Real Ways to Create Contentment

Real Ways to Create Contentment

On that sunny August day, I thought my life couldn’t get much worse.

Recently separated from my husband and with no support from him, I was teetering on the financial edge. My kids and I had just moved in with my parents, and I was desperately looking for a job to support my two middle schoolers.

I thought about our old life where the only thing I needed to get them ready for a new school year was a debit card and a couple trips to the mall. With school only a few weeks away, I didn’t know where I’d get the money to buy clothes and shoes or pay for annual physicals.

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5 Ways to Foster Creativity and Stay Organized

5 Ways to Foster Creativity and Stay Organized

Learn 5 easy ways to foster creativity and stay organized at the same time.
 
stay organized and increase your creativity
 
I come from a line of crazy, creative women.

My grandmother was a designer, and then the first woman creative director for Hallmark Cards. She toured all over the Midwest giving talks about creativity while drawing with chalk at the same time. (They were called, adorably, “Chalk Talks”.)

My mom made many of my clothes growing up and is an award-winning quilter. (She made the “guest book” for Roger’s and my wedding – a king sized quilt that everyone at our wedding signed.)

And my step-daughter Amanda, can make anything more beautiful with her lettering, drawing and a little bit of purple glitter.

If you had asked me as a young adult if I was creative, I would have given you my standard reply, “It skipped a generation.”

But now, years later, I can finally say the words “I’m creative”, because I realized that all creativity is not just about making things pretty — we can be creative in a thousand different ways. Here are a few ways I have infused creativity in my day:

  • Putting a great meal on the table;
  • Writing a loving note to a friend;
  • Putting up a fun Facebook Live video;
  • Cutting branches from our trees to make “arrangements”;
  • Mixing up essential oils to make our room smell amazing.

And we all have the opportunity to infuse a little more creativity into our day, but one thing I’ve discovered about myself is that in order for me to be creative, my creativity demands a couple of things: order and space.

So here is how I foster creativity and stay organized at the same time:

 

Create Routine

We all have the picture of the wild and free spirit who is creating everywhere she goes. Her life is one big piece of art …

But what I’ve come to understand is that your creativity needs a safe place to be let out to play. Your creativity needs some rules and structure to feel secure enough to do what it wants to do. This is why I get up at 5:00 a.m. every morning, go downstairs, feed the animals, grab a cup of coffee, and start writing. I’ve trained my creativity to show up and perform on a schedule. I no longer have to wrestle her to the ground – we have a standing date.

This routine also helps me stay organized in the morning because when I start my day the same way every day, I am able to continue my day the same way. After I write, I walk the dog with my husband, come home, clean up, and get ready for the day. One of the beautiful things about routine is that you don’t have to spend a lot of time deciding what you’ll do next. It’s already been decided for you and your brain is free to think of other, amazing creative things.

Your To Do: Where is one block of time that you could create a little routine for yourself? Create a pocket of routine in that time and then start to grow your routine to two hours. (I highly suggest starting with first thing in the morning or last thing at night.)

 

Break Routine

As much as I believe in the benefits of routine, sometimes there is value in breaking out of it, for creativity’s sake.

Right now I’m sitting in the passenger seat of our Rav 4 listening to Simon & Garfunkel’s I Am a Rock while driving in Northern California with my husband by my side (singing about 40% of the words to the song while tooling down the freeway.) This? It’s not my optimal writing situation. But, sometimes, it’s good to get out of your routine, mix things up a bit, and challenge yourself to do the hard stuff and be creative even when the circumstances don’t lend themselves to it. I love to know that I can be creative – no matter where I am or what I am doing (or whose off key singing I’m listening to). I am a warrior!

Another way I love to break routine is to dedicate a couple of times a year to just being creative. I love to get away with a few friends to a cabin or house somewhere pretty and just hunker down and write all day. This is when I can get away from laundry and errands, hang a “Do Not Disturb” sign on my email (with an auto-responder) and just concentrate on getting my creativity on.

