10-minute organising projects – nail polish

I like to think that one of my superpowers is using tiny bits of time efficiently.

I had to catch up on two training courses at work recently which involved watching some videos. The videos didn’t need me to take notes so I thought I’d organise my nail polish while watching.

I’d recently bought more nail polish (my first nail polish spree since lockdown!) so I had to declutter old ones (the one in, one out rule) and while doing that, I arranged them by brand and not by colour as I usually do.

While it’s nice to try new ways of organising, I quickly found that this didn’t work for me as my brain thinks, “oooh, I feel like wearing something pink” rather than “I want to wear the essence polish”.

I took them all out and arranged them in their shade categories…

see all the neutrals in the front left

a bit or order emerging (I also saw too many similar shades so I donated 3 bottles)

And done. I love having the boundary of this perspex container – it takes at most 18 – 19 bottles, depending on the shape. I use the round ceramic pot for my base and top coats.

This little project took less than 10 minutes, and that includes going to fetch the polish, the organising and returning them to my bedside table drawer.

If you struggle to think about what to do with small bits of time, make a list now of quick, 10-minute organising tasks:

  1. tidying a drawer is always a good one
  2. decluttering a pile of paper/ receipts from your wallet
  3. unsubscribing from sales emails

(my next little project will be sorting the kids’ reports and cards for their 2021 folders – yes, I haven’t bothered yet, probably because they all still fit in my slimline file box)

You’re not alone when you ask this organising question

There’s one question I get asked by clients, friends and readers more than any other question.

It’s a question that makes me empathise with them so much because I know exactly where they’re coming from.

Marcia, I want to get organised but it’s all so overwhelming.

Where do I start?

There are different ways to approach this question but before we even start with the practical aspects, you need to do this:

First of all, relax and take a deep breath. Then get your mind in the right space.

Realise that organising is a process and that you won’t have a totally organised home in one hour, despite what you see on television.

Remember the home makeover shows have many organisers and stylists behind the scenes making the space look beautiful. You only have you (or if you’re really blessed, a friend or family member to help you).

Now that we’ve got that part settled, let’s talk practical.

1. Start with the area of your home that bothers you the most.

This is usually a space that you see when you first walk into your home, or it’s a space that you use all the time. If you feel drained when you enter your living room, start there. If you can’t bear to choose clothes every morning because your wardrobe is too cluttered, then that’s probably a good place to start. The benefit of choosing this area is that when you feel overwhelmed by the rest of the house you can go to this one space, look at it and feel inspired.

2. Decide what you want to have happen in that space.

Do you only want clothes in your wardrobe, or do you want shoes and handbags in there too? If you’re not sure what you want, it’ll be easier to let your standards and boundaries slip and, before you know it, you have a disorganised space once again.

3. Declutter

You can’t organise clutter. Get rid of everything that shouldn’t be there. You may need to move some things to other rooms and some things may need to move right out of your house!

4. Organise what’s left according to your personality and style

Not everybody is a minimalist. Some of us need to surround ourselves with our treasures. It’s all okay.

Your system works as long as you can find what you’re looking for relatively quickly (within a minute).

5. Maintain

Last but not least, do a quick, 5-minute maintenance session in each major space every week so that your space remains organised.

So tell me, where do you think you should start?

It all started with a facecloth (more about my latest project)

If you’ve hung around here for awhile, you know I love a project. I don’t know what it is but I think it’s that I like something with clearly-defined rules, and a very clear start and end date.

Aside from my annual goals (which I’ll review end of March as I checked at the beginning of the month, and nothing could be crossed off yet ;)), #rest22in2022, I am also doing what I call Project Upgrade this year.

Really, it’s Project Upgrade, Fix or Declutter. Let me explain.

I’m an under buyer with most things in life so I will use things until they’re completely done. I do declutter regularly as I am very partial to the one in, one out rule, but I very rarely upgrade things just because. And I’ve been thinking that I need to do that; I don’t have to be the only one to use up things.

It all started with a facecloth. I went to Cape Town on the 30 November last year and forgot my facecloth at home. The hotel provided me with the softest facecloth ever that is now my “travel facecloth”. After I’d used this facecloth for 3 days, my current one suddenly felt too rough and I started pondering.

If this exists in one area of my life, where else is it happening?

So I made a quick list and decided to adopt it as my house/ personal project for the year.

Declutter

These are for things need to go but I’m still hanging onto them. Why? (gym pants and gym t-shirts)

Fix

Some things really just need a quick google, a couple of phone calls and arranging a date for the service provider to come and do their magic. E.g. the pool cover that needs replacing, there are some chairs that I’ve wanted reupholstered, and so on. They’re all “fine” but “fine” is not delightful and they can all stand to delight me again.

