5 steps to a tidy study

I seem to have “tidy study” on my to-do list every week so I decided to go back to basics and share those basics with you too.

Here are the 5 steps I’m following to my organised home office:

1. Have a plan and make the rules clear to all those who use it
Do not allow anything in there that doesn’t belong. Decide what the space is used for and only keep items relating to that purpose there.

My kids can use the table in the study but they need to take their stuff out afterwards.

2. Divide the space into zones
There may be a children’s desk for homework and school projects, a reading corner, the filing area and a computer desk. It is easier to keep the study organised and neat when you know where everything should go, e.g. books should only be in the reading corner and not on every desk.

No-one but me uses my actual computer desk because the crafting area is my big, green table.

3. Store items where they are used
If two people use the study, then have a wastepaper basket at each desk. And have two sets of staplers, scissors, etc. This will prevent your stuff going “missing” from your area. Have a punch and file tabs wherever you do your filing, if you like to file.

4. Batch routine tasks
Keep all items that you need to file together so that you file 5 pieces of paper at once. Make all your telephone calls at the same time. Write out all greeting cards and wrap gifts for a month at a time. Your friends and family will feel loved and cared for, and you will feel accomplished!

5. Tidy your study every day
Take just 5 minutes and do a quick tidy-up of the desk when you’re finished working every day. Throw trash away, make neat piles of paper if they’re in-progress (label with post-it notes), put pens and pencils back in the holder and take cups and glasses to the kitchen.

This is where I slack because I often forget to leave 5 minutes to tidy up on the evenings I’m on my computer.

When you keep things under control on a daily basis, it is easy to maintain the order of an organised space.

Do you have a routine to keep your office space neat and tidy? Or does it not matter to you?

Let’s talk about hygge (1)

I’ve wanted to talk about hygge for a long time, and I fully intended to put it all in this one post.

But then I started mindmapping and fleshing out what I wanted to talk about, and friends, there’s a whole lot more in my brain than a post.

So let’s say two posts 🙂

What is hygge?

I think I first heard about it probably two years ago for the first time but I heard a LOT about it over the last 6 months.

Here’s the definition from The Cozy Life by Pia Edberg.

When I read that definition, I thought, “oh! so I’ve been doing this thing without knowing what it’s called” 🙂

Seriously though, that’s basically my house goal right there.

Why should you care about hygge?

You don’t have to care, it’s true. But if you do want your home to be welcoming, warm and comfortable, it’s certainly a good place to start.

But also, especially if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, it’s autumn now, and winter’s nearly here. It really is the perfect season to nest.

It’ll make you enjoy being in your home more. There really is nowhere else I’d rather be than at home when it’s cold. What about you?

Next time, we’re going to talk all about how to do this hygge thing, very practically, and I’ll also share some really easy things that I’ve done in my house to make it more cosy as we enter the best time of the year 🙂

Read these two books

I have personally read:

The Year of Living Danishly – Helen Russell (this was one of my top 3 audible books of 2016 – I adored it)

I see this Kindle version is very cheap. I do recommend the Audible version, especially if you love a good British accent.

The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World's Happiest Country by [Russell, Helen]

The Cosy Life – Per Edberg

The Cozy Life: Rediscover the Joy of the Simple Things Through the Danish Concept of Hygge by [Edberg, Pia]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Listen to…

And then these two podcasts discussed the concept of hygge. Happy listening!

Tea and Tattle podcast – episode 2 (British! And extremely delightful)

The Simple Show – episode 57 (they completely butcher the pronunciation of hygge but don’t worry, they fixed it at the start of the next podcast)

Have you heard of hygge? What do you think? Will you try it in your home?

Do you store clothes for your kids?

This month I’m focussing on our physical space.

Part of that focus was going to be the kids’ clothes but I got to that at the end of April since that was a good time to sort it out with the weather getting colder.

The thing with kids is they keep growing.

I bought two pairs of school PE pants for each child two months ago during a cold spell and Kendra’s already outgrown that. No, I was not happy about that at all.

Back to the question of this post.

Do you store clothes for your kids?

Most of the time, I don’t.

I used to store a bit in the early days but now there really is no point. Unless it’s an item of clothing a good 2 sizes bigger that will definitely fit during the next season.

Interestingly, I’m a finisher and I noticed that I can’t wait to get done with clothes and get them into the donate box. The good thing is I’ve involved the kids in the process of fitting, donating and moving on since they were babies so there is usually not too much drama when it’s time to let go.

Kendra and I do something which might help for you – if I notice an item of clothing to be too small, we wear it “one last time” so she can savour the wearing of a favourite item.

This is her hugging a favourite sweatshirt as this was the last wear.

