A Time of Reflection – Organizing my Priorities

Well friends, I have taken quite the hiatus. It has been almost 2 months since I have written a post. I was overwhelmed with life and needed a break. Often times, we have too much on our plate and, instead of reducing our commitments, we suffer through them. I decided it was time to stop and really reflect on what I need for myself, my family and business. I have been busy with the holidays, recovering from the holidays, guests, traveling, and the all encompassing feat of potty training a 2 year old. It’s exhausting! But I’m ready to jump back in to everything I’ve put on hold!

Up and coming in 2014:

The Mindful Nest is going to be front and center this year. My focus on organizing is going to center on our mental well being, how we got to a disorganized state in the first place, and how we can using positive thinking to make changes in our lives.

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Crafty Organizing – I am not a crafting guru, but I love to personalize my organizing solutions (like my DIY Jewelry Board and Decoupage Letter Baskets). I’m going to put an emphasis on Cheap and Crafty this year!

The Green Nest is also going to be a huge focus this year. This will include posts on green cleaning, ways to donate and recycle all sorts of items, and making use of things you already have in your home.

Time Management – This is vital to creating a well balanced and organized life. Properly managing our time allows us to pursue creative outlets in our lives.

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I am looking forward to new organizing adventures and sharing my successes (and failures) with you!

~Erin

Clean out that Email Inbox!

I am the first to admit that I get too many emails. I actually have 4 email addresses (1 personal, 1 for the organizing business, 1 for my ‘day job’, and one for extra or junk email). Sounds a little excessive doesn’t it? Well, to be honest it works for me. I could forward everything to one email address, but I really like to compartmentalize and it helps keep me focused when I want to work on a specific thing.

For the most part, my emails are fairly streamlined. I know who they are coming from and they usually require some sort of response or action. The exception to this is my ‘junk email.’ This is an email I have specifically set up for when I sign up for contests, giveaways, social media sites, coupons, or pretty much anything that may come with emails trying to sell me something. From time to time, it gets out of hand. We’ve been sick at our house and I actually haven’t checked my ‘junk’ mail for 10 days. I looked today and had 125 emails in there! That is ridiculous! Instead of just deleting them, I went through them and ‘unsubscribed’ from most of them. Opt OutIt took about 20 minutes to jump through all of the ‘unsubscribe’ hoops, but I did it. My plan is to wait another 10 days and see if there is any progress in the inbox after the clean-out.

Here are my tips for streamlining my emails:

Streamlining Emails

-Only sign up for things you think you will use, need or want in the future.

-If you realize you are no longer needing emails you receive, don’t just delete them, click on the unsubscribe button. This should prevent future emails from the same company.

-If you have a ton of emails in your inbox and want to find the ones that have the ‘unsubscribe’ feature, you can filter your emails by the word ‘unscubscribe’.

-If you are on the list of those friends and family members who love to forward mass emails and you would prefer not to get them, politely ask them not to send them anymore. I know it can be difficult to say that to a friend, but just phrase it that you get too many emails in general and don’t have time to read them.

-Change your notification preferences in your social media. Is it benefiting you to get an email every time someone mentions you in a comment on Facebook or likes your Instagram photo? Probably not. So shut those functions off or at least streamline them.

-Send less emails. If you send less emails, you will get less responses. Easy as that! If you evaluate each email you are sending, you might find there are some that are unnecessary.

-I really like having a separate email that I use for signing up for coupons, newsletters, etc. Then if life gets busy and I don’t have time to check it, no worries! I know there’s nothing vital in that inbox that can’t wait for me to catch up on everything else.

Now I realize I am running the risk of you deleting your Neaten Your Nest subscription from your email inbox. (Don’t do it!) If you want to streamline your blog subscription emails, you can follow most blogs on Facebook or Bloglovin as an alternative.

What are some other ways you clear out your digital clutter?

~Erin

Evaluating Your To Do List

I love to do lists. I thrive on to do lists. I have the amazing Listo App that I found out about through Thea over at Time With Thea. I had this ‘To Do List’ Post on my to do list. It’s borderline ridiculous. I think lists are a great tool for organizing for a few reasons.

-To get it out of your head!!! I would lay there for hours at night sometimes thinking about things I have to do, afraid that that I would forget them by the morning. So I started keeping a pad of paper in my nightstand drawer so that I can write things down and not worry about whatever task I just thought up.

-When you can cross something off a list, it can give you a sense of accomplishment. I love watching the dwindling number of items on the list.

-It can motivate you to do more so that you can achieve specific goals. By breaking down bigger projects into more achievable list items, you can complete more individual tasks and that often makes you want to keep going.

