With everything you have to do in a given day, it’s easy to fall into the non-stop trap. This is when you’re doing nothing more than chores, working, errands, cooking–after a while, you’re exhausted from this never ending hamster wheel you’re on.
No matter how busy you are, always make time for yourself. After all, life isn’t about living to work. Rather, it’s about working to live.
Schedule a minimum of an hour per day to do something for yourself–something you really enjoy.
Enjoy a hobby. Take a walk. Read a book. Listen to some uninterrupted music. Whatever it is, this hour per day will help you to unwind, decrease stress and more fully enjoy life. You deserve it.
February 26, 2013
Back in mid-January, I published a mini edition newsletter that showcased a Reader Organizing Clinic entitled: Cleaning is a Waste of Time. I received hundreds of notes after I published that edition from readers who enjoyed the segment.
The original Reader Clinic is included here. But, right before it are two recent updates from Bill in response to my recommendations. Enjoy!
BILL’S RECENT UPDATE
You have made a difference (at least today). I cleaned everything. In fact I am going to vacuum this afternoon cause of those scary bugs. And I shared this with my ‘neat’ friends. My buddy thought the ‘looking for a girlfriend’ comment was pretty funny and teased me about one young lady at the gym. My other friend said she hoped I would listen to you since I wouldn’t listen to her or my buddy.
Trouble is the young lady at the gym is my youngest daughters age (40). She is pretty cute however. I was having shortness of breath on the Stairmaster a couple months ago (turned out it was too much coffee and this stuff called Nite PM) and I told her it was because I was watching pretty women like her walk by. She told me I should stop that. Yeah, I am a bit of a dirty old man I suppose, but I am not dead yet. Still, no girl friend or relationship for the last 22 years and no plans for one so I think I should have joined Monastery or something. At least then I would get some credit.
The gym is for five days a week and then on day six I climb a mountain (from March to October) so I am an exercise fanatic. When I am hiking my backpack comes home and sits up against the wall to dry out. All my hiking stuff makes it even more messy.
Your tips are good and it may take some time but I will work towards a more tidy person. Oh, then there is my car, but we won’t go there. Messy!
AND ANOTHER NOTE FROM BILL THE NEXT DAY
The new Shark Vacuum cleaner got a workout yesterday. I even got the cobweb way up in one corner that has been bothering me.
The only disappointment was that I didn’t find my Smart Phone that I lost a week ago. I thought it fell out of my jacket pocket and got covered with some paper (the same day I lost my wallet–just forgot to zip up my jacket pocket and then when I leaned over it slipped out. I freaked out for a minute until I realized I had been leaning over a garbage bag, one of those big plastic ones.
So I started digging in it, moving stuff around and there it was way at the bottom, so I have my wallet!
You can eat off my carpet now, but no Smart Phone. It must have slipped out when I was at Costco.
You have a great day in the land of cheese heads. I loved coach Lombardi and live by his principle of always being 10 minutes early to everything.
* * * * * * *
ORIGINAL READER ORGANIZING CLINIC
SUBJECT: Cleaning is a Waste of Time
I am a divorced (been divorced for over 20 years so maybe that makes me a single person–not sure). Anyway, I live in an apartment and I am pretty messy. I don’t think I qualify as a hoarder, but…
You are right about trash and dishes. Laundry is not so much of a deal with me since I am only one person. Paper that is not trash (yet) or paper that is, I just throw on the floor instead of in the garbage. You’ll find empty Starbucks paper cups next to my chair, gum wrappers, plastic bags from the store, etc. I clean up the Starbucks cups and gum wrappers once a week so there are five or six sitting there for days. I think you have the picture.
I got a new vacuum a couple months a go and used it once then, but not since. Why take the time? I clean my bathroom once a week (well, maybe I let it go a couple weeks sometimes) and sweep and mop the kitchen every few weeks.
I just don’t see any reason to spend my time keeping everything super tidy. I would rather read or work out or go to a movie. I see cleaning up as a waste of time.
I will wash one dish, rather than put everything in the dishwasher. Of course I don’t have that many dishes. I put everything in the dishwasher once a week. I figure I save money on water and electricity.
