Assignment: Create your holiday/Christmas mission statement
In order to enjoy a peaceful holiday season, you may have to let go of some things you’ve always done. It’s time to focus on what brings you and your family joy. Make a list of what you normally do around the holidays, as well as what you’d like your holiday season to look like.
After your list is complete, circle or highlight what is most important to you and your family. Next, cross out what you can let go of this year. Once you’ve focused on what you’d like your celebration to look like, grab your index cards! It’s time to write your Christmas mission statement.
Remember to stick the cards somewhere visible to help remind you of your Christmas plan.
For More Details: Get Yourself Organized For Christmas (page 22)
Supplies: two or three index cards, a marker, My Holiday Mission Statement form (found in the back of Get Yourself Organized for Christmas)
Share Your Thoughts:
Now that you have your Christmas priorities straight, how do you feel? What did you decide to eliminate? What gets top priority? Where did you post your Christmas mission statement?
Your Holiday Mission Statement is a way of pre-deciding what’s important to you, so you won’t stay up all night Christmas Eve making the perfect bows for your presents when your family would prefer a well-rested mama who remembers to turn the oven on for Christmas dinner. (Not that any of us has been there … )
And join us over on the Clutter Free Academy Facebook group where we encourage one another and stay accountable as we become Clutter Free!
Thanksgiving is coming up too! If you are hosting, grab your downloadable copy of Get Yourself Organized for Thanksgiving for just $.99 in the Shop.
For more tips on being true to your future self, get your copy of Overwhelmed: How to Quiet the Chaos and Restore Your Sanity.
Roger likes to tell people that my favorite genre of books is “Chicken Lit.” If the storyline includes an animal, I’m sold! Just shut up, take my money and let me read! Because of my fondness for, “Chicken Lit,” I’ve read my fair share of animal books. But this particular book, “A Street Cat Named Bob,” by James Bowen, has broken my list of the top five of my favorite, “Chicken Lit,” books I’ve ever read.
I picked this gem up at The Armchair Bookstore in Whistler, B.C. Canada and read it in the car while recovering from 57 mosquito bites (seriously). Sure, I probably should’ve been having a conversation with Roger or gazing out at the picturesque scenery, but after reading a few pages I was hooked. In fact, it was so good, I may have actually ignored Roger for a day of our trip just so I could finish it. (Sorry Roger!)
“A Street Cat Named Bob,” is about the author, James a recovering drug addict who becomes the accidental and unlikely owner of Bob, a stray cat. James soon finds out that he needs Bob as much as Bob needs him. What follows is an amazing transformation and a beautiful friendship between man and cat. This endearing story is compelling, entertaining and a must read that I highly recommend.
Win the Book
Win my copy of “A Street Cat Named Bob.” Leave a comment about your favorite animal story and one person who comments will randomly be selected to win!
Just a word on the books I read and review: I have a wide and varied sense of taste when it comes to books. I would love for you to enter and win one of my books – but if you are offended by book content, I would ask that you go online to read reviews to see if this book is for you before you enter to win.
Only US readers are eligible to receive the free book.
As always, I had an amazing time at MOMCON (MOPS International’s Convention). We had a booth this year, so I got to meet a lot of moms we may have missed in the past. My favorite part? Hearing their stories from Overwhelmed (I can’t believe how many of you are doing book studies on it!) and Clutter Free.
Clutter Free Kit
And with Clutter Free being part of the MOPS curriculum this year (HUZZAH), I wanted to share with you an amazing idea one group had for a Clutter Free meeting. After showing the Clutter Free video, the leaders gave each mom a kit:
- 3 bags:
– Bag 1 for garbage
– Bag 2 for recycling
– Bag 3 for things to bring into the house
- A package of Clorox wipes (These could easily be broken down into Ziploc sandwich bags to give each mom just a few wipes.)
- A package of Windex wipes (See above.)
- A lint roller
- A Glade Car freshener
Along with the kits, they also provided vacuums and Handi-vacs for the moms to use. Then each mom went to her car or minivan and spent twenty minutes cleaning it out. Awesome, right? The MOPS leaders who tried this idea told me all the moms said it was their favorite activity ever. (Because once you watch a video about decluttering, you want to go and do it NOW.) And the best part? Everyone went home with a sense of accomplishment and fewer French fries in their back seat. Win-win!
