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.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Marcia Francois (@organisingqueen) on

  • 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?

Just start – how to overcome procrastination


I’ve been doing the Spring into Organising challenge for the past three weekends and even though I know this, I’m reminded all the time that I need to just start instead of feeling overwhelmed or procrastinating.

It’s spring here in South Africa (although it feels like summer) so the weather’s hot and that could be my excuse. Or it’s book club next weekend and that could be my excuse.

But I’ve been tricking myself in my usual way and saying I only need to do 15 minutes. Which, in most cases, means I do carry on with the task. But in other cases I actually get the whole space done in that time, especially if I’m not doing instagram stories at the same time 😉

Have you tried just starting? Before you know it, you’re doing something. You take out the chopping board and next thing you’re cooking an entire meal. Or you open a browser on your computer and you’re scrolling Facebook an hour later.

You see, Newton’s Law of inertia works both positively and negatively.

Newton’s Law of inertiaAn object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.

Let’s be those “objects” that start in motion and continue staying in motion.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Marcia Francois (@organisingqueen) on

What are some of your excuses? Which stories do you tell yourself about why you can’t start or get something done?

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?

 

When life throws you curveballs

A reader recently sent me a question asking what my suggestions were for her and for other readers who get thrown from their usual routines by life’s curveballs.

I think this is a great question because she’s right – we all have things that throw us off track:

  • busy time periods at work (month-end/ year-end/ closing out a project/ going live with other projects, etc.)
  • busy periods in our kids’ lives (concert week, recitals or plays)
  • any illness (usually means kids or parents not sleeping)
  • going on holiday (lovely to be away but re-entry can be tough)
  • any out-of-the-ordinary happening that messes with your routine

I’ll share with you my top 3 ways to get back on track:

  1. Lower my expectations

That seems counter-intuitive but it makes complete sense for any of us control freaks.

I know after returning from a holiday that it’s going to take about a week for things to return to our normal. There’s no sense in getting stressed every day because there are piles of undone laundry, no food in the fridge and kids who can’t wake up for school because they’re too tired.

This one step is the biggest creator of peace of mind in the home.

  1. Get back to my basics as quickly as possible

For me, that’s making a menu plan and making sure we have enough fruit and vegetables in the house. I can almost always cobble meals together from the freezer or pantry; it’s when there aren’t enough apples or carrots that I start to twitch. Food is important to me and the family, so this is one of my priorities.

In essence, start putting your routines in order. When we get back from a holiday, I start unpacking immediately because I can’t stand things laying around on the floors and I’ve trained the kids to do the same. They’ve unpacked their own suitcases for the last 3 years.

  1. How can I restore order in the quickest, painless way?

I could take one day, generally the Sunday afterwards, and do laundry non-stop, and while that would be quick, it is not painless for me! I choose to do a daily load until we’re caught up instead as we generally only do the laundry about 3 – 4 times a week. It ends up being just a day or two longer, but knowing that there’s a plan in place helps a lot to keep me at peace!

If doing laundry isn’t painful for you, you might as well get it done quickly.

I read a blog once where the mom used to go to a laundromat, use 6 machines and just get all the laundry done if they had a curveball or two thrown at them. She said she’d take a book, relax for two hours and leave with everything up to date. That actually sounds splendid.

To summarise, I’d give myself two weeks to get back to my routines. Decide what is most important to you, and start doing that thing immediately (as you saw above, unpacking and food for me!).

Then build on those initial steps until your routine – and peace of mind – is restored once again.

What are your basics?

Do you have a strategy for life’s curveballs?

Your end-of-year reality check

img_1514

About a week before the end of November, I put an item on my to-do list: schedule all socials til the end of the year.

And then I made a list.

Well, the list had about 10 friends or sets of friends on it, and when I looked at the available dates, it was going to be impossible.

However, I never let a small thing like a full schedule get me down and I started working my list until I realised…

it’s my own self-imposed idea that I have to see people this year and not next year

Granted, it would be nice if everything was all neat and ordered, but it would cause me a bit of stress fitting everything in and probably be less joyful.

So right now, I’m playing with the idea of a very loose year 🙂

img_1409

This whole process reminded me of  organising.

We have these TV/ blog/ Instagram/ Pinterest-like visions of what our organised homes should look like, complete with state-of-the-art organising systems, the most beautiful containers and worthy to appear on a TV show.

