days to a Simpler Life. Woo HOO! I made it!

Challenge 30 - Ask your friends for their best simplifying tips

Here's what I came up with for starters...

1. All things in moderation - One of the easiest ways to become overwhelmed is to allow too much.

  • Too much dessert makes the kids bounce off the walls and me gain weight

  • Say no to the entire collection - Whether it's kids toys, movies, fishing gear, or kitchen items, take just the one or two that you really love and will use and walk away from the rest.

  • Too many outside commitments for any one of us makes for a grumpy stressed out mom.

2. Don't wait for the "perfect time" or it will never happen.

  • Large blocks of time don't come around often. Better a few minutes here and there done decently than waiting for "perfect" to never come. Done is better than perfect in the long run.

  • Keep a running list of things that need done, so you can quickly select something to work on when you have a few minutes.

3. Focus

  • Prioritize your time - Family is more important than cleaning. There are seasons of life for everything. Enjoy each one as it comes.

  • Stay on task - Do not stop putting silverware away to clean the drawer. Write it down and come back to it or neither task will get done.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Day #29 - 30 Days to a Simpler Life

It's day 29 of 30 Days to a Simpler Life.

Challenge 29 - Find out what works

Love and Wear clothes exclusively OK
Closet organized MOSTLY (Right now it's temporarily the stash for birthday presents, which makes it a bit messy)
Accessories managed OK (I don't have many to worry about)
Stockings OK (I actually don't think I own any
Belts OK
Scarves None
Shoes OK
Jewelry OK

Clothing Systems
Dry-cleaning system OK (We don't dry clean at all.)
Laundry system FAIR (Some weeks go great. Others are so-so. It should even back out when I can finally pack away the last winter clothes.)
Out of season system FAIR (We're in the middle of changing seasons so it's a bit of a mess for the moment.)
Recycling System OK (I have boxes for consignment items and start a new bag for Goodwill whenever necessary.)

Linen closet FAIR (Ours doubles as a game closet, so sometimes it looks great and other times...)

Counters cleared MOSTLY
Storage organized OK
Love and Use items exclusively OK (Except the china, but that will change when the kids get a little older.)
Meal Planning System OK
Grocery Shopping System OK
Entertaining Menus and Setup Help OK (When we do entertain, it's not that hard to pull things together.)

Home Office
Mail Handling FAIR (I don't always deal with the mail immediately.)
Desktop Papers FAIR (Same as above)
Office Supplies OK
Bill-Paying System OK
Filing System OK
Current OK
Important Documents OK
Estate planning NOT DONE
Tax records OK
Home improvement records OK
Insurances MOSTLY (Eventually need to add term life insurance for me)
Archives OK
Stationery and stamps OK (As long as the kid's stay out of the stamps.)
Ticket system OK (Not really needed here.)
Gift wrapping OK
Photos FAIR (The printed ones are in one place. The computer ones are edited and back up. Now I just have to start doing something with them.)
Subscriptions OK
Travel files and planning OK (Not needed.)

Kids' rooms FAIR (Technically that should be a range of poor to excellent depending on the day)
Closet FAIR (Technically that should be a range of poor to excellent depending on the day)
Desk OK (Not present)
Storage OK
Kids' papers and mementos OK (Each has one under the bed box for their items. It's just a matter of making sure it gets there.)
Babysitter information current NO (We don't have any.)

House Maintenance
Supplies organized OK (This is DH's domain. Generally he knows where thing are.)
Daily Routine FAIR (It's a matter of energy. Some days are better than others.)
Weekly Routine FAIR (see above)
Seasonal Routine FAIR (see above)

Garage OK (We don't technically have one, but if I considered the shed then POOR)

House sitter information current OK (Never use)
Recycling system for useless stuff OK

Monday, April 18, 2011

Day #28 - 30 Days to a Simpler Life

It's day 28 of 30 Days to a Simpler Life.

