Archive for the ‘habits’ 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.

Habits

July 29, 2017

Smiling woman snapping cigarette in half

Last week I was talking about organizing time or rather organizing what you do to make the best use of your time. I told you that your habits and routines can help or hinder you in this regard. Today I’m talking about habits.

Do you have habits? What are they? I have a habit of waking up early in the morning. I love this. There’s a hush outside. Usually the air is still. It’s so early the birds aren’t even up yet. I love to sit outside with my cup of tea and listen. Slowly, the birds start talking to each other, then the squirrels start scurrying around and the day dawns. This is one of my habits. I definitely don’t want to change it.  

My habit of getting up early and quietly contemplating the day ahead allows me to start my day stress free. I am relaxed and ready to put my energy into the day ahead. I love this habit.

I did have a terrible habit.

I used to smoke cigarettes. Back when I was very young and thought it was cool to smoke. This habit caught on with me and I smoked a lot, particularly when I was playing bridge. We (the four of us) would light our cigarettes, put them in the ashtray and let the smoke billow around us as we studied  our cards. I smoked for about 3 years. Then, I got sick with pneumonia. The doctor told me not to smoke. Truthfully, I didn’t want to. I was having a hard enough time just breathing. I never picked that habit back up. I think it was easy for me to break or change that habit because of the circumstances.

What if I want to change a habit now? Perhaps I should ask, what if I want to replace an old habit with a new one?

Some habits are like a warm, comfy, soft sweater. They are easy. We know what they feel like. We don’t even need to think about them – they just sort of happen; like the early morning habit I described above.

Other habits are more like a scratchy sweater. You wear it because it’s handy but it bothers you. You take it off only to put it back on because you don’t have a replacement sweater handy.

When you want to change a habit it is easier to have an idea of the habit you want to create – your replacement habit.

For instance, let’s say you’re in the habit of having a cookie after dinner. You don’t really think about it, you just grab a cookie and snack away. You’ve decided you’d like to eat more fruit. You want to replace the habit of eating a cookie with eating some grapes. Remind yourself by putting a post-it note on the cookie jar. It might say: Eat Grapes! Have snack size bunches of grapes in an easy to grab spot.

After a while you won’t need the reminder post-it. It does take time and mindful practice to create a new habit. It also takes great will-power. If you have a reason for changing your habit, remind yourself in visible notes of that reason. Maybe you want to eat healthier or loose a pound or two.  Maybe you want to have a little ‘me time’ in the early morning. Some time to yourself before engaging with the rest of your family and your list of to-dos.

My habit in the evening used to be that I would work on my needlepoint while watching (really listening) to television. I got out of that habit but it’s something I want to start again. I have a beautiful canvas, that will become a pillow, that’s about half-way finished. I really want to finish it, and I can if I would just get it out and stitch away for an hour or so in the evening. To remind myself I have a post-it on the tv remote that simply says: Stitch!

Is there a habit that you want to create or renew? Write me back and let me know!

 

Changing Routines

August 31, 2016

Last week I let you all know that I spent the last month or so preparing to move and then moving. I am going to spend the next couple of weeks talking about what else has to change – other than the physical address. Are you scratching your head wondering what I mean by that?

Let me give you a little personal history. I grew up in New York City. My family moved apartments 3 times before our final move to Connecticut when I was 16. That’s the house my mother lived in until she passed away in 2009 and the house that I think of as my home but I only really lived there for 5 years.

The longest I ever lived in any 1 house is 10 years and that’s the house I just moved out of! I had established really great routines and places to keep all of my belongings. After all, I am a Certified Professional Organizer and I walk the walk. I don’t keep things I don’t use, I do periodically tweak my filing system, and I’m careful about the things that I keep so that I don’t end up keeping too much.

It’s been really hard to change how I tackle some tasks and to realize that I just have to change some of my routines and habits. I’m not planning to change them completely, just alter them to fit better in this new home.

Are you wondering why? Why can’t I just do the same things I did in the other house, follow the same routines – just in a different location?

It’s not always that simple. Some things I can definitely keep the same – others have to change. Where I lived before I could walk my dogs every morning and evening safely in the neighborhood. There are wide sidewalks that are well lit with street lights. Where I live now there are only narrow sidewalks, there are very few street lights and the sidewalks do not follow the entire length of the road. But there is a park only a short 2 minute drive from my new house that has well-lit very wide sidewalks. My dogs and I love it there. We can still have our 30 minute morning walk safely. We just hop in the car and away we go.

Over the next few weeks I’ll tell you about other habits or routines that I’m changing.

My big take-away is that sometimes we are so comfortable in our routines and habits that it’s hard to imagine doing what we want to do in any other way. This move shifted me out of my comfort zone and put me in a place of discovery. Everyday I’m tweaking my routines a little at a time so that I can still do what I want to do – just differently. It’s all good! In fact, it’s even better.