The only time I store clothes is if they receive a gift of clothes for a size or two up, and they already have enough for the current season. Or underwear 🙂

I do have a box of clothes for each of them in their wardrobe but that’s purely because they (again) share a room and so we only keep the current season out and hung up/ on shelves. The off season’s clothes are all folded (after the smaller ones are donated) and stored in plastic containers. I actually love our system because it forces me to go through their clothes properly, at least every season, to make space for bigger sizes.

Tell me, do you store clothes for your kids? Do you have a rotation system?

PS Here’s the frugal girl on storing children’s clothes

My house also has a to-do list

For about 18 months before we moved out of our old house, we finally did all those things on our list that we needed and wanted to do.

I had a to-do list I was working off of, and when we found the current house, I had about 12 small things left on the old list (from about 60).

So then I decided we will no longer leave things and only fix when we’re selling.

Be realistic with time and money

This is not your fantasy life; it’s your real life. You still have to work and rest and do other stuff on the weekends, so do pace yourself.

Things in the house cost money, even if it’s to buy new pillows or a tablecloth, it all costs money. You have to realise you need to keep money for paying off the bond, emergencies, holidays and doing your house to-do list.

Balance big and small things

I’ve shared before about a small change we made in our bathroom. I’m so glad we made this change otherwise I would have been unhappy for years because we can’t afford a bathroom remodel.

You can go even smaller – a new duvet cover or pillow cases do wonders too.

This might not work for you if you’re a maximiser; this is someone who has to have the perfect solution and will happily wait til that can be done.

It’s not about being discontented

I feel like you can be content with where you are in life, but still make a few changes to be happier. The Nester’s blog is a great place to read more about this concept.

A few small changes that have made me super happy in the past – my yellow desk, yellow cushions, a new side plate, my navy blue kitchen, etc.

How do I plan my house to-do list?

I make a gigantic list. I used the 100 things to do page from my shining planner but my master to-do list (it’s in the pack when you sign up to my list) works just as well.

I walk through the house, room by room, and write down everything that I want to change in the next year or two.

I have quick things like get a plant for the landing, and big things like redo kitchen floors, on the list.

And then because I’m looking at this list regularly, about once a month, I have those things in mind so if I see the perfect rug for a child’s bedroom, I can get it.

That’s it really.

Does your house have a to-do list too?

If you’ve never made a master list for your house, why don’t you do that this weekend?

Which do you need more? Inner or outer calm?

I’ve written on the blog before about how, for me, outer order leads to inner calm.

To quickly give you a few examples, I feel like I can relax when my house is ordered and everything is in its place.

I feel like I can settle down and do good work when my desk is in order and there’s not a lot of stuff laying around.

I heard something on one of my favourite podcasts, Personality Hacker, a few months ago that I want to run by you.

I’m an ESTJ on Myers-Briggs. That J means I like order, structure, things in their place.

What they said was that for Js, outer order equals inner calm. That means a J’s environment must be sorted and orderly for their brains to feel calm.

Completely true for me.

And for Ps, their thinking needs to be orderly and sorted for them to feel calm.

They don’t need their environment to be completely orderly to feel calm.

Wow – such a different take on the process.

Does this resonate for you?

Not?

Nevertheless, most people do say that they feel better if their environment is orderly.

Where do you need to create some order in your home? Is it in your bedroom, living area, kitchen, kids’ room?

Which small steps can you take over the next week to create more order in your life?

{my year of happy} – April update and May project goals

So as some might remember, my April project was to look at what was not working for me and to fix those things.

Before I tell you about that, let me give you some fabulous news about my no-spend month for books. I did buy 4 titles from my list before our holiday because I wanted a good holiday read. But I still ended up only spending 66% of my allowance this month. It’s the first time in years I’ve come in under-budget so I’m doing the happy dance.

Personal email

I got completely up to date with my email. It needs a tweak now so I’ve put it on my weekly goals list for next week to spend 30 minutes saving documents to sort it out

Blogs in my feedly

This one I’m particularly proud of. I started off with 80, deleted 20 and could probably delete about 15 more. I also reordered them all and deleted some categories so that I have fewer, more descriptive categories.

Podcasts

Here I started off with 20 and I now have 12 I’m subscribed to, and 4 occasional ones.

I was also supposed to go through my instagram properly but I’m doing that more organically, like if I notice I’m following an account that I’ve already commented on from my other profile, I’ll just pop into the other profile and unfollow from there.

I was on such a roll that I also went through my Kindle sorting the entire thing out. The good news is it’s super sorted but the bad news is I had many more books unread than I thought I did, so am working through those now. And until I get where I’m happy with the number of unread books, I’ll be continuing my no-spend on books.

So that was April and I’m very happy with all of that sorted.

What about May?

