Fall Tasks

Back in September, I set up a list of household organizing projects that I wanted to complete during the fall: cleaning out the cabinet under my bathroom sink, organizing my all purpose closet and making my desk more inviting to work at.  I am happy to say I have mainly succeeded.

Lets start with the closet and cabinet, because I found I had a similar issue in both areas.  To begin the task, I literally emptied everything out.  In order to really organize a space, you must see what you are hoarding and then you can figure out the best way to fix it.  And I do mean hoarding.  The first thing I realized when I emptied both of these areas, the most noticeable pattern was, I had multiples of a lot of products.  I had an unopened container of tide pods.  I had thirty half used travel size bottles of shampoo and conditioner.  15 travel size lotions that were probably barely opened. Twelve 40 watt lightbulbs.  A lot of coats.  Seriously – I think I have a coat addiction- but that will be a spring project… So my first revelation was that a disorganized space means you don’t actually look to see if you already have something tucked away in the back…you just buy a new one… And then I realized something- storing stuff in the back of anything is not a good way for me to organize things that I need.

So- I actually used the same solution for both areas. I bought two three shelf carts that are only about 6 inches wide. And Then I just started putting all the sundry items on it.  I love the fact that it’s portable and narrow…I can slide it around and it makes it much easier to see what’s in there…Then I bought this little thing that allows me to hang my broom and dustpan on the door of the closet.  Brilliant. Instead of hunting for the broom, it’s so easy to find. (how often I use it is another thing…)

Now, as I realized how many dupes I had, I have not been able to organize the cart properly or with any sense of logic.  When I use up some of the things that I have I will begin to think logically where things belong on the cart.  It’s the same with both the bathroom cart and closet one- too much stuff.

 

 

Now- the desk….This was difficult for me, because I like everything accessible, yet I like clean surfaces. My lack of space makes this difficult, so I had to rethink my priorities. I have a desktop file box of papers and family binders that I like to keep handy.  These are things I reference and go to often. But here’s the thing- often means once or twice a week- not daily.  Do I really need them on my desk? The answer was no, but I had to come up with a creative solution.  I have a wall unit in my living room.  I cleaned off one of the squares and made this section my personal filing area.  It’s easy to access, but not in my line of sight when I’m working.  I’m not known for my mental flexibility- I tend to be stubborn about changing up my routine. But once I thought out of the box I was home free. As my desk doesn’t have drawers, I bought a little box that is supposed to be for storing paper.  I found it perfect for my tape, stapler and other little sundry desk items.

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Now here’s the big thing.  Setting up a task, no matter how small or mundane, and completing it gives you a huge sense of satisfaction.  I felt much better mentally as I worked my way through organizing and straightening and problem solving.  And being able to find things saves a lot of time and effort. And having efficiency in high used areas just makes it easier to get things done.  I don’t dread changing a light bulb because I no longer have to crawl inside my closet to find the light bulbs…

And because I have made my life a little easier…I’m going to have coffee with my friends.  Happy Friday.

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My New Planner…

Awhile back, my friend SF said to me: “Really? What did you blog today? About a thousand words on your new planner?” And I responded “Yup. Write what you know and write what you love.”

So last year I waxed rhapsodic about the closest thing I had ever found to planner perfection. The only fault was that 1) is was an academic planner and went July to July and 2) it didn’t have enough room for notes.

Since this planner was going to end next month, I began searching for a new planner a few months ago. This is serious business. I think about planner before, and then I think about how functional it was for my needs, and then what improvements can I make. The biggest functionality issue I had was that it was 1 page per day. This was good, but not optimal, because I use a planner to plan our my week, not so much as an appointment calendar (I use the calendar on my phone- I like having my schedule available at all times and the ability to search quickly) but more as an organizing tool. I found the day by day planner too difficult to use, because I couldn’t see the week as a whole. Plus, I needed more note pages.

My research led me to Plum Paper. Disclaimer: I have not received anything from this company for talking about them today. I love this planner so much I had to share it with my world.

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tabbed sections
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Monthly Goal Setting and Overview
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Monthly Note Pages(also blank pages at back of book)
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Month at a glance with enough room to actually write things
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I chose the weekly layout with mini day sections. I label them blog, dinner, top three, fun, self care, family, novel.  Note it has full columns for Saturday and Sunday.  So many planners combine the weekend, like we don’t have to actually do anything on the weekends.

