Tuesday, February 17, 2015

To Clean or Not to Clean?

I love days when the kids are off school for a holiday but don't love the kink it throws in my routine. You see, Mondays are ME Days...they are for creating new items, researching information for my facebook group and my business, and for cleaning the kitchen and bathrooms.

Well, when the house is quiet and the girls are at school, that is a task that truly takes little effort and time.....but NOT on a snow day, sick day or holiday during the school year!! So the dilemma I always run into on the day after one of those is: do I skip it until the next cycle, fit it in to this day's routine or spread it out throughout the week. 

For this week, I think I will just try to fit the chores in throughout the week and get done what I can.
Sometimes it just doesn't pay to beat myself up over it and waste too much time over-thinking it....no one would probably even know that the cabinets weren't wiped down this week (yet) or that the shower hasn't been cleaned (yet)...and if they are opening my shower curtain or looking at my cabinets or inside my microwave that critically, well, then they have issues that don't have anything to do with my cleaning routine getting a little messed up this week!

Here's  to Tuesday and keeping my sanity rather than losing it...

Ali

Monday, February 16, 2015

Breathing Life Back in the Blog!

It's time to breathe some life back into this blog and give you the things you ask me for on facebook and through email!

It's Monday, it's Presidents Day & it's snowing.
What's so important about those you ask?

Monday is the start of the week and a great day to begin something new or just get back into a routine you have let go by the way side. And, because it's not only a holiday here, it's snowing and that means...the kids are playing outside in the snow and I have some time to get things done :)



So, what is the biggest task I have let "go by the wayside?"...my website.
Sadly, this is the one area of my life I have not managed to UNclutter in the last year and today I am going to change that.

Starting today...Monday, President's Day with all the beautiful snow on the ground, I am going to put into action a routine to keep my blog a priority for all of you who visit and probably don't stick around very long...well, because there hasn't been any reason for you to stick around. Today that changes!

I hope you will take this new journey with me (and "stick around") as I share all of the great organizing tips & tricks I have found, new printables to make planning fun, and will find resources to help you DIY your way to a creatively organized home and life.

If you are seeking topics you would like to know more about, post it in the comments below.

Happy Monday!

Ali

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Get Organized, Stay Organized...is it really that Easy? YES!

Getting organized is a process and staying organized is a mindset, so it is easy, but it will take some effort. In order to get organized you need to understand the "why" behind being unorganized.



Most people who live in a cluttered and unorganized world don't have good systems or habits to tame the clutter and keep it under control.

When you are cleaning the house, do you find yourself trying to "find" places to put things away?
If you answered YES to this question, you need to ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do I have a place for this item?
  2. Is it necessary in my life/home?

If you don't have a place to put the item, then you need to evaluate the things you have and where you need/want to keep them
If you don't have a place for them and they aren't necessary for your life/home, then THROW IT AWAY or give it away, but get rid of it!

When I am cleaning and run across an item that I just can't seem to find a place for, I ask myself:  Is it necessary? Is it important enough to create a long term space to keep? If the answer is ever NO, then to the trash it goes.

Over a year ago, I embarked on a journey to completely declutter my entire home and, in essence, my life...I am still on that journey, but now I look forward to it, rather than procrastinate even getting started.

What I found along this journey were a series of things:

  1. I have a huge house but NO storage or organization systems to speak of.
  2. I have a problem with paper clutter - I don't know how to throw it away :(
  3. I procrastinate putting things away - if it goes back to the 3rd floor and I am on the 1st, it can wait till later...the problem is remembering to grab when "later" finally arrives...
  4. These are all problems that have a solution!


Let's tackle #1: Huge House with NO storage/organization systems
This one is actually the easiest of the three.
You can run out and buy all kinds of items to put things in, but that can also require $$ that you may or may not have...no worries! Pinterest to the Rescue!!
Did you know you can create the most awesome items from recycled cereal and shoe boxes? I do now and while I was embarking on this journey realized that there are so many things that can be turned into the cutest of functional storage solutions for very little money.