Challenge 28 - Get Physical and set up an exercise schedule

I don't have a long-term exercise schedule at the moment. DH generally leaves at 5:30 for work, so exercising before he leaves would mean being out the door at 4:30 in the dark. I've thought about exercising in the mornings using DVDs, but honestly the youngest has yet to adjust to daily savings time so I can get to bed at a decent hour. I think I finally got him to sleep at 10 pm last night. If I wait to exercise in the evenings when DH is home, then I'm cutting into our family time. For now, I've settled on the very unscheduled take each day as it comes and see what opportunity presents itself. This week DH is off, so as long as the weather's nice I can head out after lunch. Next week, we'll wait and see.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Day #27 - 30 Days to a Simpler Life

It's day 27 of 30 Days to a Simpler Life. Challenge 27 - Make Landscaping Easier For the secon day in a row, I'm going to have to postpone this challenge. It has rained so much this month that our yard is MUD. We did plant some lettuce and cabbage in the garden a few weeks back. Maybe I can count that instead.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Day #26 of 30 Days to a Simpler Life

It's day 26 of 30 Days to a Simpler Life. Challenge 26 - Pare Down Your Garage OK, I know I could do the basement or the shed instead, but...I think I'll just check this one off by saying we don't have a garage and save the others for summer projects.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Day #25 - 30 Days to a Simpler Life

It's day 25 of 30 Days to a Simpler Life. Challenge 25 - Organize Your Photos Today, round up all of your photos and put them in one place. That's all you have to do. Make a commitment to buy some photo boxes in the near future. With these boxes, you will be able to sort your photos. Read on for details. (30 Days to a Simpler Life, p. 156) My printed photos are all in one place although they are not organized. I decided to take the afternoon to work on my digital photos. I actually have a system for them, but sometimes DH downloads off the camera and does his own thing. Anyway I set up all the folders, shuffled around photos that needed it, and then went through the whole kit and caboodle taking care of red eye. Once I finished editing the photos I made sure that all of the ones on the hard drive had been copied to our flash back up and all the ones on the flash drive had been backed up to the hard drive. Can you tell I lost several months of photos the other year? Anyway now they are all organized, edited, backed up, and ready to be made into photo albums when I get the chance. YEAH!!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Day #24 - 30 Days to a Simpler Life

It's day 24 of 30 Days to a Simpler Life. Challenge 24 - Create hassle-free holidays Make a list of the holidays you celebrate annually. Besides each entry, write down what each holiday means to you. For example, Thanksgiving may mean organizing a big potluck dinner for friends who don't have anyplace else to go. Next, make another list of holidays with columns entitled "Joyful Activities" and "Stressful Activities." Fill in the blanks. For example, a joyful Christmas activity might be "Sending cards," whereas a stressful activity might be "Finding perfect gifts for household help." Once the list is made, vow to maximize joy and minimize stress. (30 Days to a Simpler Life, p. 152) I'm actually not a big holiday person. All the commercialization (despite my best attempts to ignore it) just gets on my nerves. We really try to keep things very simple. Here's what I came up with: Holidays we celebrate

  1. New Year's - Day off (Rest after putting away all of the Christmas decorations and new presents)

  2. Valentine's Day - Time with loved ones (Playing games together, doing a fun project together, writing a list of things we like about one another, etc. and I try to cook DH a nice dinner and get the kids to bed early.)

  3. Easter - Celebrate the Resurrection (Going to church, small gifts for the kids, an Easter egg hunt, read a passion week story, a nice dinner)

  4. Memorial Day - Remembering those who sacrificed everything (Read a story and have a cookout)

  5. Fourth of July - Be thankful for the freedoms others have gifted us (Read a story, have a cookout, watch fireworks)

  6. Halloween - Kids fun (Buy a bag of candy, take kids to church for fun Halloween alternative)

  7. Thanksgiving - Thanking God (Thanksgiving story, list/discuss what we're thankful for, cook a big dinner, do something fun together)

  8. Christmas - Celebrating Christ's birth (decorate house & tree, mail Christmas cards to friends and family, find/buy or make/wrap presents, advent wreath and readings, lots of yummy food, put baby Jesus in the manger and read the Christmas story)

