Redefining Home Management

Monthly Archives: October 2012

Practical Solutions… Time Management

Now that you all understand a little bit of what’s going on in my head as I pick organizational projects, set a budget, get to work and try to maintain that order, I’d like to share some practical stuff I think applies to many projects. The next series of post topics relate directly back to the “what is hindering you” questions of my last post. If you just have too much stuff – your favorite post may be “Setting Boundaries”. If you lack systems “A Place for Everything” might be more helpful. For all of us, a great place to start is time management


Time Management

In the book “Creative Counterpart” Linda Dillow talks about being a wife and mother. She says, “A Creative Counterpart is a woman who having chosen the vocation of wife and mother decides to learn and grow in all areas of this role and work as though she were aiming for the presidency of a corporation.” Regardless of our work status outside of the home, I love the idea this quote represents. It recognizes the work and attitude required to manage a busy home, it is no small task!


How many of us look at our weekly schedule and fit in activities wherever it seems we have “free time”. But what about laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning, managing schedules & forms & bills… All too often as busy families we just assume we will find time for those tasks, and they end up stressing us out on a weekly basis! These basic tasks that are required in life are time consuming and important to the functioning of our families! How do I stay on top of all this stuff – I schedule it into my week like a Dr.’s appointment. And, if an appointment or activity threatens that time slot – I say no to it.


Each Sunday, I sit down for 5 minutes with my calendar and look at my entire week ahead. Notice that I don’t include details – it is a very quick outline. I plan out when I will do all of my tasks that week given any appointments, activities, school functions, meetings… I may have. I set aside time for cleaning, laundry, going to the grocery store, other errands, working out. Here is a sample schedule from a few weeks ago…


A Sample of My Weekly Plan

(click on image to download blank template)


These are the things that a lot of us don’t schedule and just think they’ll get done. If I don’t prioritize these things and set time aside at the beginning of the week it becomes stressful to fit them in. I’ll get sidetracked, distracted and over-committed because I say yes to stuff before thinking through what I really need to do to feel on top of the basics of life.


Completing the weekly plan also allows me to plan for each day the night before in less than a minute or two.  I glance at my day and know if I need to take my work out clothes with me, returns, receipts, get a grocery list together.  Without this schedule I end up frustrated and stressed out when my day seems to fall apart.


This is how it looks for me: I run out the door in a hurry to the the gym right after taking my son to school so I can make my favorite Pilates class. I realize while working out that I need to run errands but am lacking the list, coupons, returns, present I was supposed to mail… I don’t have time to go home and get the stuff and still do my errands before getting my daughter to preschool. The bigger frustration comes when I realize that with the rest of my week and being stuck at home for my youngest son’s afternoon naps I have no time to run my errands. I end up dragging tired and hungry kids to stores at crazy times, rushing around and getting frustrated that they don’t feel my urgency to get the groceries and then tack on one last errand after the kids are in bed – missing my chance that week to lay low at home with my hubby.


Sound familiar – this isn’t hypothetical for me – I’ve had this scenario and it always leaves me wishing I’d paid better attention to my weekly schedule.


Note that this is my short version after doing this for many years. I don’t write down getting the kids ready for school, feeding them lunch, nap routines, regular checking of my “to do” file for urgent items…. There is a lot in my day that I don’t write down, but I’ve learned what I can handle on top of my daily routine in the morning, afternoon, and evening. I have 1-2 hour chunks of time throughout the day that when planned for and used properly, I can get cleaning, laundry, shopping, managing papers & schedules… done. When I don’t have that time planned for I forget what I need to do, get distracted by the t.v. or internet… Wasting little 30 minutes slots of time here and there can completely derail an otherwise manageable week.


A side note is the *. This is a way for me to prioritize my life – it’s the stuff I’d like to do, but won’t if I can’t get the other stuff in first. Also, I don’t usually plan dinner that well. I often have 1-2 meals planned for the week and rely on my stand-by’s for other nights. More on managing meals another time – notice I didn’t call it meal planning. I don’t meal plan, I’ve tried – it doesn’t work well for me – kudos to those of you that can!


