Organize Something: Hall Closet Tidying

“Life truly begins only after you have put your house in order.”  — Spark Joy by Marie Kondo

Getting “tidy” is major. Like life-changing major, as described in the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.

I have been busy. Who isn’t? But I have had tidy the upstairs hall closet on my backlog of tasks for…as long as we have lived in this house. Which isn’t insanely long, but almost two years.

Two years of I have to organize that upstairs hall closet bouncing around in my brain, stealing energy that I might free up to dedicate to more worthwhile pursuits like starting a garden, among other things I dream of.

This weekend, I finally decided to set my meditation timer for 20 minutes (this is how I motivate myself to do practically everything in my life), and start on the closet.

I knew all along that it wouldn’t take very long. I spent at least ten times as much time thinking about having to clean out this closet as it actually took to do it. But that’s ok. It’s done. Now my mind is saying I’m so glad the upstairs hall closet is organized!  continue…

Tackling the Freezer Organization

“Kitchen, you are my nourishment center, I appreciate you!”

— Louise Hay in Loving Yourself to Great Health

I have been “meaning to” clean out the freezer ever since we moved into our house and got our new refrigerator, about a year and a half ago. I have never really felt like I had an organized freezer in all the places I have lived over the years.

I’ve cleaned out my freezers, but I have never thought about the freezer as being a place that can be organized into different areas like a drawer with dividers or a filing cabinet.

I cannot remember a time when I felt truly satisfied with the organization of my freezer. The freezer has always been more of an ice cold junk drawer than a place that brings me joy.

After reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, I have been thinking a lot about the concept of joy as it relates to the items in my life. I decided that the contents of the freezer are as much items as socks and books.

They are different because they are more temporary. Or are they? Who doesn’t have a piece of mystery meat in the freezer that has been waiting to be eaten for longer than anyone can remember? continue…

Paper Organization, KonMari Style

After I graduated college and got a job in 2006, I got a two drawer filing cabinet for my apartment, determined to make sense of the piles of papers I had thrown into a hall closet to be dealt with at an undefined future date.

I read books about getting organized, my favorite of which was Organizing from the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern. I labored over what the right categories would be for all my personal papers.

I’m sure I got rid of a lot, but I still held on to plenty of papers unnecessarily. I was confused and uninformed. I didn’t know what was essential and what wasn’t essential. I held on to things because I thought I was supposed to. Out of fear that if I got rid of them that there would be regrets and consequences. continue…

Let Go To Make Space for Something New

“I promise you: whatever you let go will come back in exactly the same amount, but only when it feels the desire to return to you.” – The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

The other day I was thinking a lot about my recurring not-so-positive thoughts, and how they were not only annoying and driving me crazy, but holding me back from moving forward. This was spurred on by something I heard Esther Hicks say on her YouTube channel the day before.

I am always so focused on trying to think about what I want, I sometimes forget how detrimental it can be to let my thoughts spiral and dwell on things I don’t want. Abraham/Hicks was saying that you want to stop thinking about things you don’t want because that creates space for what you do want to come into your life.

I liked this perspective, because it takes the pressure off of trying to stay so focused on things that don’t appear to exist just yet. Rather than working so hard to trick myself all the time into thinking I’m already future me (which can also be fun), sometimes all that needs to be done is putting a stop to anything that is not that, or that goes against that.

A much simpler concept. Let go of what is not wanted first. continue…

The KonMari Method of Tidying Books

I love books. My favorite job ever was a student job working in the library at the University of Rhode Island (probably because I never worked a shift more than a few hours long), and my favorite task was taking a cart of books to be filed on the peaceful upper floors.

I still love going to bookstores and libraries, even though I usually get books online now. The library has seriously come a long way in a few short years in their ebook and audiobook offerings.

Still, it’s nice to keep a small collection of books that were purchased during the years of reading books not on electronic devices. I am not a huge re-reader of books, so the bookcase is more for decoration and the happy feeling it gives me to look over at it than functional. continue…

My To-Do List Is a Junk Pile

For YEARS my to-do list has been my Everest. I just cannot let it go.

I have read productivity books like Getting Things Done by David Allen and Time Management from the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern, and experimented with all different kinds of planners from Franklin Covey to The Hipster.

So far, I have come very close to my vision of getting this thing cleared off by the end of the day, or at the latest, the end of the week. I know it is possible, no matter what anyone says. Which is always some version of that doesn’t sound very realistic whenever I tell people about my dream of a beautiful, emptied to-do list on a regular basis.

I know there will always be things to do. That isn’t my problem. My point is having a list that doesn’t contain things that were due yesterday, or from 2 months ago.

I want to wake up in the morning, knowing that I will have the time I need to do all the things I want to do that day, AND get done whatever else needs to get done. Not working until 7 p.m., not skipping out on my walk because I’m too busy. Not sleeping less than 7 hours (I realize whenever I have a baby that last one might be negotiable, but you get the point).

My To-Do List Is Cluttering My Life

It dawned on my yesterday that my to-do list of unfinished, overdue tasks is creating clutter in my life. Not only is having this list of unfinished stuff like having junk piles all over my house, but by taking up time that I could spend dealing with physical clutter, it is literally contributing to the clutter in my life and my days. continue…

The Life-Changing Magic of a Tidy Closet

After I started reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, I couldn’t wait to get started on my own “tidying marathon”. I still haven’t finished tidying the whole house and I started this process over a month ago. But I KNOW it is possible and am so excited about finally getting “tidy”.