 

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A tracker page- caveat- if you use the page vertically there are not 31 boxes across, so I set this up landscape, but this leaves me too much wasted space.  This is the most basic design flaw I found.  I like a tracker page because it reminds me about daily tasks, like vitamins or cleaning the litter box.

 

And that’s all for today.  I need to start filling in all the blanks in my planner…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Underappreciated

Sometimes, things don’t go to plan.  You all know by now that I am a somewhat organized person, who writes lists, and schedules things.  But even with my over attentive habits things fall through the cracks, people get cranky, things happen.

On Friday night, I was at the Botanic Garden with the husband.  My friend with whom I had Sunday plans FINALLY texted me back- you know- while I was out.  Even though we had known we were going to hang out that day, my friend is a little more laid back than me, so we didn’t know what we were going to do.  You can imagine I was getting a little antsy about not knowing what I was doing- and I had sent her a list of suggestions….all which would require tickets, because in NYC, just about everything requires advance tickets and planning.  So while I’m wandering around the gardens, I’m furiously texting S, trying to cement plans…..

When I got home Friday night, I bought the tickets for our planned activity.  When my daughter got home, I helped her get ready for Saturday.  She was playing in a tennis tournament and had to leave early because not only did the tourney start early, it was is the far reaches of Queens, which is a decent trip from Manhattan.  On Friday night, she was as ready as possible for Saturday.

At 6am Saturday morning- she didn’t feel so prepared.  After a week of tennis and homework- her sleep to awake ratio was pretty low- she was tired.  Tired=cranky.  I made her coffee, I made her a hot breakfast.  I packed her a healthy snack.  I refilled her water bottles.  She was snippy towards me- complained that her breakfast was boring- couldn’t I have made her something different?

Let’s just say I was fixated on the words “hot breakfast”, cause I probably said it 20 times.  Lets just say that there were a lot of not so nice words said about 20 times. We argued about metro cards- she wanted mine, I asked her why she didn’t refill hers…..stupid, stupid things…..I told her she was ungrateful cause I didn’t need to help her out….she said I needed to do these things cause I’m her Mom…..

And she stormed off.

We went to the movies together Saturday night- we repaired things for the most part- but I was still a little annoyed because I was feeling underappreciated.  Yes- please get out your teeny tiny violin and play me a melancholy tune…..the underappreciated Mom……

But this brings us to Sunday morning.  Normally, I have things organized and ready to go- gym clothes out, outfit planned, blog pre written, tickets printed for whatever I’m doing…..but this Sunday, yesterday, I didn’t have any of those things done.

Why?

Because on Saturday, in the time I’d allotted to prepping, I was reading the new Dan Brown book.  Yes- I was reading in unplanned reading time…….

I know.

I’m a horrible person.

Shame on me.

So Sunday morning I was behind, because along with not having anything prepared, I also woke up late……

But then, my ungrateful daughter stepped in.  She walked the dog.  She printed out my tickets for me (of course, when you’re running late is the morning that it takes 40 minutes to print out 1 ticket, and remember I bought 2 tickets…..).  She helped me organize my clothes and toiletries because I was changing at the gym.  She filled my water bottle and got me an apple.   And she realized that I would not be allowed to bring my gym bag into the theater because of security checks, so she arranged to get my gym bag before I went off on my outing, as well as bringing me the freshly printed tickets.  Right, the ungrateful daughter.

So what did I learn?

  1. I do not do well if I’m unprepared
  2. Always print out tickets as soon as you buy them
  3. Dan Brown books are really engrossing even if I don’t understand them 80% of the time
  4. We all need a little help sometimes
  5. I need to bug my friend S2 about plans a lot sooner (the funny thing is, I have another good friend S1 and she is just like me- I’m seeing her Friday night, and we already know when and where and have confirmed with our other friends)
  6. Even ungrateful daughters can be a life saver
  7. I need to take deep, relaxing , meditative breaths…….

Peace and love to all!!

 

Method to my Madness

Ok- here’s the post 2 months in the making….the one you’ve all been waiting for……My Sunday Evening Routine.  I know- I know- very exciting.  I’ve wanted to write this post for awhile, but something has always gotten in the way, but here, for your Friday enjoyment…..a little peek into the crazy that I call my mind.

On Sunday nights, (now with the aid of my new planner) I plan out my schedule for the week ahead.

