Organize Now! – Week 4

So week three is done now. I’ve found that I accidentally left my planner in the car though, and never seem to have brought it back into the house… don’t fret! I’m bringing it in tomorrow. Things are really going to change (two days a week anyway) as my oldest daughter will be starting preschool this Thursday. I’m not sure exactly what that’s going to entail… but hopefully she’ll make some new friends and get ready for school.
There’s not much else to say about week 3…

So on to week 4!
Yet again it’s another fairly boring week. So this should be quick. To be honest, I have accomplished more just by setting my mind to it than I have because of this book so far. It’s good to get your life organized, don’t get me wrong… maybe it takes others a full week to do these things? But seriously… this week is about organizing my cleaning schedule, something which I already accomplished 3 weeks ago when I had a few moments in the morning one day.
So I’ve already gone through and figured out my daily, weekly, monthly chores for the different rooms around my house.
I made a bare-minimum list for 4 days a week. I have decided that I will do this bare minimum list once a day, so if I sweep in the morning, and then one of my kids drop a few cheerios on the floor, that’s tomorrow’s problem. This way I’m not cleaning ALL of the time, but yet my house still remains reasonable-looking because I’m not getting so frustrated at my lack of a spotless house that it builds up. Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays get a little extra tacked on, like putting away laundry, bringing out the recycling/garbage and those extras.
I’ve begun taking 15 minutes a night before bed to tidy up. I usually do this about 30-45 minutes before bed though, that way I can relax for 15-30 minutes again before bed. In these 15 minutes I usually refill and run the dishwasher, give a quick wipe to the kitchen surfaces, and pick up any stray toys that the girls missed. It just makes it that much nicer every morning when I wake up.
I do extra cleaning whenever I can, like I just recently did my porch, my bookcase, the top of the entertainment center, the top of the wardrobe, basically a large portion of the clutter-holding surfaces. I fit this in to my 15 minutes at night usually if I only spend a couple minutes putting a few dishes into the dishwasher.
The rest of these things are already done. Quick little things, like switching to an all-purpose cleaner, keeping disinfecting wipes in the bathroom, etc. Those are all pretty good little ideas.

Hm, guess this week was quick!

Talk to you soon! I’m starting my weekly weigh-ins this Thursday, so stay tuned!
Barb

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Organize Now! – Week 3

So, how did I do last week? I think I did pretty alright. I do still have to work on scheduling in time to do the things I wish I did more of, but otherwise things are great. Also, I am getting 7-8 hours of sleep nowadays, but it appears to be sort of on the wrong side. I’m still going to bed late, and therefore sleeping in. That two hour readjustment is something I’m still working on.

So now, on to week 3. Man am I ever glad I’ve been busy working on some other things! Because this week is a breeze.
I already do all of my scheduling in one beautiful planner, the girls don’t belong to many activities yet, and therefore we don’t need monthly meetings about our family schedules.
I do need to focus on working on my to-do list. I can’t leave my planner next to me when I go to bed as one of my daughters will surely get to it and begin uhhhh… “scheduling” in her own work, just like she checked off a number of things in this book for me well before I even had a chance to get to them.. so I’m thinking maybe just a little notepad and pencil. That way I can still jot things down, and schedule them in the next day, but I won’t have to worry about the little hands.
Otherwise thd rest of this week is pretty much about making to-do lists. Seems easy enough… now all I need is one for house renovations, one for cleaning, one for heavy-duty cleaning, one for my outdoor area, one for my garden… hm, maybe this week will be slightly more time-consuming than originally thought afterall.

Oh well, it’s about time I started writing all of these things down!

Keep an eye out for a post about the recent organization that’s been going on.

Til next time,
Barb

Organize Now! – Week 2

Okay, week 1 is finished! Yay! How did I do? Hmmm… overall, not bad, I’d say.

I answered most of the questions on the previous post, so now I’m going to quickly fill you all in on the rest: It advises getting at least 7 hours of sleep per night. There was only one night I didn’t accomplish this, which is a massive improvement in my life. I’m starting to feel better, at the end of my days I want to sleep. This is really a good thing. I used to go to bed at about 2, wake up at 7, feel dead in the afternoon, nap if at all possible, and then go to bed at 2. This schedule just wasn’t working out anymore. I really had to sit down and have a chat with the boy, because honestly he was a huge part of why my sleep schedule had been so skewed. I suck at going to bed without him there, and he stays up playing video games or whatever until that time. Now he gets off at 10, and we’re in bed by 11. I feel tired at nighttime, not during the day, and therefore my days are much more productive again… even with two children running around!

