Cleaning & Schedule Printables

Wrapping up this week on schedules, I wanted to share some printables I created for our household to help effectively manage our time. I threw in an extra bonus printable for the bloggers among us: how I try to schedule my blog work.

Cleaning Printables

Read the corresponding post here.

Daily Cleaning Schedule: There are tasks that need to be completed all the time, so I broke it down so there would be a room/cleaning task to be completed each day of the week. This prevents spending all day cleaning the entire house but maintains the house a little at a time. For example: every Monday, I clean the kitchen in the afternoon, so I wrote it down in the corresponding spot.

Monthly Cleaning Schedule: Just like the “Daily Cleaning Schedule” there are certain tasks that need to be completed throughout the month, but not every week. I scheduled a deeper clean of the bathroom every second Sunday of the month for example (versus a quick wipe-down of the high-traffic areas).

Month-to-Month Cleaning Schedule: This is where I get a little over-planning: I break down the tasks that need to happen each month throughout the year. These are more general nature, but I like reminders that every March and October there’s a local electronics recycling drop off one day on the weekend. By placing this reminder in the corresponding month, it allows me to check to find the actual date. I also put down what decorations I want to put up and when I want to take them down for the household.

Daily Schedule Printables

Read the corresponding post here.

Daily Agenda (Personal): I broke it down with the top priorities for the day and kept a loose agenda rather than writing out all the times (some days there just isn’t much to do). I also provided a space for tasks that carried over from the day before, additional to-do’s, and a “to buy” list because I am always needing to remember to purchase something.

Daily Blog Schedule: This is only one page in my expansive printable I created for my daily blog schedule. I will probably devote a whole post to this printable some time in the future, but I wanted to share a general page for those looking to start organizing their blogging. I try to put in the daily reminders/to-dos along with collaborative workspace. The schedule has a dual work area for blocking out time to work on the blog next to personal activities/requirements.

Please let me know what you think about these printables in the comments below. If you choose to use them, make sure to credit me and do not redistribute without my permission. Contact me here if you would like to make a request.


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Purging Clutter

The hardest part of any clean: the purging of clutter.

So many things turn into clutter, even things that you wouldn’t normally consider: sentimental items, books, or stuffed animals. It’s like the gardener’s philosophy surrounding weeds: it’s only a weed if you consider it one or it chokes out other plants. It’s only cluttered if it gets in the way and you don’t want it.

The Difficulty with Purging Items

Why purge items? Besides the obvious answer: purging items helps clear out mental clutter as well. I find that I am so much happier when I have a cleaner space, free of unnecessary papers and items.

The issue is deciding what to get rid of and what to keep/store.

I have a slight attachment to items that have a perceived sentimental value. I have three bottles of wine I still haven’t opened that I bought just after I moved South 10 years ago. I have two bottles of wine I bought 6 years ago when I visited my hometown in New England. I just can’t bring myself to open these bottles because of what they represent: the beginning of a new journey and goodbye to an old one.

But they are taking up space and at this point, if they aren’t vinegar, I can’t imagine they will taste good. We aren’t talking about quality bottles of wine.

I am not ready to make a decision about these bottles because they aren’t taking up enough space to be troublesome. Should I need to make space, then I will have to consider drinking them or dumping the contents and repurposing the bottles if I need that sentimental reminder.

But I have plenty of other items in the house that needs to be purged: clothing, toys, books, memorabilia to name a few.

Before Jai was born I went through a massive purge throughout the house in order to make room for his stuff. I knew it would be the first of several, so it felt good to watch the trash bags pile up on the curb for collection and Ash leaving with a car filled with donation boxes. I hoped to do my second purge in the spring after Jai was born, but I wasn’t able to get to it.

Now that he’s almost two, it’s time to consider making another massive purge, which should be easier to do because I already did one round. This time I will have to get rid of Jai’s old clothing, toys, and utility items that he no longer needs. I have everything mostly organized so that part should be easy, but deciding which toys should go will be difficult. That’s where having a system helps me make the more difficult decisions.

Creating a Simple System

When I am setting out to do a mini-purge I unceremoniously create three different vessels to hold my items: a garbage bag for items to be tossed, a random box for items to be donated, and a catch-all area for items to be stored or put away. When I am more organized, like when I was pregnant, I create bins to put each of these items so Ash can pick through them to see if I correctly categorized his stuff that might be mixed in.

