Monthly Archives

March 2017

Organising

13 Time Management Tips to Get Organised

Cathryn Lavery

Time is a resource that seems to be hard to come by, I rarely hear anyone say I have too much time on my hands. There are only 24 hours in a day, with one third of them spent sleeping and the other third or more working, that doesn’t leave much of the day to get things you want or need to do done. Our to do list can be a useful tool to get organised but sometimes even that can overwhelm us and quickly resemble a never ending list of unachievable tasks.

For most of us with our family and work commitments, hobbies chores and everything else it can seem impossible to balance those tasks on top of day-to-day activities and remain productive. Here are 13 time management tips that have helped me to get and stay organised and accomplish a lot in a limited time.

1. Write your to do list down.

Whether your to do list is on your phone, calendar or a notebook, the important thing is to get it written down in some form. If it is all in your head you are really putting a lot of unnecessary pressure to remember what you have to do. Writing it down can tell you what it is that needs doing at a glance and help you to prioritise. Using apps such as Colour Note, Wunderlist and Google Keep can be very quick, easy tools to jot down your important tasks as you think of them. There is nothing more satisfying and motivating than ticking off a completed task. Having them in digital form on your phone means that you’ll always have access to them and can adjust your list as you go.

2. Set realistic goals.

If you look down at your to do list and see to do list items such as paint house or write a book you’re probably never going to get around to doing either of those goals. They are too vague and don’t really set out any actionable steps to get you started. Creating more manageable, bite sized tasks that can be achieved in small blocks of time can help make your to do list or project seem less daunting. Writing on your to do list to brainstorm what your book could be about or start the first chapter outline will give you some more effective and definable steps to get you started on your goal. Once you start setting more realistic, actionable tasks, you’ll avoid staring at your blank page or putting off your dream indefinitely. Everyday you can slowly work towards your ambitions.

3. Work to a timer.

If you don’t set time limits on things they can end up taking much longer than you’d initially hoped. If you give yourself a whole day to work on a project rather than a small block of time you will probably end up spending a lot of that day procrastinating. By setting time limits we can help to ensure we are focused and avoid distraction and help us to mentally commit to starting a task. Going up against the clock can be a motivating tool to make us want to do our best work, knowing that in an hour or whatever time you have set that you won’t have anymore time. It could be getting in a 10 minute workout and seeing how many exercises you can fit in that time or folding as much washing as you can in twenty minutes.

4. Utilise small pockets of time.

Most people feel that they have no free time and struggle to do what they planned during the day, leaving the to do list to forever grow. Sometimes it helps to step back and reconsider our time and how we use it. Could you utilise one of your lunch breaks to tackle some of those calls you have been meaning to make? At the end of the night can you do a quick fifteen minute tidy up so the next day you wake up to a clean home and aren’t greeted first thing in the morning with endless stuff everywhere it shouldn’t be? Could you turn the TV off twenty minutes earlier to squeeze in a chapter of your book you haven’t touched in weeks? It’s amazing what you can do in small pockets of time when you add them up over a week.

5. Make the most of commuting time.

The commute to work in my car used to frustrate me. I realised that I was throwing away ninety or more minutes a day, five days a week listening to advertising and radio segments that weren’t really adding any value to my life other than an occasional laugh or news topic. I decided to find a way to utilise my commute time so the drive to work was less of a chore and I could learn or do something enjoyable. Realising I could do anything other than reading, I bought a a set of Pimsleur German CDs and started listening to them on the way to work. Each lesson goes for twenty minutes so was the perfect length for the commute. Being in a band, and always struggling for time to practice my vocals, I started fitting my vocal practice into my commute. Other options are listening to audiobooks or podcasts of shows that interest you. If moving closer to work is not feasible, and you are locked into a long daily commute, take advantage of that time when you can.

