24 Hours a Day

24 Hours a Day

Each one of us is blessed to have the same amount of time each day–24 hours.

Yet some of us get so much more done in the same amount of time than others. And I am noticing that people who can accomplish more in the same amount of time that we are all given are happier people.

It all comes down to organization, focus and work ethic.

Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your day.

1. Go to bed and wake up at roughly the same time each day.

Some people say this is boring. Ok then I am boring. I go to bed by 8:30pm, 9:00pm at the latest, everyday. I wake up at 5:00 am every “workday” and 6:00am on weekends.

As a teacher, even on my holidays off, I follow the same schedule. If my husband and I are traveling we do so also.

This helps our body have the sufficient energy levels each day for whatever is planned.

If we stay up late for a special occasion we still keep to the same schedule and in a few days our bodies have “caught up” the hours of rest needed to continue whatever our lifestyle dictates.

2. Be organized in everything you do.

Being organized is a tremendous time saver. If you know me or have been reading my blog for even a short time you will know I am a planner.

I plan everything from the chores of the day–and the days of the week certain chores get done– to our meals, our workdays, family activities and events.

For example, grocery shopping happens once a week, we follow a list and we don’t go back to the grocery store that week. If we forget something we just work around it until the next time.

If you are organized in everything, less time is wasted and more is accomplished.

3. Keep your focus.

It is great to have lots and lots of dreams of what you want to do with your life and how you want to spend your days–but without focus you will spend days and years going from one thing to the next and never accomplishing anything.

Keeping your focus on beginning and finishing your tasks–whether it is an obligation (like your career)–or something recreational like a hobby or project–is the only way things get done.

Think of all the things you began but have not finished yet…you have lost your focus for those things.

If you feel you have lost your focus because you don’t have enough time see tip # 2.

4. A strong work ethic will help you accomplish anything.

If you want to live a full life with days packed with accomplishments and successes a strong work ethic will get you there.

Whether it is washing dishes, or building a successful company, raising intelligent resourceful children, or being the best you can be at whatever it is you want to do, you have to have a stick-with-it-ness that only comes from a good work ethic.

Here’s the good news–if you don’t already have a work ethic you can get one–they are free!

4 easy steps to a happy and productive life…remember we are all given the same 24 hours a day–how are you choosing to take advantage of them?

The World of Crayola

The World of Crayola

Sometimes there is a smell of something in the air as you walk by that can instantly take you back 30 years!  It happens to me about once a year–when I go back to school shopping.

Now in my empty nest, my children no longer need school supplies–at least not the kind we purchased each year.  Notebook paper, rulers, Elmer’s glue are not on their list. College requires more sophisticated apparatus and techniques, of the electronic variety.

But I do go school supply shopping every year–for my classroom. My other kids.  And no matter what store I choose to go shopping in–when I get a whiff of brand new Crayola Crayons I am positive that I get a goofy smile on my face.

The smell of a new box of crayons takes me back to my first classrooms as a child. The excitement of a new year, the desire to impress and live up to my teacher’s expectations and knowing that most of the time, I did.

There were a few years–2nd and 4th grades–that perhaps were not my best, but using my crayons surely helped get me through the rough patches.

As I got older I made sure every year, whether I needed them or not–especially in high school–I would still put a new box in the cart.

And now–even though I don’t require them of my students in the secondary classroom–I buy a box for myself and put it in the top drawer of my desk–every year.

Somehow the box always disappears during the year sometime–it is quite the mystery since I never know where it goes.  I imagine however, that someone comes across it and also has a memory flash that brings them warm and fuzzy feelings.

Nonetheless, a new box is on the list, it gets purchased and goes back in the drawer–my own crayola talisman for good luck, good days and good lessons for the school year to come.

It is so important to tie positive experiences from our past to our present and future–and to hopefully pass down some of the wisdom that we acquire along the way–to those in our care.

If only life were always as simple as buying a new box of crayons each year–things would be so much clearer, happier and yes–more colorful.

Here’s to back to school shopping!  Enjoy every minute of it!  It only comes once a year!  And don’t forget the crayons!