In May, the OrganisingQueen intentional calendar (which you can get here) says:

It’s time to focus on your physical space. How can you make your space more inviting? How can you make your physical environment work better for you?

  1. I’m going to get up some blog posts this month focussing on physical spaces.
  2. I need to buy some Queen-size winter sheeting.
  3. I want to buy a few throws for use in the lounge. Is there anything better than cuddling up with a warm blanket, tea and a book? No, I think not.
  4. There are two things on my car that need sorting out.
  5. Our fridge is leaking. We just put a mat underneath but I need to get a fridge person in to look at it.
  6. Before any of those things can get done though, I need to sort out our budget after our holiday 🙂

What’s on your list for May?

PS A little bit of housekeeping – I’m closing comments over here for awhile. There’s far more engagement on Instagram so please join the chatter over there.

What I learned in April

This is such a fun part of the month – taking stock of any learning that happened, big or small.

Make Friday Food fancy

On Fridays I either do eggs for supper or I set out a buffet of all leftovers and everyone helps themselves as they wish. It’s a chance for everyone to hopefully get a little taste of their favourites if there’s any left.

Here’s the thing – I set the table nicely and light some candles and suddenly a really lazy supper is elevated and fun for all of us.

Try it and see 🙂

Bible reading accountability

I’ve mentioned my podcast club before. We listened to one episode on prioritising spirituality and there and then we decided to start reading the Bible together again. Fantastic. It’s been great for me.

Here’s the thing – I actually lay my Bible open on my desk (not the computer desk) with my highlighter so it’s ready for me every night. Setting up my environment for success has been great.

The Commitments

For St. Patrick’s Day last month, I bought The Best of The Commitments. This was an album I had on cassette tape back in the old days. I enjoyed it thoroughly that weekend (best R80 ever spent!) but every now and again, I play a song or two and it puts me in an instant good mood. Even the kids love it 🙂

Here’s the thing – buy a song you enjoy (I also bought Southern Cross by Crosby Stills and Nash) and I guarantee it will be the best R8 – R10 you spend. You’ll enjoy it over and over whenever you need a pick-me-up.

Change your crockery

What’s that they say about a change being as good as a holiday?

True. I had on my weekend to-do list to organise my sideboard as I suspected it need a bit of a sort. I was right.

But while I was tidying it, I decided to change my mugs. I have overflow mugs in the sideboard because yes, I do have a thing for mugs. And it’s made me so happy to use new mugs that I didn’t have to pay for 🙂

While I was at it, I changed our plates too. Because, why not?!

Here’s the thing – change something in your house. Move a piece of furniture to a different room, change your cushion covers, or change your crockery.

I still love autumn

Okay, this surprises exactly no-one because I tell everyone how much I love the cooler weather but wow, the colours amaze me every year.

The light’s softer, the trees are amazing and I can’t stop myself from taking photos.

Here’s the thing – appreciating the season you’re in makes you happier 🙂

What have you learned this month?

If it’s not serving you, let it go

This month we’re looking at what’s not working for us, so today I have a question for you – what’s no longer serving you?

Sometimes we keep on doing things simply because we’re in the habit of doing them and not because they actually serve us anymore.

Let me explain.

You go through a really busy period at work and work until 6pm every night. After that, it’s become a habit so you continue to do so even though there’s really no need. But this time spent is no longer serving you. You could be enjoying the extra time at home with your family, exercising, taking up a new hobby, etc.

Or you might have a bookshelf full of books you don’t like or need to have. You may have bought them because people on Instagram were talking about them but they’re not really your thing so you haven’t read them. These self-imposed expectations are no longer serving you.

One more…you have 5 sets of bed linen for your guest bedroom. You have guests twice a year for a week at a time, so you never even get past set 3 on the shelf. You feel like you should keep the linen because you bought some of those sheet sets at a sale and you haven’t really used them yet but… they’re not really your favourites. Those sheets staring at you from the shelf are no longer serving you.

Last year I decided to host what I called crafternoons – afternoons for groups of my girlfriends to craft. Craft was a very loose definition because photos, card-making, baking, knitting, colouring was all welcomed.

I hosted four of these but they never had more than 3 of us at any one time. They were enjoyable but they weren’t what I envisioned, especially because I’d invite about 10 ladies every time.

The crafternoons were no longer serving me so I let them go.

This is a small example but I felt such relief at the thought of moving onto something that might work better to get friends together, and that cleared the space for me to start a book club.

My challenge to you is to jot down 3 – 5 things in your life that are no longer serving you. And let them go.

They can be anything from kitchen utensils and nail polish, to bad habits and self-imposed expectations. Anything.

What’s no longer serving you? What do you need to let go of?