However, lists are not always the joyous organizational tool I picture them to be. I have had many a melt down when I realized not everything was going to get done. I have panicked as I ran out of room on the paper because I keep adding things. I have also had too many lists going at once and I get overwhelmed. I could literally make a list of the lists that I have. Here is a general breakdown of my relationship with lists:

to do list

So I decided to re-evaluate how I make my list of tasks. Yesterday I sat down and wrote down everything I wanted to do that day. Then I gave each task a letter based on a great method from the GLORIOUS time management book called ‘Eat That Frog’. I could write a book on this book! It is short, easy to understand, and full of great tips. I will definitely be doing a post on it at some time. Basically, you prioritize your tasks and work on the most important ones first.

Now here’s the new step I added. I estimated how much time each task would take and then added the times up. The total? 12 Hours!!!! Let’s not forget that things like, well, eating were not on my to do list. Neither was taking care of my kids, or driving my 4 year old to and from school, or getting through the constant flow of emails and phone calls I deal with during my day job, or washing the dishes, doing laundry, or a little down time for Pete’s Sake! So I had 12 hours of tasks plus probably 10 hours of daily life. That’s 22 hours of ‘To Do’s with only about 12 hours to do it. That’s the definition of crazy right there. I decided I was no longer allowed to beat myself up for not getting everything done. After all, it was physically impossible to get it all done. And that’s ok! I’m going to use this little trick with my lists from now on. It helped me prioritize, it helped me focus and it helped me realize that I am only human, not a robot.

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Ironically, this is a long and rambling post on time management. I have learned a valuable lesson though. I simply CANNOT cram 22 hours worth of tasks into a 12 hour day. So I’m putting the list down for the night and I’m going to have a glass of wine!

Check back in a couple days for the start of the Self Care for September Series!!!! I’m so excited about this month long challenge to create a better self! Make sure you sign up for the newsletter on the Self Care page so you’re sure to get all of the updates and challenges. Please join us!

~Erin

Mommy, what can we label?

So my 3 year old came up to me holding my labeler today and said “Mommy, what can we label?” A kid after my own heart, I tell ya.

Labeling (1)

Well, mini-me organizer, I’ll tell you what we can label…everything!

Here are just a few things I label around here:

Bathroom organizers:

Labeling (2)File Folders:

Labeling (3)Spice Jars:

Labeling (4)Fridge organizers:

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Jars for pantry items:

Pantry Jars (3)

Labeling obviously helps me keep things organized. But it has a few added benefits:

-It keeps my family organized. When we are all on the same page about what goes where, it makes it easier for us to put thing where they belong.

-The labels help my older son learn to read. He loves typing out the word and hitting the ‘print’ button on the labeler. And he loves being able to put his own belonging where they go. As my younger son grows, I have no doubt he will love to read and learn just as much!

-It helps house guests keep your house the way you want it. I have to admit, I sometimes stealthily follow guests around making sure things are in their right places. I try not to, but I can’t help it! When things are labeled, I tend to ease up a little because my systems tend to stay in place.

-It helps to unclutter my mind. When I don’t have to think about where things go, I don’t spend time worrying about it nearly as much. I just put things where the labels tell me to put them!

-It takes less time to clean a room when everything has a designated space. It also takes less time to put away groceries, do laundry, file papers, pay bills and countless other tasks. And who doesn’t want more time???

~Erin

 

Know your habits

All of us have bad habits. Some have more than others, but we all have things we would like to change. I will not even go into the whole list of habits I would like to change, but I’ve decided that there are several I want to work on:

Habit #1 – I tend to leave clean laundry in the laundry basket for too long.

I absolutely hate putting laundry away. I have no idea why, but I would seriously rather clean a bathroom than put laundry away. Not even just my bathroom. I would clean almost anyone’s bathroom if I had the choice between that and laundry. Then my clothes inevitably get wrinkled and I end up throwing some things back into the dryer with a wet washcloth to smooth them out again. How incredibly inefficient! So I’ve decided that I am only allowed to do one laundry load at a time. That means that one load must be fully put away before I start another. This should prevent the backlog.

I also discovered that I like putting away clothes better when my kids are around. I guess folding laundry is just boring to me. If I have a little guy nearby who wants to pretend to drive the ‘semi truck laundry basket,’ I”m much more likely to keep going.

Habit #2 – Leaving doors, drawers and cabinets open.

I used to be so good about this! Get a pen, close the drawer. Get a snack, close the pantry. Get a cup, close the cabinet. Simple, right? (Insert giant Family Feud buzzer sound) Not simple anymore. As I write this, I’m staring at an open pantry door. Ridiculous! It takes 1/2 a second to close it. (I just got up and closed the pantry door by the way). After baby #2 came along, I got a little flustered. Oh, and I always have a baby in my arms. So I just open and grab and walk away. Now I usually go back and close everything eventually, but in the meantime it creates a couple of problems:

-It looks messy.

