How To Plan An “UN-Planned” Day

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Estimated Reading Time: 2.5 minutes

Recently, I had the unexpected joy of a day off. My first inclination was to carve out a block of a few hours to work on my organizing business. It was a perfect opportunity to get in some business reading and writing, I thought.

But then I heard a still, small voice.

Be free today.

Wow. What a concept. A free day!

Wait, what exactly does that mean? For me, that meant not committing to anything in particular, but remaining open to where the Spirit leads.

Free

Free time is an essential part of life. So often we can overschedule our days with chores, errands, driving the kids to soccer that we forget to actually block off time on our calendars to simply do what we please.

Plan an “Unplanned” Day.

This is exactly what my husband and I do every Sunday. We keep our plans light, say, like a trip to the movies or just drive to nowhere. Keeping Sunday free is our way of being together, to make sure we connect.

But rarely do I get a day where I have zero commitments to anything on my own. And so, when the opportunity came, I grabbed it. I planned an “unplanned” day.

Where you are led

Where Did I Go? What Did I Do?

The beauty of planning out my days in a planner is that I get to focus on my values because they are written down in full view, everyday. Categories such as Family, Home, Business, Spiritual, Health and (temporarily) Holiday, are daily reminders of what is truly important in my life.

I write tasks/errands under these categories on a weekly basis so that if I don’t get to, say, buy Christmas stamps (Holiday) on Monday, I don’t have to feel too bad, I can get them on my next day off.

And so, while my planner was opened, I listened to where Spirit was leading me. It turns out, I got a LOT more accomplished, and in different areas of my life, by listening to God, than if I had simply blocked out the time on my calendar:

Family–I maintained family relationships by picking up the phone just to chat.

Spiritual-In addition to my daily devotions, I did a whole lot of knitting. Knitting is a great spiritual act, since we usually knit for others. As a Catholic Christian, I am called to live a life of service.

Business-I even got to write a cool blog post!

Holiday-Bought these fabulous and historic Christmas stamps. Also wrote out Thanksgiving cards to family and close friends. And since I wasn’t out running around in “busy-ness” I was able to enjoy all the little ghouls and goblins who came knocking at my door asking for tricks or treats.

Health-With a cup of hot coffee in hand, I took a walk down by the bay.

It occurs to me that had I NOT planned to keep this day unplanned, the promptings of Spirit would have gone unnoticed and instead, I would have felt some vague longing for something more.

For help planning your day or any other organizing needs, contact me at kim@godorganizing.com

Visit my website at www.godorganizing.com

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Happy Halloween! Let’s Start Planning for the Holidays!

 

Planning

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

Yep, you read that headline right.  The time to start planning for the upcoming holiday season is NOW.

If the thought of planning for Thanksgiving or Christmas this early is too overwhelming for you, you are not alone.  If you’ve always just “winged it” and are new to the concept of planning, that’s okay.  You don’t have to have the whole holiday season on flow charts and diagrams. Just pre-planning one activity will significantly de-stress the holidays for you.

Let me help you get started.

I’ve never planned for the holidays before, where should I begin?

STEP ONE: Update your Address Book. Since you’re most likely going to be home tonight waiting for little ghosts and goblins to ring the bell, update your holiday card list. This step is CRUCIAL before you even get your cards or stamps. Do this step FIRST and you will know EXACTLY how many cards/stamps you will need.

What you’ll need:

Address book: Whether you use a physical address book or electronic, it doesn’t matter.

Pencil: to write/correct addresses

Printable Card list. Here is the one I used.

Timer. Why? Because this can be tedious work. We don’t want to set out guns a blazin’, then get tired and never complete the list. Set the timer for 15 minutes. My favorite timer is one from TimeTimer.  For this project, you can download the TimeTimer App for your phone immediately.

When the 15 minutes is up, STOP. Do something else. Get a drink. Go to the bathroom. Call your mother. Then, if you want to continue with your task, set your timer for another 15 minutes. Rinse and Repeat.

Do this every night while you sit in front of the TV and your list will be updated before you know it. You don’t need to rush through it, just be consistent in updating your list. Slow and steady ALWAYS wins the race.

STEP TWO: Tally up the addresses. Really, that’s it.

 

Here’s what I will be doing while I wait for the kiddos to knock on my door:

Write out Thanksgiving cards. Yep, I bought a few packs, and since I’ve already updated my holiday card list, I can use some of the addresses off that and whisk off some Thanksgiving cards to friends and family.

Knit some really cool Santa hats. Here’s the pattern I’m using.

Yep, on Halloween, I’m getting ready for Thanksgiving AND Christmas. And it will be all stress-free.

Look for more posts on how to organize your holiday card writing in upcoming posts.

Like what you see here? Please share with your friends!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Eat an Elephant

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Approximate Read Time: 3 minutes

Q: How do you eat an elephant?

(See answer at the end of the post)

 

“I can do something for 12 hours that would appall me if I had to keep it up for a lifetime.” –Unknown

 

Clutter doesn’t accumulate overnight. It starts out small, maybe a paper or two on the counter. Or with a few pairs of shoes thrown together haphazardly near the door.