Your To Do: Don’t have a cabin in the words? That’s OK. Take a Saturday in a Starbucks, or even rent a hotel room with a friend. (But be sure to set up the schedule ahead of time so you know when to chat and when to write. There’s nothing worse than coming home from a writer’s retreat without having written anything…)

 

Plan Out Your Day

There is something about having a well-scheduled day that forces you not only to stay on track, but actually frees up your brain to think differently.

I love scheduling my day and seeing it on paper – it helps me see my day in chunks and make plans to create.

When I’m scheduling, I try to break up my “thinking-about-how-to-write-this-article” heavy thinking with “folding-the-load-of-towels” non-thinking so that my brain has some time to be free and play. As much as I would love to concentrate my way into brilliant thoughts, most of my favorite ideas come while unloading the dishwasher and removing puggle hair from the couch.

I’ve tried a million different planners, and Iwhat I’ve learned is that I need a planner without a ton of structure. This one from Ruth Choe Simmons, The Gracelaced 17 Month Planner is just perfect for me – with enough structure to keep me on track, but enough blank spaces to give me the room I need to think outside of the lines. It’s exactly what the creative one needs: a little guidance in her life.

Your To Do: Spend just five minutes planning out what you want to get accomplished today (or, if you’re better at night, plan out what you want to get accomplished tomorrow). You will be amazed at how much more room your brain will have to be creative.

 

Organize Your Tools

One of the fastest routes to creativity is to have your tools ready and waiting for you when it’s time to create. Every night I set my coffee to auto-brew, charge my computer, and make sure that my notebook and pen are next to my writing chair before I go to bed. That way, all my tools are where I need them.

The less obstacles you have to get to your creativity, the faster you can start being creative.

Your To Do: Define what your tools are and where you are going to keep them that will require the least amount of hassle.

 

Create Some Space

“Clutter makes me creative!”, we scream. But, actually, all the research says the exact opposite.

We do our best work in an area where we are free from distractions, and let’s be clear; all clutter is a distraction.

Your To Do: Create a space where you can be as free from distraction as possible. An uncluttered area where you can create keeps your mind on the beauty of what you are creating, not the clutter that is trying to steal you attention.

 

stay organized and creative giveaway

Giveaway to Help You Stay Organized!

How do you up your creativity? Share your idea below and you will be entered to win our grand prize sponsored by Harvest House Publishers so you can be creative and stay organized too.

 

Declutter Before and After: Tina’s Story

Declutter Before and After: Tina’s Story

Get motivated to declutter YOUR home with this declutter before and after story.


Tina knows the feeling of overwhelm all too well. Chronic depression made getting started on a project seem impossible. Tina found help when she received a copy of the book Clutter Free, by Kathi Lipp. In the beginning, she says, “I would go and stand in the room and just stare. At everything. And not know where to begin. Sometimes I’d walk out and other times I’d put in 15 minutes.”

Can you relate?

Tina ’s clutter challenge was boxes of paper from many years past, some stuff that belonged to her kids and other things that were her Grandparents’. It all needed to be sorted and passed on to her siblings. She also accumulated things over the years that she had a hard time letting go of, even though they had no sentimental value.

declutter before and after
The most valuable Clutter-Free tip Tina used was asking herself the 3 questions:

  • Do you love it?
  • Would you buy it again?
  • Do you need it?

This simple tip helped Tina so much. She said, “I took my boys their things. I went through my closet a number of times, once passing on 16 pairs of good shoes. I passed on purses and clothes I never used to my daughter-in-law, who has an online store. Many things went to the thrift store. I passed on books I’ve had for years and never read. Out went about 12 cook books!”

She started calling her “junk room” her office and eventually shredded boxes of old bills, bank statements, etc. “My husband used to say ‘Less is more’. I believe him now!

Tina learned that she did not enjoy clutter. She just thought that was how people lived because she grew up in a cluttered home.
“I like to have a place for everything and everything in its place. I’m not a stickler about it, but if I’m going to another room and see something that goes in that room, then I’ll take it with me and put it in its place. I still have more to do but I can now use my office as a reading room, a quiet place, an exercise area,” Tina says.

I’m so thankful to Kathi Lipp!” she exclaims. “Her books, videos, blog and Facebook group inspires me. I could not have done this without her tips and encouragement.”

