Organize

Completing a Large, Organizing Project

By on January 18, 2018

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Our winter project is to organize our lower level. The lower level includes our family room, a couple of bedrooms, a bathroom, and work/storage room. Each of our children has occupied the bedrooms at one point or another, and all but one of our children have moved into their own homes. Our goal is to organize the lower level so we can use the family room and repurpose one of the bedrooms for a guest room.

Tackling an organizing project can seem daunting especially if it is large and involves multiple components that you need to complete. How can you approach an extensive, organization project, so it’s not quite so overwhelming?

organize, organizing, organizing project

Make a Plan

Making a plan for the entire organizing project is essential. It gives you a visual outline of what you need to complete. Ask yourself what the end goal is that you are trying to achieve and plan out the steps you need to take to obtain it.

As much as you would like to be able to complete the entire project at once, it’s not possible. You need to focus on the individual steps that you need to take to achieve your end goal. They should be manageable so you can complete them and not feel defeated.

In our case, we knew that we wanted to be able to use our family room more frequently and create a comfortable guest room that also serves other purposes. That is our end goal, and the overall plan and the steps that we take will help us to accomplish this. We divided up the project into rooms and then individual tasks within the space to complete it.

organize, organizing, organizing project

Make the Time

In a previous post, I wrote about the tools that I use to complete an organizing project. One of those is time. Making the time to organize is essential to making the progress that you want.

Typically, I will create multiple steps that vary in the length of time that they take to complete. Even though the overall project seems daunting, it makes it easier to tackle by creating individual steps that I can make the time to finish. We don’t work for more than a two-hour stretch at a time before we take a break or move onto something else.

Purge as You Go

As you’re organizing, it’s important to purge as you go through each space. You need to ask the following questions when you are deciding if you want to keep an item.

1 | Do you love it? Is it something that you want in your home, or are you keeping it for sentimental reasons?

2 | Are you using the item? If you are, how often are you using it?

3 | Do you have room in your home to keep and use it?

4 | Does the item fit in with your current decor? If it doesn’t, are you still willing to use it? Can it be updated so you can use it in your home? Are you ready to take the time to update it so you can use it?

5 | Do you see passing this item down to a family member? Are they going to want it?

If the answer to the any of the above questions is no, then you need to consider giving away or selling the item.

We had quite a few things that we purged. I am setting them aside in one space for now and will be holding a garage sale this summer. Even though the items have not been removed from our house yet, I know that they will be gone relatively soon.

organize, organizing, organizing project

Taking on a large, organizing project can be incredibly overwhelming. It’s essential to create a plan and break it down into manageable steps so you can complete what you’ve set out to do.

Until next time,

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Simplify

Getting Through the Winter Months

By on January 15, 2018

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We live in Michigan where the winter months can be cold, dark, and dreary. Even though Christmas is over, I keep out some of my smaller, lighted trees to chase away the winter blahs. Mercury glass is also a favorite of mine year-round. Before the holidays, I put some mercury glass ornaments in my office window. I liked them so much that I left them there after I put the other Christmas decor away.

After the holidays, it can be easy to let the colder weather bring on the winter blues. You crave the sunshine and can’t wait for the warmer months to arrive. So, how can you get through the winter months without letting the winter blues get you down?

Ideas to Get Through the Winter Months

winter, plans

1 | Make or bake your favorite foods – You can cook some of your favorite foods and enjoy your efforts. Baking is also an activity where your kiddos can help. Who says that you can’t decorate cookies in January?

winter, plans

2 | Plan a pajama day – There’s nothing better than staying in your pj’s a little longer. Plan a pajama day and enjoy your day at home.

winter, plans

3 | Have a picnic – You can plan a picnic on a blanket on the floor. If you have kiddos, make a tent and camp out inside. If you have a fireplace, have your picnic in front of it and as a special treat, make smores for dessert.

winter, plans

4 | Plan a date night – Whether it’s with your significant other or your kiddos, date night can take place at home or one of your favorite places. You can take in a movie, go bowling, or do something outside like sledding or ice skating.

winter, plans

5 | Plan a trip – Planning a vacation will give you something to look forward to during the winter. Even a weekend trip can be a fun escape. Pick a favorite place or choose somewhere new to explore.

6 | Practice hygge – Hygge is something that you can incorporate into your daily life. You can read more about it in a previous post that you can find here.

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It can be easy to let the winter weather bring you down. While you’re waiting for the warmer months to arrive, take some time to do something different and create some new memories.