6. Do things you’re passionate about so being productive comes easier.

When we are procrastinating it’s good to assess what we are doing with our time and if it is something we are really passionate about. You might be studying a course you aren’t really that excited about anymore, but as you’re already halfway through you’re reluctant to quit or start again. We can make life so much harder than it needs to be by doing things we don’t want to because we are just on autopilot or are fearful of change. If you really aren’t enjoying something that is consuming your time make a change to something that you will love. Soon enough you could be looking forward to your classes rather than dreading them. If work isn’t something that you look forward to, find out what you need to do to get into your dream job or to get a promotion and make a start. If you hate running but really enjoy aerobics, don’t force yourself to go running each day, substitute that exercise for one you are more passionate about. Look for areas in life where you can make changes to make each day more enjoyable and you will will be more likely to get things done and progress towards your goals.

7. Do the hardest, most important stuff first.

I recently read the book Eat the Frog by Brian Tracy and loved his advice on tackling the hardest, most important tasks first thing in your day. Often with a fresh mind we are better able to focus and make more progress. The last thing you want to do is get to the afternoon and still not have tackled the biggest to do list item and have the weight on your shoulders all day. If the hardest project is also the most important and you have left it to 3pm for a 5pm deadline, you are putting yourself under unnecessary stress and making that task even more difficult to achieve when you are trying to rush through it. Once the most difficult task is complete, the smaller tasks will seem like a breeze and be easier to knock down with your current momentum.

8. Learn to say no.

If you have too many commitments and are feeling overwhelmed, it is okay to say no to anything more on your plate. There are no prizes for being the busiest person, in fact the opposite is true. You could find yourself over time neglecting more important things such as your health, your relationships or sleep. If your friend springs on you that they need help moving on the weekend and your schedule is already overflowing with commitments, don’t try and cram another thing in at the expense of your immediate to do list, even if that list consists of a couple of hours to unwind. Be honest with yourself about what you can fit into your schedule. If something comes up that is just going to add too much stress to your already packed diary, apologize and say no. We are all in charge of our own lives and we are the only ones who can know what we have the physical and mental energy for.

9. Take regular breaks.

If you’re really stuck and have hit a productivity brick wall, stop what you’re doing and take a break. Clearing the mind can do wonders for productivity and help kick-start the creativity flow. If you’re lost for ideas or an answer sometimes after a small break, or even a good night’s sleep the answer pops out at you. Taking a small break could save you sitting there stressing for hours unnecessarily.

10. Plan ahead.

I used to be a bit of a last minute person and seemed to be constantly stressed because I’d left it to the day to write in a birthday card or wrap a gift or to iron my dress. I have learnt over time that planning ahead makes life so much easier. Of course this something you can improve on overtime and we can’t always be perfect, but there are ways to get ourselves more organised to reduce the stress associated with life. If you need a gift for an upcoming event, don’t wait until the day before to look for something. Plan ahead. Buying the gift a couple of weeks out or even months out if that gives you piece of mind, it will save you a massive headache running around the shops on a day where you really don’t have the time. It might even help you find the perfect gift as you’ll have the time to research a gift or order something the person will love.

11. Get off your phone.

There’s nothing more distracting than a text notification going off or flashing in the corner of your eye. Once I see or hear it is hard to resist. Before I know it, I am just having a quick look and the will power is lost and more often than not I’ve lost my momentum and focus. I can’t count the number of times I unlocked my phone to do something only to hit the Facebook or Instagram app out of habit and realise minutes later that I’d completely forgotten to look at what I’d set out to do. We all probably spend a little too much time on social media and that’s fine in moderation. However, if you’re spending hours a day on social media sites without a specific goal, you might be able to reallocate some of that time to doing something more productive. When you have a deadline or something that requires you to focus, put your phone away, turn it on airplane mode or silent if you need to help reduce any potential distractions.

12. Delegate.

If your schedule is overloaded and you just can’t seem to get on top of things it might be time to consider delegating. If you are snowed under with housework ask your kids and partner to help out. Even if they all chipped in for 15 minutes a day or every now and then it could free up some much needed time in your schedule. Alternatively, consider getting outside help in. If you just don’t have time to clean, consider hiring a cleaner to come in once a week or fortnight. Would you prefer to get out with the family this weekend instead of spending the morning mowing the lawns? Consider hiring a local gardener to do them. When time is limited and you can’t get to the grocery store do an online shop and get it delivered. Some weeks are busier than others and there is no shame in asking for help.