  1. I look at what I have going on and schedule in prep and travel time if required.
  2.   I get everyone else’s schedule for the week and schedule in if I need to assist Husband or Daughter, and I confirm things that I am supposed to do with them
  3. I go over my to do list, schedule when things will be done, and go over my goals and see if anything can be tweaked. This road map time is important to me because it allows me to think about what is and isn’t working, and where I can adjust my routine.  I will write notes months in advance, for example- my January Calendar already has a note- “start planning summer vacation”
  4. I go through “action” folder on my desk.  My action folder holds all papers, mail and school related things that I received that week that did not require immediate action.  It also holds things I ripped out of newspaper or magazine, or brochures I picked up alone the way.  I really look at these things and act on them- ie- if I pulled a recipe I put it in my recipe folder, if I got a flyer for a concert I buy tickets, I schedule to buy canned goods if there is a donation drive at school.  I also file things such as medical reimbursement or anything we still get on paper (which is surprisingly high even though we’ve mostly gone paperless)
  5. I send out text/email to everyone I am supposed to meet with that week to confirm (I also reconfirm the morning of meeting, but that’s just me)
  6. I plan meals and grocery list for entire week (I like knowing who will be home for dinner, what time we will eat, and how much prep will be involved.  I also have certain themes- Monday – Vegetarian, Tuesday -Chicken, Wednesday- Fish, Thursday- Beef, Friday- Pork.  The weekends we often eat out, and I will also utilize leftovers/freezer things.)
  7. I plan time with my family and friends.  Yes- I schedule this because it is important to me.  My goal is to have 2 dates with the Husband (1 us alone, 1 with others), 1 daughter outing, 1 family outing and 1 friend outing and something just for me.  This doesn’t always pan out-(this week I am not able to have an outing with daughter- our schedules conflicted) but I try.
  8. I plan exercise time.  The goal is 5 hours a week.  Exercise is important to me.
  9. I figure out what needs to be bought, and if it can be done online or locally.  I make one run to a drug store type store every week.  If my family needs be to get anything, they must tell me by Monday morning because that is only day I will go.  They don’t tell me, they’re on their own.
  10. I also have a little relax time for me on Sundays.  I like a bath, and I do a face mask and a hair mask and I read a magazine.  This recharges me and makes me the happy go lucky person you read on a daily basis……what- you think I should step up my game on the relaxation cause it’s not really working?!?

Some people will think this is stressful, but seriously- it works for me.  Taking an hour on Sunday nights really sets me up for the week ahead.

And on that note- have a great Friday!

I’m so Excited!!

And I can’t hide it…I’m about to show you my new planner…….

I think I have found the perfect planner.

What?

Don’t you get excited and jump up and down about the thoughts of a new planner?

Did you think I actually had something different to be excited about?

Seriously- I’m boring.

Some people have fitness goals, some have relationship goals, there are all sorts of goals.  Me- I have planner goals.

I have always toyed around with spending a gazillion dollars on a certain “name” planner system (those of you in the planner world  know to whom I speak of), but then, lo and behold, on a recent trip to Target with my daughter (Mom- they have the best cheap, graphic tee’s)  I spotted it- the planner of my dreams- and it was 20$.  (to the non-planner people out there, this is a bargain)

Now, you know I don’t often wax poetic about purchases- I’m always on the declutter path.  But this was my best purchase of the year.

What is so good about this planner?

  1. it has a month view, with enough space to actually write something
  2. it has a page for every week day, and a combined page for Saturday/Sunday
  3. the daily pages feature hourly time slots, a to do list, a tonight section, notes and gratitude
  4. It has about 10 pages in the back for notes
  5. It has tabs separating the months

cons of planner

  1. It spans July to July.  My only problem with this is that I didn’t discover it until September.  I thought about asking for money off, to compensate for the months I had lost, but I didn’t want to offend the employees of target and risk them deciding I wasn’t worthy of this sacred object
  2. I would like individual pages for Saturday and Sunday.  I have a life on those two days that require at least a page each (No- not really, but I like to think that I do)
  3. I would like a blank page in each month section- sort of formalize goals and such
  4. would love a pocket to put papers in- I oddly end up with paper that has to be dealt with

Here’s the topic you’ve all been waiting for:  How I use my planner!!  Trust me, I feel your excitement as you’re reading this!!

Full disclosure- I use Google calendar.  Every appointment I make is visible on my computer, phone and ipad.  I find this indispensable, because I often run around with just my phone and very small wallet.  I like being able to add an event at any time, and know that I have not double booked.

But- back to the planner…..