Nobody ever visits–it is just me. My daughter never comes over and I told a friend (who is a neat freak) that if they ever came by they would probably have to go to therapy sessions to get over the trauma–unless I cleaned up first.
But see, I am subscribing to your newsletter so I am open to reason. Convince me it is worth the effort to keep things all military-organized.
* * * * * * *
RESPONSE FROM MARIA GRACIA
I have to say that your note truly intrigued me and in many ways made me smile. I appreciate you taking the time to write.
Let me start by saying I’m not ever going to be able to convince you that it’s worth the effort for you to keep things all ‘military style organized.’ I wouldn’t want to live in a cold, stark, museum-like setting myself. That wouldn’t be very cozy, would it?! You certainly don’t have to line everything up in a straight line to be organized.
In fact, there are two different aspects in your note that I would like to touch on.
The organizing part of it stems around whether you can find what you need when you need it…without any stress or wasted time looking for it AND whether you’re getting things done, correctly, in the least amount of time and by the deadline if any.
The other aspect is a question of whether or not your home is clean.
Let’s touch on some of your individual points:
TOSSING PAPER/TRASH ON THE FLOOR
I know you’re cleaning the paper and trash up once a week, but you are wasting time here (organizing issue). First, you’re tossing everything on the floor. Then, you have to bend down, pick everything up and toss it in the trash can or recycle container.
Why wouldn’t you just save a step, and toss directly into the trash can or recycle container? In doing so, you’d also ensure no crumbs, liquids, etc. end up on your floor or carpet (cleaning), which will then have to be vacuumed or scrubbed sooner than later–else there’s a chance you’ll end up with insects.
Place trash containers in the rooms you’re in most of the time. Or, if that’s too much, keep trash bags in each room–this way, you don’t have to walk all the way to the kitchen or wherever you toss your trash.
VACUUMING (and DUSTING for that matter)
So what exactly is this dust that’s sitting on your furniture and your carpeting?
Here’s a limited list: dead human skin, insect excreta, pollen, ash, powder, dirt from your shoes and dirt that might be blown in every time you open the door, general industrial pollution, pet dander…ok, enough…even as I write, I am getting grossed out. (Smile.)
(Oh, almost forgot about those dust mites, which I won’t even get into!)
The most important tool for managing house dust and dust mites is the vacuum cleaner.
Do you have to vacuum every day? Certainly not. Do I recommend you don’t vacuum at all. Certainly not.
For your own health and well-being, and for the general life of your carpet, I would recommend, at minimum, once every two weeks.
If you don’t, living in a home that’s never dusted or vacuumed can have a very negative impact on your health… which can result in illnesses, medical procedures, (maybe even early death! Ok, I’m joking slightly here). Is NOT cleaning up worth the trouble of health issues later on?
I’m not a fan of dishes piled up in the sink. First of all, the food generally gets stuck on pretty bad and then it’s a waste of time and energy to have to ‘scrub’ them to get them clean.
It sounds like you’re rinsing first and then getting them into the dishwasher. If this is the case, I think you running the dishwasher once a week is fine, as long as you don’t find yourself running out of clean dishes or glasses.
NOBODY EVER VISITS
I guess the question here is, do you WANT people to visit? If you do, and they’re not visiting because a) you’re too embarrassed to invite them or b) because they’re ‘afraid’ of entering, then I would recommend you clean for those reasons.
If you don’t like visitors, or people in general, I would suggest you at least do some minimal cleaning for your own health and well-being. I want you to be around in the future so you can continue to write to me. (Smile.)
‘YOU’ (personally) DON’T HAVE TO CLEAN
That being said, if it’s in your budget, hiring a cleaning person to come in once or twice a month would take the cleaning pressure and time off of you, and would result in a healthier, safer environment for you–and anyone else who may come into the picture later on.
You did mention you work out, which tells me you actually care about your health…unless you’re only at the gym breaking a sweat because you’re looking for a girlfriend– in which case you’ll have yet another reason to eventually clean up your pad!
Hope this helps!
February 11, 2013
Do your kids LOVE ice cream cones? If so, stop the melting ice cream drip from coming out of the bottom of the cone. Simple drop a mini marshmallow inside and problem solved!