Upgrade

I batch-cook almost every week but I only have one very big pot, one saucepan the same diameter and a medium pot. I’ve wanted another big pot for months. Why don’t I just go buy it?! I think because it feels like there are so many options and everything comes in sets and I don’t want a set. If you can recommend a good big pot, go ahead – I’m listening!

My plan is to tackle 2 – 3 of these little projects every month, seasonally where possible (pool and windows in autumn once the rains stop).

So far so good. January’s three projects were done successfully and this month, we’ve had an electrician out to sort out the plug points in the lounge, I’ve decluttered and bought nice new kitchen cloths and after visiting 2 – 3 shops, I finally found new gym shoes yesterday.

Of course, I fully expect to have to move things around and delete some because this house is 45 years old and things constantly need fixing or upgrading. But I definitely want to sort out all my personal upgrades.

What do you think? Would a project upgrade, fix or declutter work for you or your home?

How to use the one-minute rule at home

Have you heard about the one-minute rule? Even if you haven’t heard it referred to as such, I’m 100% sure you know of it.

What is the one-minute rule?

You take one minute to do something now rather than putting it on a list (mental or physical) to do later.

Why does the one-minute rule work?

It is quicker to take the time to do it now rather than in the long run because you have momentum.

Yes, it is sometimes annoying to take 60 extra seconds but I love thinking about my future self not doing something later 🙂

Let’s talk about some examples in your home:

Kitchen

  • Put food items away and wipe down the counter before having your meal
  • Take freezer items out when you think about your evening meal
  • After your shopping is packed away, take your reusable bags to your car or put next to the front door immediately. Don’t expect to remember them later – we all have friends with 27 bags in their kitchens that keep buying more when they’re at the grocery store.

Bathrooms

  • Spray down your basin and give it a quick clean with a sponge or those new-to-me cloths with microfibre on the one side and a scourer on the other.
  • While you’re at it, give your toilet a quick swish and swipe (a la Flylady)
  • Hang up your towels and put your laundry in the hamper immediately after showering rather than later

Lounge

  • Take a minute to straighten the cushions and put the remotes and coasters back in position rather than having to straighten up the following day.
  • Take all the mugs and glasses (and plates, if you allow eating in the lounge!) back to the kitchen.

Where do you use the one-minute rule at home currently? Can you think of some examples where this might work for you?

It’s time to swop out your clothes

We have only 3 weeks left of autumn in Johannesburg (but who’s counting?!) and I’m only now thinking about changing around my clothes.

There are two reasons for that:

  1. the weather is still not consistently cold
  2. we’re still working from home so instead of wearing a short-sleeved t-shirt with my jeans, I now occasionally wear a long-sleeved one

If you’re lucky to have a big enough wardrobe, that’s great, and you probably don’t even need to swop your clothes around.

I don’t have a big wardrobe as you can see… and we do have a definite winter in South Africa even if it’s a short one, so I need to swop things around.

In one of our first houses, I used one of the wardrobes in the guest bedroom (this was before kids) for my out-of-season clothes.

Here’s how I do the seasonal swop:

  1. I put all the hanging clothes on the bed and bring the ones I want to wear into that space.
  2. I then pack away all my summer sweatshirts and replace with my polar fleece ones for winter.
  3. Same with scarves – the lighter ones get packed away and I get out all the woolen ones (I’m sure I love winter for the clothes and the trees!)
  4. I move all the bags I love to be more accessible (I have an olive green bag that I love wearing in these cooler seasons).

While I’m working through this entire process, I “joy check” (a delightful term I found following some Konmari consultants on Instagram) and set aside any items I don’t LOVE wearing or using. I will donate some, ask my mother if she wants some (bags and scarves mostly) and now that Kendra is so tall, I think she will want that striped green sweatshirt. Interestingly, I remember wearing it when they were newborns so it’s held up for 12 years.

In my chest of drawers I also swop around the two drawers with short – and long-sleeved t-shirts. Why would I not take 5 minutes to do it now instead of having to bend a bit lower on a daily basis? That’s a great example of tolerations I spoke about last week.

Is it time to swop your clothes around? Even if you don’t need to do a complete swop, look around and see if you can make a few small changes to bring more joy to your clothing storage and usage?

And tag me @OrganisingQueen if you post some pics. I love to see!

{Mindset} Establish your personal policies, or decide once

A few months ago on the Happier with Gretchen Rubin podcast (episode 296 – 21 October 2020), one of the topics was about establishing a personal policy. I loved this podcast episode because it was a reminder to me that

  • I have personal policies
  • I’m happier when I heed them
  • We all have some things we do that make sense to us

It reminded me of the Lazy Genius, Kendra Adachi’s book, The Lazy Genius Way, which I read and loved last year.