For your listening pleasure…

I’m a big fan of podcasts as you well know. Then when I was leaving comments on an Instagram feed the other day, I realised I actually have a podcast for everything. Ha!

Podcasts for cooking

Roisin meets – this is a lifestyle podcast by the Irish Times. She interviews (mostly) Irish celebrities of all kinds – authors, musicians, politicians, all sorts of interesting people. Easy listening in the kitchen and I don’t mind pausing to listen to a child asking a question here and there.

Desert Island discs – this is a podcast by the BBC. I’ve only listened to Michael Buble’s one so far because I’m saving them for actual cooking 🙂 The celebrity shares 8 songs they’d take with them on a desert island, and she plays portions too. It’s so fun – and perfectly light for kitchen time.

Podcasts for showering

You need good sound to hear above the water splashing but the podcast also needs to be easy listening because it’s relaxing time.

  • God Centered Mom – also great sound and I listen to every single one of these episodes but… when it’s my GCM Podcast Club episode, then I listen while in the study so I can take notes.
  • The Simple Show has great sound but I only listen to the episodes where she interviews people, and not the chit-chat about books or travel. I listen to some of the home episodes though.

Podcasts for editing photos/ tidying/ cleaning the house

(in other words, mindless activities)

For this category, I suggest long podcasts or those that need you to concentrate on the content… and have a notebook handy.

Off Camera with Sam Jones – I listen to the interviews with only the celebrities I know and since I’m not a big TV/ movie person…. that’s about 5 so far 🙂

What should I read next? – 3 books you love, 1 book you hate, and what are you currently reading… then she recommends 3 books for that reader. I used to not listen to this podcast at all because I don’t read the books these people do (they’re usually literary fiction, and I mostly like a lighter type of novel) but I do listen to most of them now because of the chat before that part of the show. They talk about their reading life and all of that is very interesting to me.

Podcasts for driving

This one is similar to the shower category (for me) because I go on the highway and I listen through my actual phone because my (very old) car doesn’t have all these fancy gadgetry where you can listen through your car’s speakers.

But…. the podcast needs to be upbeat because I’m on my way to work. Bonus if I can get a 40-minute episode since that’s my commute time most days.

Mom Struggling Well with Emily Thomas

The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey

Quiet with Susan Cain – only 9 episodes but like I said on Instagram, 20-something minutes of awesomeness per episode

A podcast for Fridays

Happier. This one publishes every Wednesday morning and I save it in anticipation for my Friday drive to work. I look forward to listening every week – it’s wonderful. Incidentally, this is Gretchen Rubin’s stategy of pairing – to link something pleasurable to something else.

Which are some of your favourite podcasts, and when do you recommend I listen to them?

My no-spend-on-books month

I’ve done a no-spend month once before, years and years ago, when I joined Beth for her no-spend month.

That was a really great experience because it broke my Exclusive Books habit of spending hundreds of rands on books every month .

This time, I had an idea that my book-buying habit was getting a bit out of control because I was buying a title from Modern Mrs Darcy‘s list almost daily.

Even $2 – $5 Kindle deals add up… and fast.

Amazon also sends those almost-daily emails with their recommendations based on the titles you’ve viewed.

One day I looked and I had 31 unread titles on my Kindle – real books, not samples. And I’ve been reading on average 10 books a month.

I then decided this book-buying thing was getting out of hand and I decided March would be a no-spend month on books.

What did I do differently?

I unsubscribed from MMD’s list. It’s the same way I don’t ever take a catalogue or brochure from a store – if I don’t see it, I don’t want it. I will subscribe again when I feel more caught up with my current reading and I have told my book club to let me know if Small Great Things goes on sale 🙂

How did I do?

I’ve been waiting for Alec Baldwin’s memoir, Nevertheless, for over 6 months so the minute that became available on Audible, I pre-ordered it with a credit I had.

I somehow forgot about my no-spend March when I went to shop for the 2017 Library project and I picked up some books. It honestly didn’t even occur to me that I was buying books because in my head I had DIGITAL books as my goal. Aside from the 4 books for the library, I bought 1 for a friend and about 5 for me (!).

So I was successful with Kindle and Audible purchases; not with physical books 🙂

What now?

I’m back on the no-spend wagon. We have a mini-break coming up and I wanted some books for lazing at the pool so I bought some books on Amazon last week. Coming to an instagram feed near you 🙂

I do think I’m set for at least another 3 months so let’s see if I can keep up the no-spending challenge for books for at least another 2 months.

How about you?

Have you ever declared a no-spend challenge on buying books? Or make-up? Or clothes?

Speaking of which, I haven’t bought a watch since December 2012 and I now have only 3 working watches left. I’m going to treat myself for my birthday though (4 months away) or sooner if I see something I really want.

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