February 4, 2013
I shall never move quickly, except to avoid more work or find excuses.
I will never rush into a job without a lifetime of consideration.
I shall meet all of my deadlines directly in proportion to the amount of bodily injury I could expect to receive from missing them.
I firmly believe that tomorrow holds the possibility for new technologies, astounding discoveries, and a reprieve from my obligations.
I truly believe that all deadlines are unreasonable, regardless of the amount of time given.
I shall never forget that the probability of a miracle, though infinitesimally small, is not exactly zero.
If at first I don’t succeed, there is always next year.
I shall always decide not to decide, unless of course I decide to change my mind.
I shall always begin, start, initiate, take the first step, and/or write the first word, when I get around to it.
I obey the law of inverse excuses which demands that the greater the task to be done, the more insignificant the work that must be done prior to beginning the greater task.
I know that the work cycle is not plan/start/finish, but is wait/plan/plan.
I will never put off until tomorrow, what I can forget about forever.
I will become a member of the ancient Order of Two-Headed Turtles (the Procrastinator’s Society) if they ever get it organized.
Source: Via the Internet.
January 29, 2013
Here’s a very simple idea for a ‘visual’ To Do List. Get yourself a corkboard with push pins. Divide the board in half from top to bottom with pushpins or a few narrow strips of construction paper.
Write one task each on colorful 3 inch by 3 inch squares of paper. Attach each To Do with pushpins on the left side of the board. As you complete each task, move that square of paper to the right.
You’ll have a great visual of how much you’re getting done! As the right side fills, you can remove and recycle the completed tasks.
January 17, 2013
So many of us make New Year’s resolutions, and by the time we’re a few days into the new year, we’ve broken them and (worse) we decide to discontinue them.
We may have decided to lose a few pounds, and then got discouraged because we indulged in a chocolate shake when we shouldn’t have. Or, we may have decided to organize the garage, but got so overwhelmed by all the piled up boxes, that we decided it was just easier to give up. Or, we may have resolved to save money, but ditched that idea when the dishwasher broke.
The nice thing about these ‘declarations’ we make is that, contrary to popular thought, they are not reserved solely for January 1st. We can jump right back in at any time.
So, if you had that milkshake, got scared by those boxes, the dishwasher broke, or you ran into any other number of obstacles, just forgive yourself or the situation and resolve to ‘move forward’ with your original intention.
You may have to adjust your resolution to make it more do-able for you, like…
* rather than giving up dessert, having one dessert each week on Friday evenings
* rather than organizing the WHOLE garage at once, resolving to just organize one box at a time, in 10 minute segments
* rather than not saving money because the dishwasher broke and you have to pay the repairman, paying the repairman and skipping your daily store-bought cup of coffee–and saving that money instead in your piggy bank.
Don’t give up, even when things aren’t going exactly as you originally planned. Pick up the pieces, and move forward. When there’s a will, there’s a way.
January 4, 2013
Chances are, you have storage containers in your house already. Before you go out shopping, look ‘beyond’ a container’s original purpose, and use it to store a variety of household items that need to be contained.
As a quick example, mason jars were originally designed for canning fruits and vegetables. However, they also make great storage containers for craft ribbon, spools of thread, wrapped candy or gum, cotton balls, or paper clips.
December 26, 2012
While surfing on Pinterest, I came across this idea that I’ve called the ‘Look Back’ calendar.
In a nutshell, it’s a daily calendar you can put together yourself using any box and 365 index cards.
Number the cards with the month and day at the top of each card (e.g. Jan 1, Jan 2, Jan 3, etc.)
Each day, go to the appropriate date and write the current year and something that happened that day–like your daughter took her first steps, or you saw an old friend on your way to work.
Do the same for each day of the year thereafter. When the year has ended, go back to the card for January 1st, write the new year, under your thought from last year, and something that happened that day.
Imagine how neat it will be reading all of your thoughts for the past 5 or 10 years–all in one place!
