About a week before I got Lose the Clutter, Lose the Weight, I was already taking steps to streamline my life. I am very much a lover of order, of rules, of schedules. But I am also a person of extremes. This is a part of my personality that gets me in the most trouble, I think. A task that should take me 10 minutes must be done 110%, and in the end, it takes me an entire day, and I’m still not done. So I get frustrated and give up. I’m an all-or-nothing kinda gal (as Hubby will attest), and that will be a major hurdle for me in the coming weeks. Because I’m this way, I can get scattered if I don’t have a clear path to the finish line. And so schedules, plans, and lists are my best friend when I’m trying to get myself back on my course.
A few weeks ago, I went to the local discount store and bought myself three large journals. One would be an actual journal that I would take a few minutes before bed each night to jot down some thoughts, feelings, ideas, whatever remained from the day. Journaling has always seemed like something I should do, since I love to write, and my brain never seems to shut down the running commentary, but I have started and failed to continue this activity too many times to count over the course of my almost half-century on this earth. When the program brings us to my closets, you’ll be introduced to a pile of notebooks that tried to be journals over the years and ended up in a box with very little written in them. I tell myself this time will be different, and I am making a very conscious decision each night to make that a reality.
Why journaling? According to Forbes.com, there are no less than five excellent reasons to do it - and none of them necessarily apply only to creative types:
Clears your mind.
Helps you de-stress.
A tool for self-improvement.
Improves memory and problem-solving skills.
Follow the Forbes link to a wonderful article written by Noma Nazish (@noma_nz)
The second notebook is a place to record my recipes. I cook and bake a lot. I enjoy it immensely. Baking often leaves me exhausted by the end of it, because everything takes so much time and patience, but I feel real satisfaction when I’ve made something delicious. However, I rarely write things down. I’ll find a good recipe and decide to make it. I usually make little (or sometimes large) changes and jot them down on scraps of paper. Can I ever find them the next time I want to make something? Nope. So I have to try to figure out with my Swiss-cheese of a brain which ingredients I removed, changed, added... and it doesn’t turn out tasting the same. Sometimes it’s better, other times not so much. But maybe dinner and dessert shouldn’t be such a crap-shoot in my house. So I’m going to take the time to write down my recipes so that they’re great every time. When I’m too old to spend any time in the kitchen, my kids may be interested in the recipes, and I’ll have something to show them. My brother and I often lament at holidays that I never asked my grandmother before she passed how to make certain things that we loved. I may figure a few out by trial and error, but most I fear, we will never taste again. As an aside, if you're interested in some of the things I've made and posted here, click on the "Recipes" category in the sidebar.
The last notebook is likely the most important. It is for my daily schedule. A full accounting of most of the hours in the day of a modern human being is difficult to do. Plans can sometimes change on a dime when you have kids and a family, but making the effort will give me a leg up, and I suggest that you buy yourself a notebook and sketch out, at the very least, a rudimentary schedule for the week.
It may seem odd and unnatural at first to schedule almost every moment of your day, but you'll get used to it. What do they say? Do something for thirty days straight and you'll develop a habit. Use that power for good! Not comfortable with this level of anal-retentiveness and/or OCD? That's okay. Don't write down the time, leave out the obvious like "make the bed", you need to find what works for you, because what works for you is what you will stick with. Just find something, even if you purchase a day planner or write it down in an oversized calendar, and stick with it. I promise you this will help you.
I also made a list of things that wouldn't be done on a weekly basis, maybe bi-weekly, maybe monthly, maybe only once or twice a year. I carry a pen and small notebook with me when I'm working on a room initially, and if I notice something, I make a note of it and add it to this list later. If I complete a task, for example, washing all the door handles, I wrote July next to it. This way I know in a month or so, I should repeat this particular task. Some things like spray painting the mirror, I can check off once complete, since it will be a one-time chore.
The way I went about mine was I started with a list of things that need to be done in my house on a weekly basis; things like laundry, watering the plants, posting items online for sale (during my purge), blogging, planning, my fledgling business, and my husband's business. General housework (once a week stuff like dusting, vacuuming, etc., was a separate category that had it’s own slot, with a subcategory listed.)
Once that list was complete, I wrote a number next to each task indicating how often per week it needed to be done, for example, vacuum 1x, laundry 3x. Next, I staggered as best I could and added days of the week. I wrote out my days with the tasks that happened every day entered and blank spots for the ones that were fluid.
First draft of the "master chore list" as I like to call it. Lots of spacing to add more things. After I took this picture, I remembered that I should add things like taking out the garbage, watering the plants, cleaning the fish tank. It never ends.
Lastly I added in the tasks that changed and set timers on my phone. Now I don’t even have to stress about what time it is and how long I have to complete my current task. I also gave myself permission to go over my allotted time by a few minutes, and if I finished early, I could take a little break before I started the next one.
We’ll get back to the topic of the notebooks a few times over the course of the next few weeks, but I promised we’d get into some questionnaires this post, so we’ll leave the journals for now. Since this post ended up (as usual) much lengthier than I expected, I'll sneak in another post later today with the questions and answers you'll have to think about while completing Peter's program.
Thanks for spending some time with me, I know how valuable it is, especially if you have rooms to de-clutter!
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