I’m not sure how long Marie Kondo’s tidying marathons last, but if she were in the US or I were in Japan, I would love to enlist her services to keep me focused on tidying for however long it takes. As it is, I am doing this myself, motivated by the version of Marie Kondo in my head who paints a picture of me surrounded by only things that bring me joy, sipping tea in my perfectly tidy home and making time to do yoga and take a bath before bed at night.

Following the KonMari sequence, I started with clothes, then moved on to books, then papers, and am currently on “komono” (pretty much everything else – which is a lot!). Today I share my dramatic closet transformation. continue…

The Life-Changing Magic of a Tidy Home

Having a completely organized life is one of my big dreams that has seemed just out of reach for years. I actually thought I was pretty organized when it came to physical items, and most people who visit my home would probably say that I am.

After reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo, I finally get it. Being organized isn’t about organizing. It’s about learning to let go of the things that no longer bring us joy. The rest falls into place.

Marie Kondo refers to this process as tidying. This book is different from other books about organizing because it asks us to make decisions about the stuff in our homes based on one simple question: does it bring me joy? continue…

Meal Planning Mondays: Green Smoothie in a Jar

A few months ago, I posted an idea for storing green smoothie ingredients ahead of time in baggies in the freezer for the week. I loved the concept of having almost all smoothie ingredients portioned out in the freezer. I didn’t love using baggies.

As much as I intended to reuse the baggies, when it came time to make a smoothie little pieces of ingredients would get left behind in the bag. Since I wasn’t refilling the bag right then, I didn’t want to save the baggies for reuse later. So I almost always ended up throwing them away.

I hate to waste baggies, especially for something like this that I’m doing everyday. They are not good for the environment and I like to be independent of using disposable things like plastic grocery bags and baggies when possible.

Green Smoothie Ingredient Storage

I had gotten some canning jars to can lemon juice from the lemons growing on our lemon tree in the backyard, and got the idea to try the pint-sized canning jars for storing green smoothie ingredients. I tried one at first, and it worked like a charm! continue…

The Beauty of the Dry Cleaning Delivery Service

Sometimes you just don’t feel like going anywhere or doing anything. Call it lazy, or call it smart, but I love it when I discover that a business delivers – bonus points if they do it for free!

My latest delivery discovery is the dry cleaners. I have been going to this place for about a year. I mean, I have been procrastinating on going to this place on a regular basis for a year.

As much as I have tried to get into the routine of going once a week or once every few weeks, I have inevitably let the to-be-dry cleaned pile of clothes pile up to the point where the closets are getting low on supplies (mostly my fiancé’s work clothes).

I also have tried to get in the habit of ironing his clothes, but so far, I have proven to fail at that wifely duty. Sigh. continue…

Meal Planning: Breakfast Protein Smoothies

My favorite smoothie is my peanut butter banana smoothie and its yummy variations (my latest favorite will be posted tomorrow!).

My fiancé likes to drink protein smoothies for breakfast on days he goes to work. I don’t think it is necessarily for the taste. This is more of a utilitarian smoothie. I tried to do protein smoothies a while back when he got into them, but I couldn’t add enough peanut butter or bananas to mask the taste of the protein powder. We even tried to make a green smoothie with protein powder and almond milk once – I would warn you to not try this! You might be scarred for life!

The protein smoothie isn’t all that bad, and we have tried to add other ingredients to make it more palatable. I share this smoothie recipe not because I am particularly excited about this specific drink (can you tell?) but because I am so excited about the system I came up with for preparing the smoothies ahead of time so I could easily make them in the mornings without having to pull out 10 different things from the cabinet.

I came up with this idea after my idea of preparing green smoothie ingredients ahead of time and storing them in baggies in the freezer. As you will see, the ingredients for this particular smoothie are mostly dry, allowing them to be stored in an airtight container in the cabinet, simplifying the smoothie making process.

One day I was making a protein smoothie and figured I would try to see if the dry ingredients would fit into one of the cute little spice jars we are using for our labeled spice collection. They did! continue…

Be Unapologetic About What You Want

I thought I wanted to be a writer. According to everything I have read, by the act of writing I am a writer. I don’t even have to be any good at writing, apparently. As long as I want to be a writer and I write, then I am a writer.

But I have apologized with every inch of my being for wanting to be a writer ever since I first was told that math and science are where the money and value are – not reading and writing. I have grown and come to terms with my writer ways over the years. But not without apology.

I often feel guilty telling people that I have a blog when asked what I do. I usually tell them the “real” thing that I do, as in the thing that actually produces an income. Then I slip in at the end (nervously) that I have a blog. Talking about myself as a writer makes me feel super apologetic. Like I haven’t earned the right to call myself a writer, or a blogger.

A Little Bit of Inspiration

I will be attending Alt Summit Summer this year. Alt Summit is a design and blogging conference held twice a year (January and June) in Salt Lake City, Utah. I have known about it for several years now but could never bring myself to attend a conference for bloggers, not feeling like a “real” blogger myself.

Fortunately one of my favorite vloggers, Jennifer Ross, pushed me over the edge this year with her vlogs and blog posts from the January conference. I am so excited to finally be going!

I received an email recently with links to the keynote speaker presentations from the January session. One was by Lisa Congdon, the other by Dallas Clayton. Both are amazing and I would definitely recommend checking them out.

Lisa Congdon talked about the path she took to get where she is as a creator of lots of different amazing things. She talked about being unapologetic about what you want, and that got me thinking. continue…

Three Tips for Easily Maintaining a Decluttered Household While Saving on Taxes

Do you have a hard time getting rid of things, but desperately want a streamlined system for de-cluttering your home on a consistent basis? Or, does tax time come around, leaving you to guess what you donated to the Goodwill last June?