If you could use some encouragement in your battle against Clutter, why not head over to the kindest corner of the internet, Kathi Lipp’s Clutter Free Academy Facebook group? There, you’ll find encouragement, tips and motivation to continue the practice of living Clutter Free.

BONUS Episode #316b- Organizing Genius: How to be Creative and Organized at the Same Time

BONUS Episode #316b- Organizing Genius: How to be Creative and Organized at the Same Time

Those of us who are the most creative also are usually the ones who have the hardest time finding our tools to get our genius on. In this bonus episode of Clutter Free Academy, join Kathi as she chats with author of Simple Organizing Melissa Michaels as she discusses the key to being organized and creative at the same time (it really is possible)!

Melissa is the New York Times Best Selling author and super blogger at The Inspired Room. She has dedicated much of her time to making sure that we can live with order and structure, but still have a house that reflects who you are.

In this info-filled interview, you will learn how to
• make the most of the space you have
• understanding when to display what you love and when to contain the clutter
• stop feeling overwhelmed by your stuff

I’m thrilled to have Melissa on the podcast – so buckle up those kiddos, grab your phone and let’s dive in.

Insider Info

Want to be entered to win the Harvest House Simple Organizing Grand Prize pack? You’ll win everything you see below including a copy of every Melissa Michaels’ books!

Head over to the blog and enter to win!

Free Organizing Challenge

Participate in Harvest House’ free organizing challenge hosted at https://go.harvesthousepublishers.com/simpleorganizing.

This four-week challenge goes through: 1. The entryway, 2. The kitchen, 3. Office and creative spaces, and 4. Kid’s rooms. Each week includes organizing tips for that space, and then a practical DIY (weekend project) to tackle. The whole challenge is focused on organizing beautifully. Who doesn’t want that?

Meet Our Guest

Melissa Michaels

Melissa Michaels

Melissa Michaels, Creator of the award-winning blog The Inspired Room, is the author of the New York Times bestseller Love The Home You Have, Make Room for What You Love, The Inspired Room coffee table book, and Simple Decorating.

Learn more at https://theinspiredroom.net/

Thanks for Listening!

To share your thoughts:
• Leave a note in the comment section below.
• Share this show on Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest.

To help out the show:
• Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.
• Subscribe on iTunes or subscribe now.

Special thanks to Melissa for joining me this week. Next week you’ll want to come back because we have Ruth Chou Simons of Gracelaced joining the podcast!

Eps: #316: Simple Organizing with Melissa Michaels of the Inspired Room

Eps: #316: Simple Organizing with Melissa Michaels of the Inspired Room

If you long to be organized, but also want a space that is cute and cozy, this is the podcast for you. Listen in for all the tips and tricks that will help you create the space you love to live in.

Melissa is the New York Times Best Selling author and super blogger at The Inspired Room. She has dedicated much of her time to making sure that we can live with order and and structure, but still have a house that reflects who you are.

In this info-filled interview, you will learn how to
• make the most of the space you have
• understanding when to display what you love and when to contain the clutter
• stop feeling overwhelmed by your stuff

I’m thrilled to have Melissa on the podcast – so buckle up those kiddos, grab your phone and let’s dive in.

A HUGE GIVEAWAY FROM HARVEST HOUSE!

Want to be entered to win the Harvest House Simple Organizing Grand Prize pack? You’ll win everything you see below including a copy of every Melissa Michaels’ books!

Head over to the blog and enter to win!

Meet Our Guest

Melissa Michaels

Melissa Michaels

Melissa Michaels, Creator of the award-winning blog The Inspired Room, is the author of the New York Times bestseller Love The Home You Have, Make Room for What You Love, The Inspired Room coffee table book, and Simple Decorating.

Learn more at https://theinspiredroom.net/

Thanks for Listening!

To share your thoughts:
• Leave a note in the comment section below.
• Share this show on Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest.

To help out the show:
• Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.
• Subscribe on iTunes or subscribe now.

Special thanks to Melissa Michaels for joining me this week. Come back on Thursday for a special BONUS episode!

The Simply Organized Home – 10 Cute Ways to Contain All that Stuff

The Simply Organized Home – 10 Cute Ways to Contain All that Stuff

The Simply Organized Home – Learn ten cute ways to store your stuff. 

