simplify 101
Creative Organizing Blog

December 28, 2011

Running Towards the Finish Line

A few weeks ago, Aby and I were talking about the beauty of being part of simplify 101’s online workshops, and it hit us both how much this is like running. You probably know that Aby is a runner. And if you’re around my husband for any amount of time, he’ll find a way to proudly tell you that I’m a runner, too. For me, it’s a harder to say that, and I’ll be honest with you – it makes me feel a little tingly! See, up until 15 months ago, I absolutely, positively hated running. I hated it my whole life!


But, I kept getting these little nudges to try it…

  • I wasn’t content with my fitness level or weight, even though I already exercised regularly.
  • I was fairly bored with the exercise I was doing, so I was looking for something different.
  • Every time I talked to someone who looked fit and healthy, it turned out they were runners.
  • I had numerous friends who had great experiences with the Couch to 5k program.
  • Finally, I watched this video. And then, I laced up my shoes.


One thing Couch to 5k really encourages is not just to be able to run the 5k distance, but to actually sign up to run a race. I found a nearby 5k race that coincided with my training schedule, took a deep breath, and registered. Because I was NOT a runner, to say I had doubts about running 3.1 miles is an understatement.


That first day, I will tell you it was incredibly difficult to run a full minute. But I did it, and you know what? It felt really good. By the next week, I was ready to take it to the next level. And on and on I went, achieving the mini-goals that led me to the pinnacle – running for a full 3.1 miles.


When race day rolled around, the truth is that I’d already run that distance a couple times already. So, why would I pay money to get up really stinking early, drive 45 minutes away, brave the cold weather, and run that Jingle Bell run with a whole crowd of people? Why wouldn’t I just hop on the treadmill in the privacy of my climate-controlled basement and run a 5k at my convenience? Surely it wasn’t the 6-sizes-too-big T-shirt I received? 


I think it was this:

  • Signing up for that race put a date on my calendar. There was a real target to work toward, and that got me out of bed plenty of early mornings.
  • I was being held accountable. I had a friend who’d signed up with me, not to mention all the people I’d told about this goal.
  • Achieving a goal with a whole group of people is simply indescribable. For one thing, I discovered that running with other people brings out my best effort. And for another, runners cheer each other on. If I start to struggle, it’s likely someone is going to run up from behind and remind me that I can do it. Once I get my second wind, I offer encouragement to others, or cheer the ones who zoom past me at a pace I can’t comprehend.
  • Having a professional measure the distance and time made it official.  (I even got a medal to prove it!)

(Here I am with my 5k buddy after we jingled all the way. Oh, what fun!)


I think all these same points hold true for our workshops as well. We find the people in our workshops are ready to make changes they haven’t been able to make by going it alone. Often times, they aren’t sure they can really do it. But then, they take those first steps and find themselves gaining confidence and motivation. Like the experience of a formal race, our participants find a whole community of people sharing the same goal, offering each other encouragement along the way. And through it all, there’s the support, advice and encouragement of an expert.



(Me, among a whole crowd of amazing runners, fighing back tears after having just crossed the finish line of a half marathon in October.)

Today, even with another 5k, a 5-miler, and two half-marathons under my belt, I’ve been feeling my motivation wane. So, I found out what my running friends are up to, and I’m planning my next couple races. I need those targets on the calendar and the friends to keep me running towards that finish line!

Happy New Year,

Jens signature black

P.S.  Could you use a little help in achieving your goals? Are you hoping to make 2012 the year you get and stay organized? Take a look to see if one of our upcoming workshops is just the thing you need!


P.S.S. What are your goals and resolutions for 2012? We’d love to hear them! 

December 07, 2011

Christmas Gift Ideas: Experience Gifts

When my husband and I asked our children what they most enjoy about the holidays and what would make this Christmas even better, we were a little bit surprised by their responses. It’s the wish lists and the toy catalogs and the presents that seem to garner most of their day-to-day holiday chatter, but their answers to this question were unrelated to all of that. They are most looking forward to the festivities that allow us to spend time with family and friends, and they would like more of that.