Today, I share three tips that I have come to integrate into my life to easily & quickly maintain a clutter free home and a current listing of items donated (& their individual values) for tax purposes. Aren’t you excited? continue…

What to Do with Old Holiday & Birthday Cards

What do you do with all those holiday and birthday cards you have received over the years? Do you keep them in an organized filing system organized by year, toss them in a drawer or box somewhere, eventually throw them away, or something else?

Today, I would like to share my system for keeping (kinda) old holiday & birthday cards. continue…

How to Take Control of Your Kitchen Part 2: Dishes & Refrigerator

The other week I mentioned that I noticed a renewed sense of clarity on keeping the kitchen cleaned & organized on a regular basis. Part 1 of this series focused on cleared countertops. Today, part 2 will focus on maintaining a clean, organized kitchen with specific attention to the status of the dishwasher and refrigerator contents.

A System for the Dishes

I feel like I have finally figured out my system for maintaining the dishes in a constant state of being washed or about to be washed without having the sink overflowing with dirty dishes. It might sound really simple, but sometimes it takes a lot of work to get to simple.

I have been obsessed with a rule of doing only my most important task first thing in the morning (after yoga and meditation) ever since I read Leo Babauta’s The Power of Less and other productivity books like Never Check E-Mail In the Morning by Julie Morgenstern. I don’t want to sacrifice that magical time when I might be able to write a blog post before the interruptions of the day inevitably set in.

But, there is a period of about 15 minutes first thing in the morning that I am in the kitchen making my tea, sometimes making coffee, and most recently making smoothies for the day. Over the past week, I started noticing that I can use the time in between making tea, coffee, and smoothies to empty out the dishwasher. continue…

How To Take Control of Your Kitchen Part 1: Countertops

Today I will be sharing how I have started to take control of our kitchen.

The control of the kitchen has been a long time coming, and it is not 100% done. But I now feel that I am in a place where I know how to get the kitchen in shape relatively quickly at any given time. And it feels amazing!

Cleared Countertops Make Me Smile

It is pretty standard to have “stuff” all over the kitchen countertops: toaster ovens, blenders, mail, sticky notes, keys, random papers, random tubes of chapstick, medicines…need I go on?

I wouldn’t diagnose myself as having OCD, just a love for clutter-free spaces for both spiritual and very practical reasons. A clutter-free area feels so zen to me. Like the feeling you get when you walk into a beautiful hotel suite. I want to feel like I am in a gorgeous, clutter-free hotel when I’m at home. Excepting a few drawers and closets that still need some work, I do!

On the practical side, it is so nice to be able to pull out all the ingredients for a recipe and be able to spread everything out on a countertop without having to do battle with the junk mail or some keys that no one knows what they go to. It also makes cleanup so much easier. Who wants to have to dust crummies off the junk mail after making dinner? No thank you!

With the exception of my new, beautiful Kitchen Aid mixer that was a Christmas gift this year, which is practically decoration as well as practical, all our small kitchen appliances and gadgets are stored in the cabinets. I will admit that this wasn’t originally my idea and at first I resisted, but now would have it no other way. Yes, I pull the Nutri-Bullet down from the cabinet a few times a day, but it doesn’t weigh much, and the rest of the time I have that space on the counter cleared for food prep.

Other than that, we have one decorative centerpiece on the island, and on the counters that we don’t use for food prep on one side of the kitchen, a picnic basket (for storage and decoration), a wine rack, a small container for wine-related tools and accessories, and a small plant.

Stuff, Clutter, & Emotions

I believe that there is an emotional component to clutter, or even just having things out. I think bare surfaces bring an initial level of discomfort that can prevent us from keeping a space free of clutter. It can at first feel uncomfortable, empty, and almost sterile to not have stuff everywhere. I know, because those were the feelings I experienced when I initially considered the prospect of not having a toaster or a blender out on the counter at all times.

As a person who grew up with a toaster and a blender and plenty of other stuff on the countertops at all times, and carried on the tradition in my own apartments, I can say that I LOVE having cleared countertops, and wouldn’t go back. Completely (almost) cleared countertops might not be your thing, and that is totally fine. But I think it is something worth considering if you find yourself shuffling things without a home around countertops day after day and have ever wondered if there is a better way.

There is. continue…

To-Do Lists Are My Life

I dream about to-do lists like I imagine people who like sports or guns dream about their hobbies. This is my thing. The thing that I get excited to get out of bed over.

I have lived somewhat oppressed by my to-do list for years; perhaps this is why I am so intrigued. It has been my challenge to conquer – “getting it all together,” or at least kinda, for the most part. Nothing is perfect, after all.

But to not be buried under 80 tasks, crushed by the weight of hundreds of things I don’t even really want to do – now that is a breath of fresh air! The fresh air that I am proud to now breathe, and I can say, with conviction, that I will NEVER allow myself to go back to that buried state. I simply refuse.

I set out yesterday with the motivation of my Birthday Eve. My own personal new year upon me, I reflected on my life over the past year and the direction I would like to take in the next. Most of the time, I feel like I am just about to have my life completely organized and to be living the lifestyle I envision, but I allow some major project that I have been avoiding to loom, holding myself back from truly moving forward.

I know this is no way to live, and I don’t want to constantly feel this way anymore. I want to really live! Looking back I don’t feel like I have made much progress on my goals over the past year. I feel like someone looking at my life would tell me to give myself a break. I do have an amazing life and I am so grateful, but I have personal goals and when I’m not making progress towards them, I feel more like I’m sinking and suffocating than fully living.

