This is how I make my house run smoothly

Life is such a whirlwind, isn’t it? If you’re anything like me, it often seems like the weeks go by in a blur of activity…and then it’s weekend again. Or the weekends go by so quickly and when Monday comes around, you feel like you’ve just started to relax and the week is upon you once again.

The problem with this is that we never have a sense of peace, calm and control. A feeling that we are directing the course of our own lives.

I’ve been going through a really hectic couple of months so I thought I’d share some of the systems I’ve set up to make our lives easier:

Household calendar
We have one household calendar in our kitchen where we mark off any commitments like church, school meetings, book club, socials, and so on. I also mark off the recycling pick-up days, when we buy electricity, and when the gardener needs to be paid.

I couple this with weekly planning. I look at my diary on a Sunday and put in my appointments for the week. I also add any tasks that I need or want to work on, like writing blogs, the newsletter and so on.

When you write down everything, and you see your calendar full of events, it’s easy to see where you need to cut back.

Menu planning
I love menu planning because it saves me time. When I say this to people, they think I’m crazy because “how can all that planning save you time?” It’s quite simple – it takes me about 10 to 15 minutes every Friday (if I’m on the ball) or Saturday and that planning saves me time from Monday to Friday, when I need it most. No more standing in front of the open fridge wondering what to make for supper.

The great thing is you can still be spontaneous within the plan. I plan meals for the working week but if I don’t feel like a particular meal that day, I change it around and cook another day’s meal. Like if it’s very hot and I planned to have baked potatoes with a topping, I may postpone that to another day and make a pasta salad instead.

Here’s a detailed look at why you should consider menu planning and  how I do menu planning

Regular decluttering and organising
I tackle 1 -2 areas in our home every weekend. Let’s face it – if we are constantly buying things and bringing them into our homes and lives, clutter is constantly building up unless we get rid of some of it. I agree with Konmari (here’s my take on the Konmari method) that you do a once-off thorough tidy, but if you’re buying things regularly, you need to declutter regularly. I’ve even taught the kids this principle with a glass of water and how it overflows if we keep pouring water in.

It doesn’t have to be a huge exercise. While you’re busy cooking or baking, you can sort out a cupboard or two. I have a tendency of burning rice and carrots so I stay in the kitchen whenever I cook these and use the time constructively to sort out a cupboard or drawer, plan my menus, write out my shopping list, etc.

When you factor in just 15 minutes’ decluttering and organising per space every weekend, you can easily maintain your home if it is already organised. Of course, if your house is nowhere near where you’d like it, I would suggest 15 minutes every day. Download 31 days of easy organising solutions for plenty of ideas.

See the little nook next to the door?

Launch pad
Do you know the place in your house where you dump your bags as you enter? Flylady calls this a launch pad. I like that term because it reminds me of action. We have a little nook just inside our front door that I use for our launch pad.

Mornings are one of the worst times in most families – you can’t find your keys, wallet, bag, etc. Frantic running around and screaming happens and that is just not fun.

The point is that we use our launch pads to ready ourselves for mornings. Every evening I pack my handbag and laptop, and they are left here. In the mornings all I do is grab and go. Literally once I leave the bedroom, I walk to the fridge to get my lunch bag, grab my keys on the way to the launch pad, get my bags and I’m out of there. Two minutes tops!

Over to you. Which systems can you implement to make your life easier this month?

 

What I want less of this year

Last week I wrote about what I want more of this year. Today we’ll talk about what I want less of 🙂

  1. Buying impulsively without first answering the “where will it go?” question

This is one of my self-imposed rules that has started slipping a bit. I need to get better with impulsive buying. I’m even considering doing a spending fast for a month or two. What do you think?

2. 3.Boomerang errands

When I listened to The Happiness Project last month, Gretchen Rubin mentioned the concept of boomerang errands. It resonated deeply because I’ve had so many boomerang errands of late. A boomerang errand is one that keeps coming back over and over, and can’t just be crossed off your list.

I’m a high J on Myers Briggs and I love to cross things off and get them done, so this feels doubly as frustrating to me.

Here’s to no more boomerang errands this year.

3. Internet problems

We are now on modem number 4. Enough said.

4. Children’s disorganisation

This year I told the kids that I won’t simply be organising their spaces but I’m going to teach them to organise their own spaces. I want them to realise that they have the power to create an organised space.

If you click through to my Instagram highlights, tap on the circle that says DREAM organising. You can see how I helped Connor to organize his underwear drawer.