Time-management is something I am so passionate about and would encourage you to explore if you are frequently feeling overwhelmed. Mapping out your week not only makes you proactive in using your time wisely, it also helps you identify if you are over-committed or wasting time on things that don’t line up with your priorities. If you feel overwhelmed and don’t know how to change it, map things out for a few weeks. At the end of each week evaluate how the week went and make a few notes on the back of your schedule. Save your weekly plans, and after a month go back and review where your time has been spent. How do you feel about it? How does your family feel about it? Do you need to scale back your commitments or be more intentional with your time?


If you would like to dig further into this topic, I love this article from Dr. G. Harry Leafe, Jr of Scriptel Ministries on Time Management.


As I am spending more time pursuing this dream of an organization blog and business, I am myself encountering new challenges in my schedule. My life has looked roughly the same for about 7 years, since my first son was born. However, as I take all of the responsibilities I have for my home and add in the writing of posts, working with clients in their homes, and researching and shopping solutions for others; I am having to evaluate my time management. I have a new priority in my life, and I’m loving it.  But, I’m still evaluating what that looks like.


In all of this, I am once again really having to rely on my weekly schedule to use my time efficiently and for the right things.  My hope is that I can stay true to my priorities and let the other stuff go without guilt. Lofty goal I know!!!

What is Hindering You?

My hope is that by this post some of you are excited about the changes that could occur in your life with a little more organization – or a lot! I am excited to get to the projects that will help you with the “how to”. But, before the projects… I have one more issue to raise.

READY! What is holding you back, preventing you from being organized? Ugh, tough one! I know that one isn’t fun for most of us! But, I think it is so important to understand. Not that you are going to fix it tomorrow, or maybe ever! However, understanding what is hindering us will help us evaluate if our WHY? is really important enough to STAY! organized, and if so HOW! to do it. So, don’t hate me, but more tough questions for you to ponder.

Like the “why” questions of before, does one of these questions really hit you? Did you feel a little twang of “ugh” when you read one of them? If so – awesome! Why awesome you ask, because once we know what is hindering us we can do! something about it. In my next post I’ll have some thoughts for you on what to do with each of these hindrances – some real & practical stuff!


OR, are you unsure about the answers to these questions? Are you struggling with why all of your good intentions and hard work aren’t leaving you with a sense of order in your home or life? Do you feel at a loss with today’s question: What is hindering you? Are you like one of my dear friends that tries to be organized, is really on top of things in her life, and wants to be organized but just feels like she falls short? Maybe you need someone that loves you to give you a little tough love. Ask a sister or close friend (maybe NOT your husband, unless you are a bigger person than I!) to be real and honest with you about what they see.


My friend asked me one day, “I can take it, really, what is hindering me?”. We continued to have a conversation about the things in her life that consume her time and make it difficult for her STAY! organized to the level she desires. In that conversation she realized that she had some very good priorities (and so did her husband) that made it difficult for her to be as organized in her home as she desires. I can’t tell you that she has since become one of the most organized people I know, but I think (I hope!) she at least walked away with a little less guilt and a little bit more of a realistic view of her reality, at this point in her life. The cover of Good Housekeeping is probably not in her near future, however she is excellent in her role as a mother and housewife. Her top priorities are where her efforts fall, and at times that leaves a little to be desired in the organization department – all for good reason.


I encourage you to really look at what is hindering you, is it good stuff, stuff that shouldn’t change? Maybe you need to let go of some guilt and keep about your business. Even though organization is “my thing”, there are times that no one would know it from the looks of my home. But many of those times have also been a result of a favorite weekend with my family, the end of a wonderful week just playing with my kids, or a valuable day of doing something for someone else. Some of you may find good tips and inspiration on this blog to get order in your home or you may just find small projects that make life a little easier in your already orderly home. Others may find that you just feel less guilty when you read my posts – and I’m totally ok with that -whether your guilt is lifted as you see how messy my house can be or how messed up my priorities can get if I’m not careful. Either way, I hope you join me again!


This is really the end of my super serious/philosophical/not-so-practical posts. For those of you still reading… THANKS for sticking with me!!! My first hope is that you have been able to analyze your organizational tendencies and find some focus. I really believe that if we know WHY! we want to be organized and WHAT IS HINDERING! us we are well on our way to getting it DONE!


If you have a clear understanding of these two things you can start using some of the tools and systems that we are smothered with from websites, television shows, books, magazines and maybe even this blog! to get organized. You can evaluate for yourself which things you will be motivated to keep using and doing for the long haul, and which things address your greatest hindrances. Then you can take that all important final step of STAYING! organized.


