Sunday Planning

Sunday Planning

My favorite part of the week is Sunday afternoon or early evening. This is the time I set aside for planning my upcoming week. This crucial time sets the tone for my entire week ahead and the better I plan, the more productive, fulfilling, and enjoyable my week will be.

I know myself pretty well and I thrive with schedules and routines. Not everyone does. For some people the opposite might be true. If you are not a planner, but more of a moment-by-moment type of person, the thought of planning may be uncomfortable for you because having too much structure gives you stress. You may like the freedom to change your mind in an instant and you might think that “planning” prohibits that spontaneity. The truth is you can plan your week, your way!

Everyone can benefit from a little planning.

Whether you plan every detail of every day or you only plan your lunches is up to you. You can plan certain aspects of your week without having to organize everything.

Your week will feel smoother when you take control.

For those who work many hours away from home, Sunday planning could be a life changer for you. Once the alarm clock rings on Monday morning, to the final bell on Friday evening, there is little time to stop and regroup.

Planning your week will reduce the amount of stress you experience.

We all need lunch and dinner every day of the week. We might have some appointments, fun events, and want to go to the gym. No matter how busy you are, a little time set aside to plan may transform your week into a stress-free schedule.

During this crazy time of sheltering in place, planning is still relevant.

You may have discovered that your life has slowed down considerably. Planning can actually help you get more done and be more efficient with your time.

What do I do during my planning time?

  1. I sync my calendars. I keep a physical planner and use my phone when I set appointments. I make sure that everything on my phone is written in my planner for the week.
  2. Next, I look at what I need to be prepared for every appointment and event for the week. Is there a birthday to celebrate? A lunch date with a friend? Doctor visit? I gather what I need for each event. For example, if I am visiting a friend and have a gift to bring, I wrap it and write in the card. If I am going to the doctor, I find the paperwork I need to bring with me or maybe write down questions that I want to ask. If I have a gym class, I get my mat and bag ready. If I do not have something I need, I would rather find that out on Sunday.
  3. Another way to save time each morning is to plan your outfits. I used to have my daughter choose her five outfits for the week. We would hang everything she needed on one hanger and put them in her closet. If she didn’t feel like wearing something she originally picked, it wasn’t a big deal to adjust her outfit.
  4. Finally, I plan my food for the week. I make a big salad, cut up fruit, cook a batch of brown rice, and stir fry veggies. I prep as much food as I can for the upcoming meals. I eat healthier when I plan, and it saves me so much time during the week.

Start small by planning one aspect of your week. Maybe this week, you pick out your clothes for each day or you could meal plan and prep. Even the smallest step will reduce your stress for the days ahead.

Sunday planning does take effort, but it will save you valuable time later! It will feel great to take control of your schedule and be prepared for everything you have on your calendar.

Featured photo by Emma Matthews on Unsplash.

Time to Declutter

Time to Declutter

Life is messy and life is busy! There is no way to make the whirlwind stop so what can we do? When things are getting out of control, it is time to hit a mental pause button, take a deep breath, and declutter.

Begin by making a tea or coffee and gather some paper and a pen. Find a comfortable spot and give yourself a moment to clear your head. Think about what is making your life feel so chaotic. For me, it usually is either my surroundings are out of sorts or it is that my schedule is overwhelming or maybe both. No matter what the exact cause of this out-of-control feeling, begin by writing down all the things that are causing you to experience stress.

This process, as simple as it sounds, is very effective. It is amazing how 20 minutes of quiet thinking or planning can calm your life down and help you to feel like you are back in the driver’s seat instead of being driven. The objective is to remove all the clutter, the stress, in your head and put it on paper. This mental unloading declutters your head, your mind, and your thoughts. And instead of these thoughts churning around in your mind, you can look at them visually on paper.

Now that the clutter in your mind is removed, you can take the next step, which is to remove the clutter in your living space.

This does not mean doing an intensive reorganization of every area in your home. This is a general declutter, so you have a place that is calming and relaxing. Even the most organized homes need to be picked up regularly. We may have a special place for all our things, but as we rush through a day, items get tucked here and there. Eventually, we have stuff all over the place and it may feel a little stressful. It is time to put everything back in its original place. When our possessions are messy, our lives can also begin to feel cluttered, but if our environments are orderly, then we feel more in control.