Specifically, I want them to focus (a lot!) on the 1 in, 1 out principle, that physical space is an actual boundary, and how they want their rooms to feel. Kendra has mentioned when I tidy and chuck things out how “nice and calm” the room feels.

5. Scrolling mindlessly through blogs and Instagram

I wrote a fair amount about Instagram here. As for blogs, I’m still quite a heavy blog reader. But blogs have changed and I know that I need to declutter those that no longer align to my values. Otherwise there’s a ton of stuff I just mindlessly scroll through without providing any value.

What do you want less of this year?

3 ways to Konmari your digital life

You all know I’m a big fan of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

And I know exactly why she calls it life-changing – because then you start thinking of every area of your life in terms of sparking joy.

I have on my list to write about Konmari-ing your to-dos but for today, I want to talk about Konmari-ing your digital life!

Because we can’t see digital clutter as obviously as we can see physical clutter, we often don’t realise it’s there but believe me, it’s still affecting you, especially with distraction and overwhelm.

When you open your inbox, you feel drained at the sight of all those emails, your computer runs slow because there’s so many photos on there and when you go into Instagram, you can’t believe how much some people post because you were on just this morning and your feed is full again.

Sound familiar?

Let’s look at 3 places where you can Konmari digitally and then add some joy into your life again:

1. Free printable downloads

We women like free things, don’t we? As a result, we download anything and everything we can find that’s for free. If it’s free, it’s got to be good, right?

Actually, it’s not all good. Not only are you cluttering up your computer but you can’t possibly use all the things that are out there because we now live in an information-overload society.

I’m not immune. At one point I had about 6 different grocery shopping lists on my computer, all of them free downloads.

What I do these days is honestly ask if I’m going to use something. If not, I don’t even download. And when I clear out my document folders, I ask myself if that cute printable really sparks joy. If not, I delete.

Also, here is your permission to delete my free stuff too if it no longer serves you. I know it works for me but we’re all different.

2. Emails and email notifications

My organizing clients need help with email more than any other thing in their office, and paper’s a close second. That’s because email’s so fast and because we don’t use it correctly.

Get familiar with the delete key (my favourite key on my physical and phone keyboard) and start deleting. Delete immediately once you’ve replied to an email and don’t file unless you absolutely have to. Sometimes you need to keep an attachment but not the email.

If you’re trying to save money or (as in my case) not buy books, unsubscribe from all the deals emails. If you really need to know about something, trust that it will still come your way (like through Instagram stories, in my case!)

Something I personally do is delete from and send quick replies “thanks for the payment” on my phone, but I answer emails that need longer responses from a computer.

Disable all the notifications from Facebook, Instagram and the like. I only get friend requests, messages and notes on my wall in my inbox. The rest I’ll see when I log on once a week or so. I’ve long disabled Facebook and Messenger from my phone – best decision ever.

Here again, decide on your comfort level for emails and make sure you process until you feel joy again. For me at work, that’s when I can view all my emails on one screen.

3. Instagram

How many people are you following on Instagram? Are you aware of how long you take to read all of those posts every day? Do you set a limit for yourself or is it only the upholders among us?

I’m as guilty as you are even though my Instagram use has shortened dramatically over the last two years.

Just this weekend, the same thing popped up from a number of people in my feed.

Stop scrolling through everyone else’s lives and run the race set before you – Christine Caine

Take some time to go through and declutter the feeds of those you tend to skim over. Get to know your comfort number. I still try to create before I consume any content but yes, it’s hard, especially when you’re tired.

I read another great quote on Lara Casey’s site last year – “idleness … is different than truly resting”. Often we tell ourselves that we’re resting but really, when we’re done scrolling Instagram, do we feel truly rested?

I feel like this is just the start of an Instagram conversation because I have More Thoughts but please tell me how you feel about Instagram.

What are your biggest battles? Do you use it to escape or when you’re bored? Or is it true inspiration, connection time with friends, or build your business time?

Your coaching challenge for this week should you take me up on it is to work on one of these three areas, and come tell me in the comments which you’ll do, and give us feedback when you’re done.

We all have 15 minutes

One of the biggest organising myths is that you need a big chunk of time to organise anything.

That’s simply not true.

I actually don’t know many people who happen to have hours and hours free for the purpose of organising.

The thing is, with anything in life that is important to you, you have to make time. I wrote a whole book about this concept – get it here.

One of the ways you make time is by using up all the little bits of time throughout your day.