13. Consider deleting things off your to do list.

If you seem to be carrying to do list tasks forward repeatedly ask yourself if that item is really all that important. Maybe in the grand scheme of things it’s just not as pressing to your life at this immediate time. Perhaps you really just don’t have the time to even think about it right now. You could always come back to it at a later time when you are less busy and more able to dedicate your time to that task.

How do you stay organised and productive? Comment with any tips you have found that work for you below.

Minimalism

10 Benefits of a Minimalist Inspired Life

After discovering the minimalist lifestyle a couple of years ago I was keen to learn everything I could about this concept. After reading everything I could possibly find on the subject I started making small gradual changes and found very quickly that this was having a positive effect on many areas of my life. By reflecting on what my experiences were on this minimalism path I hoped it might help and inspire others to discover the benefits of living a more intentional life. There are no set rules for minimalism, it is different for everyone and is useful a tool to create a life that brings you happiness. Here are 10 Benefits of a Minimalist Inspired Life that I have found over my journey.

  1. Less stress.

A minimalist inspired lifestyle has helped me to feel the least stressed I have felt in a long time. It empowers you to be more comfortable saying no to things that take you away from your goals and yes to things that bring you closer. It will allow you to reassess the relationships in your life, which could entail leaving a bad relationship or setting new boundaries with a friend or family member to ensure those close relationships aren’t detrimental to your well being. It might give you the courage to leave a job that is negatively impacting your health or consuming all your time. By identifying the aspects in life that are most important to you, you can reduce the time and money that might have gone into less important pursuits previously.

  1. More free time.

On your minimalism journey you will start to identify which aspects of life bring you joy and which don’t. Once you start saying no to things that don’t bring you joy, you can start freeing up more time to say yes to thing that do. Whether that be limiting social events with people that you don’t genuinely enjoy spending time with in order to find more time to spend with those who you do love to see, or finding ways to better balance your time between friends, colleagues and family so you aren’t neglecting relationships that are important to you. It’s also important to allow time to reset our batteries so this include blocking out time in our schedule for relaxation or to allocate time to hobbies that may have seemed impossible to fit in.

  1. You will be able to remove the excess in your life to focus on what is more important.

Having less clutter and adopting a minimalist approach allows for more time and money to spend on things that are valuable to you. Removing the excess means you might reduce the need for a large home to store unnecessary possessions. This could give you the opportunity to downsize your home saving you money on your rent or mortgage, potentially require less hours working to pay for that larger home and save you time each week in cleaning and maintenance that can be freed up for more enjoyable activities. Removing the excess in your life can open up new opportunities and allow you to take on new goals that you might not have been able to take up in the past.

  1. Showing you the joy of experiences over material possessions.

Minimalism has helped me to realise the joy of experiences over material possessions. Buying material possessions may brings a temporary increase in happiness, but that disappears over time once we adapt to having that item and wears off much quicker than experiences. When you prioritise experiences over material possessions it provides you with joy that no physical purchase can really come close to particularly if the experience is shared with someone. These are memories that we can talk about for years to come with loved ones, and share our joy with future generations and although they may not provide us with a physical thing to show in our homes, the memories are with us for life. Tomorrow is not given, don’t hold off on experiences in the pursuit of stuff.

  1. Letting go of what others expect of us.

 There is so much pressure placed on everyone to have the most impressive sounding job, newest car, biggest home and the focus has shifted away from what makes us happy to what we can do to impress others. Minimalism helps us to shift the focus from being defined by others expectations and is a tool to help us put our needs first. If it is important to you to be debt free and drive a reliable, affordable car instead of a new more impressive vehicle do that.  Maybe it is more important to you to have more free time to follow other passions than having a high-stress managerial position with long hours.  Spend less time worrying about what other people expect of you and focus on doing what makes you happy. The more of us who chose to follow a path of happiness, the more we can help to set a new example to those who do feel the pressure to live up to society’s expectations to break out of that mold and follow their own passions.