In 2010, I was 45 years old and weighed nearly 250 lbs. I was morbidly obese level III.

Me 2010
Forty-five years old. My highest weight. My lowest ebb.

 

The weight did not pile on overnight. It was years of bad decision-making.

Losing 100+ pounds was also not an overnight process. It took just about two years of solid, good-decision making, several times a day, every day.

And so it is with clutter. Just as an accumulation of stuff doesn’t happen overnight, de-cluttering is a process that takes time. Sometimes it’s swift, other times it’s a bit longer.

Very few people enjoy the work of losing weight. The thought of having to stick to a daily discipline every dayt for the rest of my life scared the bejeezus out of me.  But a very good spiritual mentor  said to me, “Try it for your next meal.”  I did that, and it worked. Then she said to me, “Try it for just one day.” Seven + years later, I am still doing it one day at a time.

And so it is with clutter. The thought of clearing a room of our excess stuff is overwhelming. We open our closet door and moan:

Where do I even start?

First, we decide.

Start by making a decision. That’s it.  Deciding to clear the clutter is the first step  in a good, orderly direction.

Is your closet a mess? Our usual inclination is to tackle the whole closet in a day or a weekend. That’s too overwhelming. Start with something small, specific and do-able. For example, last season’s shoes. You recently stopped wearing them, so they are fresh in your mind. You know what you wore most and what you didn’t wear at all. What needs fixing and what does not.

Starting with something small, specific and do-able is your next step in a good, orderly direction.

Next, we take action.

As with most project the first thing to do is gather supplies.

Bins

Before you begin, get 3 bins or containers. Usually a laundry basket sized container will do

A Keep Bin. Put shoes that fit, that you love and that are in good condition in here.

A Trash Bin. Any shoes that have worn out soles/ heels, broken straps, etc. go in here.

A Donate Bin. Shoes that are still in good, wearable condition but you don’t want them anymore go in here. Then donate them right away.

Timer.

Use a timer, either a kitchen timer or one on your phone for starters.   Time, like storage bins, is a container. It has a beginning, middle and end.

Try 15 minutes. Quite a bit of work can be done in that short time. As you work, you might find you need more time to finish the task. That’s okay.  Work 15 minutes, break for 5.

Rinse and repeat. Do this until you are done with the task. You might finish in one day, or several. That’s still okay. In the end, you have only the shoes you love AND you will have blessed others by donating pairs you no longer wear. It’s a win-win.

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Forty-nine years old. In 2013, I met and married the love of my life.

 

Answer: One bite at a time.

 

Supplies I like:

Time Timer: www.timetimer.com

The Drop-front Shoe Box  from the Container Store makes shoe storage and retrieval amazingly easy. AND THEY ARE STACKABLE! No more tumbling down shoe boxes when trying to get just one pair!

So Many Books, So Little Time: Time Management for Reading

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Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

They sit there, strewn on a coffee table or on a shelf. They mock you; taunt you. You look away in embarrassment and shame. Yep! These are the books that you’ve either:

Stopped reading.

Haven’t read yet.

In the middle of reading.

But projects are due, phones ring and laundry needs to get done.

Who has time to read?

When you muster up the courage, you stand defiantly in front of these books and proclaim:

One day you shall be read!

Only “one day” never comes and the books collect dust.

If you are like me, you have your hand in several books at once.  I have a tendency to read one book for a long period of time, forgetting about the other books that need my attention. So, I’ve devised a simple, yet effective plan that works for me. It may also work for you.

CATEGORIZE!

First, I’ve categorized my reading into 3 main areas:

FUN:usually novels or short stories

BUSINESS: reading I do to become more knowledgeable in my area of expertise.

FAITH/PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT: Religious or spiritual books or books that will help me grow as a person (hint: books in all 3 categories do the latter!)

SCHEDULE-IZE!

Okay, so I made that word up.  Seriously, I schedule my reading time into my planner( I use Planner Pad, btw.)

My schedule really only allows for about 15 minutes of dedicated reading time at a sitting. If I can do more, I do more, but as of right now, 15 minutes is it.  I don’t read every category every day, but I schedule each category several times a week. For example, FUN reading might be 3X a week. BUSINESS reading might be 3-5X a week and FAITH/PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT might be 5-7X per week.

As with everything else in my planner, as I complete my reading task, I check it off. So far today, I have completed my BUSINESS reading. If I get a quiet 15 minutes after posting this, I will delve into my FAITH reading. If not, no worries, I will schedule that into tomorow’s plans. I’m okay with not getting to my FICTION category today because I know it’s scheduled throughout the week.

Here is what I am currently reading, with links to purchase:

FUN: Doctor Sleep, by Stephen King

BUSINESS: The Organized Mind, by Daniel J. Levitin

FAITH/PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT: Disarming Beauty, Essays on Faith, Truth and Freedom (Catholic Ideas for a Secular World) by Julian Carron.

Try this method. See if it works for you.

Happy Reading…and Organizing!

 

Mental Clutter II: Knowing When to Quit

 

When we clear the physical clutter from our lives, we literally make way for inspiration and 'good, orderly direction' to enter.Julia Cameron

I did it. Today,  I took a leap of faith and left a job.  I worked at Target and I loved it. It was a great way to help pay the bills while building my organizing business.