The Simply Organized Home -- Kathi Lipp
 
Oh friend, when it comes to having a cute house you love to live in and look at, you really only have two options: either make sure your stuff is cute, or make sure your storage is. (I wish there were a third option, like something from Star Trek where you push a button and whatever you want either materializes or disappears, but sadly, I think we are still a few years from that.)

It’s great when your stuff is beautiful and you want to put it on display. But we all have those necessities of life that need to be stored out of sight, but not out of mind. (When I need that bottle of Tylenol, I want to know where it is, no matter how cute the storage is.)

So how do you have cute storage and find things at the same time? Here are some ideas to keep you – and your house – cute and organized.

 

I’ve taken a lot of these ideas from Melissa Michaels’s new book Simple Organizing: 50 Ways to Clear the Clutter. (Check out my interviews with her this Tuesday and Thursday on the podcast.)

 

The Simply Organized Home: Contain Your Stuff

Look around at the items you need handy on a regular basis and see if there is a way you can contain them in something cute.

 

Bathroom Toiletries

Use white canisters for things you’d like to hide, and clear, glass canisters for things pretty enough to display. (Cotton balls come to mind.)

Anything can look tidier when you put it in a container.
 


 

The stuff on my kitchen sink went from scattered to downright adorable once I put it all in this white enamel bucket from grove.co.

 

Laundry Supplies

One of my favorite ways to keep the laundry area tidy is to use a tissue holder to dispense dryer sheets. Also, having a little garbage can for used dryer sheets, lint and oddities left over from someone’s pockets is a way to keep things looking lovely. I use glass containers for my Homemade HE laundry detergent as well as my Method laundry pods.

 

Makeup

I love a good makeup caddy (this one is a lot like the one I use.) The key to a cute makeup caddy is to:

1) not overstuff it – just store in it what you actually use;

2) throw it in the dishwasher once a month to keep it looking great.

 

Cooking Utensils

My most valuable real estate in my house is my kitchen counter space. But I also love to have some of my tools within easy grasp when I’m cooking. Use crocks to store utensils on the counter for a fun, country feel.

Look at how Melissa stores her antique wooden spoon collection! Adorable!

 

Coffee Supplies

We are coffee lovers, and we don’t mind if the world knows it. We put our addiction out there for the world to see. We use glass canisters to hold our coffee and filters, and ceramic canisters to house our Splenda and KCups. I’ve turned this corner of my kitchen into my favorite coffee bar.

 

Office Supplies

Of course, my goal is to have as little paperwork as possible (because, the best-looking paperwork is NO paperwork). But for the papers I do need to keep, I use my galvanized bucket with file folders. For office supplies, I use a combination of fabric shoe boxes and filing boxes in neutral colors. So simple, so cute!

 

The Simply Organized Home: Embrace Every Day On Display

One of the concepts I love in Melissa’s book is the idea of “Every Day on Display,” which is simply the act of taking what you already have and arranging it in a beautiful way. Here are some ways to take everyday necessities and turn them into something beautiful so you can have a simply organized home.
 

Bulletin Boards

One of the things I love about bulletin boards is their ability to tell a story about your space. Don’t overcrowd your board, but leave enough space that it becomes a feature, and a focus of the room.

 

Silverware Caddy

When the handles of your silverware are this cute, you want to put them on display. (Plus, if you hate to do dishes as much as I do, you will feel like you’re cheating when you just dump your silverware into a basket.)

 

Buy Cute

When shopping for that new coffee grinder or your next pair of scissors, decide whether you are going to need to contain them or find something that is cute enough to be on display. Normal scissors? Boring. Pink-handled scissors? They demand to be on display.

 

Consider the Finish

If you decide on a finish for a room, and buy containers with that design, it can pull together the whole look of the space. Here are some of the finishes I have in my house that I just can’t get enough of:

  • White enamel
  • Galvanized metal
  • Fabric
  • Wicker

So much of the time, having a simply organized, beautiful space isn’t about your stuff  – it’s about how you’ve arranged your stuff to make it beautiful.

 

Would You Like to Have a Simply Organized Home?