Want to clean out your car and get a mini-craft in at the same time?
Make your own car freshener!
All you need is:
- 1 Clothespin
- Essential Oils (Lemon or Peppermint are some great, fresh flavors depending on the time of year.)
1. Dab five drops of essential oil on each side of the clothespin (ten drops total).
2. Clip the clothespin onto the vent. It makes your car smell yummy and fresh without overpowering. I love it.
Clutter Free Events are Being Booked for 2018!
Friends, what sounds better than a girl’s night out? You and me and a few dozen, or hundreds, of your friends!? I would love to come and share the Clutter Free life with you. This is a great reach-out opportunity. To learn more and get your date on the calendar, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Confession time. I have never been a morning person, until recently.
I realized that if I want to get stuff done in life, I need to get up before the rest of the world. But it’s still not easy to get going.
I really believe having a morning routine is one of the most powerful ways to not just change your day, but change your life, because we give ourselves more permission to go deeper in the morning than we do at any other time.
As the morning goes on, we can come up with more and more excuses about why we are not doing what we need to do.
Having a morning routine means deciding in advance what you’re going to do, so you can spend your mental energy focusing on what’s really important for the day.
Here are five steps to creating a routine for happy mornings.
1. Make a list of everything you do in the mornings.
Go into detail, and leave nothing out, no matter how small. Here is an idea of some things you’ll want to include:
• Brushing teeth
• Making breakfast
• Finding car keys
• Getting kids ready
• Quiet time
• Making coffee
• Putting on makeup
• Getting dressed
• Eating breakfast
• Packing your computer bag
• Making lunches
2. Evaluate your list.
The next morning, if you remember things that aren’t on the list, write them down. I want you to get an accurate reflection of what you can accomplish and see where the stress is in the morning.
Are you a morning person? Awesome! Load up your mornings, but load it up with the most important stuff.
Are you a night owl? Do everything you can to prep the night before so you can get the rest you need. I could do a whole other blog post on having an evening routine, but the bottom line is…PREP, PREP, PREP.
If it’s not working, brainstorm ways to make it work. Maybe you need a longer prep list the night before, or you might even need to plan earlier in the week. Making a big pot of oats to heat up in the microwave or putting together your outfits for the week can make your mornings go more smoothly. I’m a big fan of a prep and plan day to set you up for success for the rest of the week.
3. Time yourself to see how long things actually take.
We are time optimists. We think it takes 5 minutes to put on makeup, but it really takes fifteen. Time yourself so you know where you can save time, and where to schedule more. You’ll have a realistic idea about how long your morning routine takes and reduce your stress level getting out the door.
4. Print out your list so it’s easy to follow.
Put it up in the kitchen, your bathroom, the bedroom, or wherever you’ll see it. Practice, practice, practice.
When I did this, I learned more efficient ways to get my list done faster. Since I normally eat oatmeal for breakfast, I got to where I could unload the dishwasher in the 3 minutes and 33 seconds it takes to cook.
The first couple of weeks are discovery. After that, it’s execution.
5. Adjust as you go.
By sheer accident, I discovered that my oatmeal turns out just as good if I only cook it for 3 minutes, so I had to think of new strategies to unload the dishwasher 33 seconds faster.
Sometimes you’ll have to change your routine as circumstances change, like for a new job or school schedule. Keep adjusting your routine so that it continues to work for you.
By the way, there’s one other thing that can keep us from a happy morning: Clutter! (You knew I had to go there on a Clutter Free Academy blog post.)
If you haven’t already joined our growing community on Facebook, follow the link to find an encouraging, shame-free place where you’ll get the support you need to get the clutter out of your house.
Peace is possible in the morning, I promise!
Friends, do you ever feel like you just aren’t enough?
Whether it comes to work, relationships, or God, there have been plenty of times I’ve sat in the place of not feeling like enough, and then having to hustle to get there.
Join me today over at Girlfriends In God as we explore what to do when it feels like it will never be enough.
I’m not a big fiction reader, but I love reading books about books. Most of us have dreamt of moving to a small quaint town and devouring books all day long while lounging on our wrap around porch. This is exactly what Sara from Sweden plans to do when she loses her bookselling job and decides to visit her pen pal Amy in the sleepy town of Broken Wheel, Iowa in Katrina Bivald’s novel, “The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend.”