December 17, 2012
Oh, dear Christmas, we’ve been waiting for you for so long. And now that you’re finally coming, we’re ready to open our homes and welcome you in the warmest atmosphere possible. What’s not to like about Christmas? Its magical power touches everybody. The lights, the Christmas tree and decorations, the stockings on the fireplace, the carols, the milk and cookies for Santa – it’s like the whole world transforms into a winter fairytale.
This holiday has to be met properly with a clean and tidy home full of joy and excitement. As you know, before you reach the good stuff, you have to be prepared to face some challenges, meaning the big cleaning before Christmas, especially if you’ll be the host of a Christmas dinner. Let’s hope that the Christmas spirit will make cleaning easier on you, at least mentally. There’s no need for you to be gloomy when it comes to getting rid of dirt. Put a smile on your face. After all, the holidays are coming! And you’re doing a good deed here.
Clean the Stains in the Living Room with a Smile
Scan the carpeted floor for any kind of stains that have to be removed. You don’t want it too look too worn out and dirty, especially when you’ll be receiving guests. Arm yourself with patience and the right cleaners for the purpose. Carpet and rug cleaning requires some rubbing, but you can handle it with the help of your high spirits influenced by the upcoming holidays. Upholstery is what comes next. Check the sofa and cushions for spills and any spots that are not supposed to be there. Just a quick idea for decorating – you may put some Christmassy decorative pillows on the sofa. They will make a good impression and will contribute to the overall festive atmosphere.
Put Some Christmas-related Songs on when Dusting, Mopping and Vacuuming
This will definitely boost your mood and you’ll be less reluctant to do the otherwise tedious cleaning chores. Remember, you’ll be having visitors for Christmas and everything has to look nice. Move one room at a time with the duster, mop and vacuum cleaner. Wipe the areas under the furniture where possible. While in the rooms, take your time to get rid of the clutter. Tidy up a little, a lot actually. Big cleaning for a big holiday, right? Even if you won’t be expecting guests, you deserve to meet Christmas in a neat atmosphere.
The Guest Room Should Shine Like a Star
This is probably the room that you don’t use much on an everyday basis. It won’t involve exhausting rubbing of stains for hours because practically people don’t live in there, so there’s no one to make a mess. Wipe the dust on and inside dressers and drawers, clean the mirror and windows, vacuum, and you’re done. You can spray some air-freshener and leave scented candles with a typical Christmassy fragrance. Ah, the spirit of Christmas is already here!
There is another option if you’re not willing to clean the house on your own and that is taking advantage of reliable cleaning company services. Whatever you choose though, make sure that everything in your home looks stunning for the holiday. In a typical Christmassy manner, be the cheery host that makes all guests cozy and comfortable.
December 5, 2012
Each year, we have about 150 holiday cards that need to be sent out. That may seem like a huge project, but it actually is fairly quick and painless when done in stages.
Here are the various stages of my process:
1) I ordered holiday cards from an online store. During this stage, I choose photos from this past year to use on the cards, and designed the cards online. I included our signatures and a brief happy holidays sentiment in the cards when I designed them, so that I didn’t have to write each one out by hand.
2) While waiting for the cards to arrive, I purchased holiday newsletter paper from a local store, while I was out shopping for other items.
3) I wrote our holiday newsletter, and had my husband edit it. I then printed them up and my husband and I folded them together.
4) I printed out mailing labels for all of my recipients, using my Christmas Card Excel file and my Word label file that I created about 10 years ago. (This means no need to hand address envelopes, and it’s very easy to edit information as needed throughout the year.)
5) When my cards arrived in the mail, I had my daughter label each envelope, stamp each with our return address label, and affix postage.
6) I then grabbed my cards and envelopes, sat at my girlfriend’s house while she did her cards, and added any finishing touches. I like writing the ‘Dear _____’ at the top of each card by hand, and sometimes I include a short sentence or two to further personalize.
7) As I finished personalizing any one card, I inserted the newsletter into each card, and each card into the appropriate envelope. Then, I continued with the next card, and the next, until they were all done.
Finally, I hand-delivered the cards to my post office to be mailed.
Trying to do everything at once can be both daunting and overwhelming. But when done in stages–each stage on a different day–it’s more doable. I hope these stages help you get your holiday cards completed quickly and easily!
December 3, 2012