Month View

  1. I mark in pen the events that I am definitely attending
  2. in pencil I mark down things that I may want to do
  3. birthdays and holidays
  4. vacations and off days of school

Day view

  1. As I am a volunteer, free lancer and aspiring author, my days can be arranged differently than most.  I mark down hourly how much time I am assigning to each activity.  I include time to run errands and exercise.
  2. Whenever I have something “to do” I determine how important the thing is, and write it on the date that seems logical.
  3. If something must be done on that day, I highlight it
  4. I plan meals in advance and write them in- and I clip the recipe on the cover of the book (love magnetic book marks)
  5. I schedule what I’m going to blog about  ( obviously this is done in pencil as I change my topic a lot)
  6. I list out steps to my eventual goal- eg- I am working on a book- I write down each day what I plan on accomplishing-  write chapter 3, edit 2, rewrite section that doesn’t make sense, etc…..
  7. Keep track of water intake
  8. I write down something I am grateful for .  Sometimes I take my life for granted- this is a reminder
  9. I write down anything that I may want to do.  If I put something on paper, I can begin to visualize it.  If I can visualize it, I can decide if it’s worth doing.  if it’s worth doing, I can plan it.  If I plan it- I can do it……
  10. I also use it to plan for future things- if I know people are coming to my house on the 23rd, I jot down appetizer ideas, music that I might want to play, etc- it’s a great way for me to logically put down my thoughts
  11. on the notes pages I jot down activities that seem interesting- movies, restaurants, outings.  When I am planning leisure time, I go to this section and I pick out something.

Now wasn’t that fun?

No?

Now you just think I’m a wee bit crazy?

Well, you aren’t the only one……

FYI- My dream planner is Day Designer for Blue Sky- I have received no compensation from them, or Target- I just love this planner and wanted to share.

 

 

Countdown to September

Since my daughter entered school, I’ve always thought of September as the beginning of the year.  So in August I do a lot of organizing/housekeeping things.  This is a glimpse into the crazy that is my brain:  my August to do list.

  1. Use all food that is in my pantry and freezer.  I like to know that there is no food product in my house that is over a year old.  I will use every can, box, grain or frozen thing before the month is up.  I don’t have a large pantry- but I end up with an odd assortment of grains- half container of quinoa, half container of barley.  There are also cans of soup that we pick up “just in case”- this never happens- my family hates canned soup.  And there is always an errant chicken breast or half bag of shrimp loitering in my freezer- I want them gone!  On the Tuesday after Labor Day, I will begin buying things again.
  2. Buy printer supplies and paper.  I know- this is a logical back to school step.  And I once had to run out to the 24 hour staples to pick up ink- I will never do that again.
  3. Buy new towels and pillows.  I know there are January white sales- but really- with online shopping, there is always a sale somewhere.
  4. Empty every drawer, shelf and closet in our house.  I take a long hard look at what we have.  I think about what we use, and if we haven’t used something, I consider how much it will cost to replace if we ever need it again.  I have yet to donate something that I ended up rebuying.  (my Achilles heel are charging cords.  I can’t throw them away- I always wonder if I’ll need them and be unable to replace them. I actually have a box of them in our storage locker)
  5. I reorganize where our possessions are stored.  I try to keep like objects together.  This makes it logical to try and find something.  I also try to keep most used objects in an easily accessed spot.  Simplify.
  6. I set aside one or two things my daughter did in school.  (I have saved more like 8 things a year from when she was younger- sue me) I either frame the work and hang on my wall, display on a shelf, or place it in a portfolio book.
  7. I make my family donate 10-20 pieces of spring/summer clothing that they did not wear.  I look over summer clothing to see what basics will need to be replaced next year, and I make a note in my electronic date book for March 1- reminding me that some basics are needed so I can begin to look.  I do not buy clothes at end of season sales.  I have found that we never really love these pieces, but are swayed more by the inexpensive price.  if you don’t love something, you are not going to wear it.  if you don’t wear it, you’ve wasted money.
  8. I review our medical history for the first 8 months of the year.  I see how much of our FSA has been used.  We need to make allocations for the following year in October- August is the time to review this information.
  9. I update my calendar with the school calendar- to see when there are vacations and scheduled half days.  I also mark down high school specific meetings and events.
  10. I reevaluate how my paper organizing system is working.  Even though I feel like I am receiving all things electronically, I still end up with a mountain of paper.  Every year I refine my system for dealing with the paper monster.
  11. I reevaluate how I deal with my personal to do list and date book.  Again- this is always a work in progress- I always think I can make things more streamlined.

Wish me luck- this weekend will be the big shelf/drawer reorg.  You can find me at the donation center.  pulling my hair out.