Sometimes I feel paralyzed – unable to move forward, unsure of what to do next. Yesterday around noon I decided to clear the rest of the day to “get my life together.” I started with 26 things to do on my personal to-do list, which I keep in Evernote. I was able to easily to sort the items from oldest to newest, and force myself to start with the oldest, most neglected task (from May 2014!).

My List

I want to really get my life organized, and share how I did it to help other people who struggle with stress and feeling overwhelmed. That is one of the main reasons why I have this blog.

I have read a ton of productivity and self-help books, and I want to take what I have learned and share the system I came up with that works for me with the world. And help people develop and stick to their own systems that will work for them.

I want to have a cleared to-do list at the end of each week, not having things remaining unnecessarily past one week. I want to help keep myself and my husband-to-be on target for achieving our dreams.

The only way these things will happen is if I actually do them. So I had to ask myself – do I sit down and clear the decks, doing all the little tasks that I have been putting off over the past year? It didn’t take me very long to decide that, without a doubt, yes! – I start by clearing the decks.

Letting go of the old makes room for the new, and if I want to help other people with getting their lists in order, I have to first figure out how to take control of mine. So I did. continue…

A Mantra for Greater Productivity

I’m always looking for new ways to motivate myself to get on top of everything in my life. Whether it’s more efficiently getting through email, staying on top of household chores, or getting my to-do list to zero, I am motivated by the feeling of not being bbackhind/overwhelmed. I’m going for the opposite of overwhelmed/nervous breakdown.

As I was clearing out my email on Friday for the weekend, I was about to leave five to ten in my inbox to deal with Monday morning, and then I was reminded of this phrase:

How you do anything in your life is how you do everything in your life.

I have been hearing this here and there for years (unsure of the original author), but never felt like I had enough space in my life to take the time to truly consider doing everything in my life in line with my values. I was kind of just scraping by, which isn’t exactly the picture of joy and inner peace. continue…

Feel Good Financial Planning: Money, A Love Story by Kate Northrup

“To have a good relationship with money, you must know who you are and what your purpose is in this world.” – Money, a Love Story by Kate Northrup

Organize your life. Sounds like it should be so simple, right? But to reclaim our own attention and time for long enough to make progress in the areas that we feel called to can be more challenging than it sounds.

Money, A Love Story by Kate Northrup takes a spiritual approach to deal with the practical aspects of achieving personal freedom. I read this book concurrently with The Motivation Manifesto by Brendon Burchard (as much as I try to read only one book at a time, sometimes I just can’t help myself!).

This was a perfect self-help book pairing. The Motivation Manifesto gears us up to claim our personal freedom, while Kate Northup provides practical tips for taking steps to ensure that the financial foundation is in place to live a truly free life.

Spiritual Finances

This book approaches personal finance from a spiritual perspective. Kate Northrup takes the spiritual principles we have read about in other self-help books, and applies them specifically to the process of creating financial freedom.

Money, A Love Story demystifies the whole concept of money that we humans have come up with. In its simplest form, money is a symbol of trading value for value. When we present our earned money to the world, we are exchanging it for something that we are assigning value to. Likewise, when we earn money, we are being valued for the services we provide to the world.

Kate Northrup authentically opens up about her own financial path of going into credit card debt and finding her way out through the spiritual process she shares in this book.

What You Will Learn

This book taught me to provide value to the world in a way that makes me feel good while helping other people. I learned that working in a stressed out, frantic, chaotic manner, something I once mistakenly believed others value, is not making the world a better place. So, what’s the point? I now refuse to provide value while feeling stressed out or devalued. I simply refuse!

Here are a few more money lessons: continue…

Create a Yoga Room in Your Home

The appearance of a space affects how we feel. External clutter makes me feel unsettled, knowing that things are out of place and have not yet been dealt with. Clutter or junk in a space represents unfinished tasks and forces our brains to constantly reconsider and recalculate when we will deal with them. Ugh!

Organized Space

Organized spaces. Ah. An organized space makes me feel like I can take a big deep breath. I might as well be relaxing on the beach in an organized room.

One of my someday dreams is to have a ballet studio type room, like the one Hannah has in the movie Troop Beverly Hills; not for  dance or gymnastics, but as dedicated space to do yoga, meditate, and any other activities of wellness someone might want to do. Feeling zen all the while.

The room would have hardwood floors, a mirrored wall, yoga mats, and some yoga props. Very uncluttered. Very zen.

Undefined Space

I grew up in a house with an “extra” room. This room didn’t have one specific purpose, other than to be the room I slept in sometimes if we had a guest, who we would give my room to (because it was more accomodating than said “extra” room).

From my own experience, I can only suspect that there are a good number of households with such an “extra” room, or other type of “extra” space that isn’t exactly defined in its purpose.

The problem with not defining the purpose of a space is that it can become a catch-all for the clutter in the house that hasn’t yet been dealt with. Especially when it comes time for company to come over. Kind of like the garage. No time to deal with this pile of stuff now. Let’s just put it in the extra room for now.

Dedicated Space

Our “yoga room” is my favorite room in the house (well, besides the kitchen). I don’t quite have the complete in-home yoga studio, but it is close enough for me! The room has a very simple layout with a few essentials: continue…

Kitchen Labeling Series: How to Create a Customized Spice Collection

Have you ever dreamed of having a beautiful, customized spice collection, complete with pretty labels and the flexibility of adding any new spice at any time that will still match all the other pretty spice jars? If so, this post is for you!

I always wanted a cool spice rack that contained all the essentials (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, garlic, basil, etc.) with the flexibility of adding additional spices down the road. I would look at the spice collections on display at Bed, Bath, & Beyond, but could never bring myself to purchase one.

