Let’s start 2015 off on the right note.
I hope to see you in my home or on the call
I hope to see you in my home or on the call
We’ve spoken about menu planning before; this time let’s talk about the how.
I like to keep things reaaaaaally simple.
So we have a very easy plan.
1. Use a printable or meal planner pad and keep it visible
For years I used the printable in the Household Organising Kit (part of the Organise your Home printables). These days I buy a menu planner pad from CNA and stick it to the side of the microwave so it’s visible to me, D (if he’s interested) and our nanny.
2. Mark off challenging days
On Wednesdays I go to Spanish dancing so supper is always a freezer-ready meal. I start cooking the pasta and Dion finishes it so that he and the kids can eat. I eat once I’m home just after 8.
If you have after-work activities, those are the nights to keep things easy. No-one died from having a sandwich and salad/ soup for supper.
When one of us has a work or other function where we’re going to be eating, that’s the night to eat the meal the other isn’t wild about When I’m at home with the kids, we’ll have leftovers.
3. Have loose themes
Some people like to have Meatless Mondays, Beef on a Tuesday, Chicken on a Wed, etc. I like pasta on Mondays and Wednesdays, rice on Tuesdays and Thursdays, potatoes on a Wed and easy meals on Fridays. I almost never plan the weekend meals as we eat whatever I feel like doing…
Decide on your themes and write them down.
4. Add meals from your freezer or pantry
I decide what we feel like eating from the freezer and what we (I) feel like cooking. If you don’t look in your freezer regularly, you’ll forget what’s in there. Which reminds me, I have some waffles we need to eat
5. Get creative
I aim for once a month but in truth it probably only happens once every 6 weeks. That’s the week I get creative and use up any odd bits of meals/ veg/ pantry items to create meals.
That’s how my sausage chicken and sweetcorn pasta originated… which is now a regular occurrence.
Sometimes the combinations are a bit strange so I’ll need an ingredient to create a decent meal, and that’s fine.
The point is to use up things you’re mostly likely to ignore.
Annnnnd that’s it. That’s how I do my menu planning.
Well, I haven’t done one of these Ask the Organiser posts for a while.
Since I’m retired I find that my needs have changed. I would like to see how to keep organized and stay on task and not waste time simply because I feel I can always do it tomorrow. How do I keep from procrastinating?
I have gotten myself too involved because I thought I could do more since I am retired but that’s not true. Believing you have more time can become a handicap for a retired person. You start to take on too many things and then try to figure out how to get out of some of them so that you can do the things you always plan on doing once you retire. It’s very easy to get caught up in clubs or other activities that you really should have said no to.
Many end up taking more of your time then you thought it would. How do I manage this and get out of things without feeling that I’m letting people down who depend on me?
There are two issues here that I think Lois wants me to address:
I have a few ideas for Lois:
Think about your ideal day. What does that look like?
Which 3 things might you want to include in your daily rhythm? Maybe that’s something in the home/ garden, something out/ with people/ family, something health & fitness, something fun/ relaxing for you, etc. Decide on those 3 categories.
Make a short list of a couple of projects for each of your 3 categories using the Master List (it’s in the Time management purpose pack) or a plain old notebook and pen, and choose one from each to do every day.
If you finish the day and find you’re making progress in each area, you’ll feel accomplished AND relaxed.
Once you start moving towards your goals a little bit every day, it’ll be easier not to procrastinate as you’re motivated going towards something meaningful.
(Lois, email me and I’ll send you a form you can use for your daily categories)
Back to question 1. In your weekly rhythm, what % of your week or month could you comfortably do things like clubs, activities, volunteer work, etc? Maybe one morning a week? Or a morning every second week?
Decide what that comfortable time frequency feels like for you.
Keep that number in mind when you consider what your current commitments are.
Maybe you’ve committed to 3 mornings per week.
You now have to decide where you want to spend that time. Maybe you can attend one group but just as a participant, not as a volunteer, and that would be enough?