Here is one of my favorite projects from Karen at sewmanyways using propel sports drink boxes:
http://sewmanyways.blogspot.com/2011/02/organize-your-lifeone-spot-at-time.html






You can also visit my pinterest page for more creative organization ideas:
http://www.pinterest.com/ali_mcarthy/


Dollar Stores can also be great places to pick up inexpensive storage bins and containers.
But, I caution you before you set out to start filling your house with containers...start with one room, or better yet one area in a room that seems to have the most clutter. For me it is paper! I bought 2 small 3 shelf bookcases for my office to start and started laying things out on the shelves in the order they would be most useful and then decided what types of container would best suit the items.

It is a process and not something you do in one single day...instant gratification on a large decluttering and reorganization project is not a reality. It took me a few months to figure out the system that would work for the items I had and complete it with purchased and homemade storage systems...so don't be discouraged if you have to do this gradually. I save up for 3 weeks to purchase the two bookcases and then purchase and make the containers to house the items I had on the shelves.


#2. Did I Mention My PROBLEM with PAPER?!?
This wasn't a storage issue, it was a habit issue.
I realized that I would procrastinate dealing with finding place for new pieces of paper until there was a pile of it on my dining room table, my office desk, my bulletin board, the corner of the kitchen counter....and so on!
This required changing my HABIT!

I started with the one place that brought in the most amount of new paper: THE MAIL :(
It takes about 30 days to change a habit, or so I have read.


So, on the first day of June last summer, I started getting the mail and walking directly to the trash can with it, went through it over the trash can and threw away anything that did not require my attention or a need to keep it. I decided that for one single month the only items that would be kept were bills...everything else was looked at and thrown directly in the trash. Since bills were the only items being kept, I decided to put a file folder marked bills on my desk (where I pay them) and would walk directly from the trash can and file them. I did this for 1 month and have ever since. The bills have a place now and the junk mail too! It no longer resides in piles all over my home.

As time went on, I have used this system with the kids homework that they bring home too (another huge paper clutter disaster if you don't have a good habit in place). As soon as the kids get home from school and we are going through their folders, we pull out the papers that aren't necessary and they go directly in the trash. The papers that need my attention get signed and returned to their folders immediately and homework get worked on and returned to the folders/backpacks - Crisis SOLVED!

BUT! Here is the important part: 
you MUST create the habit and follow through...that is your system, and without the system and follow through, it does not work.

Don't try to tame all the paper clutter in your house in one single day...it won't work!
You must put a system in place and create a habit or you will set yourself up for failure.
Take this one slow and you won't need to go through it ever again :)

#3. Don't Procrastinate...a very nice way of saying Don't Be Lazy!
This one goes to having a system in place again and following through.
For me it was the constant carrying of things up and down the stairs all day...and that I was lazy about it.

I needed a simpler method than just remembering to "take it upstairs later" because, as I said earlier, later never seemed to come.

I have 4 small totes on my stair case now...one for each person in the house to manage.
If it is one of my girls toys, articles of clothing or books, then when I pick it up I take it straight to their tote and drop it in. Their first chore when they get home from school is to take the entire tote and put all of the items that are in it away.

Did I mention that I am lazy?....I have 2 totes: one on my first floor that goes with me when I go upstairs to the second floor. Once there, I put everything away EXCEPT items that need to go on to the 3rd Floor (my studio). If there is anything in the tote for the 3rd floor I drop it in my tote that I keep at the bottom of the stairs for the next time I get up to the 3rd floor. It's a system...It works for me...I am lazy about going up and down the stairs and figured out that this works.
You will figure out your systems and what works for you as you start to figure out the reasons around WHY clutter seems to form in your home...You will need to just be brutally honest with yourself...Did I mention I was lazy?!