One of her principles is to Decide Once.

Decide once is setting a personal policy.

In Lazy Genius language, I decided once that I don’t attend baby showers so it’s an easy decision when I receive an invite to politely decline the invite.

About a month ago, Kendra put up a post inviting people to post how they decide once. The 1744 comments are GOLD. A couple that I love are:

one lady does all phone calls on Thursday mornings only. Genius – you don’t have to have phone dread because you know you’ll take care of things on Thursdays.

another lady changes her contact lenses every time she gets her monthlies so she doesn’t have to remember.

some people have the same gift they give to teachers or for new baby gifts.

The reason I like personal policies is because I love boundaries.

I like people boundaries and I like things boundaries.

Some people boundaries:

  • I don’t attend baby showers. I buy a gift but I hate all the ladies playing silly games (at least that’s how it goes around here).
  • During Covid, I will only meet up with people outside. All book clubs are outside or on Zoom, and when people have come over, we’re outside too.
  • My kids can only have playdates on Friday afternoons. It’s a set time for them so they don’t have to ask continually “can X come over?” They know Friday is the day and arrange their schedules accordingly.

Some things boundaries:

  • If something doesn’t fit in the space, it’s time to declutter until the things fit comfortably again.
  • I decided once what I wanted to save every month, set up an automatic payment and I don’t have to think about it again. When my salary increases, I increase the payment a bit, but that’s the extent of my thinking about money.
  • I have a standard bring-along to a meal if we are invited over to friends. I say, “I’ll bring a chicken” and I bring a rotisserie chicken from a nearby bakery. I also get them to cut it up for me so it’s easy to just arrange on a platter.

Over to you:

Can you name some of your personal policies?

If you honestly don’t have any, where could you incorporate a couple to make your life run more smoothly?

{goals} My quarterly goals update

Gosh, we’re one week out from the end of March which means it’s time to review our quarterly goals and set some new ones.

First , a review in case you missed it earlier on the blog:

Quarterly planning
Monthly planning

What went well for me this quarter?

  1. Exercise – regularly doing Zumba twice weekly and my Barre class started up again mid-Feb
  2. My #read21in2021 is going so well. I just set the timer, pick up my non-fiction book and read. I’ve finished nearly 8 books already this quarter (my goal was 6)
  3. House projects – the bathroom reno, fumigator has been, window cleaners are booked for Monday (this is one of those things that people don’t mention when you buy a house on a hill) and we’ve ordered a canvas for our stairwell. 

What could be improved?

  1. I’m still working on setting better boundaries around work
  2. Need to book next holiday so we have something to look forward to
  3. Friend stuff – I can’t build connections via text or whatsapp. I’m phone burnt out 😮 and need to speak on a real phone or look people in the eyes and not via a screen.

How are your quarterly goals looking?

Why don’t you join me and set aside some time in the next week to jot down some goals for the next quarter?

{mindset} Do you have any extra in your tank?

Let’s talk about reserves.

Reserves is a term that simply means you have a store or buffer of time, energy or money as a safety net or a back-up plan in your life. Imagine these two scenarios… you get invited to a Zoom/ Teams meeting and are told that you’re being let go. Any change is a bit scary but if you know that you have absolutely no savings, no plan and no support, this will be a terrifying time for you! On the other hand, if you know that you have a couple of month’s worth of expense money in your savings account, your CV/ resume is current and ready to be sent out, and you have a good network to draw on, you will feel less terrified, maybe even somewhat confident in tackling this challenge in your life.

I speak to many people who say that they just don’t have enough time to do something that will make a big impact on their lives. Or they’re too tired or too drained to do something that they will really enjoy. If you have reserves in your life, aren’t you more likely to feel content, at peace, and also able to tackle anything? If you don’t have reserves, however, you probably will feel anxious, worried and afraid. Challenges like the example above will also feel worse if you don’t have health and stress reserves built up.

Having reserves means that you have enough at any given moment. This is freedom because it means you can make choices without having a lack of something – usually time or money – dictate how your decisions should be made. You also need a reserve of space, whether emotional or physical, to fulfil your dreams or, very basically, to do things that make you feel more like you.

How can you create the life you want if you don’t give yourself any space and time to do so? Time reserves mean that you don’t jam-pack your schedule so that you can say yes to connection with others or to your own pursuits. During this pandemic, I’ve spoken to many people who have said things like “I don’t think we’ll ever go back to all the activities again”. They have tasted time freedom and it feels amazing. We will talk more about time in next month’s article (I can’t wait! Send me questions you want me to talk about).