Here are some of my favorite sources of inspiration and organization products!

You can also follow me on Pintrest, but I warn you I start dreaming of projects and get a little pin-happy sometimes!  Also, at this point my Pintrest boards are really about inspiration for me, my home and my family.  You won’t find a wealth of organizational inspiration – at least not yet! – but you will see what interests me, what I would love for my home to look like…

Have you had an “oh my gosh” moment of why you want to be organized or what will seriously motivate you? Are you thinking about organization more, becoming more aware or your personal strengths and weaknesses?  Please, share your thoughts with me! Are you struggling to find motivation in anything that you think will really STAY!  I’d love to hear from all of you! Email:, or comment on this post.


Motivating Me to Organize

Hopefully my last post convinced a few of you to hang with me through Organization 101, until we get to the fun projects! Today I want to pause on the topic of why you want to be organized long enough and get a little personal.  I’d like to share a little about my “KEYS” to staying organized during the craziness of life, when it seems like an impossible task. I hope that it also helps you identify some positive reasons to be motivated to not just organize a space, but change the way you view your organized life!


I can quickly identify my three key motivators on a daily basis that help me “stay” organized. I love my blessed life! and want to have the time and peace of mind to enjoy it to its fullest. When my home is in order it allows our family to run more smoothly. We can enjoy ball games, school events, family gatherings, and spontaneous trips to the park or pool. A big key for me is being able to enjoy my home, family and friends – these things bring me even more JOY! than an organized closet!


Here is something that brought me lots of Joy! A very fun Dr. Seuss Birthday Party for my baby (who’s not a baby anymore!)   We shared a fun day with friends and family! More on organization in a minute…


Click on photo to check out a post on the festivities!


Back to the real topic of this post – what it’s all about for me!


More than just the peace of mind order brings to my days, I also want my children to grow to be good stewards of what they have been blessed with  I want them to understand that this blessed life we live is not to be taken for granted or treated poorly. I want them to understand that taking care of our belongings is hard work sometimes, but it is important and worth the rewards. I also want them to feel good about home, able to relax here and proud to invite their friends in.


My third greatest motivator in my daily life is my husband – my love! I have never a day in my life felt pressure from him to order anything in our home. Yet, on a regular basis I see (and he tells me) how much he appreciates it, benefits from it and is thankful for it. However just in case you are thinking we live in bliss! he does wish he could pile the contents of his pockets on the counter and leave his shoes in front of the door without me moving them!


Here is one of my challenges! to keep our home in order so that it functions well and promotes peace among us – but not get so caught up in perfection that it destroys our peace or the quality of our time together!


I would also say that being a good steward of my blessings – not wasting time and money on missing or destroyed things – is of value to me. It drives me crazy when I know I own something, but can’t find it – and yes, this does still occasionally happen to me!


It is also a good thing when home is a source of rest, security and pride for those in our family. Here is another challenge for me! I want my home to be a source of pride for my husband in how hard he works to provide for us, and for my children that they will desire to bring their friends and every aspect of their lives into our home on a regular basis. However! I do not want our home to be a source of pride for me – in how “orderly or clean” it has become. I know that pride prevents others from feeling welcome in our home and is generally followed by a week of my home looking like a tornado came through town!


Yes, on most days you can enter my home and most things are where they belong – at least to start and end the day!  It is the in-between time that can be a bit crazy!  These pictures are of my home at about 4pm one day last week.  I went to the gym and ran errands all day, and had to shower. (sometimes it gets to the point it is no longer optional!)  By the time my kids got home from school my shopping trip was strewn across the floor, nobody got their bags in our lockers on their way in the door, toys were all over, and yes! those are breakfast dishes in the sink!


You see, we all have those times, the reality of life means that if our priorities are properly placed – some days our house will be chaos!  My goals are to make sure this does not become the norm of a day start to finish in our home, and that systems are in place that make recovering from a day like this fairly fast and painless.  More on that to come – I know I keep saying that!