Ok, #4. There is a solution to everything!
If you accept that you cannot declutter your home and life in a day, a week, a month, and possibly not even in a year, then you can do this...I promise!

Take each thing, one at a time and master it, and slowly those "things" won't be a thing anymore and you can move on. And, once your life seems less chaotic you will find yourself with time on your hands to tackle one of those super cute little fabric covered storage container projects for the kitchen, bathroom, craft area or wherever.

Let's Recap:

  • Locate the problem areas (hot spots if you will)
  • Figure out the Reason WHY it has become a Hot Spot
  • Find a "simple solution" to start you on your path
  • Create and Maintain the Habit
  • Problem Conquered!
  • Pat yourself on the back for A Job Well Done and then MOVE ON to the next problem area...


My home organization is still a work in progress, but I give myself a pat on the back on each small accomplishment and look forward to the time when all of my problem areas have been conquered...and you will too! 

So, don't procrastinate...start today with one little spot in the house and you will be so proud of yourself when that little spot brings you a smile that you won't let it get back to where it was and you will actually be excited to move on to the next one!

Good Luck on Your Journey!

~ Ali @ my (soon to be) UNcluttered life

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Time Flying By? ~ Take Control!

January is just about over...
Are you on track with all of your New Year's Resolutions?
Did you get every single one of the Christmas decorations put away?
Is that spiffy clean Holiday Home already showing signs of wear and tear?
Does it seem like "things" are piling up and time is slipping away again?

Sometimes it seems that the things we need to get done are piling up faster than the hours we have to get them done. Tasks can be sneaky little things that can seem to gain momentum and multiply when we aren't looking. But, that is the problem...we aren't looking.

Simply put, you can stay on top of those tasks with one simple trick: a To Do List!

It is a miracle worker at battling chaos, clearing clutter, finishing projects and regaining control of your day, your week and even your month. Putting boundaries on the things you have to do and limiting the distractions of the things that keep you from it is an age old fight that each of us battle every day.

By using a To Do List for the items that MUST get done and sticking to the list you will begin to stay focused on the tasks at hand and not let those distractions get in your way. If it doesn't warrant being put on the list, then don't let it detract you from checking off the items on your list.

I keep a list on my desk of those items that are priority tasks for Today, This Week & This Month. It keeps me focused on the things that hold precedence over all of the distractions that will interfere with getting them done if I let it. It is a written reminder, a contract with myself if you will, that I have tasks that I placed importance on over other things that may come up during my day.

It is quite a simple process, really. 
Start each day by looking at your To Do List - Add any items that have become a priority for that day and move any items that have lost priority for the day to either the Week or the Month column. This "rolling" To Do List will give you a little flexibility but at the same time put constraints on procrastinating away your day or getting distracted by things that are more appealing than what is on the list. 
As you complete a task or make a revision, check off or change it on the list immediately so that it is always current. Not only will this make it easier to get through the list, it will give you the gratification of seeing your accomplishments checked off as DONE!
The Week & Month columns are reminder columns that those tasks need to be given priority to be put on your TODAY column. Use them wisely and they will work to help you stay on top of tasks that tend to be "forgotten"...out of sight, out of mind and then you have tasks piling up again :)

Don't get overwhelmed with the details of making the list.
It can be as simple as a legal pad or notebook with 3 columns for Today, This Week & This Month on them or you can start off with a pretty printable like the one I use:


Get started on Getting Things Done!


~ Ali @ my UNcluttered life

Sunday, December 29, 2013

NEW 2014 PRINTABLE PLANNER: Get Inspired...Be Amazing!

Continuing with the theme of valuing the beauty within each of us, a new planner was designed to be a daily reminder to Get Inspired & Be Amazing in 2014!






Happy New Year!

~ Ali @ my UNcluttered life

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

hello Beautiful!

Stepping outside of the lines for a more sleek design to remind myself that I am beautiful...inside and out! ...and so are YOU!