-It can be dangerous. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve bumped my head or a knee or elbow. And it’s even more of a safety issue for my little ones!

-Open drawers, etc encourage those curious little 3 year old hands to look inside, even if it’s a place where he knows he isn’t supposed to be lurking….Knife drawer, hot water heater closet, etc.

So this one should be easy to fix. It’s just about being aware of my tendencies and doing something about it.

Habit #3 – Not drinking enough water.

I just don’t really like water…so I don’t drink enough. This, in turn, makes me tired and achy, which makes me crabby, which makes my family crabby, which is a problem that is completely preventable! So I have a couple of options that will hopefully encourage me to hydrate sufficiently!

-We already have some Gatorade and Crystal Light mix. I need to utilize them more often. If I don’t feel like I’m drinking just water, I’ll drink more of it.

-I need to monitor how much water I actually drink. Some days, I’ll realize it’s 3:00 in the afternoon and I”m still on the first glass of water. So I’m devising a little chart that I can magnetize and monitor how many glasses I drink each day (pictures to come!). Now this won’t be fool proof and I won’t use it every day, I’m sure. However, it will make me think about it a little more and when something is in the forefront of your mind, you tend to take action a little more.

Example, many experts suggest taking 10,000 steps per day. I put a pedometer on for just day-to-day and realized I walk between 5,000-7,000 steps in a regular day, even if I don’t do any specific exercising. Now, I don’t always wear the pedometer and I don’t always get to 10,000 steps. But when I wear it, I see how quickly I can get to the goal during the day. And when I don’t wear it, I try to take extra steps just to be sure I’m maximizing my daily routine. Just by thinking about it, I have been able to change a bad habit into a good one.

Lessons Learned:

-Everyone has their own method for completing tasks. Find what way works for you in a particular task and heck with everyone else. Do it the way that YOU will actually get it done.

-Take care of your health so that you have the energy to take of the other things in life. Self devastating habits hurt more than just you. So drink that water, eat a carrot, take the stairs, quit smoking, whatever you need to do to inject healthy habits into your life.

-Habits DO NOT change overnight. Give yourself a break if it’s hard to establish a new routine. When you cut yourself some slack, you are more apt to continue to make changes.

There are several more general habits I would like to work on, such as being an over-zealous multitasker, but I will get into that later. For right now, I’m going to focus on making several small changes that will make my life easier, healthier and safer.

And I know I’ve said it before, but organizing is not just about where you put your stuff. It is how you function, how you live, how you feel. So evaluate your day-to-day situation and see if there are small changes that could make a big difference.

What habits do you want to work on changing?

~Erin

Inspiration week…and a half

Ok, so this is not a calendar week, but I started inspiration week on a weird day, so let’s continue! This past weekend was a full one. We did some hanging out with friends, a drive on some forest service roads, and a little downtime with the kids. But in the midst of that, I created a whirlwind disaster in my kitchen.

Don’t judge me! I was re-doing my pantry and had every single thing stacked on the counter, tables, window sills, dog cage, etc. I’ll show you the outcome of that project shortly. There are still a few final touches I want to add. Between that gigantic project and a bunch of smaller ones, I didn’t even turn on my computer all weekend. I think that is seriously a first in years!!!!

Anyways…..today’s inspiration is from KatsMeoww. Her post on Procrastinating (read it here) has quickly changed my life for the better! How cute is this girl’s blog???? Love it!

In her post, she quotes a line from ‘The Happiness Project”:

“Don’t put off anything you can do in less than a minute.”

Love this idea so much that it is ridiculous. In fact, I just signed up for ‘The Happiness Project” blog. Follow it here.

How often do you think “I should clean that mirror later” or “I’ll just make my bed tomorrow” or any of a zillion simple tasks that you put off for no good reason at all. Well, I’m taking this ‘less than a minute’ concept as a personal challenge. I am doing quick things like making my bed, wiping down the bathroom counter every day, flossing! Over the weekend, I super glued a little knob back onto a small drawer. That thing had been sitting there for over a month! My husband used Wd-40 on the pantry which has been squeaking since who knows when!

The point is, we often spend more time considering whether to do something than it would actually take to just complete the task. So get up right now and do one small thing that takes less than a minute! Clear it off your to do list and out of your head so you can focus on more important things.

Speaking of more important things…take 1 minute to tell your spouse you love them, or give your kids an extra hug or two, write a quick email to a friend you haven’t talked to in a while. For me, it’s time to start making minutes count. They pass so quickly, let’s not waste them!

~Erin