Although I don’t specifically write out a to-do list every morning, I usually do it the night before, and if there’s nothing specific, I have my regular daily to-do list made up for each day of the week. Most of them are pretty simple, but on the days when I know I’ll have a bit more time to accomplish a bit extra (like cleaning the bathroom or putting away the laundry) I stick it on to one of those days.

I have yet to get my exercise time scheduled in, but don’t worry! It’s coming, I promise.

I have begun doing more and more organizing, although it is a long, slow, tedious process. This week I organized the top of the bookcase in the back of my living room. I hadn’t touched it in about 6 years. I went through everything, and now there are only 4 small decorative vases, a lamp, an old picture of my property, and one extra vase that has some glass roses. The books underneath are also organized, although I want to do something a little more special to it.

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So, now on to Week 2:

There are some more general questions I’ll answer to the best of my ability for you all :). This week it’s all about priorities.
I most value my children. Out of the entire world, my children come first. I love them to death, even though every once in a while we don’t see eye to eye. I’m not going to lie and say I’m the perfect super-mom. But at the end of the day, I love my children with everything in me.
The things that are most important to me would have to be my children, my relationship, my health and my life in general. That is so odd to say, I know. But I can’t be specific as right now, it’s the whole thing. I’m trying to figure out what I want to become, how my life will work out, etc.
I’m here because this is where I chose to be. I’m unsure of where I’m going. I just recently began looking into getting back into school and completing a college or university degree geared towards counselling.
My purpose is to provide a better life for my children, and to become someone I am proud of. I want to really be proud of myself.
My top ten priorities for life are:
1. Getting my children ahead in their lives.
2. Figuring out exactly what I want to become, and the best route to take to get there.
3. Organizing my house.
4. Organizing my life.
5. Becoming a healthier person/family.
I guess I just don’t have 10 priorities right at the moment. My life is simple, and although shortly enough I feel like I will add to the list, that’s it for right this moment.

Tomorrow I’ll schedule down the important stuff in my life :).

Like I said, this is a simple week, so I’m pretty much already done! However, I do need to go to bed so that I can get those 7 hours of sleep ;).

Goodnight everyone!
Make sure you all keep being hot bosses in your lives!
xoxo
-Barb

Organizing the Filing Cabinet

Here we go!

In my house, the filing cabinet is a fairly big an usually overwhelming task. Who wants to sit down and sort paperwork and place every piece of paper in correct chronological order anyway? I know I don’t. It’s like I told my friend, “I’ll know I’ve finally become an adult when I make my bed every morning”, well… I really feels like this follows suit. In my defence, I’ve switched a lot of our bills, statements and general filing cabinet items online. Therefore, there’s a lot less work going on in this paper-filled cabinet nowadays. I made a first attempt at this about 2 or 3 years ago, when the filing cabinet was about ready to burst, and it was well in need of another good going-over. This time, I made a few changes to make it easier for me to use on a steady basis. A lot of the old tabs and organization was outdated, and no longer relevant to our household, so that needed to be updated to the raw basics, with the addition of some new labels that I wished I had had over the years. This is what I started with:

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Look, I know a lot of people laugh at me when I say, “Go buy the pretty things! If it makes you happy, you’ll be more willing to use it!” But honestly, this is no joke. You know what prompted my re-organization of the filing cabinet? These pretty new folders! I bought them at the dollar store, and I love working with them. I wanted to see these suckers every time I opened the filing cabinet instead of those old drab plain folders that everyone else has, and it was just enough motivation for me to sit down and get it done.
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Aren’t they nice? You never know where you’ll find the pretties, so keep your eyes out for something that suits your tastes!

