Archive for the ‘chores’ Category

Routines

August 8, 2017

girl gymnast athlete isolated

Last week I talked to you about habits. Some habits are good habits and easy to maintain, some are not so great and can be replaced with better habits.

What about routines? What is the difference between a habit and a routine?

First, let’s talk about what makes it a routine.

A routine is a series of actions that is repeated so often that it becomes automatic.

We know that gymnasts have routines (a series of acrobatic moves) that they practice on the balance beam, on the floor mats, on the parallel bars – you get the idea.

 I can think of all sorts of routines that happen and I bet you can too. Professional athletes, for instance, have routines they follow to warm up their muscles before they either practice or play their sport.

I have routines which I practice every day. I have a morning routine and an evening routine. These twice daily routines help me move quickly through some regular chores in my home. I don’t even think about them anymore. I just move quickly through my morning routine and when I get home in the late afternoon I settle into my evening routine.

My morning routine goes like this: I get up, let my dogs outside, feed both the dogs and myself breakfast, water my plants, tidy the kitchen, walk the dogs, quickly vacuum the kitchen (my dogs shed a lot), and then shower and start the rest of my day.

Are you thinking, that’s a lot to take care of. Well, honestly, I take the most time on my morning walk and in the shower. The other things take no more than a few minutes. And, I’ve done this routine for so long that I don’t even think about doing these tasks. I just do them.

My evening routine is different. I come home from work, update my client files, do a final check of email and respond to some – if necessary. Then I spend a few minutes tidying my desk and workspace. This way it is ready for me in the morning. The last thing I do is make my list for the next day. I review my appointments, think about what I want to do for my business, any volunteer responsibilities I have and how I might fit them into my day, and plan my day. I do this with the understanding that something may come up to prevent me from accomplishing what I set out to do. This way when the unexpected happens I am prepared!

I sleep well because I’m not trying to remember what I have to do the next day. I am certain, because I follow this routine, that I have written out my plan for the day.

My routines keep my house tidy and my business running smoothly. Like most things my routines get tweaked from time to time.

Do you have a routine you follow?

Child girl doing gymnastic exercises

Do your children have routines?

Even the youngest of children can follow a short routine. It provides structure to their mornings and evenings. A friend of mine was telling me that her 9 month old grand-daughter has an evening routine. She has a bath, puts on her pajamas, turns on a white noise machine, gets her lovey and goes to sleep. Of course, her mother or her grandmother do most of these things for her. But, this is the routine they follow and this little girl is content. She can predict what comes next.

Write me back and tell me about your routines. If your routines aren’t working for you I’d be happy to talk with you to help you to create ones that better fir your lifestyle.

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Tidy Drawers?

June 14, 2017

Tidy Snap

Are your drawers tidy? Don’t you wish that there was an easy way to fold your t-shirts and keep them folded – even after you’ve rummaged through the drawer looking for the shirt you want to wear? Alison Tringale has created a product that is so simple to use even her little girls use it.

Want to know what it is? It’s called Tidy Snap.

I’ve included the link to the product here. www.tidysnap.com

In the interest of full disclosure, I’m not being paid to write this review. Alison read some of my recent blogs about children and chores and thought I’d like to see her product, Tidy Snap, since it has helped her children fold their shirts. She very nicely sent me her product and I took it to a client’s house to see if her young daughter could fold a t-shirt the tidy snap way. She could!  And she thought it was really cool (which means to me that she will want to use it to fold her t-shirts). Her mom was as impressed with the Tidy Snap as I was.

In addition to keeping the shirts tidy in the drawer it will also save time. Imagine how wonderful it would be if your child could quickly and easily find the shirt they want to wear without making a huge mess in the drawer or dumping all the shirts on the floor!

There is a video on the tidy snap website which demonstrates how to use the product. Since it is so simple to use it’s easy to see that with the tidy snap you can involve your children in not only putting their laundry away but also in the rolling of their shirts the tidy snap way!

I think there are multiple uses for the Tidy Snap system. I can see using it to keep my collection of scarves tidy in a basket or drawer. I hang my camisoles so that I can easily see which one to wear. The Tidy Snap would help me out there too. I could use it to keep my camisoles tidy in a drawer or in a basket on a shelf saving hanging space for clothes which really need to hang.

I bet you can come up with even more creative uses for the Tidy Snap. Check out Tidy Snap’s website and then write me back and let me know what you think.

Summer’s Here – Let’s Play!

June 6, 2017

Do not despair if you haven’t enrolled your child in activities so that he’ll be busy every moment during the summer. Let your child find things to do. It’s really good to have nothing to do  –  except play.