Even if you think you have no time, I guarantee there are bits here and there.

If you start looking for those treasured moments, you’ll realise you can get a lot more done.

I remember when my kids were just newborns I thought I’d never have time to myself again.

Then I realised that I had 5 minutes here, another 10 minutes there and so on.

I could read one article in a magazine in those 5 minutes and maybe even churn out a blog post in the 10-minute stretch.

All that time adds up if you’re ready to take advantage of it.

It’s the same with organising.

You may not have an hour to organise a chest of drawers but if you find 15 minutes a day for 4 days, you do have that hour.

A change of perspective = opportunities

Flylady says, “you can do anything for 15 minutes”.

Here are a few quick ideas:

• Straighten your cutlery and/or utensils drawer
• Edit and delete photos (one of my ongoing projects to use a “spare” 15 minutes) from your phone
• Declutter a pile of paper
• Tidy your handbag or wallet
• Organise your spices
• Declutter your recipe folder

See? There are indeed 15-minute slivers of time all around us if only we’ll just look for them.

Make a list of 10 or more quick organising projects you can do in 15 minutes and get started today.

Are you an all or nothing person? Do you tend to look for the big chunk of time versus the little bits?

How I organise my Tupperware cupboard

My plastics cupboard had been driving me crazy for awhile. So when I asked for blog post suggestions and a follower asked me how I organise my Tupperware cupboard, it was just the motivation I needed.

Confession – I have zero pieces of actual Tupperware but I think we all call plastics “Tupperware”.

Ready?

Let me show you my cupboard and talk you through my process.

Here is the before pic. It’s organised but there is too much stuff.

The back of the cupboard opens to my dining room so I’ve always not put too much in there in case the cupboard falls open on the other side 🙂

1. Keep what you actually need

This is the stuff that was really bothering me. Far too many plastic containers when I  actually don’t have any babies. If it were up to only me, I’d keep only the 6 plates, 6 bowls and 6 popsicle holders for outside snacks in the garden or around the pool, and the two 4-division plates, simply because I bought those for my 3-year-olds at Duane Reed in NYC. Awww.

The kids and Dion told me they also need a few snack bowls for popcorn/ chip movie watching so I ended up keeping a few more.

2. Use square or rectangular containers

Round containers are a complete waste of space in a cupboard. If you have plenty of space, go for it. Most people don’t have an excess of space so buy square or rectangular so you can put more in the same space.

I mentioned this on my instastory but these are the only round containers I own, by choice. The bottom one is great for transporting soft fruit like a peach or nectarine, and we use the turquoise lidded ones for nuts. The ones on the left are from our restaurant takeaways

3. Store all lunchboxes together, both yours and the kids’ ones

I keep a plastic basket with my work food items and containers. Normally this wouldn’t make sense. Why keep cup-a-soup, milk, cheese wedges and cereals with other empty containers?

Because I don’t like hunting around for the stuff I use to pack my work food.

This way, everyone knows that those are my things and nobody touches them.

I do the same with the kids’ lunchboxes. We only use their lunchboxes for their lunches. They have two lunchboxes each – one standard and one smaller for when they don’t feel like taking lots of food. I completely follow their lead and only pack the quantities they tell me they want, and this way, everything gets eaten 99.9% of the time.

4. Containerise like crazy

I store containers with their lids on except for containers that “nest”.  (that one lonely purple lid is the friend to a container that was used without its lid on the day I organised this cupboard) This batch is the stuff I use All The Time so I keep them in a big plastic container and just pull it out as if a drawer so that I have easy access.

I tossed most of the tiny containers probably a year ago because I don’t have tiny babies anymore. These are the ones we still use and I keep them all in this big plastic jug. It’s useful because I can grab it out to poke through for the one I need, and then put back.

this was the “before” pic 🙂

I even containerise these because I can’t stand smaller stuff toppling around my cupboard. The ones on the left are from the Clutter Buster Rotation Station (I’ve had them for a good 10+ years :))

5. Store infrequently-used items at the back or on the bottom shelf

Here is the after pic. I use the things on the top shelf daily so I don’t have to bend my back…much to get to them.

Here is the pile that was decluttered. I could easily have another go, but let’s not freak them all out too much 🙂

And that’s it.

Not very exciting or Pinterest-worthy at all, but hugely satisfying when everything has a friend (a lid) and a place in the world.

Repeat after me – it doesn’t have to be perfect to be organised.

Hope this helps, CatJuggles.

