Archive for the ‘Home Management’ Category

02/17/10
Amy
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(Home Management) Cleaning out the Fridge


One of the best ways to establish a new habit is to build on an existing routine.

Trash day comes on the same day every week. It is a routine. Cleaning out food from the fridge that is growing as a science project is a task that you often procrastinate doing until you can ignore it no longer.  It is a task that would be the most effective as a routine. Since trash day is a routine that has already been established for you, build on that and try to make trash day (or the day before trash day) your routine day for cleaning out the fridge. This gives you a natural weekly reminder as well as an efficient way to not stink up the garage with the old food.

*Tip – To simplify this routine even more, read my easy idea for date-labeling food.

01/22/10
Amy
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(Home Management) The Laundry Rut


laundryI am famous for my laundry ruts. I do several loads of laundry one day and never complete the process. The clothes are cleaned, but they remain in laundry baskets for several days until I need the baskets to run new loads of laundry. The clean laundry then gets carelessly dumped on the bedroom floor. At some point that day, knowing that more loads of laundry are on the way, I might finally work on putting away the clean clothes from several days ago. Consequently, I become sick of folding laundry long before the new loads are dry. The vicious cycle repeats.

In response to my frustration over this major household management weakness, I recently imposed a new rule upon myself. Imagine my surprise when it truly worked!! But would it stand test time of time? Weeks later, there are still no piles of laundry on my bedroom floor.That, my friends, is a victory.

The rule is simple: Do not start a second load of laundry until the first load is washed and put away.

It sounds almost too simplistic to be revolutionary, but it works. I can complete one load of laundry. I might procrastinate on two loads, but one load can be completed quickly. It is manageable! We tend to work on chores and projects that we know we can successfully complete and having that small victory is both motivating and energizing. You will find that you actually accomplish more.

So the next time you find yourself in a laundry rut, try the One Load Rule and kiss those piles of wrinkled laundry goodbye.

01/01/10
Amy
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(Home Management) Toy Rotation


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Toys are wonderful things. They can stimulate creativity, provide entertainment, and have the potential to enrich the childhood experience. But there can be too much of a good thing. Has your child ever come to you, complaining of boredom and dramatically declaring that there is nothing to do? But when you look around, the floors are littered with numerous sets of toys, half-worked puzzles, and mismatched games. Toys that you and grandparents spent lots of money on! How can they be so ungrateful?

As adults, we are (largely) aware of how our workspace impacts our state of mind, ability to work effectively, and our level of creativity. When there is too much in front of us that is demanding our attention, we can become paralyzed or ineffective. Where do we even begin? I felt this way about cleaning my house just today!

It is the same way with our kids. While variation in their toys can have a positive impact, unorganized quantity can render them useless. Even though play is different than work, our minds function similarly in both scenarios. The less that is immediately in front of us demanding our attention, the more focused we can be on the task at hand, allowing our minds to exert energy on depth instead of surface management.

When it comes to toy organization, the best place to start is with a simple box system, a concept that I have written about previously. The boxes enable you to easily store the toys in a variety of locations such as in closets, on shelves, under beds, or in the attic. The next step is to implement a toy rotation. Every few months, rotate out the toys from deeper storage into storage that is readily accessible to the kids. Then encourage them to only get out one or two boxes of toys at a time. This allows them to be completely focused on the play at hand. When they decide at some point that they want to move on to the next activity, clean-up expectations are clearly defined: return the first activity(s) to their boxes before taking out another.

You will quickly find that the toys take on a new life, as well as an increase in your child’s attention span and creativity. And all it took was a few little boxes.

11/19/09
Amy
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(Home Management) Date Labels


Don’t you hate the Expiration Date Debate? You know, the one where you stand in front of the fridge and look at the deli meat or leftover chili, knowing it is on the brink of not being fresh, but you are unable to make a commitment one way or the other. So you choose to eat something else and repeat the same debate the next day. This continues until you are absolutely sure that the food is past its prime or it has become a science experiment in the making and you can confidently throw it away.

labelsRemove the guesswork from your leftovers in one simple step. Purchase a package of small white labels, kind of like the ones you would use at a garage sale. When you first open an item or put away the food from dinner, predetermine the expiration date that you are comfortable with, write it on the sticker and stick it on the package or container. Then when you open your refrigerator, you will immediately know what is edible, what needs to be eaten today or never, and what is destined for the trash.

11/07/09
Amy

(Home Managment) Centerpieces


Centerpieces bring life to a room. If you look at Pottery Barn or other home decor magazines, you’ll find that two things ultimately give a room that much coveted pop: the lack of clutter and the accent or centerpieces. But you don’t have to be an interior designer or have a big budget to create that look in your home.

Using items from around your house, you can easily create striking centerpieces. Here are a few tips to get you started:

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1. Start with an anchor piece such as a tray, place mat, or an open napkin.

2.Draw inspiration from the room itself. By incorporating elements that are commonly used in that room, you instantly create a homey feel by making the room real and relatable.  For example, if you are making a centerpiece for a kitchen or dining room, use food related items such as bowls, pitchers, fruit, vegetables, baking tools, mugs/glasses, cookie cutters, chopsticks, wooden utensils, or vintage food tins. In a living room or study, you can use books, magazines, eyeglasses, jars of small office supplies (paperclips, rubber bands, thumbtacks, crayons, etc.), a small puzzle, or a set of coffee mugs. And bathrooms can easily be brought to life with bars of soap, cotton balls or cotton swabs, washcloths, lotions/shampoos or bath beads.