All of the pre-made spice collections I have seen don’t come with the option of adding in another spice should the need arise. So then you have a beautiful spice collection, and a few random spices jammed in the cabinet that don’t fit in. Where is the fun in that?

This gorgeous spice collection has been in the making for several years, and has evolved through a previous iteration involving magnetic spice tins with printed sticker labels. I won’t lie: there was nothing cheap about this creation, nor was there any time saved in the process.

Benefits & Drawbacks to Consider

organized spice collectionWe are fortunate to now have this large drawer that turned out to be perfect for storing the chosen spice jar design (RSVP Big Mouth Airtight Glass Spice Jar, Set of 6) and displaying the beautiful labels designed by Super Sweet Life. If you are thinking of creating your own spice collection, here are a few things to consider: continue…

A Slice of Zen in the Kitchen

An organized, zenified spice collection has been a dream of ours for quite a while. Now that we are in our new house, we are grateful to have the space to organize them in drawers with the labels on top of the jars for easy access.

This project has been a long time in the making. I ordered the labels last year, but after I ordered a few jars in another style, I came to realize that they were out of stock and that I wouldn’t be able to complete the project with the original jars. Then our move happened, and labeling spice jars took a backseat to many other tasks.

The new jars came in last week, but I feared that I would procrastinate on the project for months. This morning, I didn’t think I would make the time today to label spice jars, but knowing that I had to organize a small area of the home for today’s Blogust post got me motivated.

I am only about halfway done with this project. In the time it took to watch a few episodes of House Hunters on Hulu and three 80’s movies on Netflix, I labeled about half of the spice jars. I would consider that a productive Saturday night!

This is only the beginning of the zenification of our kitchen. I have yet to finish the spice jar labels, and similar labeling for other stock kitchen items including oils, vinegars, dry baking ingredients, coffee, and nuts. I will go into more details in an upcoming post of where we got the labels on Etsy and where we ordered the jars from on Amazon in case anyone is interested.

Today’s post is pretty short since it is getting late on Saturday night, but I will be back with another post tomorrow! Happy Blogust!

Wedding Planning Wednesdays: Where to Start?

It’s after 8 p.m. on my first Wedding Planning Wednesday, and after a long day of attempting to get things done from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., still not a single step forward on wedding planning has been made. Unless listening to my “Wedding – Pre-ceremony” playlist on Spotify counts? At least it is a relaxing list (think Relaxing Instrumental Jazz Ensamble).

Do I even want to have a wedding?

This question keeps entering my mind as it goes in circles about where to start. Yes, I definitely want to get married. But the months of planning? Not sure I am up for the challenge.

The biggest advice I seem to be getting from people is either to to get a wedding planner or to elope. The ones who recommend the planner are deadly serious, while the ones recommending eloping are (mostly…i think) joking. We aren’t interested in eloping, so hire a wedding planner it is!

My answer is yes. I do want to have a wedding…but I want someone else to make all the decisions! continue…

Blogust Schedule at a Glance

Since I have committed myself to 30 more consecutive days of posting, I figured today would be a good time to plan out my posts for the month. I have been wanting to do this ever since I started blogging but never got a grip on the organization of my thoughts more than a few days in advance.

Themed Days

I have always liked the idea of posting based on specific themes on certain days of the week. This is how I came up with the idea for Meditation Mondays. Here is the general idea for my posting schedule during Blogust: continue…

Moving Series: 7 Things to Do After a Move

“The middle of every successful project looks like a disaster.” – Rosabeth Moss Cantor

We moved into our new home the Friday before Memorial Day, and got engaged that same evening in Sedona, AZ. It probably isn’t surprising that it has taken almost two months to get settled into our new home, and hardly one item of wedding planning has happened.

Over the past few weeks, I have started to feel overwhelmed by the various tasks associated with moving that I wanted to have completed by now, as well as the wedding plans that I have the same feelings about. Today I am planning to wrap up my post-move tasks and to also move forward on wedding plans and other personal tasks over the next few weeks.

Ever since before we moved, I have kept a list of things to do before, during, and after our move. Looking back, I am grateful that we have accomplished so much. I tend to feel bogged down by unfinished tasks and projects, but when I look back at what has already been completed, I can remember feeling the same bogged down feeling when things that are now complete were incomplete.

For example, when we lived in a temporary apartment and were looking for a house, I was feeling slightly overwhelmed by the task of finding a home that we liked. Fast forward a few months, and here we are! I have to remind myself that projects in progress often feel uncomfortable, and become comfortable with that temporary feeling of discomfort.

Here are a few items either already complete or currently on my reminders list related to our move: continue…

How to Manage Email by Reducing, Not Reading

It is liberating to click the unsubscribe button at the bottom of a recurring promotional email that has bombarded your inbox for far too long. I have learned from Julie Morgenstern that holding on to outdated things has an energy that can hold us back in life. One of my motivations for living a more simplified life is to clear out all that stagnant energy that might be holding me back from making meaningful changes. I saw my email inbox as one of these areas that could use an overhaul. Today, I share the details of my journey in unsubscribing from over 130 different companies and services. 

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More Email Than You Can Read? There’s a Better Way

Do you know how many email subscriptions you have?

I didn’t. Turns out, I had over 130. After switching from Gmail to Microsoft Outlook recently, I have been keeping busy spring cleaning out my email inbox over the past few weeks. I am proud to say that I recently re-established my zeroed-out inbox, and wanted to share my new and improved process in a short series of posts. continue…

Moving Series: How to Plan a House Search

Whenever I start out on some big overwhelming project, I usually waste a lot of time in the beginning because I just jump in without having a system. The problem is, when it is something I haven’t done before (or haven’t set up a system for before), I have no idea what I am doing.

