Archive for category Organizing

The Key to Making New Year’s Resolutions Last

“A man’s reach must exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?” Robert Browning

Keeping with New Year’s traditions, I’ve been thinking about goals this past week, assessing and dreaming. Planning and organizing. My lists have lists these days. With a New Year comes the hope of a clean slate. However, as the year progresses, most resolutions fall flat, so much so they become the butt of every January joke. Most people no longer even try to make resolutions because they’ve had little success with them.

Call me the cock-eyed optimist if you want, but I keep making plans. I have learned over the years how much I benefit from having specific goals in mind. Do I meet every goal and challenge I set out to accomplish? Of course not.

Challenging myself with tangible goals, breaking those goals into smaller bites, and focusing on the goals a few at a time adds significant growth over the course of a year. 

When I make my list of goals for the New Year, I know I have an entire year to make my goals happen. For instance, I haven’t started my food journal or keeping track of my water consumption. Does that mean I’m not following my New Year’s goals? No. I’m just not focusing on all of my goals all at once. I’ve spent the past few days working on the vision for my blog, planning posts, writing, reading books I need to read. I’ve put together a general plan for school. I’ve started thinking about ways my husband and I can bring in some extra cash. All of these are goals I’m pursuing this year. I will start keeping track of how much water I drink and keeping a food journal soon, once our normal routine starts again.

I want my days to be intentional, but I also need them to be realistic. Making a list of goals can be a worthy pursuit, but I also need to remember that I have an entire year to reach them.

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My Goals for 2013

The new year's resolutions
For the past few years, my husband and I have been more specific with our New Year’s Resolutions, and like most people, we don’t quite reach all of the goals lined out for us. However, we enjoy looking back over the years and seeing how far we have come.

This past year, I planned some big goals, and we reached several of them, even though life got in the way. These are the goals we accomplished:

1. We paid off our car early.

2. I started a blog.

3. I posted regularly (for the most part. Life sometimes got in the way.).

4. I stopped drinking sodas.

5. We built up our emergency fund again.

6. We paid off some significant medical bills.

7. My husband and I went on a date at least once a month.

8. I scheduled every day on purpose (for the most part).

9. I set up an allowance system for my boys.

10. We started homeschooling officially.

There are several goals on my list from last year that I left uncrossed, but I’ve been happy with the changes I’ve made in my life as well as in the life of our family.

My husband and I are hitting 2013 with some new gusto, and I hope God blesses our endeavors. Here are a few of my goals for this year:

Professional Goals:

1. Move content over to kellywiggains.com.

2. Consistently write 3 posts a week or more.

3. Make money as a writer.

4. Build my reading audience through social media and guest posting.

5. Track my reading progress in GoodReads, Pinterest, and the blog.

Financial Goals:

1. Save a chunk of cash for a new (to us) car and for some upcoming medical procedures (shooting for $7500).

2. Save money for a small family vacation (most likely camping).

3. Save up more money for Christmas (even when we budget and economize, December seems to slam us. We are determined for it not to happen again.)

4. Make some extra income (to help pay for the above goals).

Marriage Goals:

1. Continue once a month dates.

Family Goals:

1. Take a family vacation.

2. Play Games, Spend Time Outdoors, or Read after dinner.

3. Schedule one-on-one reading time with each child as well as one-on-one recreational time with each child.

Homefront:

1. Schedule each day on purpose.

2. Set up a new cleaning schedule for this house.

3. Organize photos: printed and digital

4. Decorate the living room (It’s pathetically bare.)

5. Display more family pictures.

6. Set up shelving in the kitchen.

7. Streamline how we pack and travel on trips.

8. Paperwork: Get it all organized.

Homeschool:

1. Continue with Math, Reading, Writing, and Nature Exploration.

2. Start Journaling. Add more read aloud time, and add more science experiments.

2. Cultural Literacy: Study a composer a month, take more field trips to art galleries and/or concerts.

3. Start piano or violin lessons with my oldest.

4. Add structured Spelling, Grammar, and History Curriculum in the fall.

Health:

1. Drink a gallon of water a day.

2. Increase fruits and vegetables.

3. Decrease sugars and flours.

4. Keep a food journal.

5. Be active: walking, running with the kids, bike riding, exercise videos, etc.

Throughout the next few posts, I hope to outline some of my action steps to accomplish these goals, and I plan to keep track of my progress throughout the year. I’m also working on some reading goals for the year, but I haven’t outlined them. I will get back to you on those as well. Here’s wishing you a great 2013!

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Get Pocket: A Great App for Book Lovers and Twitter Addicts

Do you guys know about Pocket (formerly known as Read Later)? It’s a favorite app on my iPhone. With Pocket, I can save links to articles, video, and photos from all across the web in one place. With Pocket, I can line up a queue of interesting articles to browse while I’m out and about or winding down at the end of a long day. It’s like having my own personalized magazine.

To use, first, you download the free Pocket app on your phone. Then, you go browse the internet or check your Twitter feed. I’ll walk you through how it works:

Let’s say I check my Twitter feed and see an interesting book list.

Using Pocket, I can simply swipe my finger to the left on a tweet,

click on the ellipses, and then click Read Later.