3. Add a couple of warm, homey elements; preferably some type of candle and also a form of plant life. Flowers provide a great opportunity for a pop of color, but a simple form of greenery can also provide warmth and a neutral palate to allow you to work in color through other elements. Candles are another opportunity to add a soft touch to your centerpiece. Whether you use a couple of bigger candles to add height, a few votive candles for warmth, or a set of bundled candles for a traditional touch, it is hard to go wrong with candles.

4. Design your centerpiece with variation in height. After you decide on your anchor piece (as described in #1), base the rest of your design around your tallest piece. Gradually bring down the height with 1-3 medium sized pieces, and then use your small items as filler.

5. Color. If you need to add a pop of color to your room, centerpieces can provide you with a great opportunity. You can get away with color there that you can’t in other parts of the room. Don’t be afraid to add a couple of bold elements!

6. Holidays can also be a great inspiration for centerpieces and provide an easy way to decorate your home for the season.

*Tip – Designate a box or cabinet to storing small home decor pieces that are not currently in use. When you get the urge to make a change, you will have your accent pieces ready to mix-and-match into a fabulous new focal point.

10/25/09
Amy
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(Home Management) A Completable “To Do” List


There are infinite ways to set up a “To Do” list. Categorized, prioritized, or itemized. However you organize it, a “To Do” list increases productivity. It brings direction, focus, and intentionality to your day.

“To Do” lists can also be overwhelming. When we begin to fill our lists with “could do” items (a.k.a. “ideals”), the lists can become impossibly long. When you feel overwhelmed with your “To Do” list, it has already lost its effectiveness. There are only so many things that you can accomplish in a day and your daily “To Do” list needs to reflect that.

How many tasks could you easily accomplish today? Five? Seven? Ten? Make your list completable. Find a number that you are not overwhelmed by and make your list.  If you complete your list with time to spare then you can create a second list that is completable within the remaining time. However long it is, the list should free you emotionally and mentally to focus on the tasks that you deemed important enough to make the cut. The endless list of ideals can wait.

What will you accomplish today?

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09/29/09
Amy

(Home Management) Two Day Activity Log


Do you ever have days where, as you crawl into bed, you wonder where your day went and what exactly it was that you accomplished? The hours fly by and at least most of the essential needs of family members were met, but it can become impossibly frustrating if you perpetually feel like you never move beyond that.

Try keeping an activity log for two to three days. You can do this by setting out a notebook and pen in an accessible location. When you walk by, quickly jot down your recent activities and the time spent on them. This is an exercise that requires a bit of a commitment, but the payoff is worth it. It can help you to pinpoint inefficiencies, wasted time, and places where priorities need to be readjusted.

You might find out that the essential needs of your family are just extra high in this phase in life or you might discover some significant points for readjustment. Whatever technical adjustments you make or don’t make, I think you will find that your log simply helps you to reclaim some peace and direction in your days.

09/18/09
Amy

(Home Management) Buy One Ahead


There are few things more frustrating than not having an item on hand when you need it. Whether you run out of toilet paper or are lacking a can of tomato sauce to finish making supper, stress is introduced into your life. And when situations like this are repeated throughout your week, it creates the feeling of being perpetually behind.

With a simple tweak in how you manage your purchases, this particular stress can be easily removed from your life.

Transition to buying one ahead for your non-perishable foods, baking ingredients, and toiletries. As soon as you open a new bottle of shampoo, laundry detergent, a bag of flour, or a bottle of ketchup, add it to your shopping list. This removes the stress of discovering you are out of an item when you need it and extra trips to the store, as well as providing yourself with the opportunity to purchase the product when it is on sale. You end up saving money while making no change in lifestyle. The only thing that is removed is stress.

And all you have to do is buy one ahead.

*Tip – Don’t expect yourself to make this transition overnight. Begin to build your one-ahead-supply by buying a second item when you see a sale and ease into this home management technique one purchase at a time. It won’t be long before you see this habit integrated into your everyday life.

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09/07/09
Amy
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(Home Managment) Front Porch


The front porch of our own home is not a place where we spend much time. We don’t stand on our own front porch waiting for somebody to answer the door and if you park in the garage or typically enter your home through a back door, then you rarely even pass through it. When we prepare for guests coming over, it isn’t even in our line of sight, yet it is the place of first impressions for our guests.

Spend a little bit of time giving a fresh face to the front of your home. Brush off the cobwebs, put out a new welcome mat, wipe down the front door, and add a few splashes of color in the form of flower pots. You will feel a new sense of pride every time you answer your door.

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08/31/09
Amy

(Home Management) An empty dishwasher


img_3851Can you imagine waking up to an empty dishwasher every morning? That would mean no piles of dirty dishes on the counters and no full loads of clean dishes to put away greeting you with the morning sun. There is nothing more demotivating than having to trudge through unfinished chores from yesterday before you can charge ahead with today’s tasks.

Make it a priority to leave an empty dishwasher at the end of your day. It is the best 10 minute bedtime preparation that you can make. There is no better feeling than waking up and already feeling like you are ahead of the game.

Go here to get more cleaning strategy ideas!