The task of picking up can be tedious and mentally draining so I race against the clock to finish this as quickly as possible. I go from room to room, picking up and putting everything where it belongs. I don’t allow myself to linger and ponder over items. Just put them back where they go. If you don’t know where something goes, then you will need to designate a space for that item. Once this step is done, you will begin to feel better already, but don’t stop yet.

We have emptied our minds, picked up our living space, and now we need to take charge of our schedules. For this step, gather all the items that you use to organize your tasks, appointments, and schedule. If you have more than one calendar, such as on your phone, in your planner, or maybe a physical calendar on the refrigerator, update them and make sure they all contain all your commitments. It is a good idea to have one day a week to keep your calendars updated so you do not miss an appointment or event.

Our schedules can become just as cluttered as our minds and our living spaces. The clutter is harder to spot when it involves our time and things we want to do. Too many tasks, appointments, or lunch dates in our schedule can be mentally draining, even if you like doing all of them. Look at your commitments and your schedule. Ask yourself if you are spending your time according to your values. Is your schedule a reflection of your priorities? Is there anything you can eliminate? Do you need to rearrange, cancel, or add activities?

Decluttering your calendar might mean letting go of a few things you really enjoy, but then you are free to add things you like even better. For example, you may enjoy having lunch dates with friends, but then not have time to go to the gym. Staying healthy may be one of your values and a priority for you. If you do not have time for the gym, you will feel stressed and possibly, not know why. Simplify your calendar as much as you can. You will be able to breathe a little easier.

Phew!! All done. Your mind is clear. Your living space is picked up. Your calendar has been simplified. Enjoy being back in the driver’s seat. Take a moment to relax!

Now for the last step. (I know you thought you were done, but if we do not do this last step, the clutter might reappear!)

Remember the first step of decluttering your mind? Now is the time to look at what you wrote on your paper. With a clear head, it is now possible to tackle these items. Maybe they are things you need to do, phone calls you need to make, or issues you need to address.

If any item you listed can be done immediately, then do it right now. The rest will need a place on your calendar. Find a time slot in your schedule and write down what you need to do. Eliminate anything that you can let go.

NOW you are done! You are back in the driver’s seat of your life. You get to choose what will fill up your mind, your space, and your time. As each new activity, item, or demand comes your way, think carefully if you want to let it in.

Life is messy and life is busy. You most likely will lose control again, as we all do. That’s okay. We just have to declutter every once in awhile!

Featured photo by Erol Ahmed on Unsplash.

Organizing Tip #21: Bag Lady

Organizing Tip #21: Bag Lady

We have a joke in our family . . . we are all bag ladies! You can never have enough bags because when the occasion strikes, you need the perfect bag!

I am not talking about expensive purses here, just bags in general. They can be dollar store shopping bags or Target backpacks. The price is not relevant. But the size, shape, and design is the deciding factor for which bags to hoard and which bags to eliminate.

There are four girls in my family and we all have a stash of bags. We openly joke about it! In fact, I have passed on this accumulation habit to my daughter. She has her own stash of bags in her closet! We once left TJ Maxx with four new bags because she could not decide or eliminate any of them.

I should clarify that “bags” does not mean purses. It includes purses but it also includes all types of other bags.

When I clean out my closet, I must also sort my bags. I lay them all out on my bed and look at which ones I like to use for different occasions. It is hard to let them go even if I haven’t used it for several months.

To store my collection, I place the same type of bags inside the largest one of that type. For example, I have backpacks, carrying bags, and purses. I put all the backpacks in the largest backpack. I put all the carrying bags inside the largest carrying bag. And finally, I put all the purses in the largest purse. It is a system that works well for me. When I head out the door and need a bag, I can find the perfect one quickly.

If you are a bag lady like me, I hope this helps you keep the number of bags you possess under control and organized. And no, unfortunately, this blog post is not a joke. I really do have an obsession with bags and proudly call myself a “bag lady.”

Featured photo by Alfonso Ramirez on Unsplash.

Organizing Tip #20: Pile of Papers

Organizing Tip #20: Pile of Papers

A pile of papers on my desk is about the worst thing for me to see or clean up. It isn’t the papers on their own, it is the guilt I feel when I look at that pile! I am not sure why a pile of paper on my desk makes me feel so badly. Maybe it is because I mentally labor over what is in the pile. Is it bills? Do I have to read them? Or just file? Once the pile is gone, I feel on top of the world! Wow, the power of paper!