Then, when I have more time to read, I can open my Pocket app (or go to getpocket.com on my laptop) and read everything I saved. The interface is clean and super easy to read both on the phone and on the laptop, even more so than going directly to the sites themselves. See?

I also use the Pocket button on my internet browser to click and save things I want to read.

I previously used my Evernote account or Pinterest to save articles; however, I like using Pocket because it is simply a consumptive tool for reading. I use Evernote as my second brain (my children stole my first one), so I don’t like clouding up my brain with articles, videos, blog posts, etc. Pinterest is mostly something I use for ideas.

So far, I have only seen one drawback. I cannot use the swipe feature on my Facebook feed when I am on my phone. Other than that, it’s a great tool to use for people who are on the internet all the time!

Disclaimer: Pocket doesn’t know who I am. They are not paying me to say nice things about them. I simply love this little app and wanted to tell my friends!

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Lazy Housekeeping

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I must admit something. I am not a person who will ever love to clean. I can’t stand cleaning. Hate it. In fact one of my favorite Erma Bombeck quotes says this:

“My second favorite household chore is ironing, the first being banging my head on the top bunk until I faint.”

Seriously. I can think of a million other things I would rather do than clean my house. In fact, I bought a book early in my marriage called Speed Cleaning 101, not to learn how to clean better. No. I wanted to learn how to clean as fast as possible, so I could get it done and go on about my business (during those days it was reading Harry Potter books and making mixed CDs from my fancy new iTunes account).

My best friends are both neat freaks. They get some kind of endorphin boost from cleaning their house. They rarely sit and relax because there is always something else to clean. (I don’t understand how we are friends – neither one of them likes to read either. Seriously.) Anyway, if I’ve learned nothing else in life, I’ve learned that if you want to become good at something, you ask the experts. So, from my speed cleaning book and my neato-freako best buds, I’ve learned how to clean even though I’m lazy.

1. Clear Countertops. The fewer things you keep on your counters, the easier they are to clean. I keep stuff off of my kitchen countertops and my bathroom countertops. No pictures. No knick-knacks. Those are working spaces, baby. Keep the pictures on the wall or on the bookshelves where they belong. By doing this, everyone in my family knows that when there are things on the countertop, they have somewhere else to go.

2. Surface Clean on the Go: Since the countertops stay cleared from clutter, it’s easy to grab a Clorox wipe or a microfiber cloth to clean off the counters and sinks real quick. I do this while I brush my teeth or when the kids are in the bath. Also, while the kids are bathing, I can quickly clean the toilet. Now, for floors? My boys think pushing around the dust mop on our floor is fun, so I let them anytime they want. I mop when I have to, but mostly, I spot clean the floors with a wet towel. Might I also suggest that you pick furniture that is easy to clean? Intricate wood etchings as well as fabric that shows dust and dirt or pet hair easily will only frustrate you.

3. Keep Toys in Kids’ Rooms: If my kids run out of room for the their toys, my kids have too many toys. Time for a purge. At the end of the day, I want it all put away, which leads to #4.

4. Pick Up Every Night: Go through the house, getting everyone to help, and pick up the toys, the socks, etc. Put it all back in place. No Legos to trip over or tea party sets to crash into. Put it all away. It doesn’t take that long. Even if you can only get it all thrown in a basket, your house will feel so much cleaner.

5. Don’t Fold Undergarments or Kids’ Clothes: We wear wrinkle-free clothing for the most part. Kids’ clothes are small anyway. I just pile them nicely in a basket, and the kids help me put them away. No worries about messing up the folding when you don’t do it in the first place. I don’t fold undergarments either. No one is going to see if they are wrinkled anyway. Also, my kids like to help with the laundry. I’m very close to only needing to fold my clothes and my husband’s clothes in the entire laundry process, which is all part of my diabolical plan for my children to take care of all household duties, so I can spend more time with world domination.

6. Establish a Mud Room: Enforce taking off shoes at the door. The dirt from outside stays around the shoes instead of tracking all through the house. You might keep some clean socks in the mudroom area, too. Then, you always can find shoes and socks where you need them. Our house is small, so we don’t have a traditional mud room, but we have a landing spot by the back door. Shoes, purses, our library bag – it all stays here. An added bonus? People think your kids are polite because they automatically take their shoes off and put them by the door when visiting.

7. Don’t Fight Something: So my husband cannot for the life of him take off his socks anywhere but in the living room. My kids are bad about shedding their socks in random places, too. I am always finding socks. Always. When we moved from our house this summer, we found piles of little boy socks under their beds. EVEN THOUGH I CLEANED UNDER THE BEDS. I used to sometimes complain and nag and sigh and threaten to no avail. I’ve just learned to deal with it. I keep a basket in the living room for socks. They can dump them in there.

8. Priority #1: If nothing else gets finished by the end of the day, I try to make sure the dishes are done and the toys are picked up. Everything else can wait for the next day.

All of these tips sound counterintuitive; however, I’ve found that the more I can combat clutter head-on, the lazier about cleaning I can be. By keeping only a few things out in the open, I don’t have to work as hard to clean them.

Lazy Housekeeping 101.

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