Really the most stressful thing on the list is probably taking care of the Christmas presents. It's not hard to come up with ideas for us to give (except to DH's parents), but having to make lists of ideas for extended family becomes a balance of what gifts would they be willingly to give vs. what would the kid's like vs. what do we need or have room for. Just the thought of all that stuff gives me a headache, but I have yet to convince anyone else to simplify.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Day #23 - 30 Days to a Simpler Life

It's day 23 of 30 Days to a Simpler Life. Challenge 23 - Tackle your gift giving supplies My wrapping paper and other supplies are fairly organized. I have one box of wrapping paper. (I have close to 12 rolls in it, so I won't need to buy any for a while.) I have one large bag that holds all of my gift bags. I went through this a few months ago when I was looking for a bag and cut out the one's I didn't want. I have one box of boxes that I purged from just after Christmas, and one bag of ribbons and bows. I'm actually feeling pretty good about my gift giving supplies, so I'll just pat myself on the back today and work on some general housework instead.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Day #22 - 30 Days to a Simpler Life

It's day 22 of 30 Days to a Simpler Life. Challenge 22 - Keep Track of Your Valuables The idea is to keep a binder with the information with a photo, the receipt, and any appraisals. We don't honestly have any art, jewelry, silverware, etc. Certainly nothing that requires an appraisal (except the house itself). I do need to make a video for the house insurance, but I didn't really have time to work on it over the weekend. I opted to work on clothing instead. This weekend, I unpacked spring and summer clothes for my 10yo and 2yo and washed it. My 12 yo and I pulled out almost all of her winter clothes, sorted them into pile to pack away for DD2 or sell in the next consignment sale. The child had 6 pairs of winter pajamas in her drawer, and I found 2 more in the clean laundry!! I think the reason she ended up with so many is that half of them were size 10/12 and the rest were 12. I probably just told my mom that she needed size 12 and forgot to tell her that the pjs all still fit. (She does a lot of consignment shopping for me.) Then I went downstairs and found the size 10-12 boxes in disarray. I dumped out the spring/summer box and sorted into piles of size 10, size 10-12, and size 12. I eliminated some extra shorts, shirts, and pjs and repacked that box. I came back upstairs and went through the summer dresses in the closet, pulled out the 10s to add to the box, packed them away, and sealed the box. (Some of the 12s she can still wear for now.) I dumped out and sorted the fall/winter box as well, but I need to collect the rest of the clothes for the clean laundry before I can purge some items from there. Hopefully, I'll get to them on Monday afternoon.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Day #21 of 30 Days to a Simpler Life

It's day 21 of 30 Days to a Simpler Life. Challenge 21 - Organized for traveling This one's easy peasy for me. We basically travel once a year as a family to the beach. I have lists for what we take each year in a notebook in my desk. The catalog for the beach houses is on the coffee table. That's it. We don't fly. - No frequent flyer miles to keep up with. We take the dog with us. - No housesitters or pet care needed. The kids come with us. - No medical release forms needed for caregivers. We don't have extra money for other trips. - No travel brochures, maps, etc.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Day #20 - 30 Days to a Simpler Life

Its day 20 of 30 Days to a Simpler Life. Challenge 20 - Be Mindful by focusing fully on one task at a time Yeah!! Another easy check off! This is actually something that I already try to do (in so much as its possible with 4 kids running around). I read an article several years ago about multitasking that basically said the most successful CEOs do not multitask. Instead they give their complete focus to one task at a time. Of course, CEOs don't have toddlers running around their offices. While I was focusing on cleaning up the kitchen yesterday afternoon, my 2yo was redecorating the living room tornado style. It's amazing how much mess he can make in 15 minutes. A better strategy for moms of toddlers: Focus on one task for 5 minutes, then pause for 30 seconds to check on the toddler. Repeat until task is complete.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Day #19 - 30 Days to a Simpler Life