Here is how I handle that build up of paper piles. Let’s look at first, what to do with the pile; second, how to avoid ever having a pile accumulate; third, how to enjoy not having paper anymore!

#1. What do you do with the pile of papers?

When I am faced with the dreaded pile staring before me, I gather the entire paper pile off my desk and put it on my bed or counter so I can sort it. Next, I clean and straighten my desk. Ahhh, that feels better already! Now, I divide the big pile into several, little, separate piles: throw away, file away, bills to pay, stuff to read, stuff to do.

This process is a simple example of how to take an overwhelming task (the pile of papers) and break it into small steps (throw away, file away, etc.).

Now just deal with each pile. Throw away – easy. File away – easy, just boring. Bills to pay – put where you pay bills or just go ahead and pay them. Stuff to read – put where you like to read maybe your bedside table. Finally, stuff to do – the more difficult pile because there may be a variety of things here you need to do. Pour yourself some tea or coffee and get it done. Yay! You did it!!

#2. How to avoid accumulating a pile of papers.

This is an easy solution. Create a place for each type of pile you had in #1. I learned a simple rule about 25 years ago . . . handle paper once. You handle it when you get it. You get your mail. Open each piece of mail and as you handle it this first time, you decide where it goes. Is it a bill? Put it in your file folder or bin for bills. Does it need to be filed? Put it in your filing system (ie file it). Is it something to read like a magazine? Put it where you read. The stuff to do pile is always tricky because it may be a phone call or a response needed. Make a bin for to-do’s.

If you do this, you will not end up with a pile of papers because everything will be where it needs to be for when you are ready to do those tasks.

#3. How to not have paper anymore.

I recently went digital. I scanned in all my paper files and created digital files on my computer. I contacted all my utilities and bills to go paperless. Everything I used to file, I now get an email or pdf and I put it in the digital file. Even when shopping, I ask for email receipts instead. I even got rid of my filing cabinet! Yay!! My mail has decreased significantly and when I moved recently, I still updated my new address, but I didn’t have to worry about losing mail.

Tackle your paper, create a system, and don’t let the piles of paper get you down!

Featured photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash.

Organizing Tip #19: Prime Locations

Organizing Tip #19: Prime Locations

When we bring a new plant into our homes, we have to consider where is the best place for it to thrive. Does it need a lot of sunshine or just a little? The things we care about and use often should be in places where they serve us well and are convenient. These items get a prime location.

Unpacking, downsizing, and getting organized were recent areas of focus for me since we moved into a new place. I have come to use this new term while I am deciding where to put things. When you have a lot of space, it doesn’t really matter as much where the blender is stored; however, if you have a limited amount of cabinet space, you have to make decisions that affect your day-to-day lifestyle. By the way, I use my blender frequently so for me, it matters!

My kitchen is smaller than it was before so I used the idea of prime locations to help me decide what goes where. Everything I use daily, gets the prime spots. What I rarely use, was placed in the hard-to-reach places. The rest went somewhere in the middle. Sounds confusing? Actually, it was really easy and helped me unpack my kitchen in a few hours, which was faster than ever before.

If you have been living in your home for awhile and find yourself digging out that slow cooker all the time, maybe it needs a more convenient spot in your cabinet. Take notice of when you feel frustrated that you have to jump over fiery hoops to get something you want.

This principle works for all rooms in your home. My workspace was rearranged as well as my bathroom. It is just a little thing to keep in mind when you are organizing, but very helpful!

Featured photo by Lesly Juarez on Unsplash.

Organizing Tip #18: Moving In

Organizing Tip #18: Moving In

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I would be moving soon. Well, that day arrived, passed, and I am exhausted! I love unpacking and organizing, as you probably already know. But most of all, I love the possibilities that a new place represents. So much anticipation and dreaming goes on when a person makes a new home. We envision ourselves living in this new space and I have to admit, I am good at dreaming of what my life will be.

It is exciting to open each box and find the perfect place for each item. As one box is emptied, another one is opened and the process continues until there are no more. As an organizer, it is an exciting challenge to find the best place for everything.

I had to downsize in this move and I was happy to simplify. With less stuff around, I feel like I uncomplicated my life in many ways. And it feels really good. Less stuff, less choices, less to think about, less to clean! Which leaves me with more time to do more of what I love to do!

I hope that I won’t be moving again for awhile. I feel settled here and content. And I am all moved in.

Featured photo by Erda Estremera on Unsplash.