The decision to leave was not an easy one. And it is one that I do not take lightly.  Business-building wisdom maintains that you keep a day job while you work your passion as a side gig. Do this until you can transform the side gig to your main gig. Good Orderly Direction Professional Organizing Services is my side gig, and, God-willing, it will soon become my main one. It is my passion.

My main source of income (aside from my husbands) is through babysitting\housecleaning, so Target really was a second job. I had to take the Target job last year when the family I work for added another little bundle of joy and Mom took maternity leave. It was perfect timing–late September through mid-January they wouldn’t need me. Enter seasonal employment at Target. That job worked so well, I decided to stay on.

And it all worked until this Summer. Not only was the youngest crawling around, but his brothers were home. Now I was responsible for all 3 boys plus cleaning the house.  Add to that another 10-20 hours a week at the store.

Exhaustion set in.  Even as the 2 older guys returned to school, I was still tired all the time. Something had to give. My mentor and friend Eileen Koff (of To The Next Level Professional Organizing Services and Eileen Koff Ministries) gently told me, “Follow your passion.”

How could I follow my passion for organizing when bills have to be paid, was my immediate thought.

How could you not, was my answer.

I was staying at the second job because of the money, or so I thought.  It hit me: I continued to work at the store out of fear, not money. Fear of economic insecurity. Fear that God would not provide a way for me to bring income into my family. Fear is the opposite of faith.

And so what started out as a safety net turned into a crutch, and then finally, a wall.  A wall that blocked the path to following my passion. A wall that blocked the way to true success.

As soon as I realized that the job no longer served it’s original purpose, I decided to eliminate it. It became unnecessary. Now, with the job gone, the way to following my passion is cleared. That way is paved with good and orderly direction.

De-cluttering rule #1:

Getting rid of objects and other that no longer work or serve their intended original purpose opens up the space in our hearts for the things that matter.

 

Happy Organizing!

Kim

 

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Contact Me!

 

 

On-the-Spot Time Management

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We’ve all had them. You know what I’m talking about–the days we have planned just so. Then, an item we didn’t know we needed is nowhere to be found. Or an unexpected call comes in and we have to change our plans.

 

All hell breaks loose, right?

That’s how my day was yesterday. Or rather, that’s how it could have been.  That’s how it would’ve been if I had not already realized that I get easily overwhelmed when my day is too scheduled for my comfort.

THE PROBLEM:

THE UNEXPECTED TIME CRUNCH

My plan yesterday was to go to my local yarn store and knit all day, and then go home to chat on the phone with a local professional organizer. I wanted to pick her brain about starting a new career in the organizing field.

But then I realized I didn’t have a crucial item I needed to knit for the day. As if that weren’t bad enough, I’d forgotten I’d told Dad I would stop by in the afternoon. A brief wave of panic set in.

THE SOLUTION:

ON-THE-SPOT TIME MANAGEMENT

When this happens, I ask myself two crucial questions:

  • What’s important for me today?
  • What can I release?

 

WHAT’S IMPORTANT?

The knitting class was already paid for, so I needed to attend to that. It meant purchasing an item I needed before the 10:30 class time.

My father is 85 and very independent and maintaining a relationship with him is important, so I needed to attend to him.

The phone call to the organizer can be potentially life-changing, so I needed to attend to it.

WHAT CAN GO?

As soon as I figured out what was non-negotiable (the class, my dad, and the phone call) what was unimportant became self-evident–as beneficial as it might be for me to knit beyond the  ninety-minute class time, it was not crucial. It had to go.

HOW TO MOVE FROM THE PROBLEM TOWARD THE SOLUTION

Still, I needed to make an unexpected trip to the store. How can I accomplish this without feeling harried to get to class? I like to use two simple time management strategies–buffering and boundaries.

TIME BUFFERING

Time buffering is nothing more than creating space in the day for the unexpected. It can be as simple as leaving for work 5 minutes earlier than the usual time in case you run into traffic, or as challenging as getting up an hour earlier than you do now. The important thing is that you decide what’s best for you.

For me, being dressed, fed and having the bed made by 8 AM is pretty important, even on my days off. So, when I found out I needed to get to a craft store before class, I was ready. I was able to buy what I needed and still be the first one to show up.

Time buffering has worked amazingly in my life. I’m never late for work, even on days when I have to go through a bottleneck of cars.

I’m not yelling for a red light to hurry up and turn green! Thus my stress level is turned down several notches. Who doesn’t want that?

TIME BOUNDARIES

Setting a time boundary around a task or an event can not only help prioritize your day, but can also keep relationships healthy. Sometimes, we even need to set time boundaries around difficult people. This is another way of creating space, or breathing room, in the day.

Yesterday, I had to set a time boundary around my knitting so that I could visit with my father. I had to set a time boundary on my visit to dad so that I could devote the proper time and attention needed for the phone call to the professional organizer. See how this works? There’s space to get the important things done; space for the unexpected; space to breathe.

Who doesn’t want that?

 

Have a great time-management tip? We want to know! Share it in the comments.