Anyway, the very first thing I did was whip out my new label maker. Easy to use, a good amount of options, etc. etc. etc. and I broke down what labels I use, the ones I didn’t and which new ones I should add. Obviously these may differ in your household, so you should figure out what paperwork you feel you need to keep, and how you want to organize it. For me the categories were as follows:
-Bills
Power
Phone
Phone/Internet
-Accounts
Credit Cards
Bank Statements
-Income
Taxes
Pay Stubs
-Vehicle
Registrations
Insurance
-Warranties (This was an important new addition)
Electronics
Batteries
Living Room
Kitchen
Appliances
Other
-Barbara D. Photography
Contracts
Model Release Forms
Receipts

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After my labels were done, my next task was to go through the paperwork that was currently being stored in my filing cabinet. I shred pretty much anything that comes out of here for a heads up, in case you were wondering. You might feel as though you don’t need to, if you store something non-personal, don’t worry about it, but it’s a safe bet that you want to shred anything that might give someone the ability to steal your money. I tossed anything that was before 2012 unless it had a special significance, think income tax paperwork. Many things didn’t, and therefore a vast amount of my papers disappeared. Once I had finished going through that whole mess, my filing cabinet already started to feel much more manageable and I hadn’t even put any folders in there yet! So I emptied my filing cabinet and went from there.

I began by using the hanging folders in a colour-coded system, instead of just throwing them in however I wanted to. Yellow = Financial (I would’ve preferred green, but couldn’t find any!), Red = Business, Blue = Important General Paperwork. So I put my label-maker to work again, and got to work with the categories. Once they were placed in the filing cabinet, I added the sub-category folders to them as well.

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Then, all that was left was to throw in the remaining paperwork!
BEFORE:
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AFTER:
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Hahaha, please disregard the idiot date-stamp, I never remember to change/get rid of it!

Isn’t that much nicer? The larger labels are easier for me to read, the simple system I put in place makes it easier for me to find everything, the addition of a “warranties” area makes my life tons easier when something breaks down, especially car batteries! I am still working on improving this, so when I get my new budget underway I’ll probably devote another spot for that, as well as one for each of my kids as they age and begin creating paperwork for me to look after. But for now, this works, and I’m using it.

If you’re reorganizing your filing cabinet, these are my biggest recommendations:
1) Go through your current paperwork. Make a list of new categories you need, and omit those that you’re not using anymore.
2) If it’s over a year (max. 2) old, toss it. EXCEPTION: Income tax paperwork.
3) Keep it simple. Go back to basics. You can add more if you find you really need to, but if you make it too complicated, you may lose track of where exactly you put that bill since it appropriately goes into three of your folders ;).
4) Put your paperwork in chronological order, either back to front or front to back, but decide now and do the same thing for all folders.
5) If you can keep it online, do it! I’ve begun saving the .pdf files to a usb drive in case I need them for future use. Much less space than all of that old paperwork!

Let me see pictures of your new filing cabinet using the hashtag #3toa10life!

Keep going, it’s the only way you’ll make it there!
Barb

Have money, will spend. (Budget Envelope Introduction)

Part of my organization and clean-up is my financials. I keep telling myself that I’ll go pull out money for this and that when I get a chance, and next thing I know… POOF! The money seems to have vanished. Am I the only one this happens to?

Didn’t think so ;).

There are two “worst parts” to this for me personally, number one… it makes no difference if it’s $500 or $5000, if it sits in the bank account, it’ll be gone before the next pay. Secondly, it doesn’t seem like we’re living a much more enriched life or anything if I spend it as opposed to bank it away. At least if we had a ton of awesome stuff to enjoy it would feel slightly more acceptable… but we don’t.

So now that we’ve wasted some money over the past few weeks, I’ve decided it was really time for a change. I want to be able to save more for the more important things in life! My dreams include travelling with my children, going out to places you dream about… I would love to see Australia and New Zealand one day. So, now what I’ve done is gone over my expenses and come up with these envelopes. I made them all from my random scrapbooking paper, because beautiful things make me happy, and at the end of the day, if it’s pretty I am more likely to use it. I know, I know, it’s stupid… but… why not?