I recently started a house search, but at the beginning I didn’t have a well thought out plan of how to keep track of everything. After going through several systems, I finally settled on one that works a few weeks ago and wanted to share with anyone else who might find it to be useful for a current or future house search. continue…

How to Use Evernote to Organize Your Taxes

I am no tax expert. When I think about doing taxes, I always remember the episode of Roseanne where they have an overflowing shoebox full of receipts on tax day. Or the free Dunkin Donuts at the post office at midnight on April 15th when I was a kid. Apparently there are rewards for waiting until the last minute!

I am still waiting around until the last minute to figure out what I am going to do, despite my best intentions to be more on top of things.  I would like to think I am not the only one still operating this way, so on the chance that I am not alone in this, I figured I would share the system I started this year (ok, a few days ago) in an effort to get organized. continue…

Moving Series: How to Pack Up a House with Only 3 Boxes

I have been collecting boxes and packaging materials for the past three years in anticipation of an eventual move. When the time finally came, there were only three boxes from the liquor store (the kind with the built in dividers) put to use.

Confessions of an Over-Categorizer

moving

When the prospect of moving became a near-future reality, I became giddy with ideas of color-coded and labeled boxes. Although I was reigned in a bit, I still went a little label crazy. I printed about ten sheets of (pretty, if I do say so) labels, and then proceeded to put together about twenty broken down boxes.

Fortunately I hadn’t gotten too far into the craziness when it was pointed out to me that pretty much everything we own is already in a box. Couldn’t we just move everything in it’s already storage container or pack the stuff into one of the compartments our furniture already had to offer? I was intrigued. continue…

Moving Series: 15 Things to Pack Last

I am in the middle of a move, and recently completed the packing up the old house leg of the move. While it is fresh in my mind, I wanted to share the list of things that I wished I would have left out until the end. A few of these we were smart enough or lucky enough to have left out, but unfortunately we were scrambling around with a few bloody fingers, packing up dirty table tops, and throwing loose screws haphazardly into boxes near the end.

Don’t let this happen to you! Next time we move, I will definitely have a container marked “Pack Last”, including the following: continue…

Guest Bathroom Organization

I believe that the bathroom is a sanctuary. There, I said it. It is the place we go to get ready to go out and face the world and to restore ourselves after a long day. Why not make the surroundings pleasant?

I have wanted to organize the upstairs bathroom in my parents’ house every time I have visited. I searched for the right containers at Bed Bath & Beyond but couldn’t find the just-right sized containers I was looking for.

This bathroom is spacious and gets used primarily when there are guests staying in the upstairs, which consists of 3 bedrooms and a loft living area. Quite a few guests come to stay throughout the year, especially since they are located near Disney!

Organizing the Mess Under the Sink

guest-bathroom-organization

I personally have issues with stuff just being thrown in the bathroom cabinet. It makes me crazy to have to sort through disposable razors and bottles of hair products to get to a bottle of lotion.

Most of the products in this bathroom have been left behind by guests for the next person to use, and some things are just there in case someone forgets something. There wasn’t a whole lot to organize, but I still wanted to get some containers to shape up the place. continue…

How To Choose What To Do Next

“Don’t force it.” – one of my friends

In any given moment, we are faced with countless choices: what to wear, what to eat, what to drink, what to say, what to think, what to do… and on and on. Having a regular schedule and goals are great, but if something on the menu of choices doesn’t excite and energize, then it is time to find new options.

Do What Energizes You

I have recently been experimenting with choosing my next task based on what I am most excited in the moment to work on. For example, if my choices are to work on my blog, read a book, and wash the dog, I am trying to stop and think about which one I am most excited about working on/completing in the moment. Some days the idea of having a clean dog is the one that makes me feel most energized, while others it might be the idea of completing a blog post.

This is a much more fun way to live than in the “I have to” state of mind, as in, “I have to wash the dog” even though I want to lay down and read a book. Even better is when I can find some kind of creative compromise between the thing I have to do and the thing I want to do. Some days the idea of washing the dog while listening to an audio book sounds like the perfect plan. continue…

Giving Gifts of Zenification

I received my first “gift of zenification” for Christmas last year. Since then, I have really liked the idea of giving this type of gift, but struggled for a while to get myself together to plan far enough in advance to complete the gift in time.

What is a gift of zenification?

collage - gift of zen - menus

The phrase “gift of zenification” was introduced to me last Christmas when Michael gave me the card pictured above as a gift. He had scanned in the pile of takeout menus that were sitting in a drawer in our kitchen to Evernote. Each menu is now in a notebook called “Culinary – Menus” in Evernote, with one menu to a note (the menus weren’t already available online). continue…

Extra Room Organization Series: Angels’ Den Closet Organization Part 2

“If your room looks a bit barren, that’s a good thing.” – The Art of the Visit: Being the Perfect Host, Becoming the Perfect Guest, by Kathy Bertone

Click here for an introduction to the Angels’ Den if you have no idea what it is.

Today I will finish up the tour of the Angels’ Den with a description of how I have organized the remaining storage units in the closet, starting with the cubes on the left (facing) side of the closet. continue…

Extra Room Organization Series: Angels’ Den Closet Organization Part 1

Click here for an introduction to the Angels’ Den if you have no idea what it is.

I am wrapping up the series on the Angels’ Den with an in-depth tour of the closet. It is just a standard bedroom closet, so there is not much depth of space beyond what you would need to hang clothes, but the vertical storage has gone a long way in maximizing the amount of stuff that can be stored here in an organized way. continue…

Extra Room Organization Series: Angels’ Den Additional Storage & Decor

“You deserve to have everything in your life exactly the way you want it.”How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be by Jack Canfield

Click here for an introduction to the Angels’ Den if you have no idea what it is.