 

Meal Prepping Lessons For Life

Meal Prepping Lessons For Life

If you have been reading my blog for a while or if you know me personally you know that planning things (everything) is definitely my thing. So in an effort to eat healthier and maximize my grocery shopping I have begun meal prepping.

This has become a very popular trend in many households. And it is imperative for people and families that are trying to live a healthier lifestyle as a new way of life.

Beyond that there are many lessons to be learned from this process.

First you will have to plan for 5 meals a day for 7 or 14 days times the number of people you are responsible for feeding.

What does that teach us? How important our resources are…time, food, imagination, and the freezer.

In your life you are going to want to maximize your time, be grateful for all the things we have (like unlimited foods and freezer technology) and have fun-use your imagination!

Second you have to be able to think out of the box.

Meal prepping has to be varied. You can’t pick 4 meals and rotate them through your meal plan…you will get so tired of your routine that you will slip and quit this newly found and positive habit.

So learning tip, find at least 14 recipes that you can rework in quantity and nutritional value that you can use to add variety to your cooking and eating.

Don’t try to cook all 14 at a time! That’s just crazy–and exhausting–think out of the box, but don’t throw the box out!

Learning to be forward thinking, numbers oriented and how to use strategic skills are very good things to know in this ever changing world of ours.

Third we need flexibility in our lives–especially in our eating habits.

There was a time and place for cooking a big meal and the family ate together–at a table–every night. Children were expected to eat was was made or not eat at all.

While I don’t think we should be short order cooks, in this very busy life we have created prepping meals ahead of time means we can still eat together without having to eat the same things.

This small change teaches us we can meet the likes of all the eaters in our lives and still provide them healthy meals…save time and money…and avoid the fast food line!

This also teaches us that what is important is not the quantity of a food that is important but the quality of the nutrition we are providing those we love.

And fourth, especially in households with kids, we should involve all the family members in the process of meal prepping.

Each person can have an age appropriate chore to be done as part of the meal prepping process. Someone can do all the cutting and chopping, while another mixes and cooks and yet another can keep the area and tools clean.  Dishes won’t do themselves you know!

This teaches us the best lesson of all–with teamwork much more can get accomplished than just challenging the world alone!

The family who preps together–stays together!

Happy Monday! Leave a comment below and let me know if you are a meal prepper!  What is your favorite go to recipe?

Moving Forward

Moving Forward

I am guilty of over-planning.  I over plan almost everything…from projects I am working on to our weekly meals. Some may think it is because I like to have the control–but in reality it is because I like to figure out the puzzle of unexpected events or situations arising.

And as I like to be prepared for the unexpected I make tons of lists. Lists of books I’ve read, book to read, grocery lists, meal plans, budgets, instructions for projects and lists and lists of ideas.  I like to plan ahead and to be ready for the what ifs.

Some of my friends who know of my list making think I am amazing (I tend to agree with that)…but there are a few who think I am too organized and doubt that I can accomplish as much as I do.

I think it may be their envy speaking or their wish to be more organized themselves or to simply have a desire to want to accomplish more in their own lives.

I have to say that I do get a great deal of things done in my home, at work, and in my hobbies because I am organized and do make lists to keep on top of things.  After all these years I think my success in this is because I can work on different things each day and move my goals forward–whatever they may be.

This is how I do it:  I break my projects into small workable tasks and I keep moving through the tasks day after day–time permitting–until they are finished.  As other tasks come up I can weave them into my days without disrupting my responsibilities or my objectives.

I’ve been doing this for a very long time–I hate to think how long, as I remember being this way in high school and college–with my school tasks. (And that was well over 30 years ago!)

When I look back over this time, I am grateful and proud of all I have accomplished so far and am very excited of all the years ahead of me to plan, and to create, and to accomplish so much more.

So many people give up so early in life and stop trying to accomplish–whatever it is they dream of accomplishing. They live their lives going through the motions and staying in the same place–never advancing or learning or wanting to change and advance.