It's day #19 of 30 Days to a Simpler Life. Challenge 19 - Run Fewer Errands Today, create a box for errands. You can use a great-looking basket, plastic tub, or shopping bag. Whatever works. Keep it by the door and fill it with film to be developed, shoes to be repaired, purchases to be returned, and papers to be taken to the copy center. On errand day, take the box in the car. When you come home, it will be empty. What a feeling! (30 Days to a Simpler Life, p. 123) OR for serious simplifiers only... Run errands just one day a week. Designate a particular day and write it on your calendar. Obviously, some errands are urgent and cannot wait for Errand Day. Learn to discern the difference between urgent and non-urgent errands. To run fewer errands, look for the underlying reasons behind your errands. Then eliminate the reasons! (30 Days to a Simpler Life, p. 130) While I find the errand box idea intriguing, I have decided that I don't need it. I generally do one of 2 things with items that need to go out on errand with me. Letters, bills, etc. for the post office go into the outside pocket of the diaper bag. Anything else that I want to take with me, I take on outside and put on the front seat of the van. I've tried setting items on the lamp table beside the front door; but honestly with four kids in the house, there is no guarantee that any item laid down and left unattended will still be found in that location upon return. It's just easier to take it on out. As for running errands once a week, we try to run the bulk of our errands on Saturday. If we run out of time, then we can make one or two stops on the way home from church on Sunday. The two main reasons that I run into town during the week are to pick up library books (which I can solve by placing books on hold earlier in the week than I currently do) and to pick up items that I forgot to write on my list (which I can solve by not waiting until Saturday morning to make my list). There now, that was easy. Now to see about those library holds...

Monday, April 4, 2011

Day #18 - 30 Days to a Simpler Life

It's day 18 of 30 days to a Simpler Life. Challenge 18 - Go for Financial Freedom To achieve financial freedom, first figure out what you have and then manage it well. Today, collect your documents that are associated with large assets---documents for your car, house, investments, and so on---and put them in one filing cabinet called Assets. For your house: file your deed, purchase contract, closing papers, title policy, and insurance papers. For your investments: file confirmations, year-end statements, and tax reporting forms. For cars: file ownership papers, registration documents, and insurance papers. (30 Days to a Simpler Life, p. 116) I already have a working file system though it is set up differently from the suggestion. The auto file includes folders for ownership & registration and a second for maintenance for each vehicle. The insurance file holds folders for auto, home, and medical. The house paperwork has its own file. Taxes have a folder in my desk where I stick papers that I will need for federal and state income tax returns. So I did the following instead: 1. I decided to look through my to be filed folder and pull out any bank statements that are not filed. These I sorted in order and placed in the appropriate folder. 2. Then I set up a new assets file in Excel and updated the amounts for January and February. This is my overall picture for DH, so he can see what we have where and whether its going up or down. That was all I had time for yesterday, but at least I got a little bit more done.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Day #17 of 30 Days to a Simpler Life

It's day 17 of 30 Days to a Simpler Life. Challenge 17 - Organize your computer stuff (think manuals, CDs, etc.) I didn't really need to do a lot of organizing here. I went through all of the manuals last year when our old computer crashed and the new computer was bought. A lot of my older software didn't work with Windows 7 and was given away. I haven't had the funds to really buy a lot of additional software, so the drawer still looks nice and neat. So I decided to do a spin off of the idea and organize my email account. When I started, there were over 500 emails in the account. When I finished, their were less than 200. My last step is to create 4 folders in the account and sort the remaining emails: 1. Accounts - This is for all of the emails and passwords for internet sites that I have signed up for like Upromise, my grocery store, blogger, etc. 2. Kids - These are bits of information to share with the kids when they are older like the meaning of a flag draped coffin, the privilege of freedom, some space stuff, etc. 3. Uplifting - For some of my favorite forwarded emails from my mom that I deem worth reading more than once 4. Pictures - For all of those pictures sent from my family usually of my niece and nephew. I also have folders for recipes and orders (emails relating to internet transactions). I made the folders, but I haven't had time to sort emails out of my inbox, so I'll try to just do a few each day as I get a chance.