Welcome To My Comfy Cozy World……

Good thing I know how to keep a schedule.  I have perfected the art of the schedule for awhile now ever since I got Outlook at work and at home.  The calendar functionality on Outlook is the best in my opinion and I can’t imagine there being anything better.  So I use my work calendar for everything from work related meetings to personal reminders and tasks.  I color code it all and have trained my eye to focus on the most importantly coded things.  After testing and tweeking I finally found something that works for me.

That said, my schedule is always crazy.  With two high school boys and two younger ones there is always something going on.  It’s not as bad as some people I know because I try to stick to my rule of only one activity per person at any given time and now that my teens can drive and have friends who can drive it’s not as hard to make sure they are getting to their games and practices. Thank Goodness.

I also like to make sure that at the end of the day my family has a nice home cooked meal that we can sit down to.  Most of the times I reach that goal.  Sometimes I don’t.  Any suggestions on that?  I am still perfecting the home cooking thing and searching for ideas that work for me. 

Now I am off to make my schedule for the rest of the week.  Happy Week to everyone.


Geez..it’s been a while since I have blogged, hasn’t it?  I have been so completely busy these past several weeks in my personal life that I am afraid that other things like blogging had to be put on hold.  But I am back and ready to share some experiences with you all.

One of the reasons I have been gone for a while is that fact that my oldest son is in his senior year of high school.  I guess I realized somewhere in the back of my head that this would be the year that activities would really ramp up like applying to college, graduation requirements, etc. but I never really knew it would be to the level that it is.  After all when I went to college the application process was fairly easy.  There was no internet so everything was done by paper and through the mail. 

In fact the college application process can get very confusing. Thank goodness the Catholic school that my kids go to have a really wonderful college placement office that is willing to help you every step of the way.  Last Spring I attended their Spring Workshop for Junior students so I could find out all that we would need to do in the senior year. Even with that workshop I still had lots of questions and since the process really doesn’t get into full swing until the senior year starts I figured I would make an appointment with the college placement counselor in September.

I met with her and she helped to answer any left over questions I had. Good thing I am organized because I don’t know how you do it if you are not.  I wrote everything down and organized the tasks that need to get done in a calendar form.  There are SATs and ACTs still left to take, online applications to submit, essays to write, etc etc.  I have all of my checklists done so I don’t forget anything.

But this is just the beginning.  Senior year is where it all seems to happen not just in school but in extracurricular.  Graduation planning, homecoming dance, sports schedules, etc.  What would I do if I didn’t have organizing tools in my belt?  Thank goodness that I do.

In honor of hump day I am going to be give myself and YOU the challenge for the week.

Here goes:

1. Get a kitchen garbage bag.

2.  Carry bag from room to room and go through as many drawers as possible.  If you see something you will NEVER use again toss it in the bag. 

3.  Move from room to room QUICKLY!  Don’t stop as you walk around.  Instead go fast.  You don’t need to pick everything up but maybe the stuff you can quickly grab. 

4.  The objective is to get rid of a few layers of clutter in each room in 5 minutes or less.

When you are done call your local charity and give your bag of stuff away.

I used to struggle every morning dragging myself out of bed, rushing to get myself ready, and struggling to get breakfast on the table for my kids.  Every morning was chaotic. I was running around the house with wet hair and half of my face made up for work.  I would run to the pantry and have to get a bunch of different cereals because the kids like different kinds.  I would look for bowls only to realize that the dishwasher load didn’t run last night which means I had to take time and wash a few dishes for the breakfast cereal.  Kids shoes and backpacks would go missing.  It was crazy.

So one day I did something that I usually do when chaos seems never ending.  I take a step back.  I look at the situation and I really study it.  What am I doing wrong?  How can I survive like this?  How can I make it BETTER??  There is a way.  I know it.  I can figure this out.  I have an engineering degree, after all.

I reviewed my morning ritual.  Most of it revolves around looking for stuff whether it is breakfast bowls, cups, sneakers, or backpacks.  I decided that instead of looking for those things in the morning when my time was the most precious, I would look for those things the night before and put it all out on the counter in the kitchen the night before when I did have a few minutes to spare.  Lunches get made the night before and put into the refrigerator.

So I put it all out.  Cereal containers, bowls, spoons, cups, backpacks, lunchboxes, sneakers, my purse, car keys, and my laptop bag.  With the exception of food from the refrigerator it is all there waiting for me the next morning.

The first day was like heaven.  No rushing around.  When my kids and I woke up, I leisurely walked into the kitchen, got the milk from the refrigerator and everything was all right there on the counter waiting for me.  No rushing at all.