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There are seven envelopes:
Gas 1
Gas 2
Groceries 1
Groceries 2
Bills
Mastercard
Extras
(Others you might want to include would be Rent/Mortgage, each separate bill, Children’s activity fund, or gym/classes fund)

These are our regular monthly expenses and it just about covers everything. Because of pay days, we get paid once a week, however, we tend to focus on a bi-weekly system. What I want to work down to is filling the envelopes once with the first pay of the month, and top them up throughout the month if absolutely necessary. This method will get the money out of my easy access, since I’ll no longer be able to simply swipe a card with seemingly endless possibilities. It makes sure that we’ve covered our basics (not that we’ve ever been in such a bad position that we couldn’t, I enjoy spending money… but I’m not THAT compulsive). Also, taking the money out means more will go directly into our savings, which is ALWAYS a good thing.
Beginning next month, I’m also going to start tracking receipts and transactions so that I can get a clearer image of what exactly it is that I’m spending money on and I can adjust my budget accordingly. My guess for the big money drain? Junk food. It’s time we started going full out grocery shopping again so that we don’t need to make a trip to the store every night to get supper. This is awful for so many reasons! But mainly in this instance I’m talking about the budget reason. I can usually feed this household three meals a day, for seven days (at least 3 adults and two children) for less than $200 a week. Usually, it’s more like $160. I hear that that’s nearly impossible, but with healthy, whole foods, I can do it all the time. All I need is the motivation to sit down and fully prepare a list. This is starting again now, due to this budget. I refuse to waste hard-earned money on crap food, which is just pushing me further away from both my health goals, as well as the financial goals I’m now coming up with!

The other plan I’m implementing with these envelopes is to pay my bills ON PAY DAY. I write down the exact amount I need to pay on each bill directly on my calendar located in my planner. On pay day, I just write “Pay bills” on the morning of to remind myself to look. This way I don’t have to look up all of my bills online and figure out how much I have to pay here and how much there, it’s all right there, no excuses. This way my bills are sure to be paid perfectly on time. I’m strongly considering putting aside an “emergency” fund as well, this way I could use it for things like replacing my windshield, instead of having to use either savings or having larger sums taken out of my pays.

Alright, well… I’m off to do a little more budgeting work to get this all figured out so that I can implement it next month. Should be including new meal plans too, since I’ll be making them myself!

Remember, if you don’t like the way you’re living… Change it!
Barb

Organizational Update

So this is the first post in reference to the “Organize Now!” book that I got myself while I was up in the city. I’ve thumbed through it numerous times and finally put my foot down and basically told myself that it’s time to start doing it! So here it goes, week 1. This should be fairly easy, so I’m actually going to do what I can here on the blog since most of it is writing things down.

The vision I have for my life:
This is such a toughie, I imagine so many things. I would love to earn an income being a teacher, a counselor, a landlord, a photographer, a farmer, etc. The list really does go on. I’m so undecided and have no idea what I want to become. My days would be filled of fun, love and laughter. I’d wake up early, have some time to myself, get my kids ready for their days and we’d go on fabulous adventures around town! I would live more, and worry less.

In the next 56 weeks, I want to accomplish the complete organization of my life and my house (mostly my house!) I cannot live like this forever, I need to be able to live in a house that functions much better than this one. I need to be able to easily walk through my hallway, and be able to find those damned things I put away for future use and then turn around and buy more of. I want to sit down and make a schedule that gives me the ability to workout, eat healthy, and lose some weight. I want to spend more time bonding and loving my children than I do cleaning up everything.

I’ll start going to bed earlier. Starting tonight. We’ll be going to bed at 11, unlike our usual 1 or 2 in the mornings. My ending plan is to get my bedtime pushed back to about 10:30, that way I should be able to wake up at 6:30 and get a good start to my day. The kids only have to get up around 7:15 when we start getting them into daycare/activities so it should work out. It’ll give me enough time to do at least a few minutes of cardio and just to sit down and breathe.

I think I’m just going to count this blog as my journal. It catalogues my life events and whatnot, so I might as well. I have other journals on the go which are more focused on notes for my future generations to read, so this should suffice to get my ideas, thoughts, emotions and whatnot written down.

The rest of the things this week will focus on small steps towards making my life a little more sane. It includes scheduling a few 2 or 3 minute breaks just to take a breather, scheduling some exercise time and limiting the amount of television we watch. The last one there is of considerable importance in this household. I want my children to be more focused on childhood activities than the t.v. Now that I finally have my boyfriend’s work schedule for the rest of the week, I’m going to head off and actually plan out those days!

I’ll let you know how the rest of the week went next Monday when I move on to week 2!