The Angels’ Den is so special to me because it is the space in our house that I can call all my own and decorate and organize in whatever way I want. Although the closet is the bulk of my organization system in the Angels’ Den (which I will go through in detail next time), other areas of the room also serve as storage for a few items that either don’t fit in the closet or just don’t make sense to be in there. continue…

Extra Room Organization Series: Introducing the Angels’ Den

Some people refer to their extra room that they use for projects as a “craft room”, and others simply call the room where they have dedicated work space an office. It is also common to use an extra room in a home as a guest room. Many times there is room available to convert into a functional space, but rather than being a peaceful place the space becomes a catchall for junk.

It takes a lot of work to convert an extra room into an enjoyable place, but it is so worth it. My room (not my bedroom, but an extra room) has been in the making for the past several years, and will continue to improve as time goes on. What can I say? I LOVE my room! I have never loved a room more.

The Making of the Angels’ Den

I don’t like calling my room my office, even though it is where I spend most days since I work from home. The room does have a bed (more on that soon!), but it is so much more than just a guest room. I am not really a crafter, although I do enjoy crocheting. Besides writing and working on my blog, I mostly like to work on organizing. Is that a craft?

Michael also has a room in our home that is dedicated just for his things. There is a Canadian version of the reality entrepreneur show Shark Tank called Dragons’ Den. After watching many episodes of that show, somehow it caught on that we referred to his room as the Dragons’ Den. Before we knew it we were referring to my room as the the Angels’ Den and I guess it stuck! continue…

Garage Organization Project: It’s a Start

I kind of love cleaning out garages. When I go for walks and other people’s garage doors are up, I always have to look in because I am so curious what they look like. Some are pretty organized with shelves and storage bins, and some are major disaster areas. I hate to call someone out, but there is at least one garage near me that is packed from the house right up to the garage door. I don’t even think there is a path to walk through!

Now is the Time

Our garage really isn’t all that bad, but it could use some work. We have only lived here for a few years, so there isn’t a crazy amount of stuff accumulated out there. Even so, recently I have been thinking about what organizing projects I would like to complete and the garage is definitely on the list.

It is the perfect time of year for garage organization. The weather is just right for being outside, and with the holidays coming up, I would love to get everything organized to make the Christmas decorating time this year much more enjoyable. It has been on my mind for a few weeks now, but I keep telling myself I don’t really have time to take on such a large project with all of the other things I am trying to get done on top of working full-time.

Yesterday I decided that it is very unlikely that I am going to just happen across this blissful day where I have nothing else to do but organize the garage before Thanksgiving. I will just have to make the time to do it. continue…

The Bliss of Zero Email

I watched the movie You’ve Got Mail the other day. I love that movie, and it is pretty funny to remember how email used to be at that time when it was so new: a concept that was more of a novelty than an obligation. Somewhere within the past fifteen years email inboxes have exploded into completely unmanageable hosts for information and digital communication overload. continue…

Glove Compartment Organziation

I recently got in the mood to organize my car glove compartment. When I got my new car insurance card the other day, I opened the glove compartment and started going through the contents, and decided I would like to get that place organized once and for all. Plus, it is starting to feel like fall, so car organization was a good excuse to get outside!

I did a major glove compartment clean out a few years ago when I started getting serious about going paperless. I decided I probably didn’t need all the papers in the glove compartment and discovered that I didn’t even know what half the stuff in there was. The car actually used to be my parents’, and I even discovered papers from previous cars that they no longer owned! Shocking! I scanned in whatever I felt might be useful someday (update: I have never once referred to any of those papers that I scanned in) and trashed whatever was no longer relevant. Below I have detailed what I decided to let go of from that space and what I decided to keep in the glove compartment. continue…

Hipster Series: Wrap Up

To wrap up the Hipster Series, I figured I would go through the remaining types of information I am using my hipster to record. Here is a look at how my hipster notebook stack is set up in Evernote:

photo

 In my Hipster: An Overview post, I listed the other categories of information I am tracking in my hipster, and explained how I use the “-Blank” notebook as a designated place to record incoming bits of information that I am not sure what to do with at the moment. Having this notebook actually helped me to determine an extra category that I decided to add to my hipster. continue…

Daily Planner in Your Pocket: The Hipster

Planners have been an obsession of mine for quite some time. My first “hipster” was given to me as a birthday present a few years ago. The idea of a hipster is that you can completely customize a compact collection of information that you want to carry around with you at all times without the organizational limitations and expense of buying a planner.

I personally still like to call my system my “hipster” even though I have now transitioned to a digital platform, mostly because I think the name is cute and cool. Anyone could create their own homemade planning system and call it whatever they want. The point is to create something that you want to use, because that increases the likelihood that it will serve the purpose it intended: to make your life more simple, efficient, and peaceful.

Originally, my hipster was paper-based and had many categories. At the time that I first started using it, I did not yet have an iPhone. I had previously been using a Franklin-Covey planner system, and although I loved my planner and lived by it, my life felt extremely chaotic. Don’t get me wrong, my hipster wasn’t responsible for removing the chaos from my life, I did that after extensive personal reflection and carefully planned out choices, but the hipster now plays an even more effective role in my life now that I feel more connected to the categories it contains and the types of information I allow to get recorded in that place. continue…

Evernote Organization

I took some time to go through my Evernote files and pare my categories down to the most basic and broad. I am proud to say that I am currently down to 4 notebook stacks. I didn’t take a before picture, but I believe I used to have closer to 10 stacks.