There’s nothing wrong with dreaming, and dreaming big, but when we become paralysed and not motivated by the dream, there’s something wrong.

The thing is that those visions of perfection often leave us demotivated and uninspired to even start as you think, “what’s the point? I could never have it look like that”.

The point of inspiring blogs and Instagram feeds are to give us ideas, and not to make us feel bad about what we don’t have or to sow discontent in our lives.

Why not rather look at your home realistically?

See what you can and are able to do and take it from there. Use what you have in the time you have available and just do the best with that.

img_0875

Read that paragraph again…

Here are some action steps for your organising reality list:

  1. Take a piece of paper and a pen and write down the rooms in your home that need some work. Leave space under each room heading.
  2. Now walk around your house and make a list under each heading of what you want to do. For example, in the study/ home office, * tidy desk * do filing *put photos in photo albums/ frames, etc.
  3. If you want to do something this year, pick 1 – 2 small spaces and do those. Otherwise, start in the new year. Remember, there’s no rule that says you had to have done X in your house this year. If you’ve done less than you intented, forgive yourself if you’re feeling guilty and just tell yourself 2017 is a new year.

Did you have a list for this year?

How did you do?

PS I had a list for our old house which we stopped working on when we put in the offer on this house. I do have a long list for this house too 😉

Is your space working for you?

One of my biggest frustrations is when a space doesn’t work properly for me.

I feel like I don’t want to spend time there, and then I’m easily distracted while in that space too.

Can you relate?

img_5956

Example 1

I saw a room on Instagram that gave me an idea for one of our spaces. The person had a daybed/ bench in the kitchen area and it looked so inviting that I thought, “oh, I’d like one of those” and then I thought of something I could do.

So this weekend I moved one of my couches to the dining room. I still have the table and chairs; there is just more space to relax with the couch there.

Dion is still not sure about it but the kids and I love it there. I find them sitting and reading on the couch because the light is amazing in the mornings.

Do you need to move things around in one or two rooms to make your spaces work better for you?

img_5971

Example 2

I’m not a fan of beige anything 🙂

When we bought this house I knew I’d have to jazz up my kitchen somehow.

I decided on 4 smallish things (compared to a complete kitchen renovation – which we choose not to do because we prefer money to pay off our bond :)) and I’m delighted with the results from just 3 of the 4 so far.

The 4th thing is proving a lot more money than I initially thought so it will take a month more of saving to do that.

I’m going to put up pictures and such on Monday to talk you through some of my thinking.

But for now, I have a little thinking exercise for you.

Think of a space where you spend a lot of time – kitchen, bedroom, kids’ play area, study, etc.

Take a few minutes to evaluate your physical space and see how it’s working for you.

  1. Do you feel happy when you look at the space?
  2. Are you energised when you’re there?
  3. Does the space function well?
  4. Can you say with complete honesty that not much irritates or frustrates you there?
  5. Is it organised enough for your and your family’s needs?

img_5957

Your coaching challenge

  • If you couldn’t answer yes to at least 3 of the 5 questions, what are 3 small things you can do to brighten up that space and make it work for you again?
  • Do you need to move furniture around? Shop your home first before you think of going to buy new items.
  • Consider this the first draft and keep tweaking until the space is fully functional.
  • Don’t get caught up in Pinterest perfectionism – it doesn’t have to be pretty to be functional, organised and bring you peace.

If you’d like to talk through some of your space issues, let’s set up a free 15-minute chat for you.

I’d love to know which of your spaces you want to make work better for you, and what the first thing is you’re going to do.

{Mindset Monday} How to have a great work week

Next week we’re going to talk more about my own (good) habits, and then I’m going to listen to Gretchen Rubin’s book, Better than Before, again…. and very possibly write a few more posts.

One of the things I tell myself (and others) constantly, one of my mottos, if you will, is that there are things you can control and things you can’t.

We all know this.

So I like to think about things I can control.

And one of those things is to be prepared.

IMG_8105

At work, I start off the week ahead on a Friday afternoon. Fridays are actually like Goals Night for me. I review the week that was, look at the week coming, check the important things that need to be handled, I follow up on outstanding things, clear my inbox and I plan.