For now though, I’m off!
xoxo,
Barb

The Binge Jar

I have finally taken the time to sit down and create a binge jar (a.k.a. the Anti-Binge Jar, or Instead of Binging Jar)! It really took me forever to get around to, since I had a specific idea for how it should look in my head, and I didn’t have the time to sit down and do it (or so I thought, honestly it didn’t take too long at all).

So, what IS an “Instead of Binging Jar”? For me, it’s a jar that has ideas about what to do instead of stuff my face out of sheer boredom or because of┬ánegative things happening in my life. I am a really emotional eater. I eat because I get nervous, I eat if someone gets mad at me, I eat because I’m lonely, whatever. If I could get over being so awkwardly shy around people, I would probably naturally eat less… but, that’s another matter entirely. My binge jar contains 27 different ideas of things for me to do INSTEAD of pig out. It’s just that simple.

As an added twist, to further my attempts to not eat massive amounts of food, I added a rule. If I do binge, ever… I owe my jar $5. Every single time. The money will be saved and used to purchase sports or health equipment, so it is a good cause, but I think actually losing the money temporarily will help. (So far it has!). #27 is also a play on this, it’s always a risk putting your hand into the binge jar, because I only want to use it if I really can’t fend off the urge to eat by myself, I can pull a tag that means I automatically owe the jar $2, and still have to pick another activity. Just a little additional motivation :).

Some good ideas for your binge jar would basically be anything that involves using your hands, therefore making you unable to use them to eat, anything that takes you out of your house (but not in the area of take-out), something that occupies your mind so that you’ll forget about the popcorn you thought you were craving. Things that usually aren’t good ideas are sedentary activities where your hands are free to get that food into your mouth.

How I made my binge jar:

I wanted something pretty to look at, since this isn’t an entirely pleasant idea in general. No one wants to clean instead of stuffing their faces, BUT, cheering me up and having something pretty should help with this.

Step 1:

I chose a paper from one of my scrapbooking kits that I loved and decided to use it for all of my tags.

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I wrote the following things on the paper:

1. Paint my nails.

2. Drink lots of water (16 oz.)

3. Clean the kitchen

4. Clean the bedroom.

5. Go for a calming walk or jog.

6. Apply make-up.

7. Talk to someone.

8. Knit

9. Drink some tea.

10. Read a book.

11. Send a note to someone you haven’t spoken to in a while.

12. Work in my smashbooks.

13. Sing Karaoke.

14. Play the guitar.

15. Write some positive things on sticky notes and post them around town.

16. Purge the house!

17. Clean the bathroom.

18. 100 jumping jacks!

19. Do 50 squats.

20. 100 High knees.

21. Do some budgeting work.

22. Read a magazine.

23. Vacuum.

24. Brush & Floss.

25. Go online window shopping.

26. Write a blog post.

27. Add an additional $2 to the money jar, AND choose another idea.

Then I cut them using a cute pattern, and then glued them onto a larger sheet of scrapbooking paper to make them a little more sturdy.

I fully understand that not all of these ideas are good for everyone, not every idea was good for me. The one that I read everywhere, but opted out on for personal reasons was “Going for a drive”. It might be a good idea for you, but if I go for a drive, I can almost guarantee I will go through a drive-thru and pick up some crap. But if you’re looking for some other options, I suggest you check out some of these sites:
http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/binge+jar
http://bingeeatingtherapy.com/2011/02/02/101-things-to-do-instead-of-binge-eating/
http://www.bubblews.com/news/656686-the-instead-of-binging-jar

Step 2:

While waiting for my glue to dry, I worked on the actual jar itself. I had some Martha Stewart adhesive stencils I’ve been dying to use for months now, so I thought it would be a good time. I started by doing the decorative stencils, waited for them to dry, and then used the letter stencils to write “Binge Jar”. Then it looked like this:
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Step 3:

Cut up the ideas, fold them up, and place them into the binge jar.

You’re done! It is just that easy, I swear! You’ll end up with something like this:
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The only additional thing that I’m going to so is put a little fabric on top instead of the normal mason jar seal as my lid, to fancy it up a little more.

Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think!
Got any suggestions for things for me to write about? Let me know. Drop me a line and I’ll do my best.

Thanks for reading,
Barb.