Is there a routine or habit that you want to change or have to change because a shift in your circumstance makes change necessary?

Write me back and let me know!

 

 

Grocery Shopping and Meal Planning

April 13, 2016

Empty menu board

Over the past few weeks I’ve been talking about the kitchen. Buying and organizing supplies; only buying what you need. How do you know what you need?

Do you have a list to refer to when you grocery shop?

Some people have a list of the things they buy frequently from the store and they put a check mark next to the item when they need to replenish their supply. They leave space on the page to make note of the extra items to purchase. This is a very good option.

Other people create a list of things to buy as they run out of them. I have a small pad of paper in a holder on my refrigerator. When I run out of something or when it is running low I can quickly make a note of it on this paper. This way I don’t over buy.

Another tip is to once a week schedule time in your calendar to sit down and create a menu plan for the following week. Check your recipes to see what non-perishable items the recipe calls for and then take a look in your pantry to see if you have those grocery items. If you do, you won’t need to buy them. If you don’t then add them to your grocery list. I like to make a little note on my grocery list what recipe certain items are going to be used for – particularly if it’s something out of the ordinary. That helps to jog my memory!

Buy the perishable items for only a few meals at a time. This way if your plans change and you decide to eat out it will be easy to reschedule that meal.

Another tip is to try not to grocery shop when you’re hungry. I know that if I’m hungry when I go grocery shopping I end up buying food that I don’t need. I buy way too much and I also buy food items that look appealing at the moment but that in reality I won’t eat. I also tend to buy more snack food.

Schedule your trip to the grocery store after a meal if you can.

Please let me know how you plan your grocery shopping and if you think planning your meals will help you?

 

 

Organizing Your Pantry

April 6, 2016

pantry

Last week I talked about the benefits and drawbacks of buying groceries and household supplies in bulk. This week I want to talk about the pantry. What happens in your house when you bring the groceries home? Do you have specific places – shelves or cupboards – for specific sorts of non-perishable groceries?

Sometimes putting away groceries is a free for all. Things are just randomly put away. This makes it very difficult to know what you have and where it is. When things are just randomly put away it’s hard to just glance over to a shelf or into a cupboard to find the particular item you’re looking to find.

So, what can you do to have an organized pantry?

Recognize that this is a choice. You have to decide that you want to know what is in your pantry. There are some good reasons for making this choice and for cultivating the habit of keeping your pantry organized.

When your pantry is organized you know what you have and you will not wonder what is lurking in the back of your shelves so you will save money by not buying duplicates.

An added benefit is that when you plan your meals it will be easy to spot what ingredients you already have – saving you time. You won’t have to hunt through the shelves to figure out whether or not you have the necessary ingredients. You’ll simply be able to look in the spot where the required ingredients are kept.

Here are some simple steps to take to create an organized pantry.

  1. Empty all your shelves
  2. Toss expired foods
  3. Donate out food (that is not expired that you know you won’t eat)
  4. Sort like with like:
    1. Cans together
    2. Baking supplies together
    3. Condiments – oils and vinegars
    4. Snack food
    5. Cereal & breakfast foods
    6. Nuts
    7. Grains
    8. Pasta
    9. Anything else you can think of
  5. Look at your shelves
  6. Decide what you want to have within easy reach & what can go out of the way
  7. Decide if you want containers (you may want to empty bags of sugar, flour, rice, pasta into airtight containers to keep them fresh)
  8. Wipe down the shelves
  9. Label the shelves – even sections of a shelf – so that everyone in the home will know where to put each category
  10. Put everything away

 

I hope this helps you keep your pantry organized

Reward Yourself

January 27, 2016

Over the last several weeks I’ve been talking to you about creating change in your habits. The way to go about making a lasting change and the benefits of taking small steps toward your stated goal.

This week I’m talking about the benefits of rewards. I don’t know about you but I do my best work when there is a reward to work for. Now, the reward is not always an object.

I like to treat myself: to an extra hour of reading time

woman reading

a mani/pedi

Closeup photo of a female feet with beautiful red pedicure

a massage

professional masseur doing massage of female back

or a movie complete with popcorn!

Popcorn and a remote control for the TV background

Sometimes my reward is the joy I receive from knowing that I’ve completed a task to the best of my ability (notice I did not say perfectly).

How about you? What sorts of rewards will work for you? Think about that. When you’re trying your best to create a new habit or a change in your routine and you successfully stick to your plan for the day consider rewarding yourself at the end of the day. If there’s no time for a reward today then schedule time in your calendar for that reward sometime very soon.

Make a list of the rewards you like best so that when it’s time to reward yourself you can treat yourself to something wonderful! Try to make your reward an experience.

I believe the more you can reward yourself for a job well done the more success you will have!