But for us over planners–we sometime do try to do too much each day–the long lists in my planner are certainly proof of that. And if we don’t check off all our “to-dos” we feel we are not enough.   I am here to tell you that we are enough. Sometimes tasks, however small, can lead you to something bigger.

People often over estimate what can be completed or accomplished in a small amount of time and under estimate what can be accomplished over the long term.

Keep moving forward.  You are enough!

Organizing Your Thoughts

Organizing Your Thoughts

On this great journey I am traveling–I have really enjoyed organizing my life.  I have felt that it has been a right of passage, in a way, that I have arrived at this moment in time.

The years of growing up, growing smarter, and growing children were extremely busy–full of things to do and places to be–years. And we made it, we have arrived!

Looking back on those years makes me smile and gives me a warm feeling.  Even during difficult times–as life is wont to send you–I remember the good parts and the lessons I’ve learned.

Bad times–and rain clouds, make the good time and the rainbows brighter.

So as I organize my house and my life, I also take time out to organize my thoughts.

I imagine that I am not the only person whose mind is going nonstop and who has running lists of ideas and to dos traveling through her (or his) brain all the time. A brain who when not taken care of properly will wake me up in the middle of the night with thoughts and thoughts and thoughts.

In organizing my thoughts I have been journaling.  Not a “dear diary” kind of journaling–but more of a stream of consciousness–in notes to myself.

I began journaling quite by accident.  I few years ago, I had a garage sale because our family was making a big move to another city–the one we are in now.  I met a lovely lady who went to garage sales and bought “stuff” and resold it in an antique resale consignment shop as a hobby. She bought a few things from us and then spent a few hours chatting with us.  

I have to admit it made an otherwise boring garage sale enjoyable. And of course I never expected to see her again.

She came back the next day and gave me a small gift bag. She said she enjoyed our conversation so much she wanted to give me a little something.

Inside the gift bag was a blank journal.  She inscribed it for me on the inside cover and it inspired me to write in it.  

In it and in my other journals I organize my thoughts–and by organizing them I mean I just let it flow.

Organizing doesn’t always mean alphabetizing, putting things in numerical order, organizing by size, color or category. Organizing can be putting things the way they make sense for you.  

It is a wonderful thing to be organized.  It has helped me manage my time, my goals, my house, my meals, my grocery shopping and many other things.  

I am enjoying “getting it all together”–but I know my thoughts will always be a free forming flow of some connected and some not connected ideas. Trying to organize them would be fruitless.

Journaling has allowed me to capture thoughts and lists and ideas that I come up with and somehow, miraculously they organize themselves. One leads to another and questions I have on any particular day finds its answer in a future writing.  It is a miraculous process.

If you feel you have multiple thoughts going through your mind that contradicts other thoughts, try writing them down and letting it all flow…I think you will find that our disorganized and confusing thoughts actually have a time, place and direction for us.

Follow where they take you, there is an organization to them. And while you are journaling remember to have fun with it!

 

Creating the Home You Want

Creating the Home You Want

I am learning that decluttering is an ongoing process.  Although I have decluttered my house A LOT…I still have a long way to go.

In the process of going through things and keeping what we really love, we are also creating spaces in which we are comfortable.  After all, our home is our haven. While we enjoy having friends and family over for visits our primary goal is not to have a showplace but a comfortable space where anyone that comes will feel at home.

Of course, getting everything to look and feel this way is a work in progress and a very large organizational goal.

Each room should be decluttered and should focus on the function of the room.  For example, we should not have dishes in the bedroom or a hair brush in the kitchen.  

Here are my tips to organizing your home:

Kitchen:  The kitchen should be light, airy and clean.  There should be a place for all the pots, pans, dishes, cups, utensils, and pantry items.  Clearing off the counters of unused appliances, jars and other miscellaneous items will help your kitchen seem cleaner and larger.   If all your kitchen accessories don’t have a specific home or a place, then you have too much stuff in your kitchen.

Your kitchen is the heart of the home.  This is where most people gather and where memories are made.  Give yourself the space to make them.

Your kitchen is also where we prepare food and eat our meals.  It should be a place that is clean, bright and comforting. When we eat in a relaxed atmosphere we digest better and we feel better!  