I find big, clear, plastic totes work best. Their size helps hold more stuff, but easy to pick through and move from room-to-room if need be. Additionally, they are great to be repurposed as storage containers for the items being stored. I label each bin:

  1. To Keep and Store/put away
  2. To Donate
  3. To Trash/Recycle

Scheduling purges in small doses help keep me focused, just like my massive cleaning sessions.  I try not to spend more than 10 seconds on each item. If I am not sure in that moment I will set it aside and move on. If I find another item that is similar and I am able to make a quick decision about it (usually toss/donate) then I will return to that previous item set aside and make a similar decision. The goal is to have less “unsure” items at the end of each session than before I started.

My Favorite Tips

These are some of my favorite tips for working through a successful clutter purge:

  • I spend no more than 10 seconds on each item to decide whether I want to keep, donate or trash it. Some stuff is easy, for the more difficult items I will set aside to decide later.
  • If I am struggling to decide on a sentimental item at the end of my session, I will put it in a fourth box: this box is meant to be placed in an unobtrusive spot for 6 months. If I don’t reach in the box for the item in those 6 months, nor do I think about it, then I can seriously consider getting rid of it. I take a picture if it’s really important so I can have that instead of the physical object.
  • If an item has utility value, I ask if I will need it within the next 3 months. If no, then I donate/toss the item, otherwise, I store the item until I need it.
  • If I have multiples of an item and I only need one, I will keep the “nicer” version which is usually the newer version or I organize the items so I use the old stuff first. If an item is unopened, but I know Ash or my parents can use it, I give them the option to take it otherwise it gets donated.
  • Getting rid of important paperwork: I purchase a “year” box from a popular store that sells containers and organizing helpers. This box has the current year marked all over it, so I know what year the items were put into it. I write this note on top of it: “important paperwork to be destroyed December 31, (year).” The year is always 3 years from the current year (i.e. if the box says 2018, I am going to destroy the box contents in 2021).
  • I try to remember that we have the internet, so if I do get rid of something and I regret it, I have the means to find it again from someone. This is particularly helpful with books, especially cookbooks. My next purge will probably include all my cookbooks because I rarely crack those open anymore (though I will save my novelty cookbooks). I find that I search online for all my recipes because it’s more convenient for me.

What are some of the ways you purge your unwanted items, especially when you have something it’s hard to get rid of? Comment with your tips and stories regarding how your item purge sessions go below.


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Featured photo credit: Michelle Melton Photography


Keeping a Clean Living Space

I have a love-hate relationship with cleanliness.

I love to be clean and organized, but I hate the work that goes into it. Having a toddler makes cleaning and staying clean Sisyphean at best. Nothing stays clean for more than ten minutes at a time with a human tornado.

This gets discouraging very quickly. Why bother keeping clean and organized if it’s only going to become a mess immediately?

It’s hard for me to get organized and easy to allow clutter to take over. I am ashamed to admit that it took until June to finally put all the holiday decorations away. They were removed from the main areas of the house but sat waiting to make it inside the storage closet we have in our room. Ash and I had to move around the boxes and clutter that kept piling up on a nightly basis as we got ready for bed.

For that, I hated spending time in our bedroom.

It took so long because it required a cleaning and reorganizing of our storage closet. We’ve accumulated a lot of old baby and maternity items that we’re not ready to part with just yet, so there wasn’t any room to put holiday decorations back inside.

This required an organization session, cleaning, and purging a lot of items. Making the time to do this is difficult with the fatigue and have limited energy stores day-to-day. Because a cleaning session wasn’t important in my mind, it kept getting pushed back in favor of working on other projects.

But that doesn’t mean the cluttered chaos didn’t cause issues.

Benefits to Clean House

Over the years I’ve recognized the benefits of having an organized house without a child: it’s a way to find things easily, everything has its place, and generally makes life easier.

I am also one of those people who gets depressed if my living space is messy. I am not just talking super messy but depression starts to set in even if there’s a little bit of clutter. So when the house “gets out of control,” I tend to freeze and get frustrated.

I am, by no means, obsessive over the cleanliness. When I can’t even get myself to spend 15 minutes tidying up because of either fatigue or feeling overwhelmed I feel frustrated.

There’s a lot of research available online that shows there’s a connection between healthy living, healthy habits, and healthy decisions and a clean/organized home. So my reaction isn’t surprising.

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Home Life & Home Education

August is the “end” of summer. End of summer vacation and time to get ready or head back to school.

While we still have another month of summer going into September, at least for me, September equals fall. August is that weird transition between the two seasons.