Sara’s plans of lazy days of reading and catching up with her pen pal our disrupted as soon as she arrives. She soon discovers that small towns carry big drama and she finds herself smack dab in the middle of it all. Not all is as it seems as Sara is hit with more than a few surprises.
An Easy Read
I read this book on a trip to Chicago and Canada and got happily lost in the cast of delightful characters. I also enjoyed the references to other books, from Austen and Bridget Jones that are laced throughout the pages. “The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend,” is an easy, enjoyable read from start to finish. It is the perfect book for book lovers!
Enter to Win!
I am sending one of my readers my copy of this book! Simply comment below on why you want to read this book and you’ll be entered to win.
*Just a word on the books I read and review: I have a wide and varied sense of taste when it comes to books. I would love for you to enter and win one of my books – but if you are offended by book content, I would ask that you go online to read reviews to see if this book is for you before you enter to win.
I love me some Facebook Live…
As often as I can, I jump onto my Facebook page on Wednesday mornings and talk about Clutter, Overwhelm and how to get out from under both. But last week, I had a special guest at my house, my coauthor Cheri Gregory! She put me on the hot seat and asked me all sorts of questions that readers submitted about one of the most dreaded words I speak about: Routines.
On the video, Cheri and I answer questions like:
Were you this organized when you had littles at home? What practical tips do you have for moms in the “littles” stage?
How do you manage and remember your routines?
When the unexpected happens, emergencies arise, how do you stop the panic attacks that arise when you get put out of your routine???
How did we get over that all or nothing notion? I’m a perfectionist when it comes to routine, therefore I refuse to do one because I’m so afraid there will be a flux that changes everything and spins the rest of my plan out ofa control!! #perfectionistissues
It’s a great conversation. And, if you watch, you may see me lose my mind when a squirrel invades my garden and steals one of my prized tomatoes… (I, apparently, was not at my best…)
My friend Kevin’s mom was famous for explaining away any purchase she wanted to make by saying, “But, it on SALEEEEEE…”
For most of my life, I was just like Kevin’s mom. If there was a deal to be had, that was all the justification I needed to make the purchase.
Cheap goods are never without a cost.
As I’ve gone deeper into my Clutter Free life, I’ve come to understand a core truth: Cheap goods are never without a cost.
1. Cheap goods cost us space.
Cheap goods we don’t need but justify because they are on sale (or already cheap), take up room in our houses. We need a way to store these things on top of the other things we’re already keeping.
2. Cheap goods cost us time.
If clutter is a problem, then the minutes every day you spend looking for lost items, moving stacks, and dealing with clutter are slowly chipping away at your life.
3. Cheap goods cost us money.
A dollar here and there adds up. I’ve noticed a correlation between those who struggle with clutter and those who struggle with spending. We stockpile things we think we’ll need in the future, while not stockpiling what we will really need—money.
4. Cheap goods cost us our integrity.
Many of those cheap goods are produced on the backs of others—slave and child labor in foreign countries. Since I’ve stopped buying lots of clothes (I’ve bought five items in 2017,) I’ve been able to buy better quality items I know aren’t made with slave or child labor. As a practicing Christian, I need to be aware that I may have slaves working for me, even if they are half a world away. What is my moral obligation?
As I go deeper into my Clutter Free journey, these are the things I need to consider.
I’m not saying that bargain shopping is bad. Quite the opposite. The biggest bargain is not buying things you don’t need.
Break the Cheap Goods Habit
So if you’ve developed an addiction to cheap goods, how do you go about breaking it?
1. Shop with a list.
Always know what you’re going into the store for, and come out with just that. When Roger and I go shopping at Costco, we have a massive list. (We only go once a month and buy most of our food there.) At Costco, we do allow ourselves one indulgence, usually through the samples that are pushed like drug dealers.This month it was the prepared chicken salad. Oy. Vey.
The list rule applies for Target, Best Buy, Bed Bath and Beyond, or any other store we might be tempted. Bring a list. Stick to the list.
If you know you struggle with sticking to your needs, ask a friend (or the Clutter Free group) to keep you accountable. It’s so much easier to resist temptation if you know someone is going to be checking up on you.