The outcome is a to-do list for the week ahead, but definitely to know what I need to do on Monday morning so I can leave all the work behind me and enjoy my weekend 🙂

Have only 6-ish items on the list for Monday

I still follow my Eat the Frog principles of doing important and urgent things, and not adding more than 6 to the list. I might add more to the list during the day but that’s really just to get my brain clear, and not an actual intention to do it that day (unless super urgent).

IMG_5136

Be realistic

Be realistic both with your time and with your energy levels. If you have 3 hours of meetings in the morning and you’re a morning person, you’re not going to get much serious brain work done in the afternoon. You’re only frustrating yourself by thinking you’re Superwoman.

Keep a master list for the week…

but don’t worry about the future tasks til you need to, i.e. on Tuesday 🙂 Every week there is much more than 6 items i have to take care of for the week ahead. But the key is to leave unimportant things (for that day) undone while you focus on just that day.

That’s it!

Repeat every Friday afternoon, and you can leave your work at work every Friday but return on a Monday fresh and ready for people to bring it on 🙂 (I couldn’t resist!)

11-01 755

Happy Monday – have a great week!

Re-think your space

IMG_1048

We currently live in a 3-bedroom house. Since the twins were born, they shared  one room, with the other room being a study, and of course, we had the master bedroom.

Last year the bedtime shenanigans hit an all-time peak so I gave up my study and moved them each to their own room.

Great idea because sleep time has been amazing.

IMG_1042

Some of the furniture moved to other parts of the house but my big, yellow desk (that I LOVE) could only fit in the sunroom.

Interestingly, it works out amazingly.

I only actually work on a laptop there some afternoons – mornings are too bright, and evenings are too cold. But that desk is perfect for the twins to colour next to each other, or for me to wrap gifts, plan my week/ month, take photos for Instagram or to separate the kids for homework purposes.

IMG_8489

The Nester also wrote recently about re-thinking spaces too.

I didn’t intend to have a big yellow desk in my sunroom, but I must say, I love having it there 🙂

How can you re-think furniture placement in your home to make something work better for you?

IMG_1045

Children’s capsule wardrobes

IMG_1083

A few things I want to quickly mention:

  • my kids are 6.5 (nearly 7 if you listen to them!) and I’ve long stopped buying clothes for future years
  • they do have some things, mainly gifts from people that are too big for the current year so these get put away til the next warm/ cold season

IMG_1080

I had an aha moment when I started Konmari-ing my own clothes last August.

  1. First, the kids have way too many things if we have to rotate clothes (newly washed clothes go to the back of the pile)
  2. There’s so much that I don’t plan to buy anything until they outgrow clothes
  3. Capsule wardrobes are the in thing. When you have to think of mixing and matching, it becomes a whole new set of work.

IMG_1088

I put my new capsule wardrobe theory to work in the summer…. the hot, 8-month long summer.

Kendra needed some strappy tops so I got her two tops that would match with everything else in her wardrobe.

Connor needed two sleeveless tops too and I did the same, less picky, because he wears denim shorts a lot.

IMG_1090

The benefits during our holiday in Cape Town were huge:

  • everything “went” with everything else – surprisingly navy goes with neon orange, green and hot pink 🙂
  • I didn’t need to make sets (as I’ve always done) – I just tossed 5 tops and 5 pairs of shorts/ skirts in the suitcase and that was that – happy, happy days for me!
  • they dressed so quickly every day because it was easy

While Konmari-ing their clothes, I also decided to not waste my time “forcing” the kids to wear some clothes, e.g. gifts. If they told me they hated something, I donated the item even if they hadn’t worn it at all or enough. I really don’t have the energy to insist they wear things. And to be fair, I won’t wear things I hate either.

Once those items were out of the house, I felt happier so it worked.

I’ve told my mom (who loves buying clothes for gifts) to also rather not buy clothes anymore unless pyjamas – both my kids LOVE pyjamas. I think they get that from me 🙂 So that’s what she did for Christmas – pjs and money!

IMG_1091

This winter we’ve done the same – everything goes with everything. I had to replace one or two pairs of pants and I’m being very strict – it either matches with everything or doesn’t come home with me 🙂

The kids are happy and so am I.

Have you thought of doing capsule wardrobes for your kids?

IMG_1084

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...