Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Maintain Vs. Letting It Go

Over the last year, I have made small changes that have effected the way that I am able to live.
This is a quick overview of each small change. I will elaborate more later about how much of an impact that this has made on my time and life. 

1. Moved all of the kids' toys upstairs.
This was not as hard as it might sound. I still have a small basket downstairs that I occasionally throw some toys inside, but I no longer allow the toys to be scattered throughout or along the perimeter of the family's great room. I also spent time locating the pieces that matched each farm set or food set so that they could be appropriately placed. We had a change in the family where a family member moved out and we were able to give each child their own room. It made more sense that they keep their toys in their room. Some of the toys were purged for age appropriateness, and some were kept just in case there is a third Renfro (still hoping here.) I would much rather value the space for being open and what we can do in it than what it can hold. The kids continually bring down their toy baskets from upstairs and then will put away their toys with some encouragement from me.
This has decreased my clean up time by 15 minutes easily, and we can enjoy the space better.

2. Clean the kitchen nightly (or every other night), including washing all pots and pans and dishes.
While this is a no brainer for many people, this was more challenging to keep going. Being honest, I would rinse the pots and pans, but they might sit there up to two weeks if we were busy. However, every time I looked at the sink, it just became a constant reminder of something else that I had not done. Another thing that I needed to do:

"Clean the sink."
"Ah, those pots and pans...still there."
"Does anyone else see these sitting here?"
"Saturday. Yes. Saturday."
"Why are they still here?!"

So now, instead of doing them after my kids get a bath at night, I do them before they shower. This makes me hurry through getting the table cleaned off with a little guilt effort to encourage the hubs to clean, too, If I cooked. "Cook don't clean." Which has now turned into a running joke because my husband's recent response was, "Since when?"
I let them air dry during showers and homework time and then try to put them away before I break down and go to bed.
Then I have a clean kitchen and a clean sink. And no ongoing reminder because the task is completed, done, and finished.

3. I redid how we keep up with bills paid and all of those papers that I receive from work, my child's school, etc.
When we receive papers, I stack them. It is the fastest way for me to clean up. However, when we become busy with the daily tasks that do and will happen, I cannot keep up with the amount of junk mail, letters, pictures, bills, and small pages that have to be kept. I was reserving them for when I could really deal with the ordering of everything. I could always locate what we needed, but I was getting tired of the fact that it was still taking too long to locate a form or a paid bill. Not to mention that I would spent two full afternoons sorting and then filing and shredding all of the paperwork into the correct locations. Thankfully, I no longer have to go through the stack of papers every three months. I take the mail we get and go through it weekly, if not daily. I place the papers in one stack on the desk in the loft. When I get a chance, I sort them according to filing cabinet, magazines, kids' papers, family binder and trash. Easily done in 10 minutes or less. 

4. Use an organizer to keep track of my tasks that I need to get done.
It took a while for me to review organizers that I liked to keep track of the things I have to get done for me. I hated the constant thoughts of what had to be done and not feeling like I had really done anything when I ran out of time. I knew I had spent a good deal of time working on cleaning or taking care of my family's needs, but what did I really do? I found this type of organizer on one of the Pinterest sites and created my own list. I print it and put it inside my planner every week. Whether I use it to the fullest, I still have a way to maintain my routines and remember what I have to get done before the next day. It is simple for me to mark if I did or didn't complete the task. It also helps me set goals for cleaning and next day preparation. 

5. Use organizational apps.

Google Keep, Quicknote, and Evernote
I use Google Keep to keep track of tasks and lists that I need. I use Evernote as well. Both function with reminder possibilities and allow you to add notes and pictures. Both allow you to even record your voice for reminders. I keep track of kids' clothes sizes and what I have to complete quickly. Quicknote lets me save a screenshot on my phone for future notes. (I make a lot of notes.)

Remember the Milk
My husband and I can quickly add to our shopping list for when one of us is out. We can scan our empty or almost empty containers' bar codes so  that they can be quickly added to our list. We then sync them for the other. This is perfect when my husband runs his Saturday errands and is willing to pick up the groceries while I stay home with the kids and take care of cleaning.

Libib is a really cool app that lets us keep track of  our collections. We keep track of our DVD, CD, and book collections. All I have to do is scan and add it to the list. It registers to an online location and syncs with information about the movie or music. So easy.

Love. Love. Love. I have so many boards that I am embarrassed to admit how many that there are. I organize articles, quotes, and ideas according to the way I set up my boards. My favorites include food, of course. As I cook something, I copy it to the board Food - I Cooked And Ate It. This way I can keep track of a recipe until I can copy it into the family recipe book. 

6. Plan for upcoming events.
I found a really cool graphic organizer in Word Online. I added it to the Family Binder and placed one for each month in the clear pockets. As I know that we have some large bill due (like an annual event like taxes), I place those documents into that month's checklist. Or if there is a family member's birthday, I might place their birthday card in that folder so that I can remember to send that sucker early. (Remember that was a goal from last year, which I am probably achieving 50% more often than I was before I started this process.)

7. Use a notebook for work. 
My daily tasks for work vary from day to day. I keep a running to do list and mark it off and sometimes will date when I completed it. I review it weekly and use it to keep a log of what I did complete, too. Where did I find my notebook? After much searching, I finally decided an inexpensive hardback notebook from Walmart was perfect. I then ordered from a local business a monogram for my notebook. Cost - $10.00 total. I added a folder to the back of the book with some glue so that if I had a note card or handout from a meeting I could keep track of it for quick reference. 

This started last year. This was perfect. I now have gotten into more of a routine using it and keeping up with everything. I still miss things, but this helps me stay up to date and not have so much running around in my head that I can be present...(ahem) more present in every day conversations with my friends and husband. When I run out of space, I buy another notebook without breaking the bank. It works for what I need it to do.