Thursday, October 20, 2016

Monthly Task: Meal Planning

Nearly two years ago I started meal planning monthly. The benefits are amazing!!

I found writing my grocery list for shopping each week was faster and easier. It also helped to make our meals more creative, as we didn't repeat the same dinners quite as often. Instead of pasta every week, we were eating it more like every 10 days. If I decided to have two of the same meals in a month, I found I could cook once, and freeze the extra for the second meal later in the month. And that was a big time saver. 

I will be honest I do get out of the habit of monthly meal planning sometimes. Usually it's summer where the schedule is more flexible. But I'm always so relieved when I start back up for all the reasons I mentioned above.

Do you know what else I do to help make cooking easier? I prep the dinner ahead! The best example of this is using a crockpot, where you put all ingredients in a crockpot in the morning and it is ready to eat at dinner. 

My picture below is of cut vegetables that I will be roasting in the oven at meal time. This particular day I had a necessary errand to run when I usually begin meal prep. I cut all the veggies up in the afternoon, coated them with seasonings and olive oil. I put them in the fridge for cooking later. When I returned home, I was able to  turn the oven on for roasting and get the veggies going pretty quickly. It would have taken longer if I hadn't done the chopping earlier in the day. 

What do you do to help with your meal planning? How many meals do you plan for at a time? Do you prep ahead for any cooking tasks?

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Annual Task: Dusting Baseboards

Can you tell I've been cleaning? I'm knocking out some tasks that are done less frequently. And for me it seems, I'm much more motivated to do them in the spring and fall.

I realized it had been about a year since I cleaned the baseboards on the lower level of our home. I had spot cleaned some obvious areas a few times through the year, but it was time to do a full cleaning.

Last year, I used a small paint brush and a bucket of soapy water because they were really grimy from the previous owners. This year, I used a dry microfiber cloth and wet one.

I used the dry one to wipe up most the dust and the wet one to clean up the remainder and and residue that remained (luckily not too much).

I was able to complete the downstairs of our home in just 30 minutes. I was working very fast and felt like I had completed a workout by the end! I think I last did the upstairs in the spring, so I'll catch those in about six months.

Do you dust baseboards in your home? How often? Do you have a special technique or tool?

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Semi Annual Task: Dusting Ceiling Fans

I took a few minutes last week to complete a semi annual task that just has to be done. The dusting of the ceiling fans.

We have three ceiling fans in our home and they all were quite dusty after running all summer. Look closely if you dare.

It really didn't take much time at all, to wipe each blade (sides, top and bottom) and free them of dust with my microfiber cloth. I also ran a vacuum underneath each one to suck up the dust that fell to the ground. 

A short task. About five minutes at the most for each fan. Twice a year. 

Do you have ceiling fans? How often do you dust yours?

Monday, October 17, 2016

Quarterly Task: Refrigerator Cleaning

I've figured out that cleaning of a refrigerator is at least a quarterly task for me. I would like it to be more often, but it doesn't get dirty that fast for me to notice the need to clean. About every three months, I can see more crumbs and small spills that have accumulated.

I sprung into action last week and attempted to time myself, along the way! It's not as long of a task as you might think. I started at approximately  3:39 pm in the afternoon.  I mention approximately because I had already removed the items on the top shelf when I remember that I should take pictures!

Once I cleared each shelf I simply wiped it down with a soapy rag, rinsed and then dried it off with a kitchen towel.

I made sure to pull out any old food along the way. This time only ONE item that expired on the day I was working on the refrigerator. What are the odds?

By the way, I really try to pull out expired food weekly, just prior to grocery shopping. It it also helps to get leftovers you know you will eat again into the freezer right away.

I only completed the refrigerator on this day. The freezer has drawers and will only take a few minutes more.

The time for this task according to my pictures is 14 minutes. Honestly, it was probably closer to 12 minutes. I once again forgot to take the picture when I actually finished. By the time I took it I had put muffin batter into my cupcake pan and into the oven.

Do you need to clean out your refrigerator? Can you spare 15 minutes or less to get it done? 

Friday, October 14, 2016

Recycling Reminder Calendar

Every so often we forget to put our recycling out at the curb. This then creates an overflowing container for the next pickup. We have been pretty good lately at remembering, but I thought a calendar would help. We had a recycling company at another home provide dates for pick up, and it was right on our recycling container. I decided this might help a little as a way to check at a glance if the recycling needs to go out.

I printed a two year calendar on a 4x6 index card. I found a free printable template online, so that made it easy. My printer didn't exactly cooperate, and created a large margin through 2016. Since we are nearing 2017 I decided it didn't have to be perfect.