Readers, let me know if you do any of these things. Which tricks do you use in your “Tupperware” cupboard? Will you tackle your cupboard this weekend?

PS Have you read The Husband’s Secret? I identify so much with Cecilia, the lady who sold Tupperware 🙂

Creatives can’t get organised. Myth or truth?

It’s true that creative people need different ways to organise themselves because traditional methods usually don’t work too well for them.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to organising; in fact, since each person is unique, each person’s organising system should also be different.

Let’s look at four areas to organise yourself for success:

  1. Attitude
    It’s a myth that creative people can’t work in a structured environment. On the contrary, having a bit of structure in your life actually enables you to be even more creative and to do better work.

A few years ago, a client emailed to tell me how she’s been energised and has been creating beautiful things again.

What was the difference in her life? We’d worked on organising her office space and within the new-found order, she could be creative once again.

Stop telling yourself that you can’t be organised; rather tell yourself that you organise yourself in non-traditional ways.

  1. Schedule
    Traditionally, we’ve all been told to work according to the clock. I’m telling you to work with your energy cycles; don’t try to battle them.

If you know that you go through a bit of a slump around lunch time, maybe that’s when you want to run errands or exercise to give yourself an energy boost.

If you design websites and you know that you’re most creative at midnight, then design your websites at midnight  Who made the rule that you have to start working at 8am?

  1. To-do list
    Scrap the to-do list. Yes, you read that correctly. The to-do list may set you up for failure especially when you feel you’re not getting things done.

Rather use an Eat the Frog list. This list helps you be more flexible so you only need to get the most important things done. My clients are always a bit shocked when I tell them, “the fewer items you have on your list, the better it is”. Just make sure those are truly important things on your list.

  1. Workspace
    When you can find your equipment and supplies easily, your valuable energy is used for actual creativity and not wasted on looking for things.

It’s so important to have your workspace set up according to your organising style. Are you a visual, auditory or kinesthetic learner? Are you a paper or electronic person? Maybe the reason you can’t seem to get your papers organised is because you’re actually an electronic person.

I’ve had clients with very messy offices whose computers are perfectly organised, and vice versa. It’s so important to play to your strengths.

My friend, Suzanne, admitted on the podcast that she hadn’t been creating because her workspace was too messy. She then took up my challenge to organise her environment so she could create again. Look at these fantastic results!

My challenge to you
Check your attitude and start telling yourself you can get more productive once you organise according to your style.

Tag me on instagram to come see your workspaces and creative environments. I can’t wait to see.

Are you creative? What are your particular challenges with regard to your workspace?

PS I wrote about my space to create on the blog before.

What I learned in May

I love these monthly round-ups of what I learned.

Last month, I learned that:

I read fewer books when I have too many non-fiction in my batch

I’ve always known that I read faster when I read fiction only but in May, I read a total of 10 books (previous two months equalled 12 books each), 4 of them non-fiction!

Does your reading speed change depending on what you’re reading?

My headaches are hormonal

I tracked the days when I had headaches especially since the weather is cooler, and noticed that they happened on the same two days of my cycle.

Still not sure what to do as my gynae was all “yes, that’s normal” the last time I mentioned it, but at least I’ve isolated it.

Konmari first, then organise clothes

This year I swopped over my summer and winter clothes, and it was SUPER fast. Like in 30 minutes. Here’s a photo of my wardrobe if you’d like to see, and here’s a photo of my long-sleeved tops.

I have a strong suspicion that it’s because I’d Konmari’d before.

You have to act immediately if you want to catch seasonal photos

Autumn in Johannesburg is a tricky beast. One weekend the leaves are still green, the next they start turning, you have a few short weeks of that glorious golden glow and then they fall off.

This year I had a full weekend when the leaves were glorious, and then the next weekend it rained non-stop the entire weekend, and then half the leaves were gone. I still made the most of it and ended up going on 3 photohunts for beautiful autumn leaves.

I have to track my sleep forever 🙂

I reached my 3-year Fitbit anniversary on 26 May. More than anything else the Fitbit can do, I most appreciate the sleep tracker.

I’d been easily hitting my sleep goal of 7.5 hours, but I’ve really had to work at maintaining that this month. No idea why but I suspect it has something to do with my natural night owl tendencies.

More on this because I need to focus on sleep in my year of happy project for June as the theme is nourish.

What did you learn in May?

PS Thank you for completely indulging my love for all these photos 🙂

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?

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?

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