  1. More focus on health.

Minimalism helps you to prioritise the essential things in life, one of the most important being health. It can be easy to get caught up in day-to-day life bills, chores and work and long-term your health is going to suffer if your well being takes a backseat to those other priorities. Minimalism can help redirect your focus away from what you might be spending your time on such as 20 minutes of Facebook scrolling and make you more aware of your habits so you can make conscious changes to more useful activities such as exercise. These changes will feel like a huge weight has been lifted off your shoulders, a weight you might not have even realised was there.  Reducing debt and decluttering your home environment and schedule, can greatly increase our happiness.

  1. You find more direction in life.

When you clear the excess, the bills and debt, the clutter, and get down to what you truly love, you start applying this philosophy to other aspects of your life – not just the stuff. Does this house bring me joy or does it just take up my spare time cleaning it? Am I passionate about this course I am doing? Could I have my dream job if I could take a pay cut? Minimalism seeps into all areas of life and can open you up to a whole new direction in life. It helps us to regularly reassess where we are in life and over time trains us to apply our thinking of small decisions such as do I need this kitchen gadget to the bigger decisions that have a larger impact on our life.

  1. Less decision making.

Minimalism helps us find ways to reduce every day decision making which takes away from more valuable uses of our creativity. Decisions such as what to wear to work today take up more thought processing than necessary. Having a massive wardrobe can lead to unnecessary stress and overwhelm us before we’ve even stepped out of the house. A capsule wardrobe like in Courtney Carver’s Project 333 http://bemorewithless.com/project-333/ can be a curated selection of your favourite clothing, shoes and accessories that can be mixed and matched and save decision overload. Same goes for preparing dinner, trying to have endless recipe options can get overwhelming. Life can be simplified so much more by limiting everyday decisions so we can focus on more important things.   

  1. Spend less time cleaning.

Nothing has sped up the cleaning process in my home like Minimalism has. Less is definitely more here. Removing stuff from your home allows you to spend less time cleaning it. Fewer things on the floor means a quicker vacuuming and mopping process. Limited stuff on the counter tops allows more room for food preparation and is much easier to wipe those benches down. Less decor saves you on dusting extra stuff – I now see pretty things in stores and ask myself would I be willing to dust that? The less stuff in your car, the less time you will spend tidying it up when someone needs a lift. A massive benefit to my home was having a smaller wardrobe, which has made it so much easier to get on top of our laundry instead of attempting to try and tackle baskets of unwashed clothing we now have manageable loads.

  1. Allows you to be grateful for what you have.

After realising how much I don’t need to be happy I’ve developed a greater appreciation for what I do have. I don’t feel the need to have the best of everything and am so grateful that I have the knowledge at this age of how important experiences and relationships are over things. Minimalism has helped me to acknowledge the small joys in everyday, whether that be time spent with a close friend or a lovely home cooked meal. The emphasis is not on what you buy or accomplish to impress others but on what truly makes you happy.

I am excited to see where minimalism and intentional living takes me in the future and hope to see even more benefits over time. If you have adopted a minimalist inspired lifestyle comment below with what benefits have you found and how minimalism has helped you.

Organising

12 Simple Bedroom Organisation Tips

 There is nothing worse than walking into your bedroom after a long day at work and seeing piles of mess all over. Laundry on the floor, loose coins piled up on the bedside table, quilt and sheets on the floor – this used to be my daily visuals until I decided that I needed to have my bedroom as a place of calmness and tranquility. Here are some tips I found helped me achieve a mess-free organised bedroom without too much effort.

1. Make your bed every day

Always make your bed. It’s the first thing you will notice when you walk into your room and gives a sense of cleanliness and order at a glance. Even better it only take a minute or less! 