 


 
What’s your favorite way to stay cute and organized at the same time? Comment below, and you will be entered to win this Simple Organizing gift pack from Harvest House Publishers in celebration of Melissa’s new book Simple Organizing: 50 Ways to Clear the Clutter!

 

How to Pack and Move the Clutter Free Way

How to Pack and Move the Clutter Free Way

Learn how to pack and move without all the clutter!

Learn how to pack and move the clutter free way -- Kathi Lipp

 

In 2003, I became a single mom. Not only did I have to sell my first house, I had to take the contents of that three-bedroom, two bath home and move it into my parents’, where we would have two bedrooms (one for me and my daughter, one for my son) and a small living room area.

I researched all the ways I could organize, so I could move as cheaply and easily as possible, and shocker — the most common suggestion was to get rid of absolutely everything you could before the move.

When it comes to relocating, it’s not about reorganizing – it’s about reducing.

 

What to Consider Before You Pack and Move

Why declutter before you pack and move? Let’s consider your four most precious resources when moving: Space, Time, Energy and Money.
 

Space

Whether you are upsizing or downsizing, the idea of bringing all your old stuff into your new space should fill you with abject terror. And if you are downsizing, you won’t have room for all that stuff anyway, no matter how much you “organize” it.
No matter what size home you are moving into, space is limited. Spend it wisely from the start. You don’t want to start in your new home feeling cramped and pre-cluttered.
 

Time

Your biggest time suck when it comes to moving? Packing things to transport. That is why decluttering before a move is so vital: the less stuff you have the less you have to transport – so the less packing you will have to do.

And it’s not just packing it up on the moving end . It’s unpacking at the new house, and then making a decision about where each item goes. Once you get to the new house, much of your time will be spent finding everything you need amongst all the stuff that you brought (most of which you probably don’t need).
Just think of how much time you will save for every object you decide not to bring with you.
 

Energy

Trust me, on moving day, you will be so grateful to have gotten rid of so much stuff before your move. The less you have to take, the easier it will be on you when you’re hot, sweaty and just done with it. (Why is it that it’s always a thousand degrees when you’re moving? Is it somehow a law that we can only move on the hottest day of the year?)
 

Money

One of the biggest mistakes I see people make is trying to get “some money” out of an item they bought. They paid $20 for that salad spinner and want to recoup at least $10. So instead of donating it, they take it to the new house.

Don’t do that.

If it’s something you don’t use and can’t sell immediately, it is time to give it away.

What not to bring with you? Much of this depends on how far you are moving and who is paying for the move. When you see how big a moving truck is, you might be tempted to just throw everything in there and sort it out later.

Resist that temptation. It’s now more important than ever to ask yourself the three questions of decluttering:

  • Do I love it?
  • Do I use it?
  • Would I buy it again?

I often ask my Clutter Free Academy people when they are really struggling with a decision about whether to keeps something or not, “Would you pay to move it?

But remember, there are several ways to “pay” for something: Space, Time, Energy, Money.

 

Items You Can Leave Behind When You Pack and Move

Here are some items you can leave behind:
 

Curtains and Window Treatments

I’ve heard from many military families that curtains never work from house to house – it’s better to just leave them.

Furniture That Doesn’t Have a Spot

If you can’t picture that extra wingback chair anywhere in your new house, don’t bring it with hopes that you will magically find a place.
 

Paint

Break up with the paint colors from your old house (and be a good guy and leave touch-up paint behind for the new renter/owner.) It’s time to dive in new into your new space and give it some fresh paint love.
 

Parts

Why would you bring parts from your old house to your new digs? Again, be a champ and leave them there for the new tenant.
 

Decorations

It may be time to get rid of décor that you loved but haven’t pulled out in a couple of years. Each house has its own vibe, and you are going to want to make your space your own over the next few years.
 

Appliances

Not all appliances automatically work in every space. Do your research before dragging that dishwasher across town (or especially across the country).

Knowing I had to move everything three hours away, and that our space had been cut in less than half, I had to get very specific about what I would bring and what I would leave behind.

Here are four questions to ask when you’re making those types of decisions:

  • How much time do I have before my move?
  • How much energy do I want to put into getting money out of my stuff?
  • How much do I need to get rid of to fit into my new space?
  • How much will it cost me to move?