If you’re saving up for something bigger and better, it’s easier to say no to the nonsense. We use the You Need A Budget (YNAB) app and love it. We remind ourselves that we can have anything we want, as long as we budget for it.
4. Realize it’s OK to have nice things.
We didn’t bring home any souvenirs from our recent vacation except books, a nice shirt for Roger, and one thing for me. In a little shop in Victoria, there was a woman selling handmade soaps. I found an orange and ginger soap that smelled like heaven. I fell in love.
Normally, I’m a basic soap girl. We have a large container of Soft Soap that we use to refill all the soap dispensers in the house. Cheap and easy. But I realized a few things:
*I loved this soap and would enjoy it while it lasted.
*I was supporting another woman’s livelihood.
*It isn’t clutter. When it’s used, it’s gone.
I bought the soap.
I love the soap. Guess what, I use the soap. And I don’t feel guilty about the price tag because that little piece of soap lines up with my Clutter Free values. And that? Is worth every penny.
Since starting Clutter Free Academy, we’ve had many people ask, “Where do I start?”
If you’re part of our Clutter Free Academy group or on your own, here is a beginners’ guide for those looking to jump in and get results quickly:
(This system is based on my book Clutter Free: Quick and Easy Steps for Simplifying Your Space. The entire program is in there, but this will get you started while you order the book on Amazon or wait for it at the library!)
1. Pick a major source of pain. Get mad every time you go into the garage? See red when you try to relax in the living room? Is your office where papers go to die? Whatever area of your home is causing you the most pain, that’s what needs to be addressed first.
2. Start with surfaces. Some people want to dive into grandma’s photo albums that have been sitting in the attic for decades. But I would encourage you to give yourself a goal (Twenty items a day? Thirty?) and deal with the layers. Start with surfaces that are confronting you every day: Your nightstand, kitchen counters, kitchen table, desk. As you get practice with the day to day clutter, you can start to deal with the deeper clutter. You are building your “flinging” muscles!Oh – and when you start – only pick a small area. One counter, one shelf, one drawer. (I know that’s not a surface, but if it’s a drawer you use all the time and it’s so stuffed you can’t open it, and bad words come to mind every time you try, feel free to tackle that drawer.) To stay focused, you can even use blue painter’s tape to put physical boundaries on the area you are working on. This is great for young kids or easily distracted adults.
3. Set up a donation space. I have a bin in my garage where all my donations go. When it’s filled up, I take it to the car and stop at the “donation station” on the way to church on Tuesdays for a meeting. For the first few weeks of flinging, you may have more garbage and recycling than normal. That’s OK! Understand that you may have to pay for past clutter indiscretions, but going forward, you will remember the cost of bringing clutter across the threshold and will resist the urge.
4. Get your tools together. You will need three bags or boxes to sort out your stuff. Label the containers: Other Rooms, Put Away (anything that belongs in that room, but is out of place), and Give Away. We have nifty color-coded bags with handles that are easy to use. You will also need a recycling bag and a garbage bag.
5. Declutter. Get all your containers and bags around you so it’s easy to sort out your area. Set a timer for 15 minutes and start sorting.
6. Deal with the fallout. At the end of the 15 minutes, it’s time to start dealing with the stuff you are not putting back onto/into that same space. Set your timer for 5 minutes and take care of any container or bag that is full (or close to full). If that is all the decluttering you are doing for now, deal with all the containers/bags. Don’t leave a bigger mess than when you started!
7. Stay encouraged with other flingers. You’ll need a cheering section, especially when you’re getting started or “leveling up” (dealing with harder clutter: sentimental things, family items, expensive clothes, etc.). Connect with people who have made the same hard decisions and know your pain. We have a whole Facebook group dedicated to learning the Clutter Free way.
Join us over there for encouragement and motivation. Miracles are happening in that group. Go be a part of it!
Part 2 of the Focus on the Family broadcast on Practical Tips for Getting Organized is up today! It’s as much fun as Day 1. The banter between Jim and Jean Daly just cracked me up and are so relatable. They share the common struggle many of us have when it comes to what to keep and what to get rid of. This can be especially tension inducing when one of the adults is emotionally attached to everything and the other is seemingly attached to nothing. In Part 2 we tackle some of the most frustrating types of clutter on the planet- paper and laundry!
Click here to listen in on part 2. And get your copy of The Get Yourself Organized Project today!