Maybe you want to volunteer in one and only one for all the time?
If you’ve already committed to these projects, and you want to get out of them, this time of year is perfect.
Tell the organiser that you’ve been thinking/ praying about your commitments for next year and while you’d be perfectly happy to finish out the year, next year you can only commit to ____ hours a week/ month. Or only help out at the annual ______.
How does that sound?
I know that the issue of overcommitting is not uncommon.
PS My one friend already told me what she’s getting out of doing next year
I really like to give gifts to friends and family.
My love language is not gifts; it’s actually acts of service, which usually means I choose to make my gift-giving personal and thoughtful.
Here are a few ways to be a thoughtful gift-giver:
1. Pay attention to what they say and what they wear
My one friend always looks fabulous in a particular colour… so for her birthday I bought her a neck scarf in that exact shade. She loved it! This same friend made me raisin bread for my birthday because she knows I don’t like clutter and I love her raisin bread!
Yet another friend brought me her home-made scones for one birthday because I always raved about her scones. What a perfect gift!
I told Beth that I’d been reading very boring books for about 2 – 3 weeks running, and she bought me a book on the Kindle. Do you know what her message was? “This is definitely not a boring book”. I LOVED IT!
2. Notice the themes
I have one friend who loves spring. LOVES it. She’d been counting down to spring since winter…
So I gave her a welcome to spring gift. It was only about 5 – 6 different yellow stationery items, but once placed together, they looked like they belonged and they were her spring gift.
A very special reader of the blog bought me fudge and a candy thermometer because I love fudge and I can’t for the life of me get it right. I adore this theme gift!
3. Be practical
I have another friend who says that she’s a bad gift-wrapper, so I gave her a gift wrap kit. Practical and cute!
One of the most practical gifts I’ve received was a lip liner – I used it at least twice every day and thought of my colleague every time because it was the perfect colour and such good quality. I’ve been hooked on lip liner ever since.
I always get a lot of questions about how I do meal planning, my thoughts, preferences and so on.
That’s not a surprise since I’m also a very curious person and if I were sitting down with you, I’d ask you for your details too!
I meal plan because it saves me TONS of time, I don’t like to wait for food when I’m hungry (and it seems my kids are the same) and it saves us money too since we “eat from the freezer and pantry” once a month.
1. Main meal
I like to cook the main part of the meal and have that portion in the freezer. This includes things like bolognaise sauce, chicken and broccoli, chicken a la King, kidney bean and tomato sauce, curries, etc.
How do I decide which meals to cook for the freezer?
I have a list of our family favourites so I can always refer to a list. But I do have it on my goals list to try 2 – 3 new recipes every month. My Pinterest board has to count for something. My only rule is that it has to be a quick meal. I can’t abide meals with too many steps or ingredients – I get tired before I’ve begun!
2. The carbs
Mine is a carb-eating home. If you’re on a different diet, ignore this point.
I generally cook carbs on the night, but we do freeze any leftovers in the correct portion sizes so that it’s easier on a leftovers night. We eat pasta, rice and potatoes. Sometimes we also have wraps – I used to buy them but I discovered these wraps and I’ve been hooked ever since.
We cook veggies on the night only. I do keep some frozen vegetables like peas, corn and pumpkin (South Africans, I love the McCain pumpkin chunks) but most are cooked “fresh”.
We make our own pizza bases from a super easy recipe I picked up somewhere years ago. I also mix in spinach and now the kids only know spinach bases as pizza
I always have a couple of bases ready in the freezer so we can whip up a healthy, homemade pizza whenever we want.
5. Friday night easy meals
On Fridays we like easy meals. I know this is traditionally a take-away night in many households but I’m … fussy and I honestly prefer to whip up something quickly than to drive somewhere and get it.
We have pizza, burgers, omelettes, etc. and in winter, soup and a toasted sandwich.
I never throw leftovers away. Ever.