 

4 Ways to Declutter Before You Pack and Move

So how do you get rid of all that extra stuff before you make your move?
 

Buddy Blessing

Early after we decided to move, I gathered up everything I knew I wanted to get rid of: books, decorations, food, school supplies, kids’ clothes, jewelry, my clothes, accessories, videos, kitchen supplies, tools, camping equipment and small appliances. Then I put it all in my living room and invited friends to come by and take what they wanted.
It was the fastest way of decluttering, and it’s good for the soul.
 

Free Pile

I had a yard sale and made some money from that, but then I put a “free” sign in my front yard. I would haul things out there, and twenty minutes later, they would magically disappear. Turns out the same family kept driving by my house, waiting for me to put stuff out. Finally, I just had them come into the house, point to the things I was getting rid of, and they hauled them away for me. It was a wonderful arrangement. They were taking the stuff to the flea market to sell, and I was thrilled to get it out of my house. (I was past the garage sale point – I was at the “Just get it out of my house!” point.)
 

Garage/Yard Sale

I’ve written a whole guide on How to Have a Clutter Free Garage Sale, and make a little money in the process. One of my readers, Mellanie, gave me this great idea for prepping for a garage sale: “My sister encouraged me to keep a package of sales sticker dots and a package of blank dots along with a permanent marker in a handy drawer. During the year when I came across something I didn’t use anymore, I put a sticker on it and put it in a box or storage container marked for garage sales. I have them down in my basement all stacked up. I tried it this past year and my stuff is already to sell. I just need to carry the boxes outside.”
 

Nextdoor App

Now, when I’m decluttering, I put things up on Nextdoor under the free column. I put in the description that someone has to come pick it up. I love not having to drag things to a donation center. It’s like a valet for my stuff that I don’t want anymore.

 

Moving is an opportunity. Look at your move as a fresh start in in new place when it comes to clutter.

If you’ve moved before, tell me in the comments below your best moving trick. You could be featured in an upcoming article here on Clutter Free Academy.

#314 Learning to Make a Difference – One Simple Step at a Time

#314 Learning to Make a Difference – One Simple Step at a Time

What would you do if you received a hand-written letter in the mail telling you how amazing you are? In today’s podcast you will find out just how much one person’s heart-felt idea helped make a difference in other people’s lives. Hannah Brencher, author of “Come Matter Here: An Invitation to Be Here In a Getting There World, ” and Kathi, sit down to talk about Hannah’s love letter movement.

In this inspiring interview, you will learn how to:

  • Make a difference one simple step at a time.
  • Be encouraged to show up.
  • Be ready to learn in whatever situation you find yourself in.

I’m thrilled to have Hannah on the show!

Listen to today’s podcast to find out how you can learn to make a difference one simple step at a time.


Thanks to Our Sponsor: Duck Pack and Track


Thanks for Listening!

To help out the show:

  • Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.
  • Subscribe on iTunes or subscribe now .

To share your thoughts:

  • Share this show on Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest.

 

Meet Our Guest

Hannah Brencher is an author, blogger, TED speaker, and entrepreneur. She founded The World Needs More Love Letters, a global community dedicated to sending letter bundles to those who need encouragement. Named as one of the White House’s “Women Working to Do Good” and a spokesperson for the United States Postal Service, Hannah has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Oprah, Glamour, USATODAY.com, The Chicago Tribune, and more. Find Hannah at hannahbrencher.com.

Creating Your Home Office Filing System (Life Organization File)

Creating Your Home Office Filing System (Life Organization File)

The Life Organization File: A step-by step guide to Creating Your Own Home Office Filing System

If you are anything like me, you have a million “notes to self,” and every once in a while, a little piece of paper can get lost in your shuffle. (Or let’s be honest – all the time.)

I have found a very simple system that can help even the most hopelessly unorganized amaze her friends and family with clever holiday ideas and on-time birthday greetings, (as well as getting the bills paid on time.)

The Life Organization File is based on the tickler file system. Here are the items you will need (most of which you probably have on hand):

 

 

Materials Needed for Your Home Office Filing System

 

How to Create Your Life Organization File

On each of the tabs of the 43 folders write one of the months of the year, (January – December) and, the days of the month (1-31) (Or you can download the label templates linked above to make it extra cute using Avery Labels #5160.)