2. Reduce Clutter

Remove clutter or items that don’t belong. The key is to have make sure everything as a home. If stuff from other rooms in the home seems to be creeping into your bedroom remove it. An easy trick is to have baskets for each person in the household n which you can return their items to without having to take multiple trips.

3. Keep a clothes hamper in your bedroom

Put a clothes hamper in your bedroom, bathroom or wardrobe to keep laundry off the floor. Better yet, get one with compartments for sorting.

4. Create a capsule wardrobe

In order to avoid the morning stress associated with having to pick something to wear from an overflowing wardrobe, consider de-cluttering your wardrobe or creating a capsule wardrobe. A more streamlined wardrobe filled with items you love will make getting ready a breeze and ensure those days of clothing strewn all over the floor are well behind you. 

5. Limit items on bedside tables

Keep bedside table items to a minimum. It looks less cluttered and will be easier when it comes time to dust. Keep the book you are currently reading but put the others away.

6. Organise Like Items together

Keep like items together; jewellery, hats, handbags etc so they are easy to locate and you can see what you have before going out shopping and coming home with duplicate items.

7. Utilise over door hangers

Use over door hangers for easy to store options for things like shoes and jewellery. Over-the-door hooks can be used to store clean but worn clothing for re-use. This will help keep clothes that can be worn again off the floor and provides great additional storage space.

8. Keep the floor clear

Keep as little on the floor as possible. Open spaces do wonders for the appearance of tidy. A hamper in the corner or cupboard will greatly help to achieve this!

9. Use the Kon-Marie folding method to maximise space

Fold your clothes Kon-Marie style. This method allows you to fit more in your drawers, reducing the number of chest drawers you will need, and allows you to see your clothes at a glance. They also stay much tidier than just thrown in when you have to dig through other clothes to find your favourite shirt. I made this change and will never go back. Here is a video containing the instructions on how to fold clothing the Kon-Marie way. 

10. Be selective with what you bring into your bedroom space

Be selective with what you bring into your space. Try to implement the one in one out rule for clothing to avoid closet chaos. Don’t buy endless decorative items that take up space and attract dust. Select a few you love and keep the rest from cluttering up your room.

11. Use boxes and containers for drawer organisation

Using boxes like IKEA Skubb or DIY versions to organise drawers into sections. This can be great to organise bras, underwear and socks or shirts into sections.

12. Implement a plan for worn clothing

Ensure every time you wear something you assess does it need to be washed or will I wear this again. Find a system that works for you. I put dirty clothes immediately into a hamper in the bathroom and if it is something that can be worn a second time, I will hang it up on hooks behind our bathroom door. Alternatively put it back on a coat hanger in your closet or have a specific drawer for clothes you want to wear again but to keep them separate from the unworn clothes. Once you get into the habit of this, clothes left lying on the bedroom or bathroom floor – or wherever is your clothing hotspot in the house – will be a thing of the past.

I hope these will be some useful tips for your household so you too can maintain a beautiful calming organised bedroom space. Please let me know in the comments what tips you have for maintaining an organised bedroom in your home.

Budgeting

10 Easy Tips to Save Money on Your Groceries Budget

Grocery shopping can make up a big portion of the weekly family budget. If you are not aware of your grocery spending habits those supermarket trips can easily add up significantly in a short space of time.  Here are 10 easy tips to save money on your groceries budget that can help you plan ahead and that can quickly add up to some great and easy savings on your grocery bills.

1. Always bring a list with you and stick to it

Save money on groceries by having a shopping list on your fridge. This is my number one tip to save money on your groceries budget! When you are out of something, write it down and by the end of the week you’ll have a list of things to buy that you actually use. Avoid walking into a supermarket unprepared! Once you are in store, resist adding to this list with impulse purchases by completely avoiding aisles that don’t contain items on your list.

2. Resist buying large quantities of new products

Avoid buying new products or if you can’t resist, only buy one to try it out first and see if you like it to avoid ending up with multiples of a new grocery item that you may not like. We quickly learnt that often new food or products we would buy on sale were more often than not left unused and taking up space in our pantry or cupboards. Sometimes it is best to stick to using our trusted and preferred brands of products to eliminate waste.