One of their favorite traditions is a “white elephant” gift exchange we have each year in my family. It always produces hilarious results. No money is spent on these gifts. And even more interesting is the fact that this exchange is only for the adults, and we do this after the little kids have already unwrapped all their gifts. To me, that just proves the point that what they really want, what they’re really excited about, are the experiences. The time together. The memory-making. The relationships.


It’s important to my husband and me to nurture this in our girls. I don’t expect them to tear up their wish lists anytime soon and declare a non-consumerist holiday, but I do have ideas. For starters, one of their gifts from us this year is going to be a booklet with coupons they can cash in for experiences with mom and dad. These include things like going out for hot chocolate together, letting them plan a family game night, having me come eat lunch with them at school, and play time together. (I found this fun printable to use.)



I’m also asking them to think of things they would like to do with their grandparents, aunts and uncles. That way, when asked for gift ideas, I can offer up suggestions of experiences my children would enjoy with them.


I like this idea so very much for a number of reasons. 1) Experiences are clutter-free! I won’t be nagging anyone to put away their Date with Dad or Ice Cream Excursion. 2) It’s far less consumer-driven than most of today's holiday gifts. 3) Though there will be costs associated with some of their coupons, several are free. Plus, the spending gets spread out a bit, which helps our December budget! 4) It reinforces the idea that gifts are not always things. 


Here are a few experience gift ideas for children:

  • Take a lesson together (art, cooking, fencing, karate).
  • Go on an educational fieldtrip to the zoo, museum, historical sight, science center.
  • Make a movie or dinner date.
  • Offer to teach them how to do something you do well (knit, bake, sew).


For the adults on your list:

  • Make a movie or dinner date.
  • Rather than just a gift card to their favorite store, plan a shopping spree with them.
  • Take a class together (art, cooking, dancing, rock-climbing).
  • Consider the recipients' hobbies and interests, and consider an excursion based on those. Wine tasting? Photo safari? Bird watching? Garden tour?


The possibilities are nearly endless. I think the key here is to choose something your recipient would enjoy. It shows you know something about the person and that you are interested in being part of their world. Plus, it gives you the time and space to nurture your relationship and make memories together. Now that is a gift!


Happy Holidays!

Jens signature black

November 30, 2011

Using Pinterest to Get Organized for the Holidays

I knew as soon as I joined Pinterest that this would happen… my head is just swimming in incredible ideas for the holidays thanks to all the “Pinspiration” and “Pinteresting” things I find there! If you aren’t familiar with it yet, Pinterest is web site where you can store and share all the fabulousness that you run across on the web. Think virtual bulletin board, only more organized!


Right now, I am giddy over the cool ideas for Elf on the Shelf, not to mention great gift ideas and recipes! I just love to log in and instantly see things that are fun, simple, creative, and completely doable. I realized today, though, that I’m not yet using Pinterest in a way that makes total sense – getting organized for the holidays!


As I run across gift ideas for my family, I can Pin them. As I find recipes perfect for holiday gatherings, I can Pin them. When I see cute decorating displays, I can Pin them. I love that I can add notes right then to specify who, what, when or where I am thinking of using the idea. I have been doing this to some extent, but not necessarily in the most organized way. Today, I spent a few minutes reorganizing and adding boards that are more specific. Plus, I realized I can repin to multiple boards. So, if there's a gift in my Gift Ideas board that could be given any time, but I am thinking about it now as a great holiday gift for a neighbor, it can live in both places. Hooray!



I also just added a board for things I have already tried, thanks to Pinterest.  Here’s a photo of a thankful tree I made this year.




 Here is what inspired my Thankful Tree.