Try not to use the television, cell phone, i-pad, computers as babysitters. Limit the amount of time your child spends engaged in technology/ screen time. While it may seem like a good idea to have your children engaged in this way, after all they are busy and not getting into trouble, the truth is that instant entertainment robs your child of the opportunity to use his imagination.

Using his imagination is also a wonderful skill to encourage. When children are bored or have ‘nothing to do’ they come up with creative ways to occupy themselves. Provide building blocks or legos and you have the framework on which to build any number of fictional situations. Even crayons, markers and paper are great entertainers. And what about having a family jigsaw puzzle to put together?

Some technology time is good. It can be used to review or practice math facts, to do some problem solving, and other school related skills.

You can also involve your child in activities around the house. Sorting and categorizing are critical skills. Let your child engage in sorting the cutlery from the dishwasher. Then teach him where to put the forks, knives and spoons away. He can also help sort the laundry. Teach him how to sort the colored clothes from the whites. He can even measure out the detergent and start the washing machine. When the laundry is dry he can match socks, fold some things and help put the laundry away.

If you like to bake,  ask your child to help you measure the ingredients. He can practice his reading and read the recipe to you and follow the directions along with you.  If he is old enough, perhaps he’d like to take over some of the cooking!

Am I suggesting that your child help with chores around the house? Yes! I am. It’s important to instill in our children a sense of responsibility for the care of their home. When better to do this than when they do not have schoolwork to attend to? There have been an increasing number of stories in the news about millennials who do not have the skills necessary to live independently. You can give your child these necessary skills by teaching them basic skills when they are young and then gradually increasing the amount they are involved in the household chores as they get older.

If your child is doing a great job helping you around the house and you give him an allowance for doing these chores why not help him open a savings account? You can teach him about money. Teach him to save some money aside from each allowance and let him watch his money grow. He can learn about interest payments and experience pride when he has saved up enough money to purchase something for himself.

The opportunity for learning is all around us. Take advantage of the summer months to engage your child in conversation, imagination, and exploration. Have fun engaging in all these wonderful activities with your child. After all, it’s summer time – let’s play!

Hallmarks of an Adult?

November 16, 2016

Together, success is a given

The other morning I was listening to my local news station as I was catching up on my ‘words with friends’ and I was really surprised. I had only been listening half way, concentrating mostly on my strategy in the game I was playing on my phone, when something caught my attention. It was something about millennials taking classes in what the reporter called ‘adulting’. I didn’t know what that meant and still don’t really. The report went on talking about things adults do, for instance; chores around the house, budget their money, pay bills, file papers, and manage their time (although that’s a subject for another day).

The point of the report was that some millennials seem to be so lacking in knowledge in these areas that they feel a need to take classes.

Actually, I do get that because some of my clients are millennials and they haven’t the slightest idea how to go about cleaning their house, organizing their kitchen, putting away their clothes – I could go on but I think you get the idea. These millennials, the ones I work with (and possibly the ones in the news report), have grown up without any sense of what it takes to lead an organized life.

They have successfully completed school and, for the most part, have jobs. They want to live independently – to be adults.

Unfortunately, schools do not teach home/life skills otherwise known as home economics. I never took home economics in school – I think that was phased out even before my generation. So, what happened? Why is it that some of these young adults are not equipped with the basic skills and information that are the hallmarks of being an adult?

I think it’s a combination of things.

Some of these young people did not have the skills modeled for them. Maybe their parents weren’t great at organizing themselves, maybe they outsourced things like bill paying, maybe they didn’t ask the children to help with routine household chores.

Whatever the reason, I’m happy to know they are taking classes to fill in the blanks.

What are the hallmarks of becoming an adult?

For me, it’s taking care of myself and those in my family, taking care of my home (meaning keeping it clean and tidy), being a good friend, doing my job to the best of my ability, paying my bills, and having fun working on my hobbies which are gardening, needlepoint, and dancing.

What does being an adult mean to you?

PS I have written a book which covers all of these subject areas and more. You can learn more about my book on my website: www.dnqsolutions.com

 

 

 

 

Open Your Eyes!

March 9, 2016

Child exploring nature

Have you started your spring cleaning? Whether or not you have started this process I recommend that when you do you take the opportunity to really look at the things you are moving around. I think sometimes we are so used to our surroundings that we don’t really see what’s there. I know that I can walk through a room in my house and not really notice the space.

