How to have the best Christmas ever


I started reading all my old posts about Christmas and realised that I have actually said everything I want to say, so let me link to those posts.

Easy Christmas decorating

Lower your Christmas expectations especially with social media

The Christmas Card controversy

Keep Christmas simple but meaningful

Clever gift ideas for Christmas and throughout the year

and last but definitely not least, my favourite Christmas post ever!

Create the perfect Christmas… for you

What does the “best Christmas” look like for you?

Tell me all your questions and I’ll answer in the comments.

What I learned from Spring into Organising

I ran (or tried to run) a Spring into Organising challenge during September.

It was mostly a failure in terms of getting other people to play along, but I thought I’d share what I learned from personally doing the Spring into Organising challenge for the 5 weekends in September.

  • Konmari has served me very well. I did the full Konmari in August 2014 and while I believe that you do have to do a little refresh now and again, it has been life-changing for me. Spaces are super quick to sort when you mostly have things that spark joy in your home.
  • I am happier with a leaner, streamlined home. I am not one of those people with a “we’re making memories and that’s why we have a messy house” mindset. I fully own that I like clean, orderly, clutter-free spaces because this is what brings me peace.

 

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  • Dedicated projects motivate me. I made a plan at the start of weekend 1 and I did all those spaces and then some. I ended up sorting out 17 spaces and it felt wonderful.
  • It sucks when you feel like no one else is doing a challenge along with you, even if they are. Just being honest.
  • Things are coming into our homes all the time (gifts, updates to clothes, etc.) so they need to leave all the time too. Someone asked me once on Instagram why I always have a couple of areas to sort, and my reply is still the same – I live with other people (D, the kids, and the nanny is here 4 days a week) and so even though most things just take a 5 – 10 minute tweak every couple of months, it’s still necessary. Just last night, I returned medication to our medicine cupboard and it was messy so it needed a sort. Popped on a podcast and got to it – 20 mins later, order was restored, old meds tossed out and all was well again.

It occurred to me that spring is not over yet so I’m continuing with organising bits and pieces around my home.

The printable is still available for free here – please do avail yourself if you want to get your home in order.

How do you tackle spring cleaning/ organising? On a schedule or as the mood strikes you?

Spring into organising with me (even if you’re going into autumn)

Long-time readers will know that I’ve split out my weekend in 3 ways for a very long time. Those 3 categories are

1) out and about

2) house stuff/ productivity and

3) relaxing.

Depending on the season or what’s going on, some categories will have more tasks than others.

I post my weekend list every weekend on Instagram and the last couple of weeks I’ve been noticing a not-so-strange urge to Sort Everything Out.

We call this Spring Cleaning.

I tend to follow these urges because when the mood strikes, everything is more fun and fun is my word of the year.

However, I thought it might be fun to work on some spaces together.

Enter Spring into Organising 2018!

It’s a super-simple organising challenge that you can participate in wherever you want – privately, on your Facebook page, on your Instagram grid, stories or both (my preference, since Instagram is so visually appealing), or in person with a friend.

  1. Simply download the printable here and print it out.
  2. Choose your 5 spaces and decide what you want to do in each space. A space can be as small as your wallet, handbag or a drawer, or as large as a room.
  3. I test-drove the concept this weekend and sorted my master bathroom in about 15 minutes. Moved out a bath mat we never use to the poolroom, moved some liquid soap to the kids’ bathroom, tossed out a few old magazines, replaced the reed diffuser, etc. Focussed pottering!
  4. I will post some of those pics on Instagram during the week to inspire you.
  5. I’d like to encourage you to document your challenge on Instagram for three reasons:
    • the organising community is VERY encouraging
    • it’s motivating to you to see what you can do (I know you can do it; but sometimes you doubt it) and have a record of progress
    • when you use the #springintoorganising2018 hashtag, you reach people I don’t, and I really want as many people as possible to feel that lovely feeling of an organised space
  6. Please save the graphic above and post to indicate your intention to join. Whether you do one space or all five, you’ll end up being more organised than you were before!

I can’t wait to see all your spaces.

PS My birthday gift to you is still valid for another two days until midnight on Friday. Use the discount coupon MARCIA in the shopping cart for
for 31% off any of my products or books. Check them out here.

What a bullet journalling experiment taught me

A few months ago I decided to make a list of all the podcasts I listened to during that week.

I didn’t choose a particular week; it was simply a random week without any forethought.


At the end of the week, I totalled up the time spent listening and I had a big shock:

11 hrs 45 minutes

A few thoughts flashed through my mind:

  • I could have listened to 1 long fiction book or 1.5 non-fiction books.
  • I worked from home 3 days that week and about 3 hours a day is not unreasonable. I also listen to podcasts while tidying and organizing on the weekend.
  • Hmmm. What would happen if I tried some new things?

This is fascinating because I’m both the subject of the study and the scientist.

I also have a phone storage problem because I only have a 16 GB iPhone which means I have to delete photos off my phone twice a month. I actually don’t mind this because it keeps me in a good photo routine.

I also have to be diligent to only download one audio book at a time and only my subscribed podcasts.

Do you know what I decided as a result of all this thinking?

I unsubscribed from all but two podcasts.

No prizes if you guessed one of those podcasts is Happier with Gretchen Rubin. The other is the 5-word prayers daily with Lisa Whittle.

The other podcasts are still there but they’re below the subscription fold so I see them update but I only consciously download an episode when I’m ready to listen.

This decision…

1) freed me up because I don’t feel any podcast guilt (similar to Feedly guilt when you see 172 unread blog posts ;)) and in true upholder fashion,

2) I decide how much I want to listen to and when, and

3) if I don’t feel excitement about the episode, I don’t even download it. Before, the episodes would drop automatically and I’d feel almost compelled to listen immediately because of the aforementioned storage issue.

4) I’ve also listened to lot more audio books!

Yes, this post is about me listening to podcasts but it’s really about tracking behavior and making changes to align to your goals.

I have a few questions for you:

Have you ever tracked your time for a day or week? You’ll be surprised how much time you spend doing mindless tasks.

What have you learned as a result?

Is there something niggling at you? perhaps you spend too much time on Facebook or Instagram?

(our pastor said something this weekend that has stuck with me – people spend approximately 4 hours a day on social media, and other people are making money from those same people scrolling their feeds. Wow!)

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?

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 🙂

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