Using your home calendar, write the names and important dates of events in your family that reoccur annually on the inside of the folder. For instance, the June folder in our house looks like this:
 
 

 
12 – Grandma Connie’s Birthday
25 – Our Wedding Anniversary
30 – Kimberly’s Birthday

For one-time events (graduations, baptisms) or holidays where the date changes annually (Father’s Day), write the information on a post-it note and place it on the inside of the folder along with the annual events.

 

How to Use Your Life Organization File (LOF) Home Office Filing System

Once your file is put together, the hardest part is over. Now all you have to do is begin
using it.
 

For Everyday Life

 
Paperwork Day
One day a week, I set aside some time to file any paperwork that needs to be filed. Say that my paperwork day is Monday and the next Monday is the 14th. Any paperwork that I need to file, pay or take care of goes in the file on the 14th. When Monday the 14th comes around, everything I need to file is right there in that folder. I also use that time to deal with the rest of my paperwork.

Suggestions:

  • Make your meal plans.
  • Make your grocery list.
  • Make your list of errands.
  • See what sales are coming up (because you put all your sales flyers in the 14th folder).

Kids’ Stuff
This is also the folder where I drop all the information the kids bring home from school. I would check any notices to see if I can (or must) take care of it immediately. If not, I drop it in the Monday folder.

Mail
I have a place in the kitchen where I put mail as soon as it comes in the door. But when it’s time to deal with the mail, I always do it with my recycle basket, calendar, and LOF right next to me. Dates get entered on the calendar, papers are recycled, and forms, bills and important paperwork are dropped into the LOF to be taken care of.

Coupons and Store Cash
Is there anything more frustrating carrying around Kohl’s Cash for a month, just to check the date and realized it expired yesterday? When I get a coupon or store cash that is valid at a later date, I drop it into the date it starts so I have the best chance of using it.

Projects
If I’m working on an ongoing project, when I finish up each afternoon, I will put it in the next day’s folder so it’s not cluttering up my desk and I’m sure to find it the next day.

To Dos
If I need to call the doctor’s office and it’s after hours, I will just drop a note into the next business day’s file as a reminder to do that as early in the day as possible.

Errands
If you have a regular day you run errands, put a post-it note on that day and drop in any coupons you plan on using. Plus, this is a great place to store your printed-out shopping list to be able to add to it.

 

For Special Occasions

 
About the 20th of each month, I pull next month’s folder and note upcoming birthdays and special events.

If you don’t have a card or a gift already for the event, you have at least a week to get that together. If you have been dropping in cards and gift ideas as they strike you throughout the year, you should have most of the work done in advance.

With your address book and stamps handy, address cards and notes and get them in the mail. (If the birthdays are later in the month, I just stick those cards in with my bills that need to be mailed about the same time.)

Here is the really great part. You know how you see a really great recipe for Christmas cookies, and it is January 15th? Clip out that recipe and drop it in your December file. It will be waiting for you next holiday season.

Have vacation plans for Thanksgiving? Place the tickets in the November file and you will be able to find them when it’s time to go.

Find the perfect Maxine card for your sister, but her birthday is still months away? Buy it now (saving you an emergency trip to buy a card!) and file it her birthday month’s folder.

See a great article on the net on flower pot painting and want to try it out when you visit your mom in May? Just drop it in the May folder and you will remember to take it with you. (And your mom will think you’re a genius!)

 

Some additional tips:

Once a year I go on a greeting card-buying spree. I buy cards that are “just right” for the people in my life, and some general ones to have on hand. When I get the cards home, I address them and stamp the envelopes, but do not sign them until I am ready to mail them. I want my greetings to be fresh and interesting.

This makes a great gift for an older family member who likes to send cards. Show them your file first to see if it would be something they would use. (Some of my relatives in their 90’s have better memories than I do and have no need for a file system!)

When I look through a catalog and see a gift idea, I rip it out and put it in the appropriate file. Even if I do not end up purchasing that exact item, it is nice to have ideas.