Who doesn't want to open their planner everyday 

and see the words: "hello Beautiful"??



Everyday, we as women find every single flaw in ourselves and slowly chip away at our inner core: Our Beauty. Wouldn't it be great to wake up every morning and look in the mirror and say: "Hello Beautiful!" and really believe it...well, if you are going to believe, you need to be saying it to yourself.



This new line is designed to get you on your way...a first step if you will. Each day you open that planner or journal your brain will read those words and in turn you will be filling your brain with positive, truthful words to live by. If you don't think or tell yourself that you are beautiful, why should anyone else?


An A to Z (26 Pages) of words to live by:





If you want to find that Beautiful Woman inside you again, add this to your planner, your journal or your desktop binder...
and remind yourself that you are Beautiful!

You can find this and many more printable and printed planners, journal pages, 
To Do lists and more in my Etsy Shop: www.myunclutteredlife.etsy.com


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

TO DO: Make Every Day Successful!

As we begin our day, many of us feel overwhelmed by all of the tasks we are faced with the minute our feet touch the floor.  There are simple solutions we can use to save us from overloading our brain and adding undo stress to our lives...enter the "revised" To Do List!

Get clarity on what you are doing by putting it into perspective. A simple To Do List just keeps us from forgetting the scheduled tasks we need to accomplish, but add in a Focus List & Don't Do List and you will retrain your brain and move forward to your goals.

A Focus List answers questions and gives direction.
  • What is most important to me today? 
  • What is my main goal at this moment? 
  • What make me happy?
(Sam at Financial Upside wrote the article  11 Ways Successful People Start Their Mornings explaining this very concept.) Time is our greatest resource, but no matter how hard we try we cannot obtain more than 24 hours in a day! So use them wisely and always to your advantage.

The saying "Work Smarter, Not Harder" could not be more true and relevant in every aspect of our lives. Whether you are a stay at home mom with 3 kids or an executive on her way to the top, minding your time means the difference between success and failure.

Create your Focus List each morning BEFORE you enter the chaos of the world around you. If you are focused on what your goals are and what you want and need to get accomplished, you are much more likely to maintain that focus throughout your day and get things crossed off your simple To Do List. 

Create your simple To Do List each night BEFORE you go to bed. Just like studying for a test, read over your list before your retire and it will be at the forefront of your brain when you wake and jot down your Focus List....clarity is a very powerful tool.

So, you have your simple To Do List of "chores" whether it is in the home, at work, or both that you wrote down last night and you have your Focus List with the "Big Picture," but you have one more piece to this puzzle: The DON'T DO List!

This may be the most important list you have for yourself. If you think I am kidding, evaluate all the time you wasted today and where it went. That, is your Don't Do List! And, it needs to be with you at all times to keep you in check. It will keep you honest. It will keep you focused. It will keep you on the road to success.

How many times do you find yourself on facebook, twitter, watching tv, talking on the phone with friends, or reading emails that aren't relevant to your day and goals? Your precious time clock doesn't stop because you are goofing off...it keeps ticking. Rather than watch your time slip away from you, schedule it...give it a place in your day if there is time available.

The Don't Do List needs to be specific to you. For example, my Don't Do List might look like this:
  • Facebook Games ONLY from 12:30 - 1:00pm ~ Enjoy!
  • No Phone Calls this morning until after 10am ~ Finish up DayBook Additions First
  • No Digital Image searching today! You have plenty so save it for another day :)
Do you see where I am going with this...be specific to you and stay focused on the goals you have set for the day. Schedule personal time in with your day, no one can work 18 hours a day without any down time and be happy about it for very long. But, if you learn to retrain your brain and focus on your goals, you can accomplish your tasks and have fun doing it.

If you are ready to regain control over your time then please download this free Revised To Do List :)
I wish you great success on your journey to managing your time and regaining your life!


~ Ali