To really maximize Pinterest's ability to help us organize for the holidays, here are some tips for you:

  • Create new boards specific to the holidays, such as New Year's Eve Ideas, New Traditions, Holiday Recipes, Party Planning, Holiday Gifts, etc.
  • Go through your current boards to see what could be moved or repinned to your new holiday boards. For example, you may have an outfit on a style board that you would like to replicate for a holiday event.
  • Make specific notes on pins when you pin them. Quickly jotting down thoughts like "Great gift idea for my elderly neighbor," or "Pretty Christmas dress for my daughter," will help you remember what you had in mind when you revisit this later.
  • Create a board to repin all the stuff you've tried thanks to Pinterest. Delete or make notes on pins of things you tried but didn't like, that way you won't repeat the disappointment in a year or two!


Have you found holiday inspiration on Pinterest that you can’t wait to try? Have you tried things you really loved? We'd love to hear what's Pinteresting to you!

Jens signature black

P.S. You are welcome to follow Aby  and me on Pinterest! It’s another great way for us to connect and share!

September 27, 2011

Use What You’ve Got Organizing

This past weekend I went to boot camp as I do most Saturday mornings. This Saturday, like so many in the past, I’ve come away with the belief that this class is misnamed—I think it should called “kick your boot(y) camp” because that’s how I feel in the midst of the class. (Like someone is literally kicking me in the backside!) It seems no matter how much I workout, this class always pushes me…up one more hill, down one more hill, just a little bit further outside of my comfort zone. And I love it.


Not only is this form of exercise great for my body…it’s great for my mind, too. Even though there are all sorts of people around me going through the same physical endurance test, boot camp offers me an hour of quiet time. For most of the class, it’s just me and my thoughts which offers a nice change of pace to the rest of my week. 


This past weekend as I was running down a hill for what felt like the tenth time (just before running up another hill for what felt like the twentieth time!) I had this thought:  “Use what you’ve got, Aby. You have long legs…use them! If you take longer steps down the hill you won’t have to take as many steps and you’ll get to the bottom a whole lot faster.” As a stretched my legs longer than I had that whole day (or maybe my whole life?) I realized that this same “use what you’ve got” advice applies to organizing, too. (Yes, this is the kind of stuff I think about when I have quiet time to myself. Go figure.)



So often we wish for the perfect set of scenarios before doing something. And yet, we’d get to where we want to be so much more quickly if we simply use what we’ve got. Here’s what I mean. Read on and see if any of these scenarios sound familiar to you, and then if they do, simply get started using what you’ve got.  


What you want:  You want a couple of weeks off from your other responsibilities so you can focus solely on your organizing projects.  


What you’ve got:  You have a few stolen moments here and there during the week, and maybe one solid hour or two on the weekends to work on your organizing projects. 


What you can do:  Use what you’ve got! Use those ten to fifteen minute slices of time during the week to make progress decluttering. Pull out items you no longer use and put them in a donate bin. Put away things that are out of their homes and create a bit of clear space and breathing room. Pick up the phone and schedule a charity pick-up. Bite-size your organizing projects by focusing on one drawer, or one shelf, or on cupboard at a time. You will be amazed at the progress you can make using what you have—even if it’s just teeny tiny pockets of time!  


What you want:  You want all new, matching storage containers.


What you’ve got:  Budget for something a bit less than all new matching storage containers and perhaps a mismatched collection of containers accumulated over the years. 


What you can do:  Use what you’ve got! I can’t begin to tell you the number of clients I’ve worked with over the years who didn’t need to buy a single container. You can get organized by using the containers you already have on hand and by repurposing everyday items you have around the house. Use empty soup cans covered in paper to corral pens, pencils and other craft supplies. Use small bowls and ramekins to organize small items in bathroom or kitchen drawers. Or use those mismatched containers…and upgrade slowly over time! Don’t wait for the big windfall of cash to buy those all matching containers and then get started. Instead, start getting organized now using the containers you already have. 