Even if there’s just one portion, I save it. That could be a lunch for me or if a bit more substantial, we could add a big salad and garlic rolls to make it another meal.
That’s my system.
PS even if you think you don’t have a system, you probably do
If you want fast results that you can maintain, this organising solution might be just the one for you.
I started talking about capsule wardrobes last week. If you haven’t read that post, you can catch up here.
Oh how I love this concept. Remember my intention was to do a capsule of 40 for work and 40 for home. I work in a business environment where Fridays are business casual (jeans is fine, but not “beach casual”) and Mondays to Thursdays are standard business attire.
I was quite a bit demotivated when I counted 60-odd items for work (winter and summer combined) clothes and the same for casual clothes. I thought I was near enough my target numbers because I do actually declutter regularly.
So I hit a block.
Like, “really? what’s the point? I have way too much to be a minimalist/ capsule person”
Then a friend told me to just make sure I love everything that I end up with, and to not worry about the actual numbers. Thanks, Heather.
Bingo! That worked because I relaxed a little with the all or nothing thinking, and so I may just be brave and count the items again one of these days.
However, this capsule business got me thinking and it seems there are a couple of reasons why one would do this kind of thing:
There are obviously more. Please comment and tell me why you’re attracted to the concept of capsule wardrobes.
I think I’ll count my clothes during the week and report back on Monday. Who will join me?
PS as you can see from the pics, the purple cardigan combo is a favourite (I found these two photos without looking too hard AND I always get compliments when I wear that “outfit”) and then the yellow/ grey/ jeans combo is also a favourite casual combo
I want to write a few posts about 15-minute organising projects simply because they make ME feel super accomplished when I get one or two of them knocked off my list.
And, as I’ve mentioned before, we often think things take longer to get done than they actually do so it could take us an hour to do something (due to faffing around) or 15 minutes.
Organising my wallet is an activity that takes even less than 15 minutes but makes me feel AMAZING.
These are my DREAM steps:
Decide what you’d like your wallet to look like. I like it very minimalistic and I only keep things in there I actually use on a monthly basis.
Eliminate the clutter – old receipts, little notes, business cards you don’t need, etc.
Arrange in a way that works for you. I like bank cards on one side and loyalty cards on the other. I have two pockets – one for receipts and one for cash.
Maintain. This is the step that you need to incorporate as part of your weekly routine (getting ready for work is a good place, or finishing off the week on a Friday, whatever works for you).
The DREAM steps are the same steps for everything you ever need to organise – just try it and see.
This is a 15-20 minute exercise that will make you feel like a rock star afterwards.
There are many more 20-minute activities throughout your home. Organise your home is a very easy step-by-step system that hundreds of people have used over the last 5 – 6 years. I’d be thrilled if you’d have a look and consider it for your home.
PS There’s a printable with the DREAM method for organising any space in your Organise your home welcome pack
“You’re either born organised or you’re not”.
Do you agree or disagree with this statement?
I do believe that there are those of us who are naturally more structured and organised but I also know that anyone can learn how to organise or to improve their organising skills.
Interestingly, many professional organisers were once disorganised and learnt the skills in order to better manage their own homes and lives.
As for me, I do have a natural bend towards organising but honestly, I figured a lot of things out once I had my own home. And I certainly developed my love for decluttering when we started moving house and I didn’t want to pay to move things I really didn’t value anymore.
The key to organise your life effectively is to know your style so you can adapt any system to work with you, and not against you.
Today I want to talk about one particular facet of personality – structured versus unstructured organising.
It’s important to note that both of those descriptors are ways of organising yourself: you can organise yourself in a structured manner or in an unstructured manner. Unstructured people are not disorganized; they just prefer to organise themselves in an unstructured manner.
These are people who like clear goals and deadlines, they prefer closure, they love planning and following that plan. These are the people who read organising blogs like this one just to hone their skills – “maybe there’s something that can take me from a 8 to a 9 on the organising spectrum?”:)
These are people who feel trapped by deadlines, they are spontaneous and like lots of freedom and flexibility.