I also have a selection of thank-you, thinking of you, get well and a few sympathy cards on hand for last-minute notes.

The files are a great place to store directions to events such as weddings, and parties. You can even keep tickets to future events in the appropriate month’s file (instead of hanging out on the fridge for four months).

 

How to Keep Up Your Life Organization File

The most important part of this system (besides filing all your papers) is to check that day’s folder, every single day.

One of the tricks I played on myself when I was first trying to get used to using my LOF was to get four $5 Starbucks cards and have one of my kids randomly drop those cards throughout the 1-31 files. For four days a month, I got Starbucks just by checking my folders. $20 is a small price to pay for not being late with bills, remembering birthdays and generally killing it organizationally.

Set one day a week to do all your paperwork. If it is Monday, and this week Monday falls on the 14th then all that week, just drop any paperwork into the folder marked 14th. I will stick a giant Post-it on the Monday folder, so it’s easy to drop papers into for review. Once I’m done with that Monday, I will move the Post-it to the next Monday.

By using the Life Organizational File, you’ll be amazed at the amount of paperwork lying around your house that you can now organize and store in your files.

If you struggle with paperwork, this will solve 90% of your problem. Promise.

 

Tell me in the comments the biggest source of paper struggle in your home. I may feature your question in an upcoming post!

Declutter Before and After: Heather’s Story

Declutter Before and After: Heather’s Story

Get motivated to declutter YOUR home with this declutter before and after story.

Heather Prong started 2017 completely overwhelmed and knew she needed to simplify her life. She struggled with depression and felt like the walls were closing in on her. When she sat down to relax, she was filled with anxiety because all of the stuff around her. She saw a Facebook ad for the Clutter Free Lenten Bible study and ordered the book. Little did she know what was in store!

In the beginning Heather faithfully read and learned some strategies. Knowing she was not alone in the struggle against Clutter was a relief, and some of the shame and guilt slowly faded.

The turning point came on a March morning when she thought she didn’t have a lot of time to declutter before leaving for work, but decided to do something.

She started with the front room where she sat to watch TV.

I thought I’d just straighten the speaker and chair sitting right in front of me. It felt so good, so I kept going each day choosing small sections — a table, a shelf, a drawer — something I could compete in a small amount of time.”

Friends, this is what small wins look like! Can I get an “Amen!”?

 

A Strong Why Helps Clutter Go Bye-Bye

About a month into decluttering, when Heather had seen some success and had a bit of momentum, she and her husband got a call from family members who were moving back to the United States. They needed a place to live for a few months. She says, “I knew my ‘why’ and was able to pick up the pace so we could help out our family.” In Clutter Free, Kathi talks about the importance of connecting to your “why,” the dream or goal that motivates you to get rid of clutter.

Heather started in February, and by June she and her husband had cleared a ton of clutter out of the house and built a room in the basement for family to move in. That’s incredible progress, and a huge change from where she started. You can do this, friends!

Heather said, “We were also able to donate at least fifty boxes of things we weren’t using to some of our favorite charities, and honestly, I haven’t missed anything.”

Heather took a lot of before pictures to remind herself of how far she’d come, but this photo of her chair and speaker represents the moment she was able to overcome that feeling of too much stuff, and start the magic of consistent, small decluttering.

 

Declutter Before and After

declutter before and after

BEFORE

 

declutter before and after

AFTER

She says the process wasn’t always easy, “but I kept my love of helping others front and center to keep myself motivated and loved the encouragement from the Clutter Free Academy Facebook group.”

Heather has come a long way from where she began her journey to getting Clutter Free. She feels so grateful to have found Kathi and the Clutter Free Academy group, which celebrates her ongoing progress. “This year, I’m so much more relaxed and am enjoying some hobbies that I didn’t have as much time for when I was feeling so overwhelmed by stuff!”

What are you missing out on because Clutter is overwhelming you?

 

Check out more Clutter Free Success Stories HERE.

Join the You Don't Have to Try So Hard Book Club

We'll be conducting the book club through Kathi's Private Facebook Group, Clutter Free Academy. Join the book club to get access to the private facebook group. You'll receive an email with instructions once you submit this form. 

Check your email for more instructions!