Before you begin your spring cleaning spend some time in the room you’re tackling. Open your eyes and take a look as if you were seeing the room or area for the first time. Evaluate the space. Do you like what you see? Does it still work for you? If it does not, could you move some furniture around to make the room better fit your current lifestyle? Maybe even move furniture from one room into another.

If you think some of your belongings no longer fit your current lifestyle consider donating them out. Some things may no longer work with your current decorating style. Face it as life goes on we change and the way we decorate or the things we use need to change along with us.

That’s the problem. In general, we are so used to having our things around us that we don’t even really see them. They are simply there.

I suggest that as you do you’re spring cleaning you throw open the curtains – figuratively and literally. Really look at every item in every room that you are tackling. Evaluate each item.

Do you use it?

Do you love it?

Do you believe it to be beautiful?

If you can’t answer ‘yes’ to at least one of these questions then donate the items out. Someone else will be able to use it.

I know sometimes I’m surprised by what I find in one of the rooms in my house when I open my eyes and really look. Spring is the perfect time of year to be doing this. The light is brighter and the days are longer. Take advantage of this and freshen up your home.

Let me know if you’re surprised by something you’ve found in a room that you didn’t know you had.

Remember – turn your clocks ahead one hour Saturday night for Daylight Savings Time!

Is It Spring?

March 2, 2016

Spring Cleaning

Is it feeling like Spring where you live? Here in Atlanta it’s looking a lot like Spring is just around the corner. We’ve had a couple of beautiful sunny days. It was even warm enough over the weekend to enjoy a picnic in the park!

The days are longer, the sunshine brighter and all that makes me long to get out in the garden and play in the dirt. However, it’s not quite time to do that so I’m going to use the brighter light and longer days to my advantage inside the house.

In other words, it’s time for me to do some Spring cleaning! Yup, this brighter light points out the need to get back in the corners and under the furniture to get the little dust bunnies that can hide when the light isn’t quite so bright.

Just in case you also feel inclined to do some spring cleaning I’ve put together a list of things you might consider doing. Remember Spring is a season. It lasts about 3 months. If you break down this list and do a little each week by the time summer rolls around you will be done with your cleaning and ready to spend more time outside. You can also delegate some items on this list to other members of your family!

  1. Remove and vacuum window screens
  2. Wipe the window sills before you replace the screens
  3. Wash windows
  4. Clean baseboards
  5. Move the furniture and clean under it
  6. Decide what to do (toss, recycle, donate or put away) with the things you find under the furniture
  7. Put the furniture back
  8. Dust floor registers and other vent covers
  9. Dust light fixtures and ceiling fans
  10. Air out mattress pads and small area rugs
  11. Sort through winter clothes and donate any that don’t fit or that you didn’t wear
  12. Check your smoke detector/carbon monoxide monitor to make sure they are working. Put in fresh batteries if they are battery operated.
  13. Check your fire extinguishers
  14. Take them to your local fire station to be recharged if necessary

Changes?

January 6, 2016

 

Changes ahead

So, now that we are really and truly into the New Year it’s time to act on the resolutions we made. I told you already that the big change I’m making in my weekly routine is to set Monday mornings aside to take care of business housekeeping. I resolved to keep those hours to myself. I have decided that I will not take care of errands or allow myself to book a client on a Monday morning.

What habit did you decide to change? Did you decide to work out more often? To lose a few pounds? To take more time for yourself? To get to appointments on time? To get more sleep by going to bed earlier?

The reason I have decided to set Monday morning aside for business housekeeping is that in the course of the last couple of years as I have become much busier with clients and other business opportunities (YIPPEE!) I have had less time to take care of these little details. I have been fitting them in – in between other tasks – and not giving them my full attention.

What’s your reason to create a new habit or change your routine? It will be easier to work on when you know exactly why you have decided to work on it.

Whatever it is that you resolved to do absolutely will not happen unless you make some changes in how you run your day or how you do what you do. This is a true statement. It may sound a little harsh but it’s a fact nothing changes if nothing changes. You can only have a new or different result by changing your habits.

It’s also true that it’s real work to change a habit. It’s so much easier to give into temptation and do things the way you’ve always done them. It’s also true that lasting change doesn’t happen overnight. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that it can be done. Next week I’m going to give you some strategies to start creating this new habit.

I’d love to know if there’s a change you’re going to make in your routine and if so, what it is.

Daily Routines?

January 27, 2015

Do you have routines that you follow day in and day out? Did you know that having a routine can save you time?

Routines save you time because the tasks that  make up the routine are simple and easy to complete in one or two steps. When you do these simple short tasks one followed by the other chores get done quickly!