3. Shop online to help resist impulse purchases

Do your grocery shop online when you can. It’s easy to see what products you regularly purchase are on sale and helps you streamline your grocery list. I grab my shopping list, sit down for ten minutes and order what is on that list and pick it up at a convenient time or get it delivered. Not being in the store means you avoid additional temptation to make unnecessary purchases and helps you stick to your budget.

4. Buy only what you need and avoid excessive bulk purchases

Don’t overstock on sale items. Just because something is on sale doesn’t mean you need to buy a year‘s supply of it. Most popular items go on sale on a rotating cycle every 3-5 weeks so you needn’t be preparing for the apocalypse! You’ll often find when you do stock up on items like soft drinks and chocolates, you’ll end up consuming the items faster than if there was a smaller supply. Keep in mind how much you need when shopping. If you only need two tomatoes for a recipe and don’t plan on using tomatoes again for another week don’t buy the bulk pack just to make a saving on the per kilogram price. I’d rather pay a bit extra for two tomatoes per kilo that I ended up using, than binning and throwing away a lot more in wasted food and money.

5. Store food correctly to prolong life and reduce waste

Learn how to store food correctly in order to prolong it’s life. Some food such as potatoes and onions should be stored separately, tomatoes ripen better out of the fridge and herbs thrown into a glass of water will last a few days longer than in the fridge. This will ensure you get as long out of your fresh produce as possible saving you another trip to the store and money continually buying the same things when they have gone bad earlier than they should have.

6. Save with DIY Cleaning products

Reduce cleaning supply bills by making your own DIY cleaning products for a fraction of the price as well as limiting the cupboard overflowing with different products for each cleaning task. Bicarb, dish washing liquid, water and white vinegar alone can clean most areas of them home as well as help reduce the chemicals used inside the home. Cleaning products can contribute a huge portion of your grocery bills and can be a great way to save money on your groceries budget. 

7. Switch to machine washable cloths

Switching to machine washable microfiber cloths can helps save endless dollars on dish cloths. A pack of microfiber cloths can be obtained for $5-10 and can be washed again and again to save your replacing clothes regularly. Simply use and put in a wash cloth pile to wash once a week. Other savings tips for cloths is to soak them in vinegar and heat them in the microwave for a couple of minutes to kill bacteria or to throw them in with your dish washing
cycle once a week.

8. Meal Plan 

Meal Planning can be an easy way to save money on groceries. Base your shopping list on what meals you could make with the ingredients you currently have in your pantry or fridge. Add any additional ingredients required for those recipes to the shopping list. If you’re buying something that will not be used up in one meal, incorporate the left overs into your next meal so you can avoid food waste or freeze remaining portions where possible for next time. Ten minutes a week meal planning can save you hundreds over the year and drastically help reduce food waste in your home.

9. Research specials online or in catalogues prior to entering the supermarket 

Buying more expensive items such as beverages, beauty and cleaning products can add up over time when paying full price. In order to easily save money on your groceries budget, check out the weekly catalogues for your local supermarkets. Make separate lists for your groceries based on what you are planning to buy in each and shop according to what store has the best price. This might take a little longer, but the savings can be very much worth your while. If you do online shopping this can be even easier where you can just order from different stores and get pick up or home delivery to avoid multiple trips. Alternatively, go to the shop when it suits you, it doesn’t have to be in the same day, if you will be near one today and another on the weekend grab what you need when it is convenient.

10. Pay attention to the ticket pricing per weight

In Australia, supermarkets are now required to include easy price comparisons on their pricing tags such as price per 100 grams. You can now easily compare various sizes and prices of similar products from the price tag on the shelf. This can be done much quicker than before when you’d be trying to work these things out in your head or with your calculator and can be an easy quick way to decide in store or online what is the best value for money product to buy.

Do you have any tips to save money on your groceries budget? Leave a comment below!