So, before you read my next post and I’m hoping you still want to! 🙂  I would encourage you to really ask yourself… Do you need to be more organized? Why? Being organized is truly “the thing to be” these days, but what are the costs & benefits? Organizing too much is just as detrimental to the things in our life that matter most, as organizing too little. I know it is a constant challenge in my life to work towards organization that only makes me better in my role as a mother and housewife.  I have to be able to maintain order, but also be o.k. when my blessed life leaves me a pile (or 2 or 10) of who knows what!!!


And… If you (or someone else in your house – wink! wink!) is not sure about being organized, read this!



Projects & Pictures to Come

Today I am going to take a pause in the seriousness of my last few posts. I really feel the need to let you all into my heart for organizing before I throw out a million random projects, thus all this intensity. I will leave this series of posts on my blog for the long haul, under Organization 101. But, there really is some fun to come! Here is a fun DIY project from my daughter’s room – cheap artwork! (click photo for details)


Decoupage Wall Art


I also want to preview some of things I plan to share in my upcoming posts. Yes, this is my attempt to coerce you into hanging with me for a few more philosophical posts!


Fall Clean Up! Please tell me I am not the only one that has chaos on many levels by the end of summer! My kids put on their fancy new outfits and head off to school looking so nice and I am stuck in a house that looks like a tornado hit. (Seriously who am I kidding – I can’t get my son to wear anything but athletic shorts but you get the point!) I find that all that summer fun has left me with a serious mess! I will post my projects as I re-organize their closets, (hint: school clothes in, summer clothes stained and shrunk!) pack up the summer toys, get my mud room ready for an Iowa winter… ugh!


My kiddos on their first day of school! I know… the proud mamma just had to throw those in!


School Has Started! I’ll share with you my tips and systems to control school papers and art and lunch boxes and homework and activity schedules and …. (a bigger ugh!)



This is a little sneak peek of our mud room wall, which is the hub of the endless papers that come and go on a daily basis, our keys, our crazy schedule… Speaking of a crazy schedule, mornings are the worst!  Anyone that knows me can attest to the fact that I am NOT a morning person!  If I must be awake a 5am I would rather have stayed up that late, than drag myself out of bed to the sound of an alarm.  Fortunately, my kids have learned at very young ages to, “leave mommy alone when she’s sleeping”!   But, my tendency to sleep late could easily complicate our mornings.

Recently my kids seem to have gotten the hang of their morning tasks.  They are completing them on their own and then play or watch a show until I get up.  (Really it’s only about 20-30 minutes at most and many times my husband is still home – I promise they aren’t starting the day off with a full Disney movie before my feet hit the floor!)  But I can say a morning routine has really helped things go smoothly in our house.  (I must digress for a moment:  every time I have typed “morning” for this post I have accidentally typed “mourning” – even my subconscious hates mornings!)

So today I’d like to share another thing I plan to include in my blog posts:  FREEBIES!  And, who doesn’t love a freebie – even if you don’t need it, you still love it!  Actually a lot of us end up with a lot of clutter due to “freebies” and “really good deals”, but more on that another day.  If you’ve been wanting to reinforce a morning routine with your kids or have come to realize that a routine might mellow your morning a bit, here’s a handy checklist…


 Click on Image to Download a Printable Copy


Most of these are self-explanatory, but I just want to clarify that I don’t make my kids clean their room every morning.  I really am not that OCD!  This is something that we are still working on, but it is about P.J’s not being on the floor and any books or toys they used that morning being put away.

Although I could probably keep my blog busy for the rest of the year on posts about paper clutter, school papers, organizing schedules, and managing the mass of stuff that comes in and out of the door with children every school day, we WILL talk about other more fun things as well!


My “TO DO” List!   I’ll humble myself! and show some of the projects on my long-standing to do list – complete with before and after photos!  My pantry is one of those, actually my whole kitchen.  Remember that AWESOME pantry of my first post.  Well it inspired me to pretty up my pantry a bit, and that snowballed into an entire kitchen re-organization project.  Another area – still in progress – is my mudroom / laundry room.  It has “functioned” for a while , but needed some “fine-tuning” to make it function a little better.


Your “TO DO” List!  Some of you will also have the opportunity to send in an item off your to do list, so that we can brainstorm a new solution together and then inspire some others!


For my next two posts I will return to “Organization 101”. I am so thankful you are continuing to read my posts! And, if you have not subscribed to my blog, you can do that using the link in the right hand column to make sure you know when the project posts get rolling!