Until next time,

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Simplify

Taking Time for Self-Care

By on January 11, 2018

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Life gets busy. Too busy, sometimes. In the craziness of getting things done, and taking care of our home and our families, we often forget to take care of ourselves. Self-care is an essential part of getting through each day.

Personally, I have been living with a chronic illness for much of my life. When I finally received a diagnosis three years ago, I realized that I need to take more time for myself. My diagnosis meant changing my life in many different ways including leaving the job that I loved so much. I learned that self-care is not selfish, but an essential part of my healing journey.

What can we do to make time for ourselves to get through each day? Below are a few steps that you can easily incorporate into your day.

Don’t Strive for Perfection

Life isn’t perfect and trying to live up to a standard of perfection is impossible. It’s easy to compare yourself to others especially with all of the images online that are so perfectly styled. The truth is that those photos are only a snapshot of one space and moment in time.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. My home is not always clean, and organized and it’s okay. Sometimes, especially when I’m not feeling my best, I need to let go of some things.

self, self-care

Take a Digital Break

We often spend a great deal of time on our devices each day especially, if we use a phone or a computer for our daily job. It’s important, though, to take a digital device break from the world outside.

I will frequently leave my phone in another room, so I’m not tempted to pick it up and check it throughout the day. When I’m spending time with others, I also make an intentional effort not to have my phone out. Having those face-to-face conversations is essential.

Learn to Say No

Life is busy enough without adding additional responsibilities to your plate. Learn to say no to things that don’t benefit your best self or the time that take you away from your family.

I’ve learned to be choosy about what things I will add to my daily life. It’s not easy to say no, but self-care does not include doing all of the things.

Take Some Me Time

Taking me time can be easier said than done some days. However, you need to schedule some me time during your day. It only has to be fifteen to twenty minutes. Just enough to get you through your day.

When my kiddos were younger, we would get them settled in after school with a snack and an activity, so I could take a little time to wind down from my day. Taking just a few minutes for myself made all of the difference in giving the best of myself to my family each evening.

self, self-care

Rest and Relax

Take some time to rest and relax when you need it. You can read a book, listen to music or a podcast, or take a nap. Whatever you decide to do, take the time that you need for yourself. Resting and relaxing helps you to be your best self.

I take some downtime each day; usually in the mid-afternoon when my energy starts to wane. Resting and relaxing gives me the jumpstart that I need to get through the remainder of my day.

self, self-care

Self-care is an essential part of getting through each day, and you need to make some time for it. With as busy as our daily lives can be, it’s important to take the time to take care of you.

Until next time,

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Organize | Simplify

Creating a Routine That Works for You

By on January 8, 2018

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A routine is helpful to get things done without having to spend time overthinking it. There are several routines that I complete throughout the day to help me manage my time in getting things done. It all comes down to delegating your time for the things that you need to accomplish each day. How can you create a routine that works for you?

routine, routines

1 | Calendar/Planner

Not only do I schedule my appointments in my planner, but I also add items from my to-do list and daily routines, as well. I check my planner first thing in the morning, so I know what each day will bring, check things off as I complete them and recheck it in the evening, so I know what is going on the next day. The key is not to overschedule each day, so I have the time I need to rest and relax, as well.

Take away – Use your planner or calendar as a tool to schedule your day including the items that are a part of your daily routine.

routine, routines

2 | Meals

When we started meal planning for our family, we always knew what we were having for dinner each night, and our grocery list was created using those plans. Now that it’s just my husband and me, we still plan out our meals. It’s a routine that continues to work for us.

Meal prepping each week is also beneficial. We don’t meal prep as frequently now since it’s just the two of us. However, when our kiddos were home, it helped to get dinner on the table if we meal prepped for the week. It was especially helpful when they had after-school activities.

Take away – Meal plan and prep as part of a weekly routine that will keep you from wondering what you’re going to have for dinner each night.

routine, routines

3 | Cleaning and Laundry

Instead of saving the cleaning that I need to do until the weekend, I clean a little each day. It takes me 20-30 minutes depending on the task and leaves my weekends free for other things. For example, one day I clean the bathrooms, and on a different day, I dust. I will do a load of wash on several days, as well. I wrote about making laundry seem like less of a chore in another post. I’ve figured out a routine that worked for me without dedicating an entire day to cleaning and laundry.