What you want:  You want to have every step of your organizing project figured out before you begin (so you’re sure that things turn out perfectly!) The trouble is this causes you to feel overwhelmed, so you don’t start at all.


What you’ve got:  If you’re like most of the people I work with, you have a rough idea of what you want. And at a minimum, you know what you don’t want. 


What to do:  Whether you have a sketchy idea of what you do want (or a crystal clear idea of what you don’t want), use what you’ve got. Start with what you know for sure, and then, give yourself permission to figure out the rest of the details as you move forward with your project. When you make progress on your project, it will become much easier to see the next step you need to take. It will be simpler to put together the rest of the puzzle, with each new piece you put into place. 


Here’s a little secret:  this is how I do every single organizing project I do! I don’t know exactly how the project will come together before I start. Instead, I piece it together as I go. If I’m working on a project with a client, we collaborate. I ask my client questions as we work through the organizing process, and the answers to those questions lead us to the best possible finished result. It would be really hard to know all the questions to ask at the onset (let alone remember all the answers). And if I did it this way, we’d both feel really overwhelmed! Instead, I follow my tried and true organizing process, and proceed with confidence that the pieces will fall into place as we move along. Not only does this approach work, it’s much simpler than trying to figure it all out before you begin. 


What you want:  You want to find the perfect organizing solution.


What you've got:  A long list (or a closet full) of organizing solutions you’ve tried in the past that didn’t work as well as you had hoped.


What to do:  Use what you have! Along with those less-than-ideal organizing systems came a whole bunch of information about what does and doesn’t work for you. Use it! Every system you try that doesn’t work as well as you hoped gives you terrific insight that will help you create a system that will work great for you. Give yourself permission to use this information to tweak or create a new system that will work great for you! 


When you use what you’ve got you enable yourself to get started faster. You take bigger steps or you take steps sooner than you would if you wait for the ideal set of circumstances. The end result:  you get up the hill—or get organized—much faster than you would have otherwise. I’d love to hear from you!


What are your biggest obstacles when it comes to getting organized? Can you see a way to use what you’ve got to get started? Thanks for sharing!

September 20, 2011

Getting Organized Now for the Happiest Holidays Later

In this blog post, Jennifer faces her challenges and hopes for the upcoming holiday season. Think it's too early to start thinking holidays? Check out Jennifer's reasons for getting started sooner rather than later.


The holidays. (gulp) This subject is already coming up regularly for me! My mother-in-law asked the kids for their wish lists. My aunt called to ask about sizes. And at lunch with friends yesterday, our talk turned to trying to get our to-do lists together now.



It seems so early, doesn’t it? And part of me sort of cringes at all the holiday talk that seems to come earlier each year. I really want to enjoy the gifts of this day, not make myself crazy buying gifts for the next 90 days! The consumerism of the holidays drives me mad, but here’s the thing I’m realizing: If I don’t have myself prepared for the holidays, I am actually more likely to end up with a version of the holidays that looks nothing like what I envision. I want a season with more laughter, boundless joy, and lots of love. But I know from past experience that without a plan, I end up stressed out, sleep deprived and over budget. Trust me, I’m not very merry in that state. ;-)


So when I say “prepared,” I definitely don’t mean that I intend to have all my shopping done by October (although, that would be nice) or that I will deck the halls the day after Halloween. I do, however, want to sit down with a nice cup of tea and some paper and map out what’s most important to me and my family. I want to make space for the things we value, and I want to make peace with letting go of what we don’t.



A few years ago, a friend gave me a great holiday planning notebook along with an assignment. After the holidays, I write down what I hated and what I loved. It is so great to pull that out each year! I actually have a pretty good memory, but sometimes it isn’t until I’m in the midst of something I swore I’d never do again that I remember why I said that! Especially when it comes to the holidays. It seems my memories can grow a bit fuzzy with nostalgia or twisted with fantasies of how I thought it would be.


