by Kelsee Keitel
Would you join me in a moment of silence for all the Tupperware containers lost due to my neglect? First stranded in my vehicle for weeks, then tossed to their dumpster deaths?
I can’t tell you the number of Tupperware containers I’ve thrown away without even attempting to open last month’s leftover salad. (At least I think that was salad; you never can tell after 30 days.)
Sometimes I think my Camry is more like a scrapbook than a car.
If given the chance to ride shot-gun amongst my leftover lunches, you may notice the floorboards are littered with last week’s junk mail, sermon flyers from at least four Sundays back, and straw paper memories of the last several early morning fast food breakfast meals I’ve consumed (Chicken-Minis anyone?).
Make your way to the backseats, and you’ll find a baker’s dozen of half-consumed water bottles, about a week’s worth of wardrobe, and enough old receipts to save a rain forest.
I don’t even have children. I can only guess what goodies they would add to my collection!
I remember being 16 and thinking I’d never trash my beloved ride to freedom.
But here I am.
Life, it turns out, is messy.
And you might be in the lane next to me, surrounded by your own junky memorabilia.
I actually don’t mind cleaning my vehicle all that much. But getting myself to actually do it? That is the problem.
I’ve got every excuse for procrastinating this job. My biggest being that the temperature outside is too uncomfortable. (I live in Indiana … so the hot is hot and the cold is COLD!) My next excuse, I honestly forget until the next morning when candy wrappers spill out when opening my door.
But there is hope!
I recently found a system that works for me. I still use the floorboards as my personal dumpster (we’re breaking one habit at a time here, okay?). I no longer have trouble making myself clean out my car.
Here’s my simple system:
When you leave for work in the morning, take two plastic grocery sacks to the vehicle with you.
Go about your day and make as many messes as you like.
When you get home at the end of the day, you’ll be prepared to clean out your vehicle (which happens to be the perfect temperature because you’ve been driving it!)
Fill one plastic sack with trash. Fill the other with items that need to go inside.
On your way inside throw the trash in the trashcan.
Bam! You’re done!
I like this system so much that I’ve started to leave a supply of sacks in my car to tidy up whenever I feel inspired.
One Small Win: If you tired of putting off the task of cleaning your car, gather up some grocery sacks right now and put them by your car keys. Next time you leave, equip yourself for the job with no excuses.
Just think of all the Tupperware we can save!
Kelsee Keitel is a graduate student and blogger, living in Indianapolis, IN, with her newlywed husband. She is passionate about cultivating sisterhood through vulnerability and introducing young women to the freedom and abundance of life in following Christ. When Kelsee is not snuggled up with a book and sipping tea, she can be found experimenting in the kitchen or chatting with her mom.
You can read more about how Kelsee experiences divine moments in the midst of ordinary life over at kelseekeitel.com or on Instagram and Facebook.
It’s a new day, ripe with promise and potential … until I walk into the kitchen. Dishes in the sink, counters dotted with dirty dishes and crumbs, and a cluttered table converge to sing a taunting chorus, “You can’t even keep the kitchen clean, how can you accomplish anything today!”
The strains of their tune causes my motivation to plunge to the depths where my only response is to use the messy kitchen as my excuse for another unproductive day.
Organizing the kitchen without being overwhelmed
The overwhelm knocks me off of my game and renders my to-do list unattainable.
I can’t prep dinner until I unload and load the dishwasher, wipe the counters, and find the recipe. Do I even have thyme in the spice cupboard for the soup? I go to the narrow pull-out cupboard of spices and decide then and there that it is time to win a battle.
I remove unalphabetized spices from the cupboard, meanwhile telling the voices in my head to be quiet; I know I don’t have time for this! But I need a win! The thought strikes me that squelching the noisy refrain from the clutter does not require a weekend of organizing and cleaning. I can win this battle one decision at a time, in just 15 minute increments at a time.
And so I record a victory over the spice cupboard! Now I open the spice drawer and I smile. I smile that I can find what I want. I smile at the homemade spice labels that I commissioned my daughter to make. Such a simple accomplishment but it’s huge for my mindset!
I just needed a win. The next day I silence the noise in the cupboard that houses the varying bottles of olive oil. Another win. I will continue to build on this and soon the kitchen will motivate me instead of overwhelm me.
As I bask in my two wins I realize that once the kitchen is a motivator instead of a killjoy I can apply this to other areas of my home and life. Some momentum in the kitchen will spill over to the rest of my responsibilities and perhaps soon I will feel able to tackle the things that I want to do instead of being overwhelmed by all the things I need to do.
One Small Win: For me, the way out from under overwhelmed is to claim one win and allow that to carry me forward. Who knew that one of the kindest things I’ve ever done for myself was to clean out the spice cupboard?
You can read more from Bethany Howard at bethanyhoward.com. She writes about finding fuel for joy and growth in the details of the daily. Her greatest leadership exercise has been her roles as wife and mom to three. She is a graduate of Leverage: The Speaker Conference.
If you don’t plan your time, someone else will. During the holidays it is especially important to schedule your time in advance so you have the time to do the things that are truly important to you.