I circled the dates of pick up in green. Basically they pick up on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month. Not hard, but still can be confusing without looking at a calendar! 

I used clear packing tape to attach the calendar to the inside of the lid of the recycling container we use. The lid is usually off to the side, but close enough to take a look at. Yes, I printed my own recycling symbol awhile back too. Our recycler doesn't provide anything, but I wanted them to know this can IS recycling, not trash. 

Simple, helpful, and even free! 

Monday, September 19, 2016

Minimizing Makes Cleaning Easier

I found this comment by someone on Facebook. I thought it was worth sharing. (Sorry if the font size seems off, I can't seem to correct it to be larger. )

"An observation. Since I started decluttering and minimizing things, I have noticed that household chores that I used to hate doing have become easier. I won't say that I love cleaning my house but it's not as horrible of a thing as it used to be for me to clean house. Today, as I was folding towels, I realized something. I love to do laundry. I love everything about it - from sorting, to loading the washer, to hanging it on the line or putting in the dryer, to taking it in and folding it and putting it away. I get a real sense of satisfaction. But I have always hated washing the towels. As I was folding them, I thought about why that is. They are simple to fold, so that's not the issue. Then, I realized. I HATE trying to stuff them into the bathroom closet! I guess it's time to minimize the towels, then. And, really, how many sets of towels do I need? We only use one set per week. WHY do I even own five sets? After tomorrow, I predict the towel washing will no longer be dreaded." - Clare Mont Sexton

Do you see anything besides towels?

I love that she was able to pinpoint why she disliked the task of washing the towels, when she loves doing laundry and nearly all the steps involved. She disliked trying to add the clean towels to a stuffed closet of towels. Towels that they don't even use! How frustrating, but yet how freeing to realize those extra sets aren't needed and could eliminate her feelings on washing towels.

I share her observation with hope that while you are cleaning, tidying, decluttering or organizing you might think about your things in a different way. Observe if any of your feelings are guiding you to make a change for the improvement of your home. We should enjoy being in our homes. We should be able to clean quickly and efficiently. And minimizing our things can go a long way to make this a reality!

Have you found a task frustrating only to realize you could eliminate items to make it easier? Tell me I want to hear about it!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Projects vs Tasks: My Example

My name is Carrie and I procrastinate! Yes, even organized people like me do it. 

I inherited a church pew about two years ago (or was it three?). It came to me mostly stripped of stain. I stored it in our garage at the last house. And it has sat on our screened in porch at our current home. And it still lacks stain or paint, because like I said before, I procrastinate! 

I am determined to get this church pew beautiful again and set up in a prominent place in our home. But it's a project! A big project that is a bit overwhelming to me. Thus again, why I'm pretty sure I have been procrastinating.

I have learned that it helps to break down big projects into smaller tasks. The only way I'm going to get this pew refinished is to break down the steps I need to take and do them one by one until the project is complete. 

Our cat Riley is photo bombing back there!
My first task is to finish stripping the stain. It is mostly complete but there are a few areas to work on. Wouldn't you know I actually purchased stain remover back in March or April. I guess that really may have been the first step! But I'm starting again, so now the first task is to strip the stain. I started this morning and after applying the first coat, I realized I need another product to remove the stripper, or least to clean it up a bit better. 

So the next step is to make a run to the store for the product I need. As I write this, that part has not yet been complete. But I know it is the next step before I can move forward with adding more stain. Oh, and really this post isn't about the pew itself, but the process I'm taking of breaking down a project that seems big and overwhelming into smaller steps. 

I'm actually excited that I took the first step even though I don't yet know exactly how many individual steps or tasks that will make up this project. I got started. I'm doing my project!! I'm even starting before I know the color of paint or type of stain I will use. No sense in putting that decision before the first task of stripping, even if I had decided on a finish for the pew, the first step is still the first step. 

As you evaluate your activities consider whether they are projects or tasks. If you find it is overwhelming it may be that you have come upon a project. And the best way to complete a project is to break it down into smaller tasks. If you say I need to declutter my entire home beware that is a project. That is not something done in a few short hours. You will need to break that decluttering down into much, much smaller tasks in order to make progress. Those smaller tasks will also keep you from getting overwhelmed! And I've found eliminating the feeling of overwhelm can actually allow progress to occur. 

Are you aware of the difference between a project and a task? Do you break down your projects into smaller steps? Have you refinished furniture? I'm needing to decide on stain or paint (and if paint, what kind...chalk?) Hopefully an update on my furniture refinishing project in the next couple weeks!