One thing that’s top of “what I hated about the holidays - 2010” is the bazillion little details I seem to leave until the last minute. I do most of my shopping early, so in my head I think I’m done. I bought the teachers’ gifts, so I check that off my to-do list. Suddenly I am up until wee hours trying to write “heartfelt” cards and wrapping the teachers’ gifts!  This year, I intend not to be bogged down by small details that in the past I left until the last minutes. I also want to make sure a task is fully completed before I check it off my list. If the teachers’ gifts aren’t wrapped and accompanied by cards, that task doesn’t get a check mark!




That’s just one small change, but I think it’s going to be huge in enhancing our holidays overall. I could certainly use some more help, though, in making our holidays even happier. How about you? Check out our Get Organized for the Holidays online workshop. It begins November 1, and it’s a great resource for preparing for and cleaning up after the holidays. AND, if you sign up early for this workshop, you can also score 20% off! It’s on early bird special until Thursday, September 22, 2011.


Are the holidays already in your thought process? Is there something you’re planning to do to improve your holidays this year? Please leave us a comment or tell us on Facebook!



September 14, 2011

After Organizing Do You Get the Itch to Decorate? (Plus a Great Giveaway)

During the last session of Quick + Simple Clutter Control there was discussion in the forums about decorating. Several workshop participants were inspired to decorate and put the finishing touches on the spaces they had decluttered during the workshop. Does this happen to you, too? Do you get the itch to decorate after you organize and declutter?


I get the itch to decorate during certain times of the year—especially in the fall. I think it’s the knowing that winter is fast approaching. I want something fresh and new to look. I want to create a cozy space to relax and enjoy during the cold winter days. 


So the timing was just perfect when the folks at Southern Living asked if I’d like to take a look at their new book Southern Living Style. Just one look at the cover and I was sold.


Style Cover-1
(Don't you just love that turquoise, wooden box?)


When the book arrived I realized how little I really know about southern style. I grew up in Michigan…so you might guess that I don’t consider myself a southern girl. Yet, when I flipped through the pages of the book I realized that I could feel very much feel at home in a southern-inspired room. The rooms are comfortable, eclectic and many shown in the book are much more casual than I imagined southern style would be. I found tons of inspiring photos and project ideas. My creative decorating juices are flowing. 


Want to take a look inside? Here’s a sampling of the eye candy you’ll find inside Southern Living Style.


This bright and cheery chest of drawers started out as a basic pine chest. Love this!


Old Pine Chest Updated in Orange-2

How about painting a door with chalkboard paint? So fun! (And don't you love the "laundry" letters up on that ledge?)



Kid-Friendly Chalkboard Paint on Door-2

I love, love this kids bunk room, and the idea of using heirlooms in a kids grandma's old quilts and a footstool brightened with paint. I have a few quilts from grandma (and great grandma) maybe it's time to pull them out? I always say "If you're going to keep it...have it out where you can enjoy it." This space definitely embraces that idea. 


Heirlooms in Kids' Room-2

How smart is this room...with two workstations in the family room? Terrific idea that would definitely help a family stay organized.

Family Room Work Station-1

My favorite chapter was the kitchen chapter. It was loaded with inspiring photos and ideas. I have this thing right now for white kitchens. I love this eat-in kitchen, with the white slip covered chairs, wooden floors and table...and so much clean, crisp white all around the space. I'm definitely inspired. 


Slipcovers on Kitchen Chairs-2

(All images in this post courtesy Southern Living.)

Here's what the publishers have to say about this book:

Southern Living Style, the most comprehensive design book from Southern Living magazine, debuts in bookstores on September 13. Like a gracious host, Southern Living Style ($29.95) serves as a visual, step-by-step guide on crafting rooms that are traditional, eclectic, and always unexpected. The book offers gorgeous rooms that have graced the pages of Southern Living magazine, plus countless helpful trends and tips.

Would you like a free copy of Southern Living Style? Here's how to enter for up to four chances to win.*

1.  Leave a comment that answers these questions. Do you get the itch to decorate after you organize? If so, what are your favorite decorating resources? Do you have a favorite design blog? OR... 