I also want to emphasise the physical aspects – stress and health. Almost everything feels doable if you’re in good health and you don’t feel stressed. If you don’t take care of your health and manage your stress, your body will start talking to you in the form of disturbed sleep and other physical ailments.

Once you’ve completed the worksheet, you’ll probably start to see a pattern that explains some things in your life. If I had completed this worksheet 10 months ago, I would have had very few yes answers in areas like health and stress. This also explained why I was so frazzled and crazy during early lockdown. I’m not making excuses – I’m just explaining that there’s always a reason why a particular area (s) of your life doesn’t seem to be working. I know you’ll all agree that it’s far nicer to feel content, fulfilled, satisfied and at peace than irritated and miserable.

I made a printable for you – the creating reserves worksheet – and you can download it here.

Tag me on Instagram @OrganisingQueen when you complete it while enjoying a lovely hot/ cold drink – I LOVE seeing your tags!

{organising} 3 easy ways to create decluttering habits

When was the last time you had a good clear out?

Why should you even bother?

Like me, I’m fairly confident that you’re buying things or people are giving you things regularly.

I’m not even talking about being a shopper of unnecessary things.

  • When you replace your gym pants or sports bras, are you tossing out the old ones? If you pick up a couple of new T-shirts, are you just adding them into the pile or drawer?
  • When you buy a couple of new bowls, are you donating the old ones? I’m sure the old ones didn’t break?
  • When you buy two new body soaps to try, and you try them for your next couple of showers, are you using up the old ones first? Do you now have four open bottles in the shower? 😉

Decluttering your stuff helps you feel clearer mentally, and opens you up to blessings and abundance in your life, not only of the physical kind.

Here are a few ideas to create great decluttering habits:

Conscious decluttering before birthdays and Christmas

I do this mostly for the kids but for myself too if I have a birthday lunch. People will bring presents so you might as well create space for it all.

One in, one out rule

This rule is probably the most unexciting and yet the most effective constant form of decluttering I do. I keep a donate tub on my washing machine in the kitchen and I keep putting things in there. If I buy two new mugs, I look through the cupboard to find the two that spark the least joy. I do the same with clothes too.

Physical boundaries

This is another one of my favourites. Everything in my house has a place where it lives. And since my Konmari days (coming up on 7 years!), there is usually only one place, no longer three spaces all over the house, unless the item is used there. When the physical space is too small for the item (s), it’s time to reduce the number of items until the space is comfortable again.

What about Konmari?

I still recommend doing a Konmari-type decluttering if you can – the biggest use for me is that you get to see everything at the same time and it shocks you senseless so you’re never tempted to hoard as many items again. If you click through to that post, you’ll see all the vases. I’m pleased to tell you that I’ve not bought one extra vase since the time all those were decluttered – yay!

My suggestion:

  1. Give yourself a small task every day for a week (one kitchen drawer, the bathroom vanity, your T-shirts, etc.) and set your timer for 15 minutes while you declutter.
  2. It is addictive once you get going and find the momentum to move onto problematic areas.
  3. But remember, as the Home Edit girls say, you can either have the stuff or the space.

If you’d like accountability and guidance to finally get your spaces organised, please book a virtual organising session of your choice. Both sessions come with a follow-up action plan for you to implement. I’d love to help you get organised, whatever your style.

{organise} Quiet your house and your life

Many of you know that one of my teeny-tiny habits is that I tidy or clean something in the kitchen while I wait for the kettle to boil. You can do a lot in 2 – 3 three-minute stints daily.

One day I looked up at the mugs and things felt too busy. I then did what The Nester recommends and I quieted the space by removing all the mugs from the shelves. I had rainbow mugs up here for much of the year because they made me happy. I then swopped out the bright colours for the more muted tones above. They still spark joy but they spark quieter joy.

You know how this goes – when you start one thing, you start thinking about the rest of your life. I felt so calm with the mug shelf that I noticed my calendar felt too full.

It’s understandable that things have started to feel a lot busier for me due to the opening up from the intense lockdown to our current level 1 lockdown in South Africa.

I started going back to Spanish in September and went back to the gym last week. We’ve also been told that we’ll be required to come work at the office twice a week from November. From a schedule with no leaving the house to leaving five times a week is a big change.

It all feels a bit sudden while at the same time getting out is also welcome. I realised that I need to close all my open loops so that I don’t enter this busy season collapsing every night when I get back home from overwhelm. This is why I wrote this post talking about first doing something about your physical space and then considering what’s hampering your mental space too.

Which of your physical spaces do you need to quiet? And your mental space?

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