Take away – Make it part of your routine to do a cleaning task or laundry each day throughout the week. It will keep your weekends free for other activities.

routine, routines

4 | Morning Routine

My morning routine may vary if I have an early morning appointment or meeting. Otherwise, I spend time in the morning checking my planner, reading my email, completing my daily devotions, and exercising. After that, I work through my daily routine that includes any appointments that I may have, tasks that I need to do, and any work that I need to do.

On a side note, I don’t respond to my emails immediately when I first read them. Emails remain in my inbox until I take care of them. I have a set time during the day to respond to emails as part of my daily routine.

Take away – Your morning routine will help to set the tone for the remainder of the day. Complete items that will help you to be productive as you start your day.

routine, routines

5 | Bedtime Routine

To begin my bedtime routine, I start at least thirty minutes for I’m going to climb into bed. Each evening includes self-care, getting my diffuser ready to go, and preparing for the next day. I also give myself about thirty minutes to read at bedtime. Bedtime is a relaxing ritual for me, and I will go to bed earlier if I need to if it means completing everything. My usual time to turn in is usually 9:00 p.m. each night.

During the evening, before I turn in, I also take the time to journal. It is something that I started last year, and I’ve enjoyed doing it so much that I’m doing it again this year.

Take away – Take the time to complete a bedtime routine. Incorporate things that will help you to relax before you go to sleep for the night.

routine, routines

Life is busy, and it can be challenging to try to get everything done that you need to do. A routine will help you to get things done without wondering when you are going to find the time to do them throughout the day.

Until next time,

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Organize | Simplify

Looking Back at the Most Popular Posts of 2017

By on January 4, 2018

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It’s interesting to look back and see what ranked as the most popular posts of the year determined by the number of reads. I listed the top ten of 2017 and six runners-up. If you missed any of the posts listed, take some time to check them out.

Top 10 Posts for 2017

10 | How to Get Started on Your Organizing Journey and a Free Printable

If you are creating goals for the new year, make some of those organizing goals, as well. It will help you to simplify the world around you and help with the overwhelm that the clutter may be giving you.

09 | How to Keep a Memory Journal 

I kept a memory journal throughout 2017, and I’m planning to do the same in 2018. It’s neat to look back and see what you did each day.

08 | How to Put Together a Work Tote That Works for You

A work tote carries all of the daily necessities that you need while you’re away from home. It’s important to make sure that you have all that you need without overloading yourself.

07 | Get Things Done When You Feel Like Procrastinating

This post is speaking to me right now as we begin our planned winter project. Manageable steps are essential, so you’re not overwhelmed.

06 | Tie: How to Use Binders to Stay Organized and Creating a Recipe Binder and a Free Printable

Binders are useful whether in the home office or the kitchen. I use binders more than I use files to keep things organized.

05 | How to Efficiently Change Out Your Seasonal Clothing

Changing out your seasonal clothing doesn’t have to be a chore. I used to store my off-season clothes in bins and haul them down to the storage room every six months. There are more efficient ways to access your clothing that doesn’t involve such an arduous process.

04 | Determine What Organizing Project to Do First

Organizing involves creating a system that works for you and sticking to it. When you have multiple organizing projects that need doing, it’s important to work on the areas that frustrate you the most.

03 | Using a Home Management Binder and a Free Printable 

I would be lost without my home management binder as it houses all of the vital information I need at my fingertips. Many of you were interested in incorporating one in your daily life, as well.

02 | Nesting at Home During the Autumn Season

Autumn is my favorite season, and I carry the nesting ideas into winter. Hygge is another way that I get through the long, winter season.

01 | Introducing the Home Management Binder

This post won by a landslide. I’m looking forward to reworking the Home Management Binder this year and sharing it with all of you. Is there anything that you would like to see included?

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Runner Up Posts for 2017

How to Keep Your Email Inbox Organized

My goal is to only keep the emails in my inbox that need immediate attention. With that said, there are several ways that you can keep your email box organized.

How to Keep Your Vehicle Organized

Keeping the areas of your vehicle organized is important so you know where things are located and you don’t have to search for them.

How to Remain Clutter-Free

Clutter seems to take over from time to time. Everything needs a permanent home and it’s important to take the time to take care of things each day.

Creating a Cleaning Schedule That Works for You

I created a cleaning schedule for 2017 and plan to carry it into 2018. It has made a huge difference dividing my cleaning jobs into daily tasks instead of trying to complete everything in one day.

How to Run a Successful Garage Sale

We held a garage sale last summer and learned a lot from our experience. I am planning on having another one this summer to help declutter our home after our adult children have moved out.