Living Areas:  Our family room is where we entertain ourselves and others.   It is not a formal space, but strives to be one of comfort. Comfortable chairs and tables within arms reach make it easy to sit back with a cold drink or a snack and give attention to the people there and not the things.   

The living room is where we live in our down time, where we can relax, laugh, watch T.V. and play games.  When you are organizing your living room or family room, think about the activities that take place there and make sure there is designated furniture or items that enhance that not that just fill up the space.

The Home Office:  Not all homes have a home office–some have an office space but either way this is the home command center.  And while this is where I “work” at home, it is possible to make it a comfortable and functional area. A desk is essential as is your computer and a printer/scanner if you need one.  

Organizing a home office is imperative because this is the space that can get out of control–at least for me–very fast!  This is where the paper lives or better said–where it lives for a short time until you decide what to do with it. (See my tips for organizing paper here.)

So for my purposes–and I highly recommend one–your office should also include a shredder.  It is one of my favorite machines in the house!

Our office is a reflection of what we do there–pay bills, write, be creative and read.  Other than your desk, you may want to have a small sofa or comfy chair, a bookshelf and a place to keep important papers–in an organized system of course!

Bathrooms:  I have found that one of the smallest spaces in our home can contain the most “stuff”–read junk!  Not junk that is just to be thrown away but that should be addressed.

When I decluttered the bathrooms, I found bottles and bottles and bottles of shampoo, creams, moisturizer, hair products, vitamins, etc.  What helped me tremendously was to stop buying more of these items and using all that I have to 1) stop adding to the madness and 2) create space.

To organize the bathroom–treat it like a bathroom in a nice hotel. Keep it spotless and free of bottles and bathroom items on the sink top.  Use the things you need to use and put them away immediately. Wipe everything down each day (takes me about 20 seconds) and it will always look ready for its functions.

I’ve left the best for last—

Bedrooms: Again, like in a nice hotel–think sleek, clean, and functional. Keep your area free of extra paper, clothes, and shoes.  Our bedrooms is where our body, mind and spirit come to relax and rest after a day of our hurried run around lives. It is our quiet place. Create a space that is organized and can fulfill a restful experience for yourself.  After all we are worth it.

Organizing your home is a huge task–but one that is satisfying and will ultimately reflect who you are, what you find important, and how you want to live your life.

Enjoy the journey and have fun with it!

Penny Wise Dollar Foolish

Penny Wise Dollar Foolish

In organizing our computer files and our paper…I thought the next logical area of our lives was our money.  This may not be the post you think it will be though.

I won’t be giving you advice on budgeting or on how to save for retirement or that next big vacation.

Money is a touchy an highly emotionally charged topic.  There are thousands of articles and posts and ideas about how to make money, make extra money, invest money, manage money, spend money wisely and many other things you can do with money.

There are also a thousand ideas about the good money can do and the evil money can create.  

Like I said–money is a highly charged subject.  What I am talking about here is the respect of money–having control of your money so it does not control you.

I have been very fortunate to have a healthy respect for money, and to have been given direction by a very intelligent person. I am not greedy, I work hard, I save, and I pay all my bills on time.  I’ve made money mistakes and I have fixed them.

Not everyone has a relationship with their money like that. And so many people feel “disorganized” when it comes to their money. There is always more month at the end of the money because of the decisions we make.

If you really think about it money is just something we exchange for something else. Simple.

So here are my suggestions on organizing your money. Make an honest living and collect your money. Save some and spend some, but don’t spend more than you make.

Of the amount you spend, make sure you are generous with people who need it more than you do. The money you give away usually comes back to you doubled.

And my final piece of advice on organizing your money:

Don’t pretend you don’t understand money,or how you never have enough.  We make choices everyday that disorganized our financial lives.

Today, start fresh, make the choices that will lead to an organized financial life. Like organizing your computer files and the paper in your life, organizing your financial life takes work–but once you set up a system–you just have to maintain it.

Money comes and money goes. Enjoy it, save it and share it–every step of the way!

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