I don’t think I feel the same sort about other “transition” months. November is fall, February is winter, and May is spring in my mind. August is neither summer nor fall for me. It’s really weird.

That said, August is always a fun month: squeezing those final trips to the beach, pool time, but also getting ready to head back to school, which I loved.

I loved back-to-school shopping. Getting new notebooks, pencils, binders, backpacks. I was chatting about this with my mom the other day: I loved getting the school supplies more than I did getting the new outfits for the year. It was the highlight of my day to pick my desk; place my new binder filled with crisp, lined, loose-leaf paper in the top left-hand corner; and put my favorite new pen or pencil in the gutter at the top of my desk.

Why yes, I always tried to be the teacher’s pet when possible. How did you know?

As an adult, August grew to be a special month for me: Ash and I eloped at the beginning of the month seven years ago. We didn’t want to have a big fancy wedding or party, so we chose to get married in our living room with our closest friends surrounding us.

weddingphoto

I cried. So did Ash.

It was a wonderful, intimate experience that neither of us regrets. We are looking forward to many more anniversaries to come.

Additionally, on the years that Labor Day Weekend falls at the end of August (when the Monday is 1st or 2nd), it’s a time for celebration. Every Labor Day Weekend is a cause for celebration for me, but August has that little extra pizazz when it ends on such a high note.

Why? Because one of my favorite sci-fi/fantasy social events occurs from the Thursday spanning to the Monday of Labor Day Weekend. I talked a little bit about it here.

Focusing on Home and Education

Because August is such a fun and weird month for me, I wanted to focus on two of my favorite things: the home and education.

More specifically: I love to think about organizing and finding new ways to clean up clutter even though I have a love/hate relationship with the whole process. I will have posts ranging from purging mental clutter to physical clutter; from creating an effective schedule to maintaining it.

As a former college instructor, teaching is extremely important to me so I have a lot of respect for educators, especially from early childhood through high school teachers. From my time in the classroom, I recognized not only the importance of the previous education students received but the impact parents hard in supplementing and augmenting that education.

While Jai is still too young to attend any formal school setting, I wanted to examine ways that I can help get him started so he’s prepared for the day he first steps foot into a classroom. I want to focus on a more natural form of learning to keep it fun for him and in keeping with our way of gentle parenting him.

Stay tuned for a bunch of fun printables and tools coming up this month. I’ve enjoyed creating them and I hope you will enjoy using them.

Happy August, everyone!


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Featured Illustration: Michelle Melton Photography


Simple Tips for Resolution Success

I have a hard time maintaining and succeeding in my New Year’s resolutions. I know that I am not alone, with many people either not making any resolutions or not making it past the three-month mark. I find that by the second week of the year, for me, I start to flag in my motivation to keep my resolutions. By February I am “resolution, what?”

I have a few ideas as to why that is the case. I don’t plan. I am not organized. And I don’t take any productive steps to make the changes in order to be successful.

Usually, December 31st rolls around and I am like: “Oh yeah, I need to make some resolutions to start tomorrow.” Then I hold them in my mind but make no attempt to write them down or plan out my path to success.

This year is a little different. I have already listed my resolutions and I really want to see myself succeed. But I have to organize myself first. I may be a couple weeks late, but better late than never?

So now that we have the first week under our belts, I pulled together some hints to help succeed in maintaining those resolutions through the power of organization.

The Science of Success: Personal Organization

Organization, for the most part, is the key to personal success.  When I think of organization, I think of action plans, to do lists, calendars, and apps that flash reminders on your phone. To be fair, that tends to be the gist of organization. But what does it mean to be organized?

Organization is about seeing both the big picture/end goal and breaking it down into its smaller, more manageable parts. 

College advisors have web pages that are filled with tips and tricks on how to organize yourself for academic success. Transferring these tips into a real-world application, these are great ideas for personal organization and managing your resolutions.

Maintaining Resolution Success

The first step is to ask yourself: what is the most important goal I have for myself this year? Look at the resolution as the journey to the end-goal, not the end-goal itself. As a fellow blogger, My MS and Me put it best: consider your resolution “aims”, not as a resolution. An aim seems more achievable, whereas a resolution has the stigma of failure attached to it.

Keep in mind: you don’t need to wait until January 1st to make changes. If the date is important to you, consider starting at the beginning of the month, or the beginning of the week. Otherwise, don’t wait a whole year. Start now.

Below are some steps for organizing your resolution/aims if you haven’t already done so:

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