How Meal Planning and Prep Can be Helpful and a Free Printable

It is very helpful to plan out and prep your meals so you aren’t wondering what’s for dinner. It’s my hubby and me at the table and we often include leftovers as part of our menu plan.

blog posts, popular posts

Thank you for all the reading love in 2017. I’m looking forward to what 2018 holds for Living a Simplified Life. See you on the blog, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Until next time,

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Reading

What I Was Reading in 2017

By on January 1, 2018

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Happy New Year! The new year gives us the opportunity to set new goals to achieve for ourselves. One of the goals that I am looking to accomplish is to continue reading as much as time allows. To make time to read, I take a book with me whenever I have an appointment. I also go to bed thirty minutes earlier so I can indulge in reading a book.

During the summer of 2017, I rediscovered my love of reading. Previously, I didn’t take much time to read for enjoyment. My favorite genre is historical fiction. I also like to read many other types of fiction and nonfiction books and still enjoy the classics.

To find new things to read, I signed up for BookBub. I talked about BookBub in a previous post, as well. BookBub is free, and when you sign up, you signify what genres you are interested. BookBub then sends you a daily email of books that are free or reduced in price for your iPad, Kindle, Android, and Nook.

I also took the time to follow and listen to some bookish podcasts with recommendations of what to read as well as following several Instagram accounts that share what they’re reading. If you’re interested in the book related Instagram accounts that I am following, visit me @mittengirlreads. It is a separate account from the @livingasimplifiedlife Instagram account and filled with only book-filled accounts.

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Although I love handling and reading a physical book, I find myself reading more on my e-reader. It’s easier to carry with me when I’m going to appointments or traveling. I’m also able to get many ebooks that have reduced prices from the BookBub recommendations. My virtual bookshelf now has over one-hundred books that I will be able to choose from in 2018.

Audiobooks are also a good choice while you’re working out, cleaning, or driving. I will often listen to an audiobook while I’m running errands or on a long car trip. For Christmas, I received a pair of wireless headphones (thanks, K) to listen to books while I’m traveling with my family.

I’m also keeping a book journal in 2018. Many people keep track of their reads on Goodreads. I do this as well, but I wanted a journal where I could record my thoughts about each book, as well.

There were so many great books that I read in 2017. I thought that I would share a few of the books that I enjoyed.

The Paris Wife

This book by Paula McClain is a fictional account of Ernest Hemingway’s marriage to his first wife, Hadley Richardson. It gives us a peek at their married life and their time in Paris with all of the other writers during the Jazz Age of the 1920’s. I am looking forward to reading more books by this author.

Caroline: Little House Revisited

Sarah Miller wrote a first-person fictional account of Caroline Ingalls and their trip from the Big Woods of Wisconsin to Kansas territory. It gives us a glimpse into the hardships that the family endured as well as Caroline’s feelings and experiences while traveling in a covered wagon to an unknown place with her young family.

The Foundling: The True Story of a Kidnapping, a Family Secret, and My Search for the Real Me

I first saw Paul Fronczak on an episode of 20/20 on ABC.  He was left in a stroller and was thought to be the baby that had been taken from a Chicago hospital in 1964. The kidnapped baby’s family took him home believing that he was their long-lost son. Keep in mind that this was long before DNA testing. After doing DNA testing when it came about, he finds out that he is not the kidnapped child. The book is about his journey to find out who he is. A fascinating true story that still has information to be discovered.

Before We Were Yours

Lisa Wingate writes a fictional account of real-life events about children that were kidnapped by Georgia Tann from their low-income families and sold to wealthy families who wanted a child. It tugs at your heart-strings as the children are old enough to remember the family that they that were taken from but soon realize that they will never see them again.

Currently Reading – Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder

Caroline Fraser gives us a complete history of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s life including many details that Wilder did not include in her children books. Not only do you get the history of the Ingalls family, but you also get a historical account of the time that Laura Ingalls Wilder lived. I read Donald Zochert’s Laura when I was a teenager and have been fascinated by the history behind the books that I read as a child. Since then, I have also read Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Biography and also have Pioneer Girl Perspectives: Exploring Laura Ingalls Wilder on my to-be-read shelf.

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I’ve discovered that reading is something that I purposely need to make time for or it doesn’t happen. Throughout 2018, I will share some more of the books that I am reading. How do you make the time to read? What books are you reading or looking forward to reading in 2018?

Until next time,

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