When I first started using Evernote, there were 2 levels of organization available: notebooks and notes. A notebook is a collection of notes. It bothered me that there were only 2 levels at first, because I really like to group similar items together and felt like I needed one more level of categorization. If I am thinking about my blog, I don’t want to have to scroll through items related to my job. I keep them separate. Now, with the ability to create stacks, I can happily group my information into small number of broad categories, and then group like sub-categories of information within each stack. continue…

Organizing on Autopilot

Once I figure out how a regularly occurring tasks fits best into my life, it kind of goes on autopilot and I don’t have to keep thinking about how or when to do it anymore. I guess a good example for me is keeping the house straightened up. I grew up with piles of papers and things everywhere, and when I moved out to live in my own apartment, I still had a lot of clutter to deal with. I finally bought a filing cabinet with 2 filing drawers and was pretty proud of it, but still didn’t have a grip on completely having a system of keeping the paper clutter under control.

Besides papers, there are countless things that can clutter up a home, such as dirty clothes, dirty dishes, things to take back to the store, items to fix, and just “stuff” in general. When there is not a home for an item, it can quickly turn into clutter. I have had fun (and help) getting organizing systems established in my home so there is no clutter. Having no clutter in the home makes me feel more calm and peaceful. That is the real goal of organizing for me. continue…

Planning Projects – Part 2

After thinking about how I would like to manage the projects in my life, I have come to the conclusion that the managing and actual getting things done will stem from actually planning out what my approach to the project will be.

Following the model I have created for my reminders and rituals, I have decided that I will add new, incoming tasks to my reminders lists, but as soon as I establish that it will become a recurring task, it can be moved over to my rituals list.

In the past, I have said yes to requests on my time without really giving much attention to how I would complete whatever project I just agreed to. I was afraid to say no, because I was afraid the person making the request on my time would be disappointed in me if I did not agree to do whatever it was. This bad habit has caused me more distress over the long term than any other. I did not respect my own time enough to say no, or to ask for time to think about how I would even accomplish said project. Even if I did ask for a day or two to think it over, I wouldn’t really think about the consequences of saying yes, because I couldn’t fathom disappointing someone by saying no. continue…

Planning Projects – Part 1

Now that I have my to-do lists (which I now call my reminders lists) under control, I feel like I can really get into getting my life organized the way I have always wanted to. I have read so many books about getting organized and improving productivity, and while I liked many of the ideas they described, I never felt “with it” enough to even begin to follow their advice.

Getting organized takes a lot of time, not to mention the difficult decisions the process forces. When I was buried by a mountain of tasks, it seemed totally impossible to make progress on getting organized. How could I dedicate 4 hours to organizing some files on my computer when I had a good, oh, say, infinite amount of hours of tasks nagging at me? continue…

Getting A Hold of the Clutter

“If your life seems a mess, it is because it is a reflection of your thoughts.” – Doreen Virtue

Right now, one of my goals is to organize my Evernote account, and other file folders on the computer that are not in their final home. Several years ago, I started digitizing almost all of the paper in my life. It was a very long process.

Just deciding what to keep and what to throw away can be paralyzing at first. Once I started trusting myself and my ability to decide more, it still took a very long time scanning in page after page after page of what I decided to keep. I have spent many hours with the scanner set up on the bed, scanning in anything I felt the need to keep, while watching a movie. I guess maybe it was actually kind of fun now that I think back on it! continue…

Clearing Out the Queues of Our Lives

“The simplification of life is one of the steps to inner peace.” – fortune cookie

I have read (or at least partially read) plenty of books on productivity, usually out of desperation for a miracle. I can’t stand the plethora of stuff that comes into my life piling up, but in recent years I have often felt powerless to even make a dent in the growing list of tasks requiring my attention.

For the past few years, I have felt like I was on the cusp of realizing my dream of having my life under control, but it was just out of reach for so long. Actually, there have been many days where I have felt absolutely buried, unable to deal with even the simple tasks as there was such a large list of big, overwhelming tasks and projects requiring my attention.

We Are Not Alone

I can’t be the only one who feels this way. But sometimes I do feel alone in my crushing to-do list mode. I look around at other people, and sometimes it seems like they all have it all together. I am sure this isn’t true, and maybe it couldn’t be farther from the truth, but it is easy to feel isolated. continue…

Simplifying Incoming Paper

“Find the elegance in the chaos, and simplify to the extent possible.” – Tim Ferriss

I was always a paper and pen diehard. I couldn’t imagine reading documents online, and wouldn’t dare dream of letting go of my paper to-do lists. I started to reconsider when I was introduced to Evernote. Evernote is like a digital filing cabinet – but better. You can save not only documents, but also notes, ideas, pictures – basically everything – in an organized and easily retrievable fashion.

I did resist going completely paperless at first. continue…

The Seasons of Our Lives

As I mentioned the other day, lately I have been thinking of my life more in seasons.

There are sooo many things we do that are recurrent: brushing our teeth, showering, replacing mascara, washing the sheets, making plans for Christmas, buying birthday gifts, buying toilet paper…and on, and on, and on. I have started a list of such recurrent activities and right now, I am up to 92 items (just for my personal life).

In some ways that sounds like a lot, but in others it doesn’t even scratch the surface. This list actually doesn’t include things that are so automatic as taking a shower everyday, but I did put things like “floss” and “take vitamins”, because these are daily activities that I have struggled with getting into a solid daily habit of doing.

As with my goals and affirmations, I have created a notebook in Evernote to contain these items – one item per note. This has been one of those (crazy?) personal productivity ideas of mine for several years now, which I couldn’t quite hack because I never felt connected to the list. continue…