Do you have a morning routine that works for you? Kathi and Erin discuss how to have a clutter free morning and give you three strategies to make mornings much easier.
Implement these tips now to start the new school year stress-free.
As promised, a pick of Erin’s wall charger:
We will be giving away 2 books to one lucky winner. Leave a comment below within the next 7 days. Start your comment with…..”Hey, this is my best ‘Night Before’ Ideas.” and give us your best tips. We will be using some of them in future blog posts.
One person who leaves a comment with tips will be randomly selected to receive both, The Get Yourself Organized Project and Put the Disciple into Discipline.
*US residents only
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!
Friends, I hope you are staying cool somehow in this crazy heat (at least in California we are having an epic heat wave).
I am excited to share with you that Focus on the Family is running an episode in which I share tips on “How to Have a Happier Husband”. I love helping marriages become everything you wished it would be before you were married. If you need a re-direct on focusing on you marriage or want some new ideas on how to make your husband feel loved, respected, care-for and important, this episode is fun and helpful. I hope you enjoy and share with your friends.
Check out the episode by clicking here.
I shoo the dog from the cramped kitchen, greet new arrivals, and point to the bottle opener’s location — “The next drawer over. No, other side. There, in the front” — sticky sauce splatters the stovetop. Breathe.
“What can I do to help?” she asks.
I feign casual confidence: “I’ve got it under control” — and change the subject to her family’s most recent adventure.
The truth is, I don’t know what needs to be done. Or how to articulate it. So I might as well do it myself.
Avoid the stress of hosting?
Does this happen to you? Last-minute details keep you from enjoying time with your guests. And when someone offers to help, you’re so busy doing that you can’t think if there’s anything someone else could do.
Summer’s around the corner and, with it, the opportunity to host year-end celebrations, picnics, and potlucks. But can you host a meal, and truly enjoy your friends, without all the stress?
Is There a Better Way?
It began unintentionally.
My head throbs. But I’m unwilling to cancel tonight’s social event.
I can always excuse myself early; there’s no reason others can’t have fun!
Knowing my middle-aged brain is more compromised than usual, I list all the menu items and tasks to perform on our kitchen whiteboard.
I work my way down the list, erasing items as I complete them. When guests arrive, I hear the familiar question: “What can I do to help?”
“I’ve got it under control …”
I stop, look at the whiteboard, and say, “Could you finish the deviled eggs?”
Ahhh … My headache begins to fade.
Other guests offer to help. I ask one to cut strawberries. Another wipes down the picnic table.
Peals of laughter and conversation fill the air as we prepare the meal together.
Reduce the Stress in Your Celebrations
We’ve since perfected this dinnertime ritual:
- Line the countertop with the necessary serving dishes
- On a sticky note in each dish, provide simple instructions (e.g., fruit salad — strawberries, blueberries, banana, grapes).
- Hang a list of non-food instructions on the fridge (e.g., bring chairs from the garage)
Now you can enjoy your guests from the moment they arrive rather than ushering them into the living room with drinks.
Or tripping over them as you attempt to balance food prep and conversation.
You’ll create a welcoming atmosphere and your guests will feel at home — nothing says “you’re family” like being asked to set the table!
You may even avoid scrubbing sticky sauce from your stovetop.
Need more ideas for focusing on fun and fellowship instead of stressing out about shindigs? Stop by my blog to grab your free copy of Helpful Hospitality Hints: How to Host a Meal Without Losing Your Mind.
Kendra Burrows delights in encouraging others to see God’s grace in the everyday — when she isn’t chasing the animals (and boys!) out of her kitchen. She’s still learning hospitality requires we share it all, not do it all. Connect with her at www.kendraburrows.com.
Have you ever been frozen in indecision, wondering what to do next?
Me too. There are so many demand on us, it becomes harder and harder to stay true to our priorities. Sometimes it’s even hard to identify our priorities.
Maybe you ask yourself, what does God really want me to do? Especially when there are so many important needs out there.
If you can relate to that question, you’re not alone. There’s been a shift in society that’s silently affecting our ability to identify what’s most important. As I’ve traced this issue back a few years, the confusion seems to have started with email and accelerated with our cell phones.
Let me back up, and try to explain.
The growing competition on our priorities
Growing up, my family had a house phone. Just one. And it was connected to the wall with a cord. There was no call-waiting beep or answering machine. And of course, no email or texting. So if you wanted to reach me, you kept calling until you got through. Or maybe head to my house and actually knock on my door. Quite frustrating when “someone” spent hours talking to a friend!
Basically, the burden to communicate was on the person with the message to share.
Today the responsibility to communicate has shifted. No longer is it your burden to reach me; all you do is type-type-type a message, hit send and all the responsibility floats through cyberspace and lands firmly on me.
Multiply this by every which way people can reach me, and before I even wake up, I’m behind.
Starting out behind
This shift has silently affected all of us. A typical day starts with checking some sort of communication device to see who might have emailed, posted or texted. Then, before we begin to handle what’s most important to us, our day begins by responding to what’s most important to others.
Without a concerted effort to stop this pull, we are drawn into the day’s rushing current like a tiny raft on a whitewater river. And rather than being proactive, our days are spent in reactive mode.
Sound familiar? If so, you’ve probably also experienced the too-long to-do list that comes with it. After we’ve given the best of our time and energy to others, there’s little left to address God’s priorities for us. Consequently we put-off, delay and procrastinate our priorities.
After years of shortchanging myself and my family, and often dishonoring God, I realized I had things upside down! Things that mattered least replaced things that mattered most in my schedule. And work that would make the greatest impact on my life often fell to the bottom of my lists, then transferred to the next list until I either completed it with a fraction of my ability or abandoned it entirely.
Sometimes it’s nearly impossible to figure out our best work. It sounds so easy to say, “Identify your priorities, and do those first.” However, when we face multiple demands we can often feel helpless. And helplessness can lead us to escape, avoid or try and numb.
Pressing pause and reevaluating priorities
When those feelings start to overtake me and I don’t know what to do, rather than make a self-defeating choice, it’s time to press pause. Sometimes, the best thing to do is nothing … except seek direction and wisdom from the One who knows what our best is.
Given the chance, others will set our priorities for us. Yet God specifically has a calling for each of us that will only come from Him. To discern this, we need wisdom. Without God’s wisdom, we make decisions on facts and feelings. And the fact that I have 100 emails to answer and feel overwhelmed does not mean it’s wise to do so now.
To find wisdom, I need to silence the demands of many, to hear the commands of One.
God is faithful, and His Word promises we can receive wisdom. In fact, it’s a gift from God.
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5)
As my life becomes more interconnected with others, my priorities are harder to identify. There will always be new demands rising to the tops of my to-do list, giving me reasons to delay tackling my own priorities.
There is hope. When we take our tiny raft out of the raging river, and sit on the banks with our Heavenly Father, He will give us wisdom for what to do next. Sometimes it’s answering an email, but it might be something else He has planned for today.
Glynnis Whitwer is a wife, mother of five young adults and executive director of communications for Proverbs 31 Ministries. Her latest book, Taming the To-Do List: How to Choose Your Best Work Every Day, is available through Proverbs 31 Ministries or wherever books are sold. Her next book releases July 4, 2017, and is called Doing Busy Better. Pre-order here. You can connect with Glynnis on her website: GlynnisWhitwer.com.