I have been doing mornings like this for the past several months and it’s been the best morning move I have made.  What I have learned from this is that if I can shave off minutes or even seconds from my routine to make things run smoother it is so worth it in the end. 

Do you know of any opportunities in your own life to make improvements such as this?  What are they?

It’s so funny. I think about organizing almost every minute of the day.  Not necessarily because I am a schizo even though sometimes I think I am but it’s because it’s in my blood to always find a better way or an easier way or a more efficient way.

So many people say to me that I make organizing look easy.   They don’t understand how I can seem to get most things done on days where time is not a luxury. 

The truth of the matter though is that I get more done in less time than vice versa.  People always give me blank stares when I tell them that and the reason is because I don’t like to be a slave to the grind and I like to have free time to sit down and blog or exercise or watch reality TV or take my kids to get their favorite ice cream.

I love to have spare time and while most of us think we don’t have much of it, we really do. We just don’t know it and don’t realize how to find it.  Most of us have truly lost it.

So you might be asking “ok, how do I find more time?”  and the easy answer is to watch what you do, how you do it, when you do it, and what obstacles are lying in your way. 

Do you spend countless hours, minutes, or seconds searching for things that you would not be searching for if you had just put it away in the correct spot the first time?  Do you even have a correct spot for such items?  If not, maybe you need to find one.  (Car keys comes to mind here).

Do you spend hours slaving over baskets of laundry without a really efficient system in place to conquer it all within a short period of time?  If yes, there is a future post I am going to write about how to conquer laundry. (Hint:  I don’t own a laundry basket – never have and never will).

Do you wake up in the morning and drag yourself through the house struggling to get yourself and your kids ready for school and work and when you finally get out of the house you were too busy to even eat a suitable breakfast?

And did you answer yes to any of those questions or questions just like those?  If so, you CAN conquer these battles.  You just have to step back and look at what you are doing and how you are doing it.  You have to plan better, think ahead better, and make changes to your habits better. 

Go through the motions of a chore today whether it is getting ready for work or making dinner for the family or doing laundry.  Think of ways you can save time or do something ahead of time or stop wasting time.  You might be surprised what you will find if you look hard enough.

What tasks do you consider real time consuming or time wasting tasks and why?

In all of my +17 years of being a mom I have to admit that I have tried over 100 methods for trying to keep my life straight…running to and fro, working, appointments, kids things, etc etc.  I just never picked up a habit that works for me.  I needed something that combined my work schedule with my home schedule all in one spot so I can see my entire day mapped out on one medium.

Then a few years ago at work we got Microsoft Outlook and for work purposes it was like going to heaven.  I use my calendar for EVERYTHING!  If you know about Outlook you know then that you can color code your calendar appointments which works really well because if you color code the really really important stuff in red color it makes those entries really stand out.

I put tasks on my calendar. I put reminders on my calendar.  I put it all there.

Then I decided to start adding my personal stuff to the calendar like kids games, school appointments, reminders for doctor visits,  birthday reminders.

It has worked like magic since I have been doing it.  It’s like one stop shopping.  I open up my work calendar and there is my entire life mapped out.  I don’t forget anything and I get reminded of when things are coming up.  My tasks are put on my calendar as if I am reserving the space to do those tasks and that works out well too because in a way I am making space on my calendar to do it.

If you are lucky enough to have a blackberry then you can view your outlook calendar there and you will always have your schedule at your fingertips.  No more guessing.  No more missing appointments.  No more missing tasks.

Outlook is truly the most efficient method I have found for organizing my entire life.

Do you have a method of organization that works well?

Update from yesterday:

Well, I realize it was less than 24 hours that I posted about organizing my scrapbooking projects and luckily I have an update already.

Last night when the kids went to bed, I sat my laptop and camera in front of the TV and did the mundane task of downloading all of my photos from the camera onto folders on my jump drive that I created.  I am fortunate when I download from my camera that I have the ability to group photos and name them before they get downloaded.  It’s sort of like tagging them prior so that when they get downloaded the files get named whatever you choose.  So for example, if I have a dozen photos of my son’s baseball game, I will instruct the program to tag them “Son’s baseball game” and the program will name each photo “son’s baseball game 1”, “son’s baseball game 2” and so on.  This will make it so easy when it comes to actually organizing the prints by event and eventually into the books.  It’s way more easy than just having the photos named by random numbers.

What a timesaver.  If you have similar software I suggest you try this timesaver out because it really helped my organizing so much more by tagging. 

Task for this week:

Now that I have all of my photos on my jump drive I will create a new folder called “Photos for printing”.  I will select those that are worthy of going into books and then get over to the CVS store for printing. 

Do you have any organizing projects that you need to start on or have started on?  Post your progress here.

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