2.  Head over to Facebook and “like” simplify 101. Come back and leave a comment letting me know you did. OR...


3.  While you're out there "like" Southern Living magazine on Facebook. Come back and leave a comment letting me know you did. OR...


4.  Mention this giveaway on Facebook or Twitter, then leave a comment letting me know you did.


Comments will close on Sunday September 18, 2011 at 9 PM central, and the winner will be announced on Monday. *Please note that this giveaway is open to United States residents only. Thank you to the publishers of Southern Living Style for sponsoring this giveaway! And good luck to everyone who enters! :)


**UPDATE:  Comments are now closed. Thanks for entering!**

March 31, 2011

an online scrapbook event - and you're invited!

Hey my scrapbooking buddies...this post is for you. Have you ever wished you could go to a scrapbook getaway and learn from expert scrapbookers? But then there was the price of admission, air fare, meals, and the hotel (not to mention convincing your hubby that he really could handle the kiddos for an entire weekend while you ran away with your friends). Well...if this sounds familiar then you are going to love my friend Lain Ehmann and the online scrapbook event that she's putting together.


The event, called True Scrap, features fabulous teachers like Ali Edwards, Shimelle Laine, Kelli Crowe (whose scrapbook space was featured in my book The Organized & Inspired Scrapbooker) and a bunch of other talented and inspiring scrapbookers. And I'm in on the fun, too! I’ll be teaching an interview style workshop on creating an organized and inspiring scrapbook space, with a live Q & A web-chat at the end. Fun? Indeed!



It will be a weekend filled with inspiration, techniques, tips, and virtual make'n'takes that you just won't want to miss. And best's online so you don't have to worry about airfare or hotels or getting out of your p.j.s for that matter.  


This fabulous, three day online event begins April 7th. You can get all the details (and sign up!) here. And if you're thinking, darn, I've already got plans that weekend, not to worry. Just sign up for the "all-access pass to Ali’s keynote, all 12 classes, plus the virtual make-and-takes…PLUS full replays of all of the above!" With this option you can "attend" the event any time that fits your schedule. (Yep, Lain thought of everything!) Hope to see you online in April!

February 16, 2011

Time Management Myth Buster: You Don't Need an Extra Hour a Day...

Clock-copyright-simplify101 Today’s time management blog post is designed to challenge your beliefs about time. Does this sound familiar:  Do you feel time starved? Do you feel like your to-do list rules your life? Do you feel like if you could just get caught up, then you would be able to have time for yourself…to have fun…to spend with your loved ones and other people who matter most to you?


I was blown away by your responses to the Freebie Friday giveaway when I asked the question “If you were given an extra hour a day to spend however you’d like, how would you spend it?”  The things you would do if you had an extra hour each day are really important things! If you didn’t have a chance to read the comments…just look at this list—this is how blog readers would spend an extra hour a day.  