What sorts of tasks do you think I’m talking about?

Which tasks will help you start your day?

My daily routines involve tasks that help me feel settled as I head out the door.

I make the bed, walk my dogs (by the way, walking the dogs first thing in the morning allows me peaceful time to think about the direction of my day and I get exercise – a double benefit!), get some breakfast and then check my indoor plants to see if they need water.

My evening routine involves making a to-do list for the next day. I tidy my desk and evaluate where I am in the work that I’m doing, think about my appointments for the next day, and gather all the items I need to take with me.

These routines don’t take long – maybe 15 minutes in the evening and about an hour in the morning. This is because my dogs and I usually walk for about 30 minutes. I have more information about daily routines in my book: Now What? A Simple Organizing Guide.

What daily routines can you create for yourself to make your days run more smoothly? Write me back, I’d love to know!

Unfulfilling Tasks

April 29, 2014

I saw this expression last week in an interview between my friend and colleague,Linda Samuels, and Francine Jay. Francine is a minimalist. In fact, she is known as Miss Minimalist. Francine told Linda in the interview that being a minimalist involved not making unnecessary purchases, getting rid of unused belongings, and also eliminating unfulfilling tasks. Doing these three things opens your life up and allows you to live more fully.

I will typically advise my clients to stop making unnecessary purchases. You save lots of money by only buying what you really need and not giving in to impulse shopping. When I’m working with a client to declutter a house, a room, a drawer (you get the idea) we always talk about the items that are consistently used and loved. The belongings that are not either loved or useful are those which we talk about donating or consigning.

The idea of eliminating unfulfilling tasks is brand new to me but it makes really good sense. There are many times when we engage in activities which do not resonate with us. Now, I do want to stress the point that I’m not talking about taking care of basic household chores which we all have to do. Yes, they are tasks and perhaps they do not fill us with joy but they need to be done to maintain order and cleanliness within the home. Having said that, what am I talking about? What are those unfulfilling tasks?

I believe these are the tasks that do not give us any satisfaction at all. Do you ever decide to do something because your friends are engaged in this activity and they think you should join in too? Perhaps this activity is not as exciting for you and, in fact, eats up lots of your time. This, I believe, would be an unfulfilling activity (task). If you eliminate this activity you will have time for the activities that resonate with you. Another thought to consider is out sourcing tasks that you don’t want to do, if that is financially feasible. For instance, if cleaning the house really does not give you any satisfaction at all and you can afford to hire a cleaning service then eliminate cleaning from your task list. Maybe gardening – weeding, clipping, lawn mowing – is not a task you like to do but if you can afford a lawn service then that task is also eliminated.

Think about how you spend your time. What do you do that brings you satisfaction and what are the chores, tasks, activities that you find unfulfilling? Make a list and see what you want to keep on doing and what you may want to eliminate from your schedule. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic so please respond!

Feeling Overwhelmed?

February 18, 2014

What do you do when you’re feeling overwhelmed? Do you walk away from whatever it is that is overwhelming you? Many of my clients are challenged by that feeling of overwhelm. It doesn’t matter if it is piles of paper, too much to do and too little time, too many emails to respond to or deal with or too many household chores when you’re feeling overwhelmed you don’t know where to start.

My advice is to pick a place and start small. If we’re talking about household chores, look at your calendar, figure out how much time you can give to this task, turn on some music that you love – it should probably be upbeat – something you can (and want to) move to, set your timer for the allotted amount of time, and start. You don’t have to finish. When the timer goes off you’re done! Do the same thing again everyday for a week tackling a different spot each day. Before you know it those household chores won’t be so monumental.

Use the same technique to conquer your piles of paper. Start with one pile and for a specific amount of time. Label each piece of paper with its next action. File it appropriately. I’ll talk more about filing paper next week. The point is if you start tackling the paper a little bit at a time you will get control of it.

If your to do list has too much on it and that is overwhelming you try to delegate some items. Then, look at the tasks you can’t delegate and prioritize the list. Now, pull out your calendar and schedule a few of the tasks each day. Taking action on these items will reduce your feeling of overwhelm. Try to only have two or three of your ‘to-dos’ scheduled on any one day. It’s less imposing when you have only a few things to take care of.

Small steps can have a big result as long as you keep taking those small steps forward! Give yourself permission to only do a little bit at a time. Don’t think about ALL you have to do – that is overwhelming. Focus on the small tasks you’ve set aside to tackle today. Do them, reward yourself and be done.

Let me know if this helps reduce your feeling of overwhelm!