The really quick way I like to identify my clients’ styles is to ask them two questions:
1. do you work best with piles or files of paper?
Generally speaking, unstructured people work with piles of paper while structured people like files. Digitally, unstructured people have all their files in My Documents and structured people use (many) folders.
2. do you use the planning tools you buy or download?
This is a key indicator for me. If the person is a paper person (like I am), they probably have a diary. Do you actually use that diary or do you simply like the idea of having a diary? Open yours now and have a look… Digitally, do you merely download cool productivity apps or do you actually use them?
Of course, within those two really broad categories, there is a ton of variation.
I’m clearly structured but I’m a 7 in that I don’t lean very far across the scale. I love files but I keep them very sparse and thin. And electronically, I have one app I use… quite thoroughly, but only on a weekly basis. That’s the most structured I want to be.
Why is it important to know your style?
1. You’ll stop wasting money on tools that won’t work for you.
2. You can enjoy the freedom of being exactly who you are.
3. You can use your time more effectively.
Over to you.
I promised when I wrote this post as part of 31 days of Enough Time that I’d write some more about capsule wardrobes.
I read about these capsule wardrobes on some blogs and I’m totally intrigued.
The idea as I understand it is that you choose about 40 items, and wear just those things for a season. The exact capsule changes a little from blogger to blogger but a fair number of people include hats, handbags, accessories and shoes into their 40 items.
I really love the idea of simplifying until you love everything in your wardrobe…. and there’s no thinking needed because everything suits you, everything complements the other items.
It talks to my inner minimalist
What about you? Does this sound like something you could do, or does it feel like a crazy idea?
What I see online is that some people take the boxed-up clothes that they didn’t wear and donate it. That’s a nice way of seeing whether you actually miss wearing something you’re not sure about.
I’ve spoken a lot over the years about how you only wear 20% of your clothes 80% of the time. This concept speaks to that 20%.
I even did this over the past couple of months – every time I wore something that irritated me, out it went. If I wore the red one, and I had a pink and green one too, then out they went too (I used to buy a variety of colours if I really likes a particular style!).
The last two times I went through my wardrobe I decluttered 21 items just like that. It’s completely doable.
I don’t have a large wardrobe by a lot of women’s standards (especially with work clothes) but the truth is I probably have more than 33 items, just in accessories (scarves and handbags) these days.
Here’s a before picture I found from April:
Confession – I counted and got very despondent because I had about 64 items of work clothes (I counted suits as two items – pants and jacket) and 67 items of casual clothes including gym clothes but before I even got to my t-shirts (and there were plenty) so I stopped counting!
Next week – I’ll share some of my thoughts as I went through the process (I’m still going through the process now)…
PS Organising clothes is one of the bonus sections of the organise your home e-course
It seems it’s become a regular occurrence around here that I only do my filing once a year. It was never a “thing” because my personal policy was to do the filing when it started annoying me, and then it seemed it annoyed me about once a year.
The key is don’t think you need to file everything, but to ask yourself, what will I not be able to find quicker than looking in a file.
E.g. Proof of payments…. it is quicker for me to log onto my internet banking, click on payments, the beneficiary’s name and check the dates than to haul out the file and look for the piece of paper, or if it happened before I’ve done my filing, to look through a pile of paper to find said receipt.
So I don’t keep it.
Or what will be a huge hassle to get if I can’t find it?
I probably shouldn’t admit this but my computer autoarchived my tax return and I needed a copy. I hadn’t printed it out at the time but a quick email to my tax guy, and I had a new emailed copy (which I since saved in My Documents) within the hour.
Which means… I don’t have to file it.
Again and again I learnt that it always feels like it’s going to be much worse than it is, but never ever takes longer than an hour to sort out.And that was with me taking pictures as I worked