  • Connecting with loved ones via phone or email or writing letters.
  • Cooking healthy meals
  • Crafting
  • Creating—keepsakes for my kids, photo albums
  • Doing something creative.
  • Doing something just for me…hot bubble bath or listen to a relaxing piece of music maybe a glass of wine or all three at the same time and just empty my mind of all my to-do's.
  • Doing stuff with my girls. We would cook, craft, scrapbook, snuggle, read, play games, ride bikes - anything we could think of, but just time with them is so needed!
  • Drinking tea
  • Enjoying nature
  • Exercising my body and mind! I think my life would be better this way.
  • Exercising so I have more energy to do other things.
  • Going through all of my mother’s stuff, she recently died and I have tons of paperwork as well as photos I would like to organize and sort of scrapbook somehow.
  • I'd do nothing.
  • I’d spend it alone.
  • I'd like to think I'd use the time to relax, unwind, read a book, rest... and not feel guilty about it. But I would probably use the hour to be more "productive", do more work, get more things done so that one day I could relax and not feel guilty about it. (Hmmm... there's something wrong with this picture, isn't there?)
  • Doing something FUN, just for me - craft, read, etc.
  • Knitting.
  • Learning sign language.
  • Looking for a new house.
  • Making a list of all the things I like to do.
  • Meditating.
  • Organizing:  the papers on my desk, my digital supplies, craft room, desk, my home, my scrapbook space, my mind.
  • Playing a game with my kids.
  • Practicing guitar.
  • Praying / reading the bible.
  • Enjoying quiet time.
  • Reading a good book or the blogs I subscribe to; read with my kids.
  • Re-energizing.
  • Resting.
  • Scrapbooking guilt free.
  • Scrapbooking, digital scrapbooking, making photo albums, working on my photos.
  • Sewing.
  • Sketching.
  • Sleeping.
  • Spending it guilt free to do "nothing" and be silly.
  • Spending it on myself, doing something I like to do.
  • Spending time with friends and loved ones, my family (unplugged), my husband.
  • Taking a walk by MYSELF.
  • Training my cat to do circus tricks.
  • Volunteering.
  • Doing yoga.
  • If I had one more hour in the day, I would treasure every second.
  • I'd love an extra hour to spend with my kids without worrying or thinking about anything else. I bet I could make this happen with some discipline. I'm going to make it a new goal!
  • Being given an extra hour every day would be a gift. As a result, I would offer myself an hour in my craft room to make cards or scrapbook!
  • …without feeling guilty about wasting the time!
  • Honestly, an hour extra every day... Without a good plan and some more discipline, it would probably and sadly just slip away. I would love to get to where I could and would use it for strategic personal growth in some area that needs improvement.
  • If I had an extra hour I would spend it connecting with people I love!! Thanks to your help, I have implemented good systems for paper, a decent sleep schedule, and a daily workout - but since I'm working on a new business venture, communications with those that don't live in my house have fallen aside. I would definitely use this time to call, write, or email them and let them know how much they mean to me!!

This is the good stuff my friends. It is the stuff that makes life worth living. And yet, for so many of us, we feel like the way we could do these things…or the way we could do these things without feeling guilty…is if we had an extra hour each day.


But wait…


What about the 24 hours we already get every single day? Do we truly believe that none of those hours (or even some of the minutes) shouldn’t be invested on the activities and people that make us happiest? Do we really think that those things that matter most and make life worth living should wait until our to-do list is done?


One thing I find when I talk to others about time, in my time management workshop and with coaching clients, is the belief that a big windfall of time is coming. In other words, many of us live our lives as if someday things will be different. Someday we will have the time to exercise, cook healthy meals, scrapbook, sew, knit, organize our homes, hang out with our loved ones unplugged, and dare I say it just plain live. But here’s the news flash:  the big windfall of time isn’t coming. We aren’t going to get an extra hour each day—unless we create it for ourselves.


There is a way to have time to do those things that nurture your soul and make your life worth living…and it is this:


Spend less time doing something else.


If you have an answer to the question “If you were given an extra hour a day to spend however you’d like, how would you spend it?” then it’s time to make a change in your approach to time management. It’s time to spend some of your daily 24 hours on you—doing things that inspire you, energize you, fill your heart with love. And it’s time to do these things guilt free!


Here’s the thing, when you do these things on the list above, you will have more time, energy, enthusiasm and love to share with everyone you care about. You will have more time, energy and enthusiasm for all of the other tasks on your to-do list. And guess what that means? Your to-dos will get done more quickly and with far less effort.  


Stop-sign-copyright-simplify101 Take Action! My challenge to you is to spend one hour this week doing that thing you would do if I could give you an extra hour each day. You have the power to create an extra hour every day…but if that feels impossible, start with an hour a week. If that feels impossible, start with fifteen minutes, and then build up to an hour. This is your life! This is your time! Stake a claim to a piece of it today to spend on the activities and people that matter most to you.

February 15, 2011

How to Feel Good + Get More Done: weekly quick tip

The following is a sample of my weekly organizing quick tip. If you don't yet subscribe, you can sign up here.


A few years ago I wrote an article on how to make every day your most productive day. This article explained the elements that were in place during my most productive day. It was a day where I had a mile-long to-do list, and everything on that list got done. Wouldn’t it be great if every day was like that?


My terrific mood was one of the key factors that contributed to my productivity that day. I was getting ready to go on a much-needed vacation, and I was excited about it! I was in a great mood, and did everything on my to-do list enthusiastically, quickly and with purpose.


Have you ever noticed the connection between mood and productivity—that it’s much easier to get things done when you’re in a terrific mood? Once you become aware of this connection, it only makes sense to become more intentional about being in a good mood, or to look for ways to improve your mood whenever you can. A pick-me-up list is like a better mood in a bottle. Create a list of activities that make you happy, and then pull out your list and do one any time your mood and productivity need a boost.


Checklist-copyright-simplify101 Here are some ideas for your pick-me-up list:

  • Make a list of things you’re thankful for.
  • Spend 10 or 15 minutes getting up and moving — walk, run, do yoga or dance.
  • Read a few pages of an inspiring book.
  • Turn on your favorite upbeat music.
  • Spend time with your children or pet doing something silly.
  • Visualize your goals or focus on what you want, instead of dwelling on the way things are right now.
  • Do something creative.


Take action! What activities consistently transform your mood? Create your own pick-me-up list today, and then use it to help you feel better and get more done! I'd love to hear your ideas for your pick-me-up list in the comments! Thanks for sharing.

November 05, 2010

What's on your to-do list this weekend?

Happy Friday to you! I hope you had a great week. So, it’s Friday and I’m up for some more finishing and fun! Are you in this week?


Before I get to my list for the weekend, I thought I would do a quick check in on my October Project List.


1. Master bathroom makeover. We’ve made some good progress on this project…and have settled into our temporary bathrooms. This settling-in is a good thing and a bad thing. On the good side, we don’t miss the gutted bathroom too much which means we’re pretty comfortable in the temporary ones. On the bad side, we don’t miss the gutted bathroom too much which means…this project is less urgent. All in all that’s good…we can approach this project at a relaxed pace and fit it into weekends in the upcoming months. For me, it’s a pretty ideal way to approach a project. 

2. Clean windows inside and out. Finished!

3. Wash light fixtures. Finished!

4. Paint nightstand. I decided to put this on the back-burner until after the holidays and bathroom project are done.


How did the rest of you do with your October to-do lists? I hope that if you didn’t get all of your list checked off, that you feel good about what you did accomplish. (I know I do.) I’m happy with the things we got done this past month—some big stuff that wasn’t planned for the month, as well as a bunch of other things that made sense to finish up this time of year. One of the great things about writing down your to-do list is that it gives you visual evidence of your accomplishments, even if what you accomplished was something different than what you originally planned.


So what’s on the horizon for this weekend? Here are my lists:

To-do-list-copyright-simplify101 To Finish List:

1. Finish birthday party preparations. Party is Saturday and we’re not doing a camp out. Too cold.

2. Put away Halloween decorations.

3.  Clean house.

4. Start + finish laundry.

5. Get myself organized for the holidays. This will involve asking my family what they want to do this year; calling my parents to see if anyone is up for coming to visit us; talking to Kailea about her birthday party; etc. 

6. Buy + wrap a birthday gift.


Play List

1. Knit or read. (Or both!)

2. Enjoy birthday celebration.


Whew – busy weekend ahead! But it will be fun. Collin loves parties and it will be fun to make a little fuss over this boy who means the world to me.


So, what’s on your list this weekend? Thanks again for joining in—it’s very motivating to me to know that you all are finishing up and playing along, too. Have a great weekend!

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