Schedule your time for the holidays
For example, I schedule downtime. Life gets very stressful over the holidays, and I schedule time just to relax and wrap gifts with music playing or to kick back and read a book. The time leading up to Christmas shouldn’t be so rushed and stressful that you are totally exhausted and can’t enjoy the holiday. I schedule mini-breaks or downtime throughout the season. This is especially important if you have small children and their schedules are being disrupted.
The downtime is every bit as important as the parties and other social activities during the holiday season. I review calendars and make sure we find time to attend church, candlelight services, and other events that matter to us, I schedule downtime, and then everything else is worked into the time that left or we choose not to do it.
Go back to your Christmas mission statement and make sure everything you schedule fits into your mission. If it doesn’t, you can skip it this year. There’s always next year!
Do what gives you joy and don’t feel guilty for saying NO to everything else.
Assignment: Schedule Your Time for the Holidays
Gather all your calendars and spend fifteen minutes scheduling your commitments (personal, family, church, school, etc.). Now it is time to schedule in some fun! You may want to ask your family what they would like to do this year. Consider dropping things that no longer bring you or your family joy. You may also want to set aside some special time for just you and your spouse.
Once you complete your calendar, be sure to hang it where everyone has access to it.
For More Details: Get Yourself Organized For Christmas – Page 44
1) A blank calendar for November and December (or download printable blank calendars for November and December here.)
2) School, church, work and personal calendars.
Share Your Thoughts:
How does it feel to schedule your time out in advance during the holidays? Did you eliminate some activities? What activities will you keep no matter what? When you think about the holiday season do you feel overwhelmed, relaxed, confident or frustrated?
Putting items on a to-do list tells you what’s important. Putting them on the calendar tells you what’s possible. Add your activities straight to your calendar so you see where you need to cut back.
Prep your Christmas cards
When was the last time you got to December 10th and took a deep sigh of relief that your cards were completely done and mailed?? Umm, I have to answer that one honestly and say never. But I can also honestly say that when they are done early, my stress level goes way down. That is why, I prep Christmas cards in stages.
- Go through the list of things necessary to prep your Christmas cards. Maybe you need to buy paper for your annual letter or get pictures taken. Jot down all of the steps
- Start working through the list and possibly enlist the help of others. Maybe your spouse orders the stamps and prints addresses for you. Maybe your second grader puts the stamps on.
- Make an assembly line while watching a movie to make it more fun. If it is too overwhelming to get done all at once, take time today to decide on one thing to accomplish each day this week. Mark each day on your calendar. By the end of the week, you will be ready to mail off your cards!
For More Details: Get Yourself Organized For Christmas – Page 39-42
Share Your Thoughts:
Have you broken down all of the steps before for getting your Christmas cards ready? Even though it is many steps, much of it can be tackled over time and with help! Do you elicit the help of others? What do you job out to save time, stress or possibly a paper cut on your lip? Come share with us what YOU do in the comments below.
This is a great example of habit pairing — linking a chore with a reward. Think of other habits you can pair throughout the holiday season. Remember — habit pairing = duty + delight.
If you’re not sending a Christmas card this year, or you’re sending a card sans family photo, you get to sit this project out. For the rest of us, it’s time to sit down and choose a photo or choose a date to take or pick your Christmas card picture. Enjoy this project by inviting your family to help select the photo this year.
Maybe enjoy some Christmas cookies and cocoa as you look back on the memories you made together over the year. If you still need to take family pictures, make a day of it! Plan on taking your photos together then going to the movies, out to eat, or grabbing your favorite hot beverage and shopping to fill your Operation Christmas Child boxes.
Assignment: Pick your Christmas picture or set a date to take a family picture.
The earlier you get the picture taken, the better. It’s November so photographers are offering holiday specials and booking sessions quickly. Get your favorite photographer on the phone and get this scheduled.
Make your appointment at a time when your family is at its best. If you are all night owls, don’t plan an early morning appointment. Also make sure no one is hungry when you go for the picture.
Outfits don’t have to match perfectly, but they should coordinate and not clash! Clothes should be comfortable. If uncomfortable, think of the forced smiles!
On a budget?
Digital cards save you time and money and allow you to send a card to any number of friends and family. In addition you don’t have to spend a ton of money on a professional photographer because your pictures don’t have to be as high quality to really look great.
For More Details: Get Yourself Organized For Christmas – Page 32
Supplies: Cards, Picture, Printer paper if you do a letter, stamps, envelopes, address, and return address labels.
Share Your Thoughts:
Will you be sending cards this year? Will your cards include a family picture? Is it a Christmas picture or one taken throughout the year? What made you pick that picture? Do you send paper cards or digital cards? Any tips for others who plan to get a family picture taken or use pictures in cards?
Are you thinking, “We always have a professional photographer trek to the mountains with us in the snowfall to capture us singing carols as we cut down our 12-foot tree, but this year there won’t be snow!” Well, first of all, boohoo. But remember – just because you’ve always done things a certain way